Saturday, November 10, 2012

Labor of Love, part one

There are piles of projects in my studio, always, but lately this is the view--through the steamy window of my kitchen. When I was in high school and sad or bored or restless, I would cook. I was a terrible cook. Radish soup. The blandest broth ever. Greenish hashbrowns. Luckily for all, I learned to cook in the past 20 years.
And I moved to California, where there seems to be endless fresh and affordable vegetables. We have a friend with a small organic farm who sells us a box of produce every two weeks. This week, we ordered a case of tomatoes, too. Small sauce tomatoes, similar to Roma. Friday was chilly outside but we set to work.
There are lots of good and bad things about living here. I am far from a lot of my friends, but a few good friends live here. I wear wool socks when it is below 65, but I think my New England blood was thinned out (probably by whiskey) all the years in Louisiana. Cooking is meditative. Sometimes art is, too. But lately I am printing a lot for other people or making things to sell and I haven't been making so much for fun. Of course, I didn't think about it like this until recently, so yes, I will make more fun art too. But cooking is more communal, for me. It keeps our kitchen warm. Our roommate does his homework while we slice and gut a bazillion tomatoes to roast.
I have a very simple tomato sauce recipe. Growing up, I thought sauce had to take all day to cook, simmering the tomatoes and sausage. In Italy I realized that these few ingredients, if you have good tomatoes, make incredible sauce. Now our freezer is full, we have something to eat all winter, and I feel a little more relaxed. I might be ready to take that to the studio.
Simple Tomato Sauce Slice one clove of garlic. Fry it in a fair amount of olive oil. When the garlic starts to turn golden, add about one pound of diced tomatoes, that have been seeded (cut in half and scoop out the seeds). Sometimes, I roast the tomatoes first. I never peel them because I am usually lazy and hungry. Add salt, pepper and a teaspoon of sugar. Simmer for 25 minutes. Add a quarter cup of chopped fresh basil. That makes it perfect. (Basil season is over so we added a bunch of dry rosemary. Variation is good. Spice of life, right?) Now wow your friends.