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RDJ-- Mediterranean Spaghetti, 07-28-12  RDJ
 Jul 31, 2012 06:34 PDT 

Volume 15      Number 132
US Library of Congress ISSN: 1530-3292

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Mediterranean Spaghetti

1/2 pound lean ground beef
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup water
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs, divided
Cooking spray
4 cups cooked spaghetti (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
Fresh oregano sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the first 4
ingredients and sauté 5 minutes. Add the wine and next 6 ingredients
(wine through tomatoes). Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat, and
simmer 10 minutes or until thick.

Combine the flour, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg in a medium sauce-pan,
and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cook for 7 minutes or until thick,
stirring constantly. Remove milk mixture from heat. Stir in feta cheese,
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, and egg.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs in a 2-quart casserole coated with
cooking spray. Place 2 cups spaghetti in casserole, and top with 2 cups
beef mixture and 1 cup sauce. Repeat layers. Combine 1 tablespoon
Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs, and sprinkle over the
casserole. Bake casserole at 375F for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Let stand for 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh oregano, if desired. Makes 6

Nutritional Information
Amount per serving
    Calories: 365
    Calories from fat: 23%
    Fat: 9.4g
    Saturated fat: 4.8g
    Monounsaturated fat: 2.7g
    Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7g
    Protein: 22.2g
    Carbohydrate: 47.4g
    Fiber: 3.2g
    Cholesterol: 80mg
    Iron: 3.7mg
    Sodium: 709mg
    Calcium: 281mg

By Walter Mills

Giants in the Earth (from 2000)

In those days, as the Bible tells it, there were giants in the earth.
Sometimes it seems that only a generation or two ago there were giants
walking about in the guise of ordinary men and women, my grandfather
being one of them. Recently I found a framed picture of him among a
group of photographs we had packed away when we moved from San
Francisco. It shows a serious-faced man with strong but delicate
features. The style of dress is dated, but not unattractive, a
high-buttoned suit, stiff collar, carefully knotted tie. His receding
hair is combed straight back. He looks to be in his mid thirties, which
would make the year around 1911. At that time he was captain of the
Anton Dorn, and he may have been preparing one of his expeditions to the
South Seas.

Another photograph shows him as an old man with a two-year-old on his
shoulder, a pudgy, fair-haired child that is myself. He looks lean and
fit, his white shirt rolled up at the sleeve to reveal muscular
forearms. On the day of his death, at age seventy-six, he had planted
another fruit tree in the hard coral soil of south Florida, using pick
and shovel to make a hole, toting a hundred lb. sack of fertilizer on
his shoulder, at which point he lay down beneath a nearby orange tree to
take a nap from which he did not awaken. When my older sister, just six
at the time, went out to call him in for lunch, she reported back to my
mother that Grandpa was asleep out in the grove and there was an angel
above him in the tree. This is the story as told to me by my mother, a
woman of rigorous honesty.

Angels notwithstanding, he was no saint. He did not like church, and
made up sacrilegious ditties to irritate my Sunday school teaching
grandmother. He would stay home and prepare the huge Sunday feast while
the rest of the family sat in familiar pews in the big white Baptist
church downtown. He smoked a pipe and took a drink, though not to
excess. None of which explains why I see him striding out of a mythic
landscape, through the mists of a greener, more heroic age.

Families, like nations, have myths that bind them one to another. The
legends and tales of our founders -- Washington and the cherry tree,
Davy Crockett and the grizzly, Lincoln walking miles to return a widow's
pennies -- are meant to hold up a standard of behavior to those who come
after. My own family's founder tales tell us where we have come from and
what is expected of us. These are the ones I know of, and as far as I
know they are true.

At the age of ten my grandfather, John Mills, went to work on a barge on
the Oclawaha river of central Florida. His family had moved from north
Florida to the Lake Okeechobie region in the 1880s and settled in a
low-lying section of land that turned swampy and mosquito infested in
the rainy season. His father fell ill with malaria and John, though
still a child, sent his pay home each week to help support the family.

When his father's health did not improve John came home from the river
to move the family home to higher ground. He cut and trimmed logs which
he placed beneath the house, and, leading a team of mules, pulled the
house out of the swamp and up into the hills. There the family health
improved in the clean air and they planted an orange grove for income.

Within a few years his mother died, and when the orange crop froze in a
bad winter his father moved the family south to the sleepy hamlet of
Miami, a town of dirt streets and a few wooden buildings. John's sister
opened a boarding house and John roomed there with his brothers,
educating himself at night through correspondence courses, finally
earning his captain's papers by mail.

He signed on to the research vessel Anton Dorn, a yacht owned by the
Carnegie Institute, first as its chief engineer, later as captain. To
this day something of the mystery adheres to the names of those remote
islands that he and the Carnegie scientists explored -- Fiji, Samoa,
Tahiti, the Christmas and Easter islands-- though they have become
vacation destinations reached in a day or two by airliner. To my
grandfather they were carefully planned and provisioned voyages that
could last several years. On one such trip they overstayed their return
date by an entire year and newspapers reported him killed by headhunters
in Samoa. I have seen the photograph of grandfather with the
headhunters, and they appear to be getting along.

Another photograph shows the Anton Dorn under weigh drawing a skiff
behind her. She is a lovely wooden steamer, with clean lines and a
rakish air -- a modest vessel for such memorable journeys, trim and
compact. She is, like her captain, from another age, a time of
unassuming heroism and assumed competence. I wonder, tapping at my
computer terminal in the gray light of a tamed and rule-bound world,
could I ever be the hero to my grandchildren that he is to me.

Read more of Walt's writing at his blog:

(The above column originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times and is
copyright © 2012 by Walter Mills. All rights reserved worldwide. To
contact Walt, address your emails to    awmi-@verizon.net ).

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