Back when this whole pandemic thing started and we went into quarantine mode, I, like many, had a slight feeling of panic, but more of how to be prepared. I wanted to be prepared if the “two week” shutdown turned into something longer. Because of experience I can only credit to being from a state that completely goes crazy and shuts down every time it snows, I expected there was going to be a run on grocery stores if a shutdown order went into place. So the week prior, I went grocery shopping and stocked up on staples and pantry stable foods. I didn’t go crazy and buy all the pasta, but I made sure we could get by for a month or more. I also purchased some items we don’t normally keep on hand but I felt would help should we not be able to go to a grocery store for a while, like canned condensed milk and more frozen vegetables and fruits.
All of this was starting around the time I normally start my herb garden for the summer. After talking with a good friend who does real gardening and was planning a more substantial garden for the “just in case,” I even planted a garden of my own. Okay, it was a simple one. I basically planted garlic, onions and herbs. I did try growing some lettuce, but the bugs got it. Anyway, that same friend offered me a large can of 6-in-1 tomatoes. I had no idea what it was, but I took it in along with some chives in trade for some sourdough starter. Oh ya, I also got really into sourdough. That’s a whole other post that I’ll get to eventually.
Well, I pick up this can, and it is like a gallon of ground tomatoes. I was intimidated. It sat on a corner of my counter next to the refrigerated for the first month or so. Then it went into the cabinet in a corner. I would open the cabinet, look at it, and then decide there was no way I could use that much tomato within a week, which was approximately how long I figured I could keep leftover tomato in the fridge. Our youngest is not a particular fan of pastas with red sauce, although it turns out she is coming around to it as long as it isn’t the only component. Put it with ricotta or a combination with Alfredo sauce, and she’ll eat it up. And since I still had chili in the freezer, making another vat did not seem wise yet. Then August came and we needed to move (there’s a whole blog on that experience), so obviously, I could not open a gallon of tomatoes.
Well, this week I faced my fears and opened the can. I had purchased some basil from my local grocery store and unfortunately, after only a day, it was not looking great. I didn’t want it to go to waste but had the dinner menu already planned. So I decided to make a batch of marinara. A very large batch of marinara. But it was so good that by the time I needed to make dinner, I totally scrapped the planned meal and made stuff shells instead just so I could eat some of the sauce. And I am making lasagna this weekend with more of it. In the end, I made about 6 quarts of sauce. Four of them went to the freezer so that when we want to make stuffed shells, or manicotti, or if I ever get around to those vegetarian meatballs, we have sauce.
Anyway, this whole thing was another lesson for me that I seem to keep having to learn. Don’t let things intimidate you in the kitchen or otherwise. Dive in and make whatever it is your own. Do the thing you find challenging. It may be delicious!