Slowing It Down with a Simmering Ragù

Farfalle al Ragù, take 2

We laid out the napkins. The cheese sticks. The apple slices. Just he and I. Me and my littlest one. He contentedly set out a cup at each place and while in motion, said to me, “I like setting up snack.” And, then turning and looking at me directly, adds, “With you.” Later, when it was my turn to go and his to finish out the day, he sent me off with crocodile tears running down his cheeks. It was all I could do not take him with me….but, well…I had a hair appointment. What could I do?

a bowl of onions
As I locked up the house for the night, I was surprised to find my 10-year old quietly standing behind me. I thought he was sound asleep. I noticed that he had a look of sadness about him and I waited for him to talk…my one that never shares much. “Mom, I just don’t want to grow up too fast. It’s going too fast.” I took him in my arms and hugged him and thought, with that load of parental guilt weighing heavy on me, “Have I made his life too busy? Have I struck the wrong balance?”
I had every intention of taking her to school…a bit late…but then, we found ourselves detouring toward Lovejoy Bakers for a quick breakfast. “She’s already late…what does a few more minutes mean?” And, then, somehow, the sun, the fresh air, just being together, me, her, and the littlest one…we found ourselves on the streetcar headed for the aerial sky tram. And, silently, as we rode up and up and up, we took in the beauty of our city…the stark winter beauty. Once home, after our impromtu adventure, she says to me with a sincerity beyond her years, “Thank you, Mom…for today.”

diced carrots
And so, after that week, I wanted to take them…my three chickens…load them in the car and take them away…for a weekend, or even a day. Get away from the schedule, the responsibilities, the clock. Just be. And, although that wasn’t an option, I did “load them up” into “Mommy and Daddy’s” bed and there we sat, curled up under the blankets. Each one with his or her own favorite pillow. We watched movies. We read books. Some would draw. Some would bring in legos. My sweetie came in from time to time reading his iPhone book. We were all together and time seemed to slow down…if only for the afternoon.

Farfalle al Ragù
When the sun started to sink behind the coastal range, I gathered them around the kitchen table and fed them a ragù sauce over bowtie pasta. A sauce that had been simmering all day, filling our house with the warm, rounded smells of tomatoes and Italian sausage and oregano. We sat around that table and we talked and shared and each of us, in his or her own way, was grateful for our afternoon “time slowed down”.
Farfalle al Ragù

A Comforting Ragù Alla Bolognese
Course: Dinner
Serves: One big pot, enough for a family of 5 with leftovers
What I love most about this recipe is that I usually have the ingredients in the pantry and the freezer so there's no special trip to the grocery store. Sometimes if I have mushrooms or a zucchini, I'll slice and dice those up and throw them in at the same time as the carrots. And while I love the flavor Italian sausage adds to this sauce, sometimes I don't have any on hand so I'll just use the ground beef and decrease the tomatoes to one 28-ounce can and one 15-ounce can.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
  • 1 pound freshly ground beef
  • ½ pound bulk Italian sausage (mild or spicy, your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • Fresh herbs: 3 tablespoons fresh oregano & 3 tablespoons fresh basil OR dried herbs: 1 tablespoon oregano and 1 tablespoon basil
  • Water
  • 1 pound dried pasta: spaghetti, bow tie, or penne
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Heat your olive oil in a large pot. Add your onion and carrots. Sauté on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add your garlic. Sauté another minute.
  2. Once your vegetables are soft, add your ground beef and sausage. Break up your meat with a wooden spoon. Add a pinch of salt and a crack or two of the black pepper mill and cook until the meat is browned. Stirring occasionally.
  3. Add in your tomatoes and herbs. Stir to combine. Pour in enough water so that your veggies and meat are just covered. Bring to a boil and then, turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, at least 40 minutes or up to 3 hours on very, very low heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. About 15 minutes out from when you're ready to serve your meal, boil up a pot of water, toss in your pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, usually about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta.
  5. Spoon your sauce over your pasta, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top and enjoy. Or, if you can possibly stand it, wait and eat it the next day. Even better by then. (You may have to add a little water to it when reheating.) The flavors will have mellowed and created this smooth, rounded bite full of tomatoes and meat and carrots and herbs. Simply delicious. Enjoy!


All original text and photographs, copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010


  1. What a nice reminder that slowing down every once in a while won't in fact knock the earth of its axis! They are growing up fast, aren't they? 🙂

  2. Angie Muresan says:

    This is a beautiful post, Carrie. And the recipe sounds delicious.

  3. Wonderfull my little one.

  4. I absolutely love your blog…you write wonderfully, wonderful posts and are generous with recipes.

    I will visit again and often.

    Smiles ~ Ramona

  5. Amber-They are growing up fast. Would love to have you teach me some of your amazing "portrait" skills so I can take some better pictures of my little ones. You're "people" shots are fabulous!

    Angie-Thank you so much.

    Dad-When you get back from Hawaii and re-enter the rainy NW weather, I'll cook up a pot of this for you.

    Ramona-So glad you enjoy my blog. Thank you for your kind words.

  6. Chris Reynolds says:

    I made this last night for some friends and it was amazing, thank you so much for the recipe.


  7. Chris, So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know! Carrie