steel–magnolia. Noun. (plural steel magnolias) (chiefly Southern US) A woman who exemplifies both traditional femininity as well as an uncommon fortitude.
Hi everyone!! I hope you are well. Life has been especially exciting/blessed/challenging lately. It seems like we never stop and my hobbies (cooking) tends to take the back burner during those crazy times. I have been spending the last few weeks reflecting on what my next post should be about, and it hit me: I’m going to honor the strong women in our culture, also known as Steel Magnolias. To start, have you all ever seen the movie Steel Magnolias? If you haven’t, you MUST watch it! (RIGHT NOW). Steel Magnolias is my absolute favorite movie of all time. The film embodies what it means to be Southern, particularly from Louisiana. Sally Fields, Julia Roberts, Shirley Mc’laine and Dolly Parton are just a few of the members of this star-studded cast. The movie is set in the 80’s, but is truly a timeless tale of enduring suffering, laughing through the good times, and living this life with a certain grace and wit that inspires those around you. I mean, we can start with the title. Steel Magnolias. A Steel Magnolia is defined as a woman who exemplifies both traditional femininity as well as uncommon fortitude. Of course fortitude is defined as bravery, courage and resilience. So basically, a Steel Magnolia is a woman who is delicate, gentle, and polite, however, she is also a woman who can stand on her own two feet and take care of everyone around her. I absolutely LOVE the idea of that. A true Steel Magnolia is the type of woman who can tell someone to stick it where the sun don’t shine, and follow it with a “Bless your heart” and it all just makes sense. Do you guys know anyone like that? I do. My mom. My mom is truly the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known. You will never see her without makeup and she always has a koozie in her purse, ready for a cold beer. But, She is also the smartest woman I’ve ever met, and has risen us up through the darkness, and helped us see the good when there wasn’t any. When my mom lost my dad, her soul mate, she took her time to grieve. But, she quickly got up, put on some lipstick, and kept living. I’m not saying Steel Magnolias don’t experience pain. A Steel Magnolia feels all emotions to the core. I’m saying that even though Steel Magnolias feel pain, they fight through it and continue to kick ass at life. They don’t complain, nor do they brag about their strength. They just power on through the good, the bad, and the ugly with sophistication and grace.
Being raised by a Steel Magnolia, I learned:
- You can never depend on anyone to make you happy. Only YOU can make YOU happy.
- Work hard.
- Be humble.
- Be nice.
- Tell the truth.
- It’s ok to cry, BUT, don’t cry in public. Remain strong. Those around you are looking to you for strength.
- Get an education.
- Give of yourself to others, but always take care of yourself.
- Love without fear.
- There is nothing that can’t be solved by drinking wine in a warm bubble bath with candles lit and music playing. NOTHING!
I think we can all agree that most of us will first think of our moms, or moms we know, or grandmothers as Steel Magnolias. Moms are the matriarchs not only of our families, but our society. These women start giving selflessly of themselves from the moment of conception- changing their eating habits, abstaining from alcohol, and giving themselves physically to the life inside of them. From there, a baby is born, constantly needing their mother for not only survival, but for constant love. Moms continue to give of themselves to their kids forever. Moms are the backbone of families, and they are essential to our family functions as Cajuns. When I think of a family gathering, such as first communion, piano recitals, BBQ’s, showers, and weddings, I think about the women there who make it all happen, and give their love and support to their kids and grandkids as they celebrate special times, always show up with a party dip, and always remember to buy a thoughtful gift that will make you cry. How do moms do it all? As a new mom, I am slowly learning. Hopefully I’ll get the hang of this “mom thing” someday. Who knows, maybe my daughter will one day refer to me as a Steel Magnolia? She better! After all, I named her after the main character in the film, Shelby.
Today’s recipe is all about the Steel Magnolia in your life. Many families have Sunday traditions of getting together and enjoying family time. Growing up, my mom worked a lot of weekends. But, when she had a Sunday off, she often spent time in the kitchen, cooking something for us to enjoy as a family. Her Sunday go-to meal was spaghetti. I always loved her spaghetti. It’s thick and inspired by Italian cooking, full of herbs and garlic, and always topped with parmesan cheese. She’d usually serve it alongside garlic bread and corn. It was the perfect Sunday meal, and she’d always make enough spaghetti to yield leftovers for us for the week, which was especially helpful because she worked nights during the week. I remember she’d always enjoy her spaghetti with a glass of red wine- a treat that I enjoy now that I’m of age. After lunch, we’d all lay down, relax, and nap. Isn’t that what Sundays are all about?
With this recipe, I challenge you to try to prepare something special for a Steel Magnolia in your life. Maybe it’s your mom, stepmom, grandmother, or a coworker you admire. Invite her over, pour her a glass of wine, cook her a nice lunch, and allow her to relax and soak in some family time. Hey, maybe you can even buy a copy of Steel Magnolias and watch it with her! A true Steel Magnolia lives for tradition, so maybe this Sunday lunch could become a weekly or monthly event. Moms love to see their kids grow in life and love together, and it gives them comfort in knowing that family traditions will live on, even when they are no longer with us.
My recipe for spaghetti is very simple, it’s just something that I throw together, and it changes every time I make it, depending on what I have on hand. Today, I cooked spaghetti with homemade meatballs, and it was a big hit! I prepared my spaghetti with zucchini noodles, because like I mentioned in my last blog post, we are obsessed with our spiralizer! I also cooked regular pasta for the kids to eat, so there were options.
I hope you guys enjoy this recipe. And I hope my post made you think of a woman who is special to you, and reminds you of a Steel Magnolia. Call them and tell them. Cook for them. Let them know you appreciate them. Steel Magnolias love to be appreciated.
Side note: One of the reasons I’m feeling inspired by strong women is because of my recent obsession with Beyonce’s new album, Lemonade. My best friend, and fellow Steel Magnolia, suggested I download it, and thank God I did. I have officially joined the Beyhive! Anyway, in case you don’t know, Beyonce’s album goes through her stages of emotions when she found out her husband was unfaithful. The whole album is a roller coaster, taking you on a very painful, yet redeeming journey. In the album, her grandmother gives a speech at her 90th birthday party, stating “I have had my ups and downs, but I’ve always found the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade”. Beyonce shares her grandmothers recipe for lemonade, and says “Grandmother, you spun gold from this hard life”. Today, I challenge you to make lemonade.
Here we go!
Wine pairing: Kendall Jackson Cabernet
Music Pairing: I love listening to jazz music when I cook, especially when I cook spaghetti!
4 lbs ground meat (I make a lot of sauce and freeze whatever we don’t eat. I used 2 lbs for the sauce and 2 lbs for the meatballs. I used deer meat. Feel free to change the recipe to however much you want to make)
4 carrots, finely chopped (carrots add natural sweetness to your spaghetti)
Guidry’s produce (onion, celery, bell pepper)
½ cup red wine
Crushed tomato- 3 32 ounce cans
Diced tomato- I use Rotel and add 2 cans
Sauce: in large pot, cook ground meat until cooked through. Drain in a colander in the sink, return to pot. Sauté carrots, onion, celery, bell pepper, and cook until translucent and soft. Add garlic, stir until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with red wine, stir to combine. Season with spices and stir to combine. Add cans of crushed and diced tomato, Cajun power, liquid smoke and bay leaf. Stir well to combine, and let cook over Medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. Taste the sauce for seasoning preference. Cover the sauce and let simmer on low as long as possible- I let mine simmer for a couple hours if time permits.
2 lbs ground meat
½ diced onion
5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
½ cup parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh parsley
Mix above ingredients with your hands, and form into balls, about the size of golf balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Once cooked, add to the spaghetti sauce and simmer before serving.
In my attempts to eat healthier, I enjoyed my spaghetti and meatballs over spiralized zucchini. It was delicious! However, I also boiled a pot of pasta for the kids to enjoy.
Also, I recently started growing fresh herbs and I loved using my fresh parsley in the meatballs. They added lots of flavor!
I hope you all enjoy this recipe, however, I also hope that you take some time today to honor a Steel Magnolia in your life. Tell her how she’s inspired you.
xoxo- Cajun Queen