Mo, shown here sporting a rosy
countenance brought on by the well deserved string of rum and cokes she
enjoyed as her oldest daughter's wedding reception was winding down,
has been making Mostaccioli in the St. Louis area for lo' these many
years. Though she didn't make her famous dish on this particular
night due to fears that her snobby new son-in-law would expect
catered food, she regrets it now as he has proven to be the sort
that would have appreciated a good Midwestern noodle dish. And
according to all reports, Mo knows the Midwest. And noodles.
"The big M takes no prisoners
in the kitchen, especially when it comes to party trays and finger
foods," marvels middle daughter Kristen Leigh, "Those
little folding sandwiches and cucumber stackers and deviled eggs!
Come on! She's the best. But when she's about to break out the
Mostaccioli, you just get the sense that things are about to
progress to a whole new level. She always gets a
certain gleam in her eye. It's a confidence thing I guess."
Other family members are equally
complimentary about Mo's exploits between the sinks. "Probably
her biggest skill in the kitchen is delegating responsibility to
other cooks," reports first daughter Lisa Helen, who remembers
when Mo enlisted her for meal responsibilities on Monday thru Thursday nights
and weekends from the day she turned nine until she went off to
college. "She had us on a cooking regimen that included
shopping, prepping, defrosting, not to mention doing the dishes. She oversaw the whole
operation almost effortlessly with a hands off approach that can
only be called impressive. She could even be off playing bridge or
in a hot tub somewhere and everything seemed to go pretty smoothly.
Then, with the day to day operations safely farmed out, Mo was able to
concentrate on honing her party planning and soiree throwing skills.
Kristen and I may not have had much social life growing up, but the
party going populace of mid central Missouri were the big winners."
Mo is currently in the process of
relocating to a larger, brand spanking new kitchen/entertaining space on the
outskirts of town and has been busy with the details. With the last
of her brood recently leaving the nest for the world beyond the
Show-Me-State, Mo has also been diligently training a
new staff member, husband Barry, who is taking a well deserved
sabbatical from gainful employment after thirty years in the public
school trenches so that he might learn the ins and outs of Mo's
kitchen. "There are days, believe me, when I'd rather be
placating a gang of irate parents or dragging the first period smokers out of the
girls restroom as opposed to some of the stuff she's got me
doing," says Barry, wiping his brow and narrowly missing taking
a slice out of his new Redbirds cap with a potato peeler, "but
overall I enjoy it. And with the new house coming online, Mo's got a lot
to worry about what with carpet colors, matching bath towels, and
curtain material. Not to mention planning the house warming. She's
been leaving me pretty much alone lately and I'm thankful for that.
As long as I get my work
done I've got no problems."
As far as the house warming goes, the townsfolk anticipate big things. "The first party
she throws in the new digs should be a real blowout," said a
former neighbor who, despite nearly drowning his dog over and over
and leaving a sailboat in his front yard all year round, hopes to
make it on to the guest list. "All sorts of little egg rolls, mini
sandwiches, Aubrey Thacker's mom's casserole. And the punch. Oh the
punch! I plan on being there I can tell you that."
10 oz package Mostaccioli
15 oz block chili (frozen, usually in the meat department--"Rices"
if you are in Missouri or Kansas, some other kind if you are not)
2 cans tomato soup
2 cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp. anise
2 cloves garlic (1/2 tsp garlic powder)
2 tsp. oregano
2 lbs. ground beef
2 cans stewed tomatoes
Cut the chili block into pieces and place in large pan. Add chopped
stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato soup, and 2 soup cans of
water. Simmer. Brown the ground beef with minced onions and salt and
pepper. Drain well and add to tomato mixture. Add oregano, anise,
and garlic and simmer. Boil the mostaccioli noodles in salt and some
margarine. Serve sauce over noodles.
can be prepared ahead and frozen
makes enough for two meals - freeze half
Serve with tossed salad
French or Italian bread