Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pasta Sauce

I have discovered that I am quite good at making pasta sauce.

Nothing fancy mind you, just a basic, yummy, tomato-based pasta sauce.

Before I met my Englishman, pasta sauce generally came out of a jar. I think Raguletto was the favoured brand as it was cheap but still yummy. Sometimes, I would almost make the sauce from 'scratch' if I was making Spaghetti bolognaise. But it would still start with a jar.

My Englishman taught me to make pasta sauce from scratch....but at some point I got so good at it that I'm the one who tends to make pasta sauce at our place these days!

So here's a general run down of how I make my sauce. It's pretty rough, I make it up depending on what we have in the fridge but there are a few basics that I always use, which are:

* Fresh tomatoes - for a pasta sauce for 2-3, I use anywhere between 2-4 fresh tomatoes, chopped fairly small. If I dont have any (or only one) I substitute tinned toms (diced, crushed, whatever!)
* Onions - we buy bags of smaller brown onions and I'd use 1 or 2 of these, chopped kind of medium....
* Garlic - I use fresh but I love the jarred minced stuff, so convenient!
* Basil - I like fresh ( used to have a herb garden but it died) ..... I keep a squeezy thing of basil in the fridge just in case....
* Salt and Pepper - of course :-)
* Tomato paste - to help thicken the sauce. I usually throw in some tomato ketchup/sauce as well.

The rest, like I said, depends on what's in the fridge/cupboard! For example, tonight i added:

* 1/2 a capsicum, chopped small
* 3 or 4 button mushrooms, sliced
* a couple of splashes of red wine vinegar
* Some water

Other things I like to add include:
* Red wine
* Oregano (when I remember)
* Other herbs (as above!)
* Stock
*Sweet Chilli sauce
* Bbq sauce

So the method goes something like this....

* Get everything chopped first so you can't get confused!
* Heat a fry pan and add a splash of oil (less than a tablespoon, more than a teaspoon)
* Add the onions and half the garlic
* Saute the onions until they start to soften and brown
* Then add the capsicum (if you're using it) - as it takes longer to cook than the other vegies
* Add the tomatoes, squeeze in some tomato paste and tomato ketchup (and any other sauce you want to add), stir it a lot and keep the heat up for now
* add some basil, salt, pepper, a splash of red wine or red wine vinegar, the rest of the garlic, and maybe some water if its getting a bit thick/chunky...
* Turn the heat down a bit and let it simmer. Taste it. If its too salty, add some water or some tomato sauce. If its too sweet,, add some salt, or vinegar.
* Let it simmer as long as you like! Add a bit more water, or stock, as you go to keep it from getting too thick.
* Cook your pasta. We usually get some Latino Ravioli, the fresh stuff that cooks in 3 minutes. Tonight, because we're trying to save money, we just had good old dried fettucine that takes about 10 minutes to cook.
*When the pasta is all cooked, drain it and give it a rinse with hot water..
* Serving is up to you. My Englishman likes his pasta put in the bowl and the sauce spooned on after.....whereas I like to mix it all together in the saucepan before I serve it!

That's it. I should have taken pictures but I forgot! Anyway........we enjoyed it. The Englishman thought my sauce was a little too sweet (thanks to a bit too much tommy sauce) but I liked it today. I've made better though.

Bon Appetite!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Motherhood is Easy? Opinions opinions opinions

There's been a furore around an article written by Jacinta Tynan last week about Motherhood, and how her experience has been one of ease and happiness: (cut and paste to your address bar)

A friend of mine blogged about it and another posted an article another journalist has written in response: (again, cut and paste please!)

A related article about model Gisele Bundchen was posted not long before this and also created all kinds of anger and disapointedness in Gisele's apparent ignorant, flippant comments about making breast feeding compulsory to 6 months old....

I've just now also watched on tv Jacinta Tynan and Mia Freedman speaking about the article, with Jacinta defending her position and Mia, I guess, trying to clarify the different positions and ideas people seem to have on the issue.

Now, I'm not a mother, I have no children yet, I barely even have pets! But I do have lots of friends who have children, friends who are pregnant, and I have my own mother, aunts, grandmothers and other people I know who have and are experiencing motherhood.

So I wanted to weigh in with my opinion, not so much on motherhood itself but more on how everyone seems to feel about it.

Motherhood IS hard. It has to be! There are sleepless nights, a loss of 'me' time, its more difficult to leave the house to do things, and there are so many more things to do. There is a little person (and subsequent little people often) who depends on you for EVERYTHING, and their only way to communicate this is to cry, scream, or be quiet.

But Motherhood also has lots of perks. There is this little person that you love and that loves you back, unconditionally. They make you laugh, they are amazing to watch growing and learning everyday.

Some women's experience is one that is a lot easier than others. Like Jacinta, they have an easy baby, a minimum of issues with conception and childbirth, no mental health issues (honestly, the number of times she mentioned that annoyed me! You don't have to suffer from Post natal depression to get upset or feel overwhelmed, I would have thought that was normal!), and who knows whether she even breast fed!

Other women really struggle, through no fault of their own. Constant morning sickness throughout pregnancy, difficulties conceiving in the first place, then the need for emergency Caesars, mastitis, colicky babies, ongoing sickness, husbands who have to work away, toddlers......things get hard.

And I think sometimes these women maybe worry for their newly pregnant friends and want to prepare them for this. Because you don't really need to be prepared for the good stuff, but you might need to be prepared for the hard stuff. Forewarned is forearmed, right? These women know there are positives but they aren't as important to warn their friends about.

It makes sense to me that women want to warn their fellow expectant mothers about how bad things could be. But in a way it is a little sad, because I KNOW that every single one of these women would have SO many positive things to say about their choice to have children, and I believe that every one of them wouldn't have it any other way.

So, here is my challenge to the mothers that I know - you don't need to say that motherhood is easy, because you know that isn't really the case. But remember to tell all those women who are pregnant, trying to fall pregnant, or are just waiting for the day when they can, about the good stuff as well as the hard stuff. About the fun stuff as well as the yucky stuff. About the amazing stuff as well as the really tough stuff.

You are all amazing by the way!!!