My novel Love at War is a WWII historical romance set in New Orleans. The family matriarch is a German native, and many of my family members noted similarities between the mother Magda and our own grandmother, Viola. Of course, many family stories and lore formed the basis for Love at War.
I started writing the book after my mother died when I began reading letters her brothers wrote home while deployed. The scene that aroused the most discussion, however, was not about battle scenes or historical documentation. Rather, a dinner table scene in the novel resulted in multiple emails, phone calls, and text messages.
The family had gathered for Sunday dinner; the main dish was meatballs and spaghetti. Many of my cousins expressed horror that I’d described the gravy as “brown gravy.” My cousin Trudy said, “Grandma’s meatballs were never in brown gravy, always red.” Cousin upon cousin emailed about this issue. “I vote red.” “I vote brown.” The red gravy cousins won.
My cousin Emmett resolved the controversy surrounding my betrayal of family tradition. “Grandma’s stewed chicken had the brown gravy. The meatballs were always in red gravy.”
Well, I’m almost certain I remember some brown gravy with the meatballs, but I agree that she fixed meatballs more often with red gravy than with brown.
Pardon me, Grandma, for my inaccurate recollections!
My mother used her mother’s recipe for meatballs and spaghetti, and I want to share it with this audience.
Grandma’s Meatballs and Spaghetti
- Shallots–3 stalks
- Butter–1 Tablespoon
- Breadcrumbs–1 cup
- Ground meat–1 pound
- Salt–1 Tablespoon
- Pepper–1 Tablespoon
- Lea and Perrins Sauce-1 Tablespoon
- Cooking oil–1 teaspoon
- Onion powder–1teaspoon
- Garlic powder–1 teaspoon
- Sugar–a pinch
- Bay Leaf–3-4
- 1 can tomato paste
- Parsley–1 teaspoon
- Oregano–1 teaspoon
- Flour–2/3 cup
- Bell pepper–1/2 of a bell pepper
- Chop Shallots into a bowl with the ground meat
- Mix ground meat, shallots, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and Lea & Perrins sauce into a mixing bowl.
- Roll the ground meat in flour into compact balls and place in a pot.
- Heat cooking oil in another pot and fry the ground meatballs. (The balls must be compact. My mother used to say that keeping things tight and compact was also good advice in life)
- Set aside the meatballs.
- Drain excess grease into an empty can.
- Put a pinch of sugar and bay leaf into the tomato paste can.
- Stir shallots and bell pepper with butter in a pot.
- Spoon tomato paste into the pot.
- Add water or beef broth.
- Stir while seasoning with parsley, oregano, salt & pepper.
- When seasoning comes to a boil, add the meatballs.
- Cook on a medium flame for one and one half to two hours.
- Cook spaghetti for approximately 10-15 minutes.
- Spoon gravy and meatballs over spaghetti.
While the sauce is simmering, check out Viola’s book Love at War, available on Amazon
Love At War
by Viola Russell
Nuala Comeaux and her brothers are part of a typical working-class family living life on the brink of World War II. Like most Americans, they pray war won’t come their way, but Nuala is more preoccupied with her budding romance with the handsome and intoxicatingly sexy Keith Roussell. Nuala willingly gives in to his charms, but soon, the tides of war will engulf Nuala and her family. Nuala marries Keith, and soon, Keith and her brothers are overseas, facing the enemy.
Keith’s talent with a rifle earns him the respect of the top brass, and he soon works as a sniper under the command of ranking officers. When Nuala learns of Keith’s death at the hands of a dangerous German general, she joins the female branch of the military. From there, she is recruited for OSS and joins her highly decorated brothers on clandestine operations. Even though patriotism plays a part in her motivation, Nuala is also consumed with the desire to seek revenge for the murder of her sniper-husband.
About the Author:
Viola Russell is the pseudonym for Susan Weaver Eble. A homegrown New Orleanian, she holds a doctorate in English literature from Texas A & M University. She has traveled far and wide and relishes the memories she has made in places as distant as England, Ireland, Canada, and Jamaica and as near as Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, California, and Massachusetts. She lives with her husband Ben, the love of her life, in a New Orleans cottage and is most comfortable at her computer creating the worlds that drift into her imagination.
Connect with Viola on her website