I used to think I was spontaneous. I also used to think I was an extrovert. Well, according to the Myers Briggs test I am not the latter, and after living with a super spontaneous partner-in-crime/roommate/boyfriend who is totally averse to routine, I’m decidedly not the former.
Of course, I’m not a freak robot, and I like doing fun, random things. But in my daily course of life, I’m into a bit of order. I like routine. In fact, I depend on routine- my routines- to navigate through my days. From the way I get out of bed, to the steps I take to lather and rinse and condition my hair in the shower, to the list of websites I check when I first log onto my computer. I’m telling you, there are steps for everything. Doing things out of order stresses me out a bit…are there any other Type A’s out there with me on this?
So what happens when suddenly you don’t have the energy to do things in order? What happens when some days you stay in bed until 10am, decide to skip the part in the shower where you wash your face, and leave Google Reader blogs unchecked for a few days? What happens when parts of your routine are left unattended and ignored? What I’m asking is, when exactly do I have to pull out a brown paper lunch bag and start breathing into it?
Luckily the paper bags are still safely stored under the sink without any need for them. That’s not to say I haven’t had any minor stress attacks, but I’ve been able to deal with an adjustment of my routines with a bit of re-evaluation and a great deal of acceptance. In the almost-29 years of life, who’s to say that a little change of routine isn’t for the better? There must be some quote somewhere about change, and making one stronger, right? About routine only being for the dead? Something like that…?
That’s why the kitchen is my safe place. In the kitchen, I’ve never sacrificed the traditional or the routine, nor would I ever want to. Now that I’ve found myself back in the kitchen, in a changed way of living where I am constantly establishing new routines, I find solace in the regular chopping of vegetables for a salad or the dicing of carrots for a mirepoix. Yeah, I’m one of those crazy people who can find Zen while making 1/8 inch cubes out of vegetables.
This recipe for tomato sauce exemplifies routine. It’s my go-to sauce, for spaghetti paired with meatballs, for a rich and hearty vegetable lasagna, a base for homemade pizzas, and in general one I keep in the freezer for a quick and easy dinner. It’s rich and tangy and filling and is easy to prep. It’s now a no-brainer recipe for me, where I can go on auto-pilot to make the sauce. I even mull over the same set of optional ingredients that I must contemplate whether to throw in (mushrooms, yes or no? Garlic scapes, yay or nay?). Where I am now trying to adjust all my routines outside of the kitchen, it’s nice to know there are some basics that I can always go back that make me feel normal and grounded. I hope you can somehow make it part of your routine, too.
Hearty Tomato Sauce
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 1 leek- whites and greens, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 carrot, finely finely diced into cubes
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- optional: 4-5 cremini mushrooms, 2 garlic scapes, tomatoes that have been sitting on the counter for too long….
- 1 14 oz. can peeled whole tomatoes
- 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp. sage
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a nonstick or cast iron 5-qt. pot, sautee the onions and leeks for 4 minutes on med-high heat until soft. Add carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook for 5-7 more minutes, stirring constantly. If using other vegetables, add them into the pot at this time and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add canned whole tomatoes and tomato paste into pot, bringing down heat to medium. When the tomato sauce begins to simmer, add brown sugar, butter, spices, and a teaspoon or two of salt and pepper.
- Bring to a simmer and cover. Turn down heat to low and allow to cook for 30-45 minutes.
- Take the sauce off the burner and let cool for 5-10 minutes. In a blender or using an immersion blender, puree sauce until smooth.
- Use as you like.
Yield: 6-8 servings, enough for 2 lasagnas, or a few pizzas.