Given the emotions of the day, all I wanted was an ordinary Sunday. I had earlier on in the week committed to having regularly scheduled “traditional” Sunday family dinners. What would make this dinner different and distinct is that I have challenged us to instead of looking for the best take-out, to actually cooking it ourselves. I was inspired by one of my twitter friend’s, Jennifer Perillo’s Simply Red (Marinara sauce) recipe and my Aunt’s ability to always make homemade sauce despite her ever busy schedule. I thought to myself, if she can do it, so can I.
So despite all things out of control that day, I took matters into my own hands and decided to regain some control back by making a simple delicious meal for my family to enjoy. I love to cook and don’t do it often enough. I’m actually quite good at it but only tend to show my skills for guests — what that translated to was big meals only, never small family sized meals. This was an experiment in returning to the simple joy of cooking.
Out came the can of Muir Glen Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes with Fresh Basil (Jennie’s recipe called for San Marzano tomatoes and fresh basil leaves), 4 cloves of whole garlic and 8 baby carrots (instead of suggested pinch of sugar). Since I needed to be quick, I threw the baby carrots into a food processor until it was finely chopped. I sauteed the whole cloves of garlic in olive oil slightly burning them by accident despite it being hard to do, and murphy’s law practically dictated I be the rare case. I poured the tomatoes into a bowl and gingerly hand crushed them to a consistency I liked. It was a lot easier than I expected and getting my hands into it made it more fun and authentic. I poured it into my red cast iron pot (just like the one in Jennie’s picture!), added a little sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and let it simmer while I readied the pasta.
Ever the skeptic, my darling husband was not too sure about me making fresh marinara sauce. When I added chopped baby carrots, I could see him raising his eyebrows at me and thinking to himself, this wasn’t his version of traditional marinara sauce. Raise your eyebrows at me anytime you want I thought to myself, but I was sneaking in some more vegetables into this meal if I could, especially since Ava abhors carrots for some reason unknown to us. I figured and hoped it was so finely chopped and would soften to an unnoticeable consistency while simmering in the sauce. 20 minutes later, we had ourselves a meal and it was a smashing hit! Even my darling husband who doesn’t dole out compliments when it comes to my cooking gave me his surprised shrug and declared it “pretty good!” We even made a second pot of pasta just to finish the sauce. Ever the perfectionist, the only tweaks I’d make next time is finding Organic San Marzano (because Jennie swears by them) tomatoes in a BPA-free lined can.
After all the dishes were cleared and the kids bathed, teethes brushed, I caught the above moment as my family unwound in my daughter’s room and prepared for the upcoming week. An Ordinary Sunday it was…