This week’s column is dedicated to all the school bus drivers whose job involves a clear mind and lots of stamina early in the morning.

Overnight Coffee Cake

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sugar-white

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup butter milk

2 large eggs

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine first 10 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat at low speed of an electric mixer until moistened; beat at medium speed 3 minutes. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9 by 13 pan. Cover and chill 8 to 12 hours.

Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, pecans and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; place mixture in an air tight container until you’re ready to bake the coffee cake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle batter with brown sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center Serve warm.

My sister, Marg, in Florida recently bought an Italian cookbook online.  She sent me the recipe for a tomato sauce and a meat ball recipe which after some hesitation (I like Italian food but have never done any “real” Italian cooking.) I tried these out. They are delicious! We had company that night and they agreed.

I found Pomi boxed tomatoes at Hannaford in Belfast and also at the co-op.

Classic Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

1 finely diced onion

1 bay leaf

2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoon salt or to taste

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 (26 ounce boxes) Pomi chopped tomatoes (imported from Italy – Hannaford has them)

Heat oil with onions, garlic, and salt over medium heat in a large pot. Stir often. When soft and translucent, add tomato paste and cook 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaf and juice, lower heat, simmer 1 hour, stirring frequently so bottom does not burn. Taste and season with more salt if desired. Remove bay leaf.

Classic Meat Balls

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds (80 percent) lean ground beef

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

1/4 cup bread crumbs ( I used Panko)

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fennel ( I used ground not seed)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Drizzle olive oil into 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Coat all surfaces with you hand. Set aside. Combine beef, ricotta, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes, and fennel in a large mixing bowl with your hands. Pack meat firmly into 1 1/2 inch size balls. Line up in baking pan snugly in even rows – they should be touching each other. Roast for 20 minutes, firm and cooked through. Remove form oven and drain any excess grease from pan.

Pour Classic Sauce over the drained meat balls and continue roasting for 15 more minutes. Make your favorite pasta and enjoy. (I like Dreamfields Angel Hair.)

Our thought for the week: “Do today what you may not get to do tomorrow.”