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An Oasis in the Desert
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January 23, 2010

Food Oasis on a Saturday Night:

7-Years in the Making (Part 2)


The second meal I prepared on that Saturday last fall as growing season was coming to a close was as special as the first—and it was also a long time in the making.


Earlier in the summer, I had spied some homemade lamb sausage at a meat purveyor at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill.  Though not quite an obsession, I thought about those links for a couple of months.  I had them pegged for some of my own marinara over fresh pasta.  On that Friday, I finally bought them while running some errands during a long walk across the Hill.  This would be, at long last, the night.


This would be the culmination of a long process; a seduction really.  The payoff for late evenings alone preparing the summer’s bounty of tomatoes.  I had waited until September.  Repeatedly delaying taking home 20 tomatoes here, a dozen there.  I would blanch them, peel them and feverishly toss them in to simmer with a mess of sautéed onions, sweet pepper, garlic and jalapenos.  I know they’re not traditional but I had already made hot sauce and there was a bumper crop.


This year I decided to freeze my tomato sauce in small batches.  I didn’t have the time to can this year. On this Saturday night, as I dropped the tagliatelle into the boiling water the anticipation was almost more than I could bear; the pleasure heightened by the fact that I had denied myself for so long.


It may not have been the best spaghetti I have ever had, but great nonetheless.  I didn’t go all out and make the pasta myself.  I could’ve cheated by adding some butter before mixing in the sauce—but don’t get me wrong there was plenty of parmesan in there.  And, on some of the sauce stashed away over the summer I had used tomato paste (gasp!) rather than throw away half a can that costs less than a dollar.  I used that on some pizza later.  You know, you can make your own tomato paste…well, that’s another post.


To me, all of this hard work is not about being a foodie.  After all food is just fuel for our bodies and it doesn’t really matter what it tastes like.  For me it’s all about protecting the environment by using locally-sourced foods, preserving fresh summer vegetables, and living a simpler lifestyle.  I don’t have to be wired or entertained by media all the time, and I have some quiet time to fill. 


I know where the tomatoes came from because I grew them organically, or helped tend to them and water them over many hot months.  The peppers, basil, and jalapenos all came from my own plot.  The dish was all the more delicious because the thyme and oregano I used, although not grown with organic seeds, came from an herb garden I planted using no pesticides or chemical fertilizers.


I’m doing my small part to combat climate change and show others that you can grow some of your own food and eat it well into the winter like our ancestors.


Next year I hope to get back to my canning.  Jams, jellies, chutneys, pickles, and of course the tomato sauce.  Until then, the frozen is just fine.



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