I’m off to meet two friends for coffee, knitting, catching-up, laughing, and lunch. But before I head out, I’m starting a pot of spaghetti sauce in the crock pot, full of big, tender meatballs from the batch I made last week. Here’s a post I wrote a few summers ago on my other blog, Wind Scraps, that explains why I love to cook so much:
When I grab my one and only Longaberger basket–the one with the frilly blue liner I made myself because I was too frugal to buy theirs, overlaid with the plastic liner I bought from them because I was smart enough to know I’d need it–and head down to the garden, I know I was created to harvest tomatoes. And beans. And whatever else my eyes spy out there. There’s something earthly and perfect about hunkering down before a groaning tomato plant, reaching between those curly, pungent leaves, and relieving the branch of a hefty round orb–the scent of which I simply cannot describe. Nor can I quite capture the color. It’s almost alive, that ruby hue. Nestled in all that green, those gems practically call your name when you make your appearance through the greenhouse door. “We’re here!” And so they are.
So when I’m loading my basket with perfect tomatoes, I know I was created to feel the growing weight of that Longaberger basket slung over my arm.
I’m convinced, too, that I was born to make spaghetti sauce. I feel like a genuine earth mother chopping the peppers, zucchini, garlic and onions that found their way into my basket during the tomato-fetching mission. And when I’m tearing bits of basil from the pot on my patio, I’m quite convinced that God wrote somewhere near my name, a century or two before my birth, “Make this one love to cook.” Because I do. I love the tasting and testing that goes with the venture. I love digging through the spices above my stovetop, looking for that one particular something that I’m sure will pull the best flavor out of the pot. I love the warm, lovely smell of just-peeled garlic … and the patterns made by dancing, jumping herb-flecked splatters … and the hot sound of burping, burbling, bubbling sauce. And I love that I get to wear — and wipe my hands on — my black Starbucks apron.
And though I truly don’t want to go all Chariots-of-Fire on you, the truth is, when I’m cooking, I feel God’s pleasure. Maybe it’s because He’s a parent, and a banquet-setter, and the satisfier of all our hunger. He knows what it is to see upturned, expectant faces, and to watch hope dawn in the eyes of the hungry. So when He looks into my kitchen, and sees me stirring that ugly wooden spoon in my sloppy fashion, I feel the rhythm of His heartbeat.
And sometimes, I feel His smile.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- olive oil
- 1 Costco can (6 lbs 10 oz) crushed or diced tomatoes (use diced if you want a chunkier sauce. Use fresh tomatoes from your garden if you have those.)
- 2 – 6 oz cans tomato paste
- 3 large scoops beef bouillon
- 2 TBSP grape jelly (or 1 TBSP sugar if you don’t have grape jelly)
- 2 TBSP Italian seasoning
- squirt of anchovy paste (optional)
- 1 TBSP crushed red pepper flakes (less if you like it mild)
- mushrooms or porcini powder
- salt and pepper
Saute onions in olive oil until translucent; add garlic near end and cook for another 3 minutes.
In crock pot, add all ingredients. Cook on low all day.
- The grape jelly cuts the acidity of the tomatoes. If you don’t have grape jelly, you can substitute 1 TBSP sugar … but I think you should run out and buy the grape jelly 🙂
- This sauce is THICK. That’s good in the crock pot (although you probably want to add just a little water if you’re going to be gone all day), but if you do it on the stove, you’ll definitely want to add a cup or two of water. Watch it carefully as it thickens again quickly.
- If you make meatballs, you can add those right at the beginning. Just be sure you don’t stir the sauce for at least an hour or you might break up the meatballs. Frozen, cooked meatballs can be added at the beginning too.
Laurie Kelley says
Have you ever canned this sauce? It isn’t much different than what I am doing already except for the jelly and bouillon. Does the bouillon flavor it a lot? Just curious since I use my sauce with chicken some too. I thought about using tomato sauce instead of the diced this next time since a couple of my kids still pick out the tomato chunks 🙂
Thanks for the recipe!
Amberlea Macy says
You Can blend the chunks in the blender to make smooth, Much better that tomato sauce!
I need to can a bunch of this … but I should check on the bouillon. Do you think it needs to be canned with the pressure cooker, or do you think the beef bouillon is negligible?
Definitely try the crushed. No chunks at all! 🙂