Monthly Archives: July 2011

Wearing out

Wearing out

One wintry morning on secluded Ponte Vedra BEach

The walks on the beach ended up being a very bad idea. Why is it that every time you get “hooked” on something you find that it is bad for you? Our morning bike rides/walks were just the perfect way to begin the day. It set the pace for eating and making good choices. How could that be bad you ask? In two weeks from today I will have surgery on my ankle to remove a small tumor on the outside of my ankle bone and repair the stress fracture that it caused. Now was the tumor the cause of the pain and stress on my fibula, or was it the uneven sand that created the little nodule that causes my tendon to snap every time I walk? Sort of a question like the chicken and the egg. But, regardless of where the fault lies….one fact remains clear. I am wearing out.

Two Bald Eagles perch atop one of the beautiful houses along the beach.

Judi Z’s Meatballs

Judi Z’s Meatballs

Aunt Anna and more Zitiello's

When a pan of meatballs comes out of my oven you can bet they will all not make it into the sauce pot. In
fact, I always count on maybe five or six not making it! I suppose you could freeze the leftovers, but truthfully…I have never had leftovers!


2 lbs of good ground beef
1 lb of ground veal
1 egg
1 cup of Italian bread crumbs
2 tbsp. minced onion
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. oregano
Salt and Pepper
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a large bowl mix the meat, egg, bread crumbs and spices except for the grated parmesan cheese.
Form large meatballs a bit larger than the size of a golf ball.
Place each meatball in a pyrex rectangular pan and sprinkle with half of the parmesan cheese.
Place in pre-heated oven and bake until firm and dark brown about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle remaining cheese on top and allow to rest before placing in the sauce pot.

Meatball sandwiches are great with some roasted peppers and onions on top and a spoon of sauce.


Judi Z’s Spaghetti Sauce

Judi Z’s Spaghetti Sauce

It seemed I was rushing to leave the office earlier these days eager to get home. Life had taken it’s greatest upturn for me. We were falling in love. It was a winter day and the air was crisp. I pulled into the driveway and gathered my briefcase, purse and cell phone and headed toward the garage door, happy to be home once again as I rushed inside to escape the cold with no sweater or coat.

Even in the garage I could detect the familiar fragrance. Garlic! As I entered the kitchen my eyes locked on to a large pot on the front burner. Drops of thick red tomato sauce were leaping from the pot, speckling the surrounding stovetop while instantly spreading on the surface. I turned the temperature control to low.

There was music playing. Some sexy jazz station was softly whispering from the receiver in the family room.

As I turned I saw a sock on the floor. Then another. Beyond the socks were a pair of jeans, then a tee shirt. I followed the trail of clothes to the hallway. I opened the bathroom door to find Tom reclined in a tub filled with bubbles, surrounded by candles emitting a soft glow.

“Welcome home” he said.

Spaghetti sauce is really the basis for our relationship. A few weeks later, while visiting Uncle Frank and Aunt Sue across the street I overheard a phone conversation Frank was having with his brother Lugi, Tom’s father, in Cleveland. “Yah, it must be getting serious. He is teaching her to make the sauce.”

There has been a pot of sauce made on our stove just about every week of our 27 year marriage. And, people who truly know good sauce have told me….”It ain’t bad.” (That is Italian for “delicious!”)

Here is the secret to making a really great sauce:


Minced garlic – 5 cloves
Olive Oil – 5 tbsp.
6 Italian Sausage sweet and hot combined
2 large cans of crushed tomatoes (Find a brand you like and stick to it!)
1 large can of diced tomatoes (Same as above)
1 can of Contadina Tomato Paste
1 cup of grated parmesan Reggiano
1 cup of good red wine (If you wouldn’t drink it don’t use it.)
Sugar 1 tbsp.
Salt and Pepper

In a large dutch oven heat the oil and brown the sausage. When browned, cut into 1″ pieces and return to pot. add garlic and allow to soften, but NOT burn. Add the cans of tomatoes and the oregano, basil,sugar and salt, pepper. Next add the wine and the grated cheese.

Allow the mixture to come to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer and with the lid off allow to simmer for at least one hour.


The sauce will be best the second day. It can be kept in the refrigerator for one week. It can be frozen for up to a month.

Add meatballs to the sauce for an even greater taste.

If you like, you can add a center cut pork chop or a chicken breast with skin and rib bones attached, while the sauce is simmering for taste. Just brown the meat as you did the sausage and leave it in the pot until the first serving.

Oh and, some Italian families call this “gravy”.

Grandpa Tommy Zitiello 1939 (In the hat)

The “ear thingee”

The “ear thingee”

With her tiny infant head laying gently in my lap I brush her fine soft curls damp from sleep, from her face. She is mine, my beautiful angelic child, I think to myself in wonder and amazement. My finger tips slowly. gently circle the rim of her ear and she continues to breathe methodically. Is she dreaming? A faint smile dances across her little face. She is content, and I am taking every second in and savoring it. Will I forget this moment when she is bounding down the front step toward the school bus?

The boys all loved to have their backs rubbed and I spent many hours coaxing them into slumber spooned in their bed, listening for the sound of deep sleep. Beyond that they were different from the girl. They were rough and tumble. Quick to say “I am ok” when they scraped a knee or fell from their bike. They were my angels too, always sweetly presenting me with a flower they plucked from the path along the sidewalk on the way in the door.

As she grew, the tender gesture became a request whenever she was restless or hurt or crying. It magically transformed her feelings within a moment to calm, peace and either sleep or a great big smile.

Today she is 24, soon to celebrate birthday number 25 and she still curls up on the couch next to me snuggling in a fetal position. “Mommy, do the ear thingee”. Of course I obey. I wonder, will she stop asking me soon?

Will she calm her own babies with this loving touch? I will offer it to them when I am holding them close and calmly nudging my tiny grandchildren to slumber.

They will forever be our babies.

Simple Marinara

Simple Marinara

We love to dip. Although most people enjoy dipping their crusty artisan bread in infused olive oil with plenty of dried oregano, some basil and a splash of rich balsamic vinegar, we enjoy a simple red sauce made of tomato, onion and garlic. My table would not be complete without a basic marinara sauce.

This is my recipe for a this delicious accompaniment to any Italian dinner.


Olive Oil (enough to cover the bottom of your pan and get it hot)
Butter (just a couple of tablespoons to richen and thicken your sauce)
Onion (the sweeter the better and chopped fine)
Garlic (minced nice and fine)
Canned Crushed Tomatoes ( With canned tomatoes, find a good Italian brand you like stick to it.)
Canned Diced Tomatoes
One Cup of good Red Wine (If you wouldn’t drink it don’t use it!)

Also, if you prefer
Fresh roughly chopped fresh basil
and or a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese

Now, just follow the order of the ingredients.
So as not to let the butter or the garlic burn, saute the onion first, then add the garlic. Saute until they are tender and translucent. Next add your tomatoes and wine. You can salt and pepper to taste.

Allow to cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.

You will love this simple sauce. Tom even spoons it over his fresh garden salad!