On Being Needy and Fresh Marinara

I realize that I have been a bit absent from my blog this summer.  Its not because I haven’t been cooking or thinking of things to write here, its just that well… I’ve been enjoying the summer.

At our cabin on Lake Superior

When the warmer weather hits and the kids are out of school we hit the road.  We have been up north so many times I have lost track of the towns I have been, we enjoyed my family at an extended 20 year camping reunion complete with an 8 course progressive dinner (wow was that ever amazing) and we are heading up north again for the day this weekend to be a part of the Guinness book of world records for the largest gathering of kayaks ever!

Tubing on Mullet Lake with Friends

But we are winding down now.  The kids start school next week and… so do I!  Nursing school officially begins Friday and after getting back from orientation yesterday, I realize how busy I am going to be with my studies.  I knew this was coming, but this week it is feeling real and a little overwhelming. I’m not sure when I will get back on here to post another blog until… maybe Christmas!

Mackinac Island

In one of my first reading assignments, I am reminded of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  You all remember studying that in school at some point right?  The basic needs that any human being needs for survival and success.  Physiological needs such as food, water, and sleep; Safety and protection; Belonging and Love; Self-esteem; and Self-actualization, which is the need for fulfillment and personal growth.  I think we can all agree that these are the main things we all strive for ourselves and our families.

8-course Progressive Dinner with my Family

Its what drives me to feed my children healthy meals, provide them with love and attention, give them opportunities for fun, get them to sports and extra-curricular activities so they can have a sense of success and growth.

My Family on Mackinac Island

Its what drives me to keep my relationships strong.  I need them.  I need my family and my husband’s support, encouragement and love as well as knowing that my friends are right there by my side and that the true friendships I have will be there even when I am overwhelmed by life’s distractions… or… nursing school.

With Friends on the Beach at Watervale

I also need to know my family will be taken care of when I am too busy to cook a big meal.  I need to know they are being nourished and that they always have something they can eat that will give them all the nutrition they need.

That is what has been driving me to fill my freezer with homemade veggie burgers, lots of extra whole-wheat pizza dough, homemade waffles so they can have a quick breakfast in the morning and small casseroles like my lasagna roll ups and enchiladas.

And this marinara sauce for those quick pasta dinners.

This is I-hope-it-makes-it-to-the-freezer-good.

Its good because it’s all about the tomatoes.  Fresh gnarly looking tomatoes from my garden.  I don’t know why tomatoes look like that but I just love knowing they were grown with my love in my soil by my hands.  No sprays… just good soil and a prayer that the worms won’t eat them all.

Little Helper

Now there is a big debate out there about fresh tomato sauce and should you peel or not peel, seed or not seed.  Well… I am listening to Lynn Rossetto Casper and she says the flavor is in the seed and skin – as well as the nutrients.  I listen to Lynn.  But, if you want to be fussy and take all day to peel and seed the tomatoes by all means – go for it!

And if you want to cut off all the gnarly parts, be my guest… but if you decide (shhh don’t tell) to keep those gnarly bits in there no one will know once you whirl the whole thing all together.  It will just be a big pot of velvety, silky loveliness.

And if you decide not to freeze any of but instead invite a big group of family and friends over for pasta because you just need your friends and family around you.

Then please do it.

They probably need you too.

Recipe~Fresh Marinara Sauce
by Tammy Boyd

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large clove garlic (or two smaller ones)
1/2 cup good quality red wine
2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
2 tablespoons tomato paste
16 or so fresh whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat the EVOO in a large, heavy pot.  Add onions, carrot, celery, salt & red pepper flakes and let cook on low heat for the entire time you are chopping your tomatoes into bite-sized chunks (I like them to carmelize a bit).  Towards the end add your garlic and saute for a minute or so.  Add the red wine, butter, and tomato paste and let cook until the alcohol cooks off leaving a nice thick deep burgundy sauce.  Add chopped tomatoes, oregano, and basil.  Let simmer on low heat for a good 40-45 minutes, stirring every so often.  Add 1 tablespoon brown sugar at the end and taste to adjust seasonings as you like.  I did add a bit more salt and some freshly ground black pepper.  Right before serving whirl away with an immersion blender until smooth.  If you don’t have one, leave right now and go buy one!  But really, you can put the sauce in batches in a blender or food processor to blend it up.  But know this: an immersion blender will change your life.

* This marinara is a very thin sauce, but mixed with hot pasta will work beautifully.  I won’t tell if you end up eating this out of a bowl and call it tomato soup.  However you eat it, it’s delicious.