This past August, I had my golden birthday – age 30 on the 30th. That gave my amazingly dear family and friends a reason not only to celebrate on the 30th, but, as kind as they are the celebration seemed to extend for a month long.
I climbed Lone Mountain, touched Taylor Swift’s left arm, dined in a beautiful wine room at a true Montana ranch, perused J Crew with gift cards for the fall while carrying an adorable new bag from Saks, dined alfresco at Piccolo Sogno with the most beautiful friends (and sisters) I could ask for, (seriously? how do you all look like that?) lit fresh new candles, enjoyed scary stories around the fire on my parents patio after my mom’s perfectly cooked herbed salmon dinner, bought a pair of very high and very sparkly platform heels (I’m convinced every woman turning 30 needs a similar pair to ease the transition), had a wonderful birthday lunch complete with cupcakes, was given and fell in love with the book ‘Blood Bones & Butter’, snuck out of work early to enjoy a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, received a birthday card from Ina Garten herself (yes – wow!), and was given some of the most wonderfully kind birthday cards that I don’t want to have to put away. Ever. They are still sitting on my counter right in the kitchen in a neat stack and every time I go to move them they end up right back in the same place they started.
The icing on the cake? Carrie Underwood at Ravinia. LOVE.
I woke up today to read what I had written above. And I had to read it again and then again. It doesn’t seem real. It seems like something a jet setting celebrity would experience, not a mom who works part time and arranges play dates at Monkey Joes.
But it did happen and words cannot express how amazing each single moment was. Not one was deemed normal or unimportant in my mind. Everything was completely relevant.
Something else I woke up to today? 53 degrees. Well, hello there Fall. What a perfect way to transition from this last month to the next. Something about this weather brings out only what I can describe as a carnal urge to put on my apron and stand over my stove for hours chopping different ingredients while things bubble slowly to their perfectly enhanced flavor.
I knew what needed to be done to satisfy the beast within. There had to be lots of chopping. And there had to be lots of simmering. The perfect recipe? My homemade marinara.
This stuff is divine. The smell in your home alone will bring you to your knees. And I’m almost convinced it’s as important to have in your fridge at all times as my house vinaigrette. It comes together easily and is completely versatile. Throw is over some homemade or frozen Trader Joes meatballs on a toasted sub, toss with whole wheat pasta, toast up some baguettes with goat cheese and pour a little on each one, share a bowl with a neighbor….your options are endless. It will fill a void in your fridge as well as satisfy your deep dark Fall desires to cook bubbling soups, sauces and bake buttery pies – oh wait. Perhaps that’s just me…?
‘Homemade Marinara Sauce’
Preheat a nice big pot on the stove over medium heat. Throw in a couple of glugs of olive oil. Chop up one big onion and saute until translucent – roughly 5 minutes or so. Chop up additional veggies you want to include in the sauce. I normally go with 1 green pepper, 1 zucchini, and some button mushrooms. Saute these until just slightly tender, roughly 3 minutes.
Add in 5 cloves of minced garlic, 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp pepper, sprinkle of red pepper flakes, splash of good red wine for richness and 1 heaping TBS of tomato paste. Let the seasonings come together for a minute or so and then pour in 2 big 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes.
Let your sauce simmer on the stove for a few hours, covered, on very low heat.
Just prior to serving, stir in some freshly chopped basil.
If anything can transition me from this past month to the next, it’s this sauce. Here’s to some much needed catch up time in the kitchen – oh how I have missed it!