Usually I scour the internet and my vast collection of cookbooks whenever I want to make anything. I read over the recipe start to finish at least once, usually twice, making notes of any ingredients I will need to pick up and making sure that no steps get skipped. I find comfort in the process. I have learned how to adjust things if I see problems in advance, but usually I'll just stick to the recipe because if I follow the instructions and it still comes out wrong, it wasn't me, it was the recipe and I will toss it immediately.
However, every once in a while I start to feel reckless. Usually it's when no one is coming over, I'm not making dinner for anyone, the kitchen is all clean and begging to be messed up a bit, and I just don't feel like going grocery shopping. The stars align and creativity kicks in. There's no fear of failure, because it's just me and should things go irretrievably bad, there's always take-out. And while I'm not confident yet to try anything too crazy, for me working without a recipe is like tightrope-walking without a net...I may not be doing cartwheels up there, but it's still thrilling.
This is how this recipe came to be. I defrosted a small package of ground pork and started tossing ingredients into the pot. I kind of wish I had mushrooms to add to it too, but ladled onto some spaghetti, it was a very tasty and a very filling dinner for three days.
Meaty Spaghetti Sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb lean ground pork
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp garlic powder (I'm a garlic junkie, what can I say)
1 tsp onion powder (um..just 'cause)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 can crushed tomatoes (I think mine was 12oz)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
mushrooms if you have them
1 cup water
Sautee the onions with the olive oil in a large pan until soft, then add the minced garlic and sautee for another minute. Add the pork and cook till it's no longer pink. If you have mushrooms, slice them up and add them now as well. Add everything else, stir thoroughly to combine, lower the heat and simmer, stirring often, for about 45 min. That's it! Scoop some onto some pasta of your choosing and Mangia, Mangia!