Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What do you do with the most amazing tomatoes ever?

Step 1: Slice them into 1/2 inch slices

Step 2: Lay them on a plate, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried crushed oregano

Step 3: Eat them

Seriously, this is something my mom used to do with our tomatoes from our garden. There's nothing better when you have home-grown tomatoes. I've tried it with store-bought, and it's really not worth it. You need the extra red, juicy, and sweet tomatoes that can only come from your own garden.

My plan was to can this last batch of tomatoes that my mother-in-law gave us, but I might eat them all before I get to that. Oh, when these are gone, I won't have any more until next summer. Le sigh...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pasta Faccia Bella

My husband and I went back to our hometown again this weekend for a friend's wedding. We stayed with my husband's parents, and of course, nobody can leave there without armloads of fresh produce. I've mentioned before how I get the most amazing produce from my mother-in-law, well she outdid herself this time! We got spinach, oranges, beets, carrots, lemon cucumbers, regular cucumbers, raspberries, and of course, tomatoes galore! Oh, we also got a shitload of pumpkins and gourds that they grow in their back yard! Can't wait to display those bad-boys at Thanksgiving!

Pasta Faccia Bella
While deciding on a menu for this week, we figured it would be best to include as many of the veggies that we brought back as possible. I remembered that last week, a friend at work shared her lunch with me, which was a leftover pasta that she made containing collared greens, bacon, onions, and garlic. I decided to use what I had, and the result is Pasta Faccia Bella! For those of you that don't know Italian, "Faccia Bella" means "pretty face," and is often used as a term of endearment. The pasta that resulted from this experiment was so delicious, that I felt actual love for it was a part of mi there ya go.

  • A big bunch of spinach
  • Rotini Pasta
  • 2 slices of bacon (diced)
  • 1/2 onion (sliced very thin)*
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (paper-thin slices)
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • 5 or so tomatoes (diced)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is getting up to temperature, cut down the ugly parts of the spinach stems, and wash the heck out of those leaves. Nobody likes gritty spinach. Add your spinach to the boiling water. I didn't time it, but it was probably like 2-3 minutes. Basically, when your spinach looks done to your liking, use a slotted spoon, and remove it. Put the spinach in a bowl and lightly sprinkle with some salt and pepper - set it aside.

Bring your (now green) water back to a boil, and add your pasta - cook it for as long as your package says. It will probably finish before you are done with the sauce, so just strain it, give it a rinse with cold water, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or skillet, render your bacon. When it looks nice and crispy, remove it with a slotted spoon.

Add your garlic and onions to your bacon grease. Give them a good long saute until they are very soft, but not browned. There may be bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, and that's ok!

Now throw in a splash of red wine vinegar, and use it to deglaze the pan. After a minute or two, throw your tomatoes in as well as your red pepper flakes. My tomatoes were very ripe, so I didn't cook them for very long. Once the tomatoes start to look soft (but not mushy), take your pan off the heat.

Add your spinach to your sauce, and stir it around. Now add your pasta to the sauce, and really get it combined. Finally, add your crispy bacon bits! Serve with some pecorino romano, and you're done like a duck's dinner!
* My original plan when I went to the store today was to get pancetta for this recipe, but they didn't have any. It came out amazing with bacon, but I'll probably do it with pancetta next time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Celebrate with Jambalaya!

So now we're wrapping up our anniversary week celebration - I'm totally full of food and booze, so I guess it's about time. Last night we celebrated with jambalaya in honor of our rehearsal dinner that we had at a Cajun restaurant. If you've never made jambalaya, you totally should. It's so easy and tastey! It's also great as we usually have most of these ingredients on hand, so it's a great last-minute dinner when we're in pinch - with the exception of andouille...I mean seriously, who has that "on hand"?


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 green sweet pepper chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/12 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
  • dash or two of garlic powder
  • 1 bayleaf
  • ground black pepper
  • A few splashes of hot sauce
  • 2/3 cup long grain rice
  • 1-2 andouille sausages diced*
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed**
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped

First, melt your butter in a large saucepan, and add the celery, onions, and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are soft, but not brown. Then add your tomatoes, broth, spices, hot sauce, rice, and sausage. Stir it all up, and bring it to a simmer. Turn the heat on low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Once it's done, remove it from the heat, and stir in the chicken. Spoon it out onto your plate, and top it with some green onions. Be sure to have more of that hot sauce on hand, it's great to add later!

*If you can't get your hands on the sausage, that's fine - it comes out great with just chicken.
** We often get chicken breasts or thighs (whatever's on sale), salt and pepper it, then grill it on the BBQ. You can also bake it in the over, or poach it in water or broth.

This yummy dish brought us right back to the rehearsal dinner. I remember being so excited and nervous that the wedding was actually coming together. It was the first taste we had of the wedding festivities, and we had a blast. I don't remember what I ordered, but I recall getting an eclair swan with our names in chocolate for dessert. I know it sounds cheesey, but we had a blast!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Celebrate with Tacos!

To keep in theme with the anniversary week, tonight we decided to celebrate a little place called Tacos Break that we visited - numerous times - on our honeymoon. We went to this really lovely resort in Puerto Vallarta, thanks to my very generous parents, but we were still on a budget when we were there. We discovered this little taco stand called Tacos Break that was just a short hop from our resort. They had tacos for under a buck, and they were AMAZING! They were super simple and delicious. After a long day at the pool and beach, we would say, "Need a break? Perhaps a Tacos Break?" Then we would go get tacos. I guess it's not that clever now that I see it written out.

I have to give major props to my hubby for making dinner tonight. He tried out a carne asada recipe we found on Basically, he mixed up this really yummy marinade using our old school tools, marinated it for about an hour or so, then grilled it up. So darn yummy, I highly recommend it. A must with this, is the onion/cilantro/lime relish that is also in that same recipe. It's just a fresh and light taco. Probably not so light when you eat 4 of them, but that's how it goes when you re-live your honeymoon!

I also made my famous Mexican rice. I learned how to make this rice about 6 years ago from a friend at work, and it's so easy - there's just one trick...DON'T lift the lid while it's cooking. Let me share it with you now...

Marco's Famous Rice

  • A tablespoon or two of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bullion cubes
  • An ounce of tomato sauce
  • A dash of garlic powder
  • A dash of hot sauce (optional)
Heat the oil for a minute or so on high heat, then throw in the rice. Be sure to keep stirring the rice until it is browned...but not burned! Once the rice looks browned enough, pour in the water - be careful to to burn yourself as the water will rice and boil quickly. Toss in the bullion cubes, tomato sauce, garlic powder, and hot sauce - give it a quick stir, and throw the lid on that bad boy. Put the burner to low heat, and let it go for 20 minutes. Don't lift the lid, it will be just fine! After 20 minutes, turn the heat off, take the lid off, and fluff it a bit with a fork. I usually leave it with the lid off for a few minutes to get rid of extra moisture. And there ya go, Marco's Famous Rice!

This was a great trip down memory lane. We spent dinner talking about Tacos Break and the various adventures we had on our honeymoon. We finished dinner, and then enjoyed some of the cake-ish stuff that I made yesterday. That thing looks like a monster, but man is it tastey!

Looking forward to my special dinner planned for tomorrow!

Celebrate with Mac & Cheese and What Resembles a Cake!

In true Canadian fashion - serve with ketchup!
Yesterday was our 2-year wedding anniversary, and unfortunately my husband had to be at school until 9:30. It was already in my plan to make my famous Mac 'n Cheese for dinner. It really doesn't relate to our wedding in any way except that we both LOVE it! I also had the brilliant idea of re-creating our wedding cake as a surprise. Not the decor aspect, obviously, but the chocolate/raspberry goodness that was inside.

The second my husband was out the door to go to school, I was off to the grocery store. I picked up white cake mix, chocolate frosting, and fresh raspberries. Now let me preface this story with the fact that I'm actually good at making cakes from cake mixes. It's easy, I've done it a million big whoop. When I was a kid I would make layered cakes and have no problem.

OK, that said, as soon as I got home, I whipped up the mix, poured it in 2 cake pans, and baked it exactly according to instructions. I also did the 'ol toothpick in the center of the cake trick to make sure that it was perfectly done. I let those mothers cool for 15 minutes before removing them from the pan and putting them on the cooling rack. While they were cooling, I made the Mac 'n Cheese and got it in the casserole dish. I was feeling pretty damn proud of myself for this multi-tasking awesomeness.

Cake Fail
Once the cakes were thoroughly cooled, I prepped my fancy-pantsy glass cake dish that I got as a wedding gift. The second I lifted the first cake and put it on the dish it cracked down the middle...big time "uh oh." This sort of thing has happened before, I could hear my Gram saying, "Just put more frosting there, you'll be fine." I frosted the top of the first layer, then for extra yums, I put a layer of my mother-in-law's homemade raspberry preserves. It was looking pretty damn good. Then I lifted and placed the top layer, and the cake just started to come apart. I pushed as much of it together as I could, but it was looking pretty grim. I thought, "well hell, I gotta keep going." So I started frosting the top. It was like each time my knife touched the cake, it fell apart more. I just kept frosting the cracked parts hoping it would mask it, and then I realized that the top of my cake was all frosting, and there was none on the sides. Super cake fail! What to do? I guess put some fresh raspberries on top...I thought maybe it would take away from the fact that the cake looked like someone attacked it. It was at that point that the cake started to fall off the dish, so I had to throw the cover on it to keep it all together.

Needless to say I was pretty bummed and frustrated. I mean, It's an effing cake mix! I'm better than that - and I've NEVER seen anything so messed up looking before. Long story short, my husband came home and laughed when he saw the cake dish with the mutant cake bits, but he was very pleased and happy with the surprise. I also had 2 helpings. We used a spoon to get it on our plates, there was really no point in trying to cut it. So much for my wedding cake-cutting set!

The funny thing is, my husband reminded me that at our wedding, the caterers forgot to get us cake once they cut and served it. So by the time we got our share, it was basically a pile of cake bits that really looked like the monster that I made. Maybe I should have said that was my plan all along.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Celebrate with Food and Drink!

9/20/2008 - SB Yacht Club
Tomorrow is my two-year wedding anniversary - I can't believe that much time has actually gone by! After so much planning and preparing, the day came and went so darn fast. For practically an entire year, my life was all about "the wedding." Every phone call I received or made was about the wedding. My mother and I only talked about it, and it's all I could talk about to anyone else. I probably drove the world crazy, but that's just what happens. When the ceremony, and especially the reception finally arrived, I tried to stay in the moment and take it all in, but alas, it flew by at some sort of Star Wars-grade light-speed. I remember looking over at my husband as we were on the plane to Mexico (only hours after leaving the wedding) and saying, "Did that all just really happen?"
Seriously - this was our wedding cake

Since getting married, we saved for a house, bought a house, adopted a dog, and started slowly renovating said house. Thinking back, I guess we've done a lot to fill those two years, but still...when I look at the photos, I think, "that was just a little while ago." I suppose in the long scheme of things, it was. So now what? Our last anniversary came right after we moved into our new house, so it was a bit glossed over. We had too many things going on, so we just went to a special dinner and ate the top of our wedding cake. Was it good? Oh hell yes it was good. We vacuum sealed it in a container and it was AMAZING! So now it's our cotton anniversary, what can we do to make it extra special?

Puerto Vallarta
I thought it would be a lot of fun to plan this week's dinner menu according to the themes of our wedding and honeymoon in Mexico. Tonight will be Chicken Enchiladas in honor of our trip to an amazing restaurant called Chilaquiles in Puerto Vallarta - it was right on the water, and we had a perfect view of the goings-on. I remember ordering enchiladas and my husband ordering some amazing hand-made taquitos. It was so tasty, and we had a never ending supply of beer to go along with it. The waiter kept coming over to our table, chanting "Two more beers! Two more beers!" Who were we to argue? We didn't want to offend being in a foreign country 'n all, so we just went with it.

Tonight's dinner recipe will be courtesy of Cook's Illustrated, "Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce." It seems like a lot of steps, but it is so well worth it! I also have a bunch of Mexican beer and tequila on hand. If we're going to re-live our wedding and honeymoon, we need to be thoroughly liquored-up.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Best Day Ever!

After we installed the tile in our kitchen (see previous post for more info on that project), we had to stay out of the kitchen for 24 hours. I am sort of in love with the kitchen because I love to cook, so this was a bit of a downer. Well, a downer until I realized that it was the day of the SB Dog Festival, so my husband and I took Lama, AKA: Mr. Man, AKA: Sleepy-Beard the Pirate.

It was so great, there were hundreds of dog owners, their dogs (duh...), booths with free stuff, live music, and beer. Did I mention beer? The vet, various feed stores, and other vendors had booths. Each had a dog bowl full of treats and a water bowl on the ground. Lama was in heaven. He had about a million treats, and got loves from all sorts of people. It was really quite adorable.

Check out Lama before treats and rubs:

Lama after treats and rubs:

Yeah, he was a pretty happy little dude.

It was a really fun day - they even had an agility course, which Lama wanted nothing to do with, but I found quite interesting. He was probably wondering why those dogs were running around when there were treats to be had all over the place. Oh well, to each his own.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Master of Tile

My husband and I took on one heck of a job this weekend – we decided to tile our kitchen floor. At first we were going to just replace the floor those that self-adhesive linoleum tiles – we did that in a bathroom, and it looks pretty nice. Here's the rub, when we went to the home improvement store, we found that the tile that we've been looking at for a long time was on super-sale, and buying real tile and all of the supplies was actually cheaper than the linoleum tiles we picked out.

I've seen a LOT of shows on DIY Network, and laying tile looks hella easy. I mean, as long as you don't jack-up the cuts on the saw, you should be just fine, right? Yeah, no. It actually takes a very long time, and lots of measuring and cutting, and fitting. Once the tile is laid out on the mortar, you can't even walk on it for 2 days! Once the mortar is dry, you grout it, and then have to let it sit again for a day or so. On the shows the people have it grouted by the end of the first day and are enjoying cocktails with the host – no dice, grandma.

We ended up getting most all of the kitchen done and grouted by Sunday afternoon, but we have one more section to do in which we need to move out the fridge, washing machine, and dryer, oh my. That will be another weekend in the not so distant future. Although it was a lot of work, it was very rewarding, and the finished product ain't too bad!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tomato Sauce Follow-Up - Making Pasta Sauce

Since canning my tomato sauce last week, I've been dying to make something with it. The stuff is pure gold and cannot be wasted; so I wanted to make sure that whatever I made with my first jar of it was worth it. I decided to go a bit nuts and use some ingredients that I don't normally include, such as mushrooms and bell pepper. Notice anything missing from the picture below? No? Look closer...yeah, now you see, I don't have garlic. Can you believe it? I was actually out of garlic, and by the time I got all my stuff together, I didn't want to run back to the market. Un-friggin-believable...

My kingdom for a clove of garlic!
  • Olive Oil
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Meat (optional)
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Tomato Puree (my home-canned original)
  • Tomato Paste
  • Diced Tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flake
  • Dried Basil
  • Dried Oregano
  • Bay Leaf
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Mushrooms (optional)
  • Bell Pepper (optional)
First thing I do is chop up my onion. I usually use a small white or yellow onion (depends on what's on sale), but feel free to use more or less, it's not going to mess up the's all about personal taste. Now, if I had garlic, I would very thinly slice about 2 cloves. Sometimes I mince it, but I've gotten into paper-thin slices lately. Must be influenced from a late night watching Goodfellas a couple weeks ago. Ok, so you got the chopped up onion and garlic - now heat up some oil in a large pot and saute it. I usually let it go for about 5-10 minutes. I never timed it, but I know I never let them get caramelized, just soft and smelling delicious.

Next, if you would like to add meat, do it now. You can add ground beef, turkey, or whatever you like. I squeased 2 mild Italian sausages from their casings and dropped them in. Of course there is no picture of that as it just looks obscene. Now brown your meat in the onions, garlic, and oil until there's no more pink left. Yeah, yeah, I know it's going to boil for hours and cook regardless, but that's just how I do things.

Now, time to add your cans of tomato products. After adding each can, I usually fill the can about half-way with water, swish it around in the can, and dump the water into the sauce. This does 2 things: 1.) make sure you didn't miss any tomato goodness, and 2.) makes your sauce go further. Seriously, in this economy, we need all the help we can get. Mix all you tomato products together to get them incorporated with the onions, garlic, and meat. The tomato paste is a little hard to break up, don't worry about it too much, it will eventually make it's way through everything.

Get your sauce bubbling on the stove and then turn the heat down to low; cover the sauce half-way with the lid. After about the length of 1 episode of the Golden Girls, taste your sauce. Since I used sausage in mine and my super-spiced home-canned tomato puree, I didn't need much extra. I threw in a bay leaf* and a pinch of red pepper flake, and stirred it up. This is where your personal preferences come in. It is also here where you might need to add a tiny bit of sugar if your sauce is too acidic.

Mamma mia! These 'a colors remind a'me of a'the old a'country!
Here comes the fun part - drop in your veg products, in this case: sliced mushrooms and chopped bell pepper. Stir it all up and get it bubbling on low again. Sometimes I have sun-dried tomatoes on hand (also from my in-laws), and chop them up and throw them in as well. Now put that lid back on half-way and let it go. I tend to check on it every hour or so just to make sure it's going well...and not burning or bubbling over the edges. Not that anything like that has ever happened...

Dark red, chunky, and thick - this was one of my best!
Finally, you've tasted your sauce after hours of simmering, and you love it! Now what to do?** I poured mine over pan-fried polenta! Since I made the sauce from scratch, I didn't feel so bad about buying pre-made polenta from Trader Joe's...that's ok, right? I'm sure if my Italian Grandma was still alive, she'd think it was a great thing. Now go on, try your own sauce! It will be different than mine, since we have different tastes, but the formula is basically the same. Mangia!
* In my family, the bay leaf stays in the sauce, even when served. Most fancy folks on the television will tell you to remove it when the sauce is finished. My mom used to leave it in, and whoever found the bay leaf in their pasta "won the prize." What prize, you ask? There never was one, but we went along with it our entire lives, and I still have a habit of saying that now when I or my husband find a bay leaf in our food.

** You're going to have way more sauce than you actually need for 1 meal. I let mine cool down a bit, pour it into 1-quart containers, and freeze it. Next time you can't think of what to do for dinner, you have a homemade sauce waiting for you!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Artist Rendering of Shoreline Bird Fight

Regarding the bird fight I saw at the beach on Friday (as mentioned in yesterday's post), I described it in great detail to my husband so he could draw it, and this is what he came up with. When he showed it to me, I could not believe my eyes. This is EXACTLY what it looked like. Seriously, I don't think a photograph would have captured the emotion that he expressed with his pencils. Perhaps his drawings should make more appearances in this blog. Thanks dude!

Bird Fight, 9/5/2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Backyard Vacation

Sweet - take a dump and have an ice cream cone at the same time!
My company gave us yesterday off of work, which is totally cool because a.) it makes a four-day weekend, and b.) not working kicks-ass. It has been so long since I’ve had a day all to myself, I wasn’t sure what to do. After feeding and walking Lama, I curled up with a book for about 2 hours. It was pushing 10:00, and the day quickly went from “foggy and cold: stay home and booze” to, “sunny and lovely: go out and booze.” I decided to make myself look presentable and face the beautiful day. But where to go? I thought, “Hell, I live in a tourist town, might as well give that a whirl.” Talk about a cheap vacation.

First Stop: The Mission
I’ve been to the mission many times, mostly to show out-of-towners, but it was kind of cool seeing it with new eyes on my own. I ended up spending a good deal of time in the rose garden – I never really noticed how many different types of roses there are out there. Reminded me of my Gram. I was pretty quickly pulled from my zen when every time I tried to take a picture, a tourist got in my way. Maybe if I was taking a picture of a kid giving the peace-sign in front of the big wooden cross they would have shown some respect. It was time for me to move on.

A lovely place to be sued.
Second Stop: The Courthouse
Now, I know what you’re thinking…a courthouse? WTF? But here’s the deal, the Santa Barbara Courthouse is actually pretty darn nice looking. I’ve seen it a number of times from the outside–in the summer there are weddings there almost every day. In fact, one was about to start while I was there yesterday. Since I had nothing but time, I figured I’d actually venture in. If you like tile and a whole lot of Spanish-flare, this is the place to be. You can also wonder around the entire place, and nobody stops you. Well, I didn’t open closed doors, so don’t totally take my word for it. All in all, I was impressed, and if I’m ever involved in a legal matter, it will be a pleasure to attend this wonderful establishment.

Third Stop: El Presidio
The Presidio is only a few blocks from the courthouse, and it’s…well…a presidio. I didn’t take the tour since I think you have to pay or make donations, and I wasn’t up for that. I did notice that they had a ton of drying bricks out front, and it made me think of that scene in PeeWee’s Big Adventure, where they are at the Alamo, and the tour guide says, “Can you say A-Doe-Bee?” I wonder if there’s a basement in the Presidio?

 Last Stop: The Beach
As I was getting back in my car, my phone rang. A girlfriend of mine had just gotten her hair done and wanted to hang out. I suggested going to the beach for beer and food and beer. We met at this really chill cafĂ©, sat outside, drank beer, and watched the fog roll back in over the ocean. There was one point where two seagulls totally got into a fight, and one was trying to swallow the other’s head to get the food from his throat. It was one of the most awesome/disturbing things I’ve ever seen. I was too slow on the camera for that, so alas, no picture. I’m going to have my husband sketch it out according to my description, because it’s just too good to miss out on. Stay tuned...

What I learned from my backyard vacation:
1.)   Tourists season sucks. I’m glad they pour money into this town, but they cramp my style. Seriously, just because you’re in a beach town doesn’t mean it’s ok to wear a bathing suit in public like clothing.

2.)   When I'm farting around by myself, people treat me as though I'm invisible. Can be both bad and good.

3.)   I live in a beautiful city, and should probably take more notice of it once in a while.

4.)   I will NEVER try to take food from a seagull.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When Life Gives You Tomatoes...

As mentioned in my previous blog post, my husband and I went back to our hometown this last weekend. What I didn’t mention was that my wonderful mother-in-law gave us a shitload of tomatoes from her own garden! Now, for those of you who grow your own tomatoes, you know that there is NO substitute for them at the store. My husband and I don’t have a garden, so we bite the bullet and eat crappy store tomatoes all the time, so this gift was pure gold. The problem with having a shitload of tomatoes and just two people is that they go bad before you can eat them. Again, mother-in-law to the rescue, “why don’t you just make sauce and can it?” And that is just what I did. I’m so effing proud of myself that I can’t stand it, so I have to share the process with you.

Step 1: Cut out the tops and score the bottoms of you tomatoes with an “X.” Does this sound crazy? Well, it’s not. It comes in handy for Step 2.

Step 2: Drop the tomatoes into boiling water for a few minutes, and then scoop them out and plop them into an ice-bath. This makes the skin super easy to remove…so go on, remove the skin now! Note to the reader who thinks this is already too much work: If you have a food-mill, you can always skip this step and just run the whole process through the mill at the end. Alas, I have no food mill, so I do it this way.

Step 3: Put all of your skinned tomatoes into a big pot and throw it on medium heat. I also took this opportunity to salt and pepper the tomatoes. I also smashed a couple cloves of garlic and just tossed them in. NOTE: I’m Italian, so of course this is going to be used eventually to make a sauce for pasta, pizza, polenta, etc., so I know that I want to season it for such a thing. If you aren’t sure what to do with it, you can always keep it simple–you can always season it later when you’re actually cooking it for a particular meal. Now make sure you cover that pot and let it go for a while…I let mine go for the length of two episodes of the Golden Girls, approximately one hour.

Step 4: Check those tomatoes – do they all look nice and mushy? Good. It was at this point that I took my immersion blender to the concoction.  I didn’t totally puree it, but got it rather smooth. Taste it at this point – do you think it needs anything? I added some dried oregano, basil, and about a teaspoon of sugar. My tomatoes were pretty acidic, so the bit of sugar took that right out. Thanks for the tip, Ma!

Step 5: Get the mixture back to simmering, and put the lid only half on. Turn the stove to “low” and let that bad boy go for a long-ass time. Mine probably went on cooking for another three hours. Check it every half hour or so to see if it’s thickening properly and to your liking. The best part about cooking for yourself is that it’s all to YOUR liking. See, my Italian Grandma used to like her sauce to be pretty thin. Me on the other hand, I like it on the thicker side (that’s what she said…hah). Neither one is wrong, just different. It’s ok to be different.

Step 6: When your sauce looks right and tastes right, take it off the heat. Now you have two options here – Option 1: Use this sauce as a starter for a meal to consume now. Option 2: Can that shit so you can use it some other time. There’s nothing better than preserved canned goods in the pantry – saves the day for me on many occasions!

My plan is to make one hell of a pasta sauce this weekend with my lovely organic tomato sauce. Although, there are so many options to consider. Maybe I should use it for an eggplant parmesan. What about fried polenta? Oh geez…good thing I have a few jars of it!