Summertime. Literally the best time of the year and the only time my Grandmother makes her famous “Goulash”. You may ask yourself, “why a goulash in the summer and not like a salad or something’? Well, one, it’s literally the best damn thing ever, and two because it is a meal that brings my family together as a whole, which is something that’s very difficult due to schedules and the mere size of our family. But no matter how stressed, tired, or whatever you are, she expects your ass there”! She makes this dish in the summer time to be sure she has the freshest ingredients on hand, so she says. But it’s funny because her definition of the “freshest ingredients” are her freshly grown peppers from her garden that is usually undertaken by rabbits and beetles, but still turns out some amazing veggies. It is also a time when we can sit outdoors and enjoy the smells and sights of Mother Nature as a family. In my opinion the best day having this meal is on a summer evening preferably Fridays around 5:30-6:00pm when the sun is setting and it’s not so hot out, with the sky full of beautiful blues, oranges, and reds, the smell of summer in the air that is swept under your nose by the slightest breeze, hanging out on the back deck with the tiki torches lit to rid of the pesty insects, while my grandparents’ dog runs wild barking usually at nothing, it’s just so cozy. I spend a good amount of time at my grandmothers during the summertime. As a family we all do. I love being around my family and the crazy atmosphere that comes with everyone being together, almost similar to the movie Home Alone, the very first scene where the family is going crazy packing up for their family trip, the chaos just makes the moment for me. Any other time of the year we are handling the stresses of the holidays, school, work, and hibernating, so the summer is a good time to come together talk about life goals, accomplishments, laugh especially at the one who spills sauce on themselves first, and to devour some famous goulash cherishing the moments we have together.
Goulash, that name always makes me laugh, like who on earth even came up with that name? I actually just tried looking up its origin via a google search and it was just a hot mess (pun intended). One thing that I love about this meal is the preparation. It usually involves my mother helping my grandma which usually ends in what sounds like a bunch of hens cackling. On occasion you will hear my mother blurt “for Christ sake Ma, LET ME HELP”, and then my grandma will usually respond, “Get the hell out of the kitchen Laur, pour yourself some wine, and relax”! Which then she responds, “fine mother, I will enjoy my wine and then continue pestering your ass in the kitchen”! It always makes me laugh on how they are with one another, and of course, it is all in a playful manner. I hope one day when I cook for my crazy family me and my mother will have those types of conversations, they make for great comedic skits!
Meanwhile, I think the best part is just sitting on my grandmothers back deck listening to my aunts (four of them mind you) give us all words of wisdom on each different aspect of life. Usually, the most common words of wisdom are,“get your head out of your ass and work hard for what you want in life”. Or another such as, “Don’t get old and miserable like me”. – Quoted by my Aunt Cathy. And mind you those quotes don’t normally apply to me because I am obviously the best nephew, son, and grandchild of course!
My grandfather who has since passed would always bust my chops when it came to dinner, telling me I was picking like a bird when it came to food. Except for his famous spaghetti sauce that he would make and would always want me to “test” it for taste (we never let grandma know of this haha). I think that is why I have such a connection to Italian sauces. My grandfather was known for his spaghetti sauce, and my grandmother is known for her tasty goulash. Man, if only we could go back in time to when they were so competitive with each other. Fighting on who makes the best sauce, and then talking about how certain people show up for whose dinner, it was hilarious. These two people practically raised me as a child, since my mother was always working raising two children on her own, myself included. The smells of Italian food always bring back those good memories. You know. The memories where your entire family is sitting around laughing, talking about the weather, the news, sometimes politics (man my grandfather would get so worked up, but it was always hilarious to me), and just the good of what is going on in everyone’s lives. I think the most significant part of the goulash recipe is the smell it throws in the air. The sweet smell of the sauce, peppers, onions, and spices, how their scent travels throughout the house making it smell like an Italian Restaurant you would come across in Italy. They say scent is the strongest sense to memory, and they are right about that. This goulash recipe is a recipe of memories, reminding me that family is where my heart is.
1 cup of fresh diced onion
½ cup of diced red peppers
½ cup of diced green peppers
1 clove of garlic
2 cans of hunts tomato sauce
1 6oz can of tomato paste
1 package of ground beef (organic)
1 basil leaf (taken out after sauce is cooked)
*throw in some of grandmothers secret Italian seasonings and some love ❤