illustration and design, etc

journal

I haven't written here in ages. I'd like to start again. Here are the things I wrote about when I was a stay at home mom with my sweet daughter. Now she's in kindergarten, I have a job away from home, and I dream about this all the time. Enjoy.

The Frog Prince :: {Red Pasta Sauce}

I was the girl in high school who painstakingly crafted mix tapes, who got to school at 7am for string ensemble practice, and who never didn't have music playing in the background.  Favorites of mine in high school included pretty much anything from the 70's, thanks to the influence of the ganja-smoking art room crowd with whom I shared all of my time (unless I was in the music room).  We all ate lunch in the art room, too, using the batik wax-melting device to cook grilled cheese sandwiches.  Our art teacher knew we needed somewhere to be, and she didn't mind, as long as we cleaned the burnt on cheese off of the art supplies.  She let us play music, too.  We all took turns bringing our favorite albums.  As my parents' luck would have it, I was friends with the non-ganja-smoking minority group of the art room crew.  The most trouble we really got up to was rearranging people's lawn ornaments or planting cans of Campbell's Chunky Beef Soup around the town when it was below freezing, so the soup would expand and explode out of the can.  Chunky Beef was chosen because it looked the grossest, of course.  So we clean cut art-room folks listened the hazy 70's music and totally thought we had all been born in the wrong decade, man.  But we also listened to swing music and crooner stuff.  The nineties were actually a great time for that, and we wore wingtip shoes, took swing dancing lessons, and sang Frank Sinatra songs in the car as we cruised around with our cans of soup.

These great standard songs still have their appeal for me.  When I'm not sure what I'm in the mood to listen to, usually a little Frank Sinatra or Bobby Darin does the trick.  So as it happened, as I was finishing "Fill My Heart with Song", I was listening some crooner playlist or other, and "You're Nobody til Somebody Loves You" came on.  The rest is history:

"You're Nobody 'til Somebody Love You" -- especially if you're the frog prince.


Red Pasta Sauce
Also known as: I finally figured out how to make a quick pasta sauce from cheap canned tomatoes (a staple in our house)!  This comes together so quickly, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your fridge right now.
This sauce starts with bacon, so we're already on our way to success.  Glaze the bottom of your preferred pan or pot with olive oil and place over medium-high heat.  Chop about six slices of bacon (or more or less to your taste) and one yellow onion. Add these to your pan, stirring sort of frequently to keep things from sticking.  While the bacon is rendering and the onions are softening and everything is smelling heavenly, grate one large or two small carrots and throw them in the pan with the bacon and onions.  Stir it all around and head back to your chopping board.  Finely chop about four garlic cloves and a small handful of oregano leaves.  Add them to the pan and cook everything together, making sure the garlic doesn't burn, for about two minutes.  Now throw in about three big soup spoonfuls of balsamic vinegar.  Scrape the bottom of your pan with a wooden spoon as the vinegar cooks down, getting up all those delicious brown bits (they're called sucs (pronounced: soox) -- isn't that a great little word?).  Lower the heat to medium.  Open your big can of plum tomatoes, and pour some of the juice into the pan to keep things from burning while you attend to your tomatoes.  Take your immersion blender, if you have one, and wizz it around inside the can, making a chunky purée.  If you don't have an immersion blender, just break the tomatoes up with your hands.  The reason you don't buy purée outright is because they use the highest quality tomatoes from the harvest in the cans of whole tomatoes, and as you go down the line of canned-tomato-textures, the quality of tomato used gets poorer and poorer.  Pour your chunky puree in to the pan, stir everything around, season with a hefty pinch of salt, some cracked pepper or pepper flakes, and let the whole thing simmer for the amount of time it takes you to cook your pasta (around 10 minutes).  Check for seasoning, toss with pasta, and serve with lots of grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano on the side.
{Other things you could add to this sauce: capers, olives, anchovies (add the anchovies with the carrots), and adjust your salt accordingly -- you'll need less.}