Expecting our Little Brother in November!

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

She got Sauce!

As much as you might not be able to tell this by reading this blog, I do think about things other than pregnancy.

One thing I enjoy is cooking. And one thing I enjoy cooking is pasta sauce.

Me and James are pretty picky eaters. Not only are we vegan, and not only am I fairly newly gluten-free, but we also have other things like: We don't really eat onions or garlic. That's not to say that I don't eat onions and garlic when you, friend or family member, make a delicious vegan dish for us that happens to include these ingredients, but I rarely use them for myself, and we aren't typically very tempted to buy something like pasta sauce that often has a lot of onions and garlic.

Why, you may ask, don't I eat onions and garlic? Don't I know that they are delicious? Why yes, yes I do. In fact, they are so delicious that a few years ago I was probably eating almost an entire onion a day. Until my dear, brutally honest family told me that I had horrible BO that smelled, in fact, like onions. Since then I have come to realize that for some reason, my body expels onion and garlic like the plague. If I eat it once, I smell bad for days.

Additionally, strict Buddhist vegetarians do not eat onions and garlic. Something about the fact that they are bulbs, or something? I don't know.

Long story short, pasta sauce is something that I like to make myself. I always have, thanks to my dear Mother, who also makes her own sauce, but my recipe has evolved from hers--losing the onions and garlic and adding . . . oh, a vast variety of things.

Since we got a canner, this pasta sauce making has gotten even more interesting--I see just how big of a batch I can make, because the bigger the batch, the more cans, and the longer until I need to make it again.

We ran out of the last batch about 4 months ago, but I was in the middle of tired-ness from hell, jobless angst, and bedrest, and so, James has been running to the store for store-made jars of sauce for the past few months.

But lately I've been feeling better, and getting that itch to have my own WAY BETTER THAN FROM THE STORE pasta sauce. So when we went to BJ's last weekend I stocked up on tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes . . . and at the co-op I got red and yellow and orange peppers, and kale, and shitake mushrooms, etc.

So here is what James and I did yesterday--we made sauce.

First, we went out to the garden and I cut snips from our oregano plant and our sage bush (the poor thyme had had a rough winter so I didn't take any from it), and from the green onion grass that grows wild in our yard (yes, technically onions, but I can't turn down the free spices). I washed the herbs, cut them and sorted them into two batches.

Then I heated oil in the wok, and added one batch of fresh spices. I also added salt, pepper, a ton of dried basil, dried thyme, tarragon, and probably other things that I am forgetting, like cumin. I slow simmered the spices in the oils while I did other prep.

Then I heated the oven to 400 degrees, and put the peppers (yellow and red) in a baking dish--slathered oil on them, and roasted them in the oven while I did still more prep.

I melted soup stock (another thing I like to make) in a pan while we cut everything up.

James set up our food processor, and he grated carrots, and sliced celery and broccoli stalks. I cut up the heads of the broccoli, thin-sliced shittake mushrooms, and cut up the kale--one note here is that the veggies you choose to use are not that important. I typically always use carrots because they add sweetness and we always have them. I also typically use some kind of leafy green, but I could have used frozen or fresh spinach instead of the kale, or collard greens or swiss chard. But we had kale. I also would normally use a green and yellow squash, but we didn't have them, so oh well!

And then we were ready!

I got the oil hotter, added the broccoli first, then the celery, carrots, mushrooms, and finally a can of asparagus and the kale. I stir-fried all these veggies until they were aromatic and browning.

Meanwhile, we got out a big HUGE pot, James washed it well and I put more oil (and Earth Balance--veggie butter) in the bottom to heat, and I pulled the peppers out of the oven, and covered them to let them steam a bit. When they were done (and cooled a little), I cut them open, making sure to save the juices they were releasing along with the oil they were cooking in. I cut out the core and the seeds and chopped up the rest of the peppers. They, along with their juices and oils, got added to the big pot with melting oil and butter--I tossed them around a bit, and then quickly added the rest of the stirfried veggies.

Now James started opening cans of diced tomatoes (3 or 4). The liquid in the tomatoes got squeezed into a bowl, the tomatoes themselves went into the wok with more oil and basil to stir-fry. While they stirfried, we also opened cans of crushed tomatoes (4 BIG BIG cans), and added those to the pot with the veggies. The cans were rinsed to get all the extra tomato out, and this liquid was also reserved in the bowl. Into this liquid bowl I threw some: quick-cook oatmeal (you heard me), green powder (like whole-food health powder), textured vegetable protein, chia seeds, and soup stock. This is our health-packed ingredient bowl. All of these ingredients need to absorb the water and soup stock, and so they chilled like that for awhile before eventually getting added to the big pot. By then, the tomatoes had finished their stir-frying and also got added to the big pot.

Now we were in the home stretch. I basically decided that we could stretch this further (it was tasty enough for more tomato stuff), and opened cans of tomato paste (maybe 4 8-ounce cans?) into a small bowl, rinsed them out well with water, and more water, which got added to the small bowl, whisked the paste and water together until it was a smooth consistency, and added this, too, to the big pot.

Now for final spicing. If you recall back to the beginning of this adventure, I cut the fresh spices up and separated them into two batches? Now the second batch of spices goes into the pot--and a cinnamon stick--and maple syrup (also homemade) for sweetness, and extra butter for deliciousness. And cumin, freshly ground--more pepper . . . and then we were basically done.

But since I worry about it sticking, I covered it with foil, and put it in the oven to simmer instead.

And while we sterilized our jars and lids, it simmered and became delicious.

Then finally we canned it--this is sort of a process as well, but James and I are a pretty good team now, and we are pretty efficient. It took two batches, while we ate quinoa pasta with fresh sauce and watched "The Wrath of Khan" on Netflix, but we eventually got 10 quarts of canned, fresh, homemade pasta sauce out of the deal.

You can even see all the chunks of delicious veggies! The thing I most love about this pasta sauce--it is never refrigerated or frozen. When I open those jars up, the most vital amazing smell comes out--I can tell those nutrients are as alive and special as they've ever been, and you can taste it, in the eating, and it makes it seem like something out of Italy.

So that was our adventure yesterday.

1 comment:

Ella said...

Wow Adrienne, that sauce looks fantastic! That was a lot of work, too!!!

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