Monthly Archives: January 2012

Simple Tomato Sauce

I love a good tomato sauce, but for some reason I rarely make my own. However, after being draw in to a tomatoey, cheese-y picture of Chicken Parmesan on Tasty Kitchen, I decided that for this decadent dish I really needed to make my own sauce.

So today the sauce, tomorrow the chicken! It’s a plan.

Adapted from this lovely recipe, this tomato sauce isn’t complicated, and packs so much more flavor than the jarred variety.  It’s delightfully thick (if that’s your thing), and so healthy! I used about 2 cups of it, and froze the rest in small bags for future use.

It just warms my heart to see the bags waiting in the freezer for the day when the spaghetti impulse hits me.


(Makes approx. 6 cups)

1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion
5 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery
1 carrot
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
4 TBS butter, optional

Chop up the onion and mince the garlic.

Chop up the carrot and celery too.

Don’t worry about being precise since it will all get pureed in the end.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes, until it’s all soft and translucent.

Add the celery, carrot, some salt and pepper.

Cook for about 5 minutes, until the veggies are softened.

Add the tomatoes . . .

. . . basil, and bay leaves . . .

. . . and cover with a splatter screen.

Turn down the heat to low and simmer gently for 1 hour. This means it’s time to put your feet up and read a good novel while the delicious scents start swirling out of your kitchen.

After the hour is up, remove the bay leaves and taste for seasoning.

Add 1 TBS of butter at a time up the to the full 4 TBS, tasting in between, to round out the flavors.

Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until it’s as smooth as you want it.

Allow the sauce to cool completely and, if you’re not using it immediately, pour it into freezer bags in 1-2 cup portions. It will keep frozen for about 6 months.

Isn’t it a thing of beauty?

I took my hints on how to best photograph this sauce from the creator of the original recipe, whose pictures are just gorgeous.

Thanks for the idea and inspiration, Sweet Pea Chef!

Though we’ll be making Chicken Parmesan with this good stuff tomorrow, you can use it for so many things: to spread on a pizza, to make spaghetti, Arroz a la Cubana, lasagna, etc. Conclusion: make some homemade tomato sauce!

Click here for printer-friendly version: Simple Tomato Sauce

Purging Petronilla part 2: 112 things in 01/2012

And here is part 2 of our January purging efforts!

While the first half was mainly championed by me (as my husband was occupied with a series of post-burglary door-securing projects), the second half was mainly championed by him.

Go baby go!

It all took place in our 2nd bedroom, which is the residence of lots and lots of papers. Academic papers and articles my husband has printed out over the years, a file of my papers including old college stuff, childhood stuff, drawings, poetry, etc.

Papers are one of the hardest things to purge, because before throwing them away I usually feel the need to check each and every one. Which takes loads of time. And if I form an emotional connection with the paper in question that I’m reviewing because it stirs up memories of our early dating years, or my triumphant A+ in that one French class, then it becomes hard to throw away.

But we forged through! Not quite mercilessly . . . but a little mercilessly.

We got rid of well over 60 things–old checkbook covers.

My husband’s old Dark Shadows catalogue.

My old manuscript-style study of the book of Mark.

It was the most intense, amazing, satisfying, brain-stimulating study of the Bible I’ve ever done. And it involved lots and lots of colored pencils.

InterVarsity (the Christian campus organization that we belonged to as undergrads) loves their colored pencils. I remember thinking “how childish!” when I was first introduced to this technique of studying the Bible, but a mere 20 minutes after thinking this, I realized how great the color-coordinated marks are for seeing patterns in the text.

Sigh. I loved my undergrad life.

But it’s over. To the trash with you!

I also purged more old college syllabi.

Goodbye Intro to Criticism!

Jonathan Elmer did a fantastic job with that course . . . but am I really going to read through all my notes ever again? Probablement non.

When all was said and done, after this year’s purge I only kept the materials from one solitary poetry class and one lone French class. Maybe those can go next year, we’ll see.

Things that we uncovered that did NOT get purged:

My friends! Big Hermie, Little Hermie, Kaiser and Winston. I always thought of Kaiser’s name as spelled Cizer, by the way. It feels important that I should disclose how his name is spelled in my heart.

And my sheet music!

That ain’t goin’ nowhere soon.

This is just a tiny stack pictured, but there’s tons of it–a box full. Piano music, vocal music, choir music, classical guitar music, violin music. And it all must stay. That stuff’s expensive, man. And I totally want to take up the violin again once we’re in a more sound-proof apartment where I won’t die of guilt when the sreeching noise of my ineptitude fills the room.

By the end of our paper-purging evening, we had two huge trash bags going to the dumpster.

And it felt gooooood. With a couple empty file boxes, I was also able to find a new and safer place for my camera equipment.

Next year we’ll have to do 113 things, and I’m already looking forward to it. Not that we can’t purge throughout the year (we will! especially if we move) . . . but there’s something to be said about doing it as a joint project with your more-than-willing spouse, and feeding off of each other’s enthusiasm.

Until next year, Petronilla!