September 16, 2017
Note: I wrote this last night, then fell asleep before I posted. Pretend it’s last night.
That’s an utter and complete lie.
Anyone who knows me knows I have zero point zero musical talent. I love to sing, I love to dance. But I will never win a Grammy.
But. I DID create a masterpiece tonight.
Not an amazing album or great hit single. Not a beautiful painting or gorgeous sculpture. No, I made something better tonight.
I made and canned the best tomato sauce I have and ever will make in my life.
|Miracle Sauce #nofilter|
As I sit in my recliner right now, with UTEP getting crushed by Arizona in college football on tv, I am emotionally and physically spent (exaggeration, just go with it). I can’t believe what I have just done, and I did it by accident.
My journey to tonight’s greatness started five years ago in Aberdeen, S.D. In a matter of about three months, a couple life-changing things happened: I tried my hand at my first batch of tomato canning, and I met Derrick Dinger. Derrick has had a huge impact on my life, which I wrote about earlier (if you want to read more about him, click on the picture of me with the bald man), but in this story, he’s just the connector. When I met Derrick, I didn’t know he came from a rich family history of canning. I don’t know how far back that family history goes, but I do know his mom and sister love to can and garden. His sister, Darae, and I have shared our canning experiences over the years and I am so jealous of how much squirreling she does from her own garden.
I usually buy my tomatoes from a Huuterite colony because they are sold in bushels and always clean and I don’t have have I grow a garden or weed it or pretend that I’m actually going to find time to do those things. This year however, DaRae offered to let me have tomatoes from her garden for my sauce. Bazinga! Free spaghetti sauce for the winter! Well I didn’t know this until yesterday, but I actually got her mom’s tomatoes. She said she had a ton of them and wanted to get rid of them. It really was a turn of the universe that I got these beauties.
Carolyn grew and shared San Marzano tomatoes. This is my first, but certainly not my last, experience with this beautiful species of tomato. As I was cutting them I couldn’t help but think they looked like (sorry, Mom) short little red wieners. All tomatoes I’ve ever worked with are round and fat. Not these. These are long and round and skinny like a mini chub. See below.
|Amiright or amiright?|
I didn’t know what kind of sauce they would make, but I was immediately impressed by the lack of seeds in the fruit. Once I pulled them from the oven and started to de-skin them, I knew I was onto something magical. This is the meatiest tomato I’ve ever worked with. At one point, I was completely covered in tomato. Picture a baby pool, filled with San Marzano tomatoes, and I am covered. Yeah, that didn’t happen, but it could have. The flavor. My gosh, the flavor!!! In that moment, when I was balls deep in those tomatoes, I was happy. Really truly happy. Like when people talk about falling in love with “the one,” the world falls away, all sounds are muted, all you see is that person. That is what was happening in my mouth when I tasted these tomatoes tonight.
I did a little research on these mini-ween tomatoes while they cooked down, and according to the most reliable source on the internet, Wikipedia, these tomatoes are known for their bittersweet taste, very little seeds and thick flesh (Wikipedia’s word, not mine, but I would not say “flesh” when talking about a penis-shaped tomato. I digress). They originate in Italy, but I feel like that’s a given, and they are traditionally used in sauces. This is mind-boggling to me. Prior to four hours ago, I had never heard of these suckers, yet people have been having these euphoric tomato feelings since the 1920s. I feel cheated.
I also feel grateful. Grateful I got to create this sauce tonight. Grateful these wienermaters were given to me and changed my tomato sauce game. Grateful I was able to spend an evening in the kitchen working with my hands and making something I can share with people I like (not just anyone gets my canned goods), or just eating on my own.
I’m most grateful Michael and I will be able to eat the best hangover meal all winter long. A traditional Sunday in the Hagny house between November and March is spent super hungover in the living room watching football. One of us (aka, me) starts getting hungry, but is still feeling as though death warmed over. So naturally the easiest meal is boiling noodles, browning up some beef and throwing some tomato sauce in the mix. It’s the hangover cure for us. This winter is going to be something special now. I can’t wait for Hangover Sundays. I’ll probably drink more on Saturday nights now knowing I’ll get miracle sauce for lunch the next day.
I know this is weird, but good food, and canning, and cooking are passions of mine. Actually if you know me, you know it’s not weird; I’m a proud big girl and a member of the 175 And Up Club for life. I can have the shittiest day ever, I can have problems with friends and family and my husband, I can be having some of the worst anxiety, and the kitchen can make it all better. For me, cooking is my songwriting, or my painting or my super bowl. And tonight, I won the Grammy for Best Fucking Tomato Sauce in a Ball Jar.