Amy Numrich is a librarian who creates cultural dishes for the community

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“He turned on the ‘Rat Pack’ and made all these wonderful foods,” Numrich recalled. “He was fun and the whole family was there and we were all together. It felt like a movie. I wanted to know how to cook well and learn the right technique.”

However, as so often in life, Numrich’s career path took a different direction. After attending Miami University and Kent State University, she began working at the Lane Library at the age of 23 and then transferred to the Miami University library system.

In 2008, a series of job cuts at Butler County libraries eliminated Numrich’s job. What many would see as a frightening setback, the college librarian saw as an opportunity to start a new chapter in her life. This gave her the chance to go back to school to study her first love: cooking.

“I remember thinking, ‘Now’s a good time to go to culinary school and I enrolled at Midwest Culinary Institute in Cincinnati,'” Numrich shared. “I had a lot of fun, learned a lot and got some jobs in restaurants and in the hospitality industry.”

In another unexpected twist in Numrich’s story, she discovered that she preferred cooking for friends and family to making a living. And a former love kept whispering in her ear to come back.

“I missed libraries,” she said with a smile. “I did what I wanted with culinary school; I wanted to learn how to cook well and I did it.”

“soup is running”

Now, after 11 years at Lane Library and counting, Numrich is branching out with her culinary skills and finding other ways to connect with others through her kitchen. She started a cooking series program called “soup is running” which normally runs in the autumn and winter months, but can be seen all year round thanks to The Lane Library’s official YouTube channel.

Her Sunday Gravy and Meatballs recipe puts a practical spin on a traditional Italian staple. The creative chef uses a slow cooker to make this delicious sauce instead of cooking it on the stove.

“I love using the crockpot,” Numrich said, and her eyes lit up. “You can just let it go and not worry. Then it’s ready whenever you are later in the day.”

When using a slow cooker, don’t be afraid to use seasonings to ensure you get the most out of the meal.

“People are afraid of salt, pepper and other spices,” explains Numrich. “I use a lot of black pepper and it doesn’t taste spicy – it gives it more of a kick. You need a fair amount of salt. Your food should never taste salty. It is intended to enhance the flavor of the ingredients. Nobody wants to eat something that doesn’t taste good.”


“SUNDAY SAUCE” RECIPE.

INGREDIENTS

20 whole cloves of garlic

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Tablespoon. dried pepper flakes

4 cans (28 oz.) whole San Marzano tomatoes – don’t skimp on the tomatoes for this recipe, only use Cento San Marzano tomatoes, nothing labeled “San Marzano Style” – trust me, there are a difference

1 small bunch of basil leaves

2 TEA SPOONS. Sea Salt (base level, add more to taste)

1 parmesan rind

DIRECTIONS

Pour olive oil into a large skillet on the stove. Add whole garlic cloves over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 6-8 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and cook for a minute, also stirring constantly. Place oil, garlic and pepper flakes in a slow cooker.

Place the San Marzanos (juice and all) in the slow cooker and mash with a potato masher. Add the sea salt and stir. Add the basil whole, with the leaves still attached to the stems. Place the Parmesan rind in the crockpot and cover completely. Turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer for at least four hours. At this point, you can add sausage or meatballs and let the meat cook in the sauce, or you can stop and have a simple but delicious red sauce. Remove the basil leaves and Parmesan rind from the sauce and it’s ready to serve.

meatballs

½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

½ cup total panko and Italian breadcrumbs, mixed

¼ cup grated onion

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Mash red pepper flakes

1 ½ pounds ground turkey, very cold

1 large egg, beaten

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more if needed

In a large bowl, combine cheese, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes and mix well. Add the turkey and egg and mix with your hands until well combined. Try to work quickly as the balls are best formed when the meat is still cold. Shape into 1 ¾ round meatballs. They should be slightly larger than a golf ball. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the meatballs are rolled, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake just until the meatballs are cooked enough on the outside to hold together, maybe 10-12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully place the meatballs in the saucepan. Allow the meatballs to cook in the sauce. This method ensures your meatballs stay tender and tastier.

*A note on using ground turkey. I like ground turkey, I think when it’s cooked in the Sunday Sauce you don’t miss the taste of the beef or pork because the sauce really flavors the meat. It’s also cheaper than ground beef, pork, or veal. You can use any combination of ground beef as long as it weighs 1 ½ pounds and that you chill it very well before preparing your meatballs. You might want to spray your hands with olive oil before forming your meatballs. Ground turkey is low in fat and sticks to your hands more than beef or pork meatballs.

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