When the going gets tough, the tough get cooking.

Yeah… it’s been tough the past few days. The bile coming out of the mouth of our Commander-in-Chief is enough to gag a maggot, as my father was wont to say. Pop was a WWII vet and would not be taking this well. Hell – I’m a Viet Nam vet and I’m not taking it well.

It’s hard to stomach such blatant racism and disregard for human life in the year 2017. But I do take heart in the number of people who are seriously standing up and shouting “ENOUGH!”

Good will prevail. I really do believe that. But it’s going to be a fight – and fight is something I am more than willing to do. Because trust me – I ain’t going quietly.

Cooking and being in the kitchen has always had a calming effect on me. Funny, because I know a lot of people who start stressing at the mere thought of having to figure out a meal. I just find it easy. What can I say?!?

Monday afternoon, I pureed three gallons of tomatoes from the garden – they’re starting to come in fast and furious – and today, Victor made his sauce. I came home and canned it. I got 10 quarts. A nice start.

This is the basic recipe. Obviously, three gallons of fresh tomato sauce is going to alter it a bit and in Summer the herbs are fresh from the garden, but the basics are here…

Victor’s Sauce

  • 2 – 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – Sm can tomato paste
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (or to taste if you like more) chopped fine
  • Olive oil
  • Dried Italian seasonings
  • Hot red pepper flakes (a tsp or more or less to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Red wine (always cook with a decent wine, never “cooking” wine) about a cup or cup and a half
  • Meat – such as Italian sausage or some nice beef or pork ribs or pork chops

Ok…I ALWAYS make my sauce with meat, so start with a deep, heavy pot and add about 3-4 TBS of olive oil. On high heat, once the oil is hot, start frying the sausage or pork, Let the meat get good and caramelized although you don’t have to cook it all the way through because you’ll add it back to the sauce to finish. Once the meat is browned take it out of the pot, put it on a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium and sauté the tomato paste for a couple of minutes until it begins to “melt”. Add the chopped garlic and sauté with the tomato paste for just a minute (no longer or it will burn). Then add about a cup of the red wine and deglaze the pan with it, scrapping up all the good bits that stuck to the bottom when cooking the meat.

When the wine reduces by about ½ start adding the canned tomatoes.  Add one can of hot water for every can of tomatoes you use.

Now start adding the dried Italian seasonings.  I eyeball it but I would guess a good 2 TBS is fine.  Add about another ½ cup of red wine, with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir everything into the sauce. It will be very thin at this point.

Add back the cooked meat. Now this is important….at the bottom of the plate you let the meat rest on will be some of the oil and juices that seeped out. Pour that back into the pot. It has a lot of flavor in it.

Bring the sauce back to a boil then turn the heat down low and let it simmer for at least 1 and a half hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes to keep it from burning. It should reduce by about a third or a little less and get thicker. The meat will absorb the sauce and get very tender.

When I make meatballs, I don’t fry them, I bake them on a sheet pan. When I do, I add them to the simmering sauce when they’re done so they also absorb the flavor.

I usually make the sauce early in the day and after it’s done, just let it sit on the stove until dinner then I re-heat it. This should make enough sauce for a couple of dinners or good sized lasagna.

And the sauce went onto homemade malloreddus – a Sardinian pasta.

It’s great being married to a man who can cook…


  • Sea Salt
  • 1 ¼ cups semolina flour
  • ¾ cup tipa “00” flour or all-purpose flour
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Gnocchi board or a table fork

Dissolve 1 tsp salt in ¾ cup warm water. In a large bowl whisk together semolina and all purpose flour; mound and form a well in the center.

Add water mixture and 2 tsp olive oil to the well. Using your hand or a fork, slowly incorporate flour from inside the rim of the well. Continue until liquid is absorbed, then knead in bowl until dough forms a complete mass (dough will be slightly sticky).

Transfer dough to a well floured work surface and knead, dusting with a bit more flour as needed just to keep dough from sticking to your hands, for 5 minutes. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

Break off about 1/8 of the dough; tightly rewrap remaining dough. Roll dough into ½ inch cylinder, and cut into ¼ inch thick pieces. Pressing with your thumb, roll each piece on a gnocchi board (or down the back of a fork) to give it the characteristic ridges, and put on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

To cook fresh Malloreddus, bring a large pot of salted water to a bill. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 6 minutes after water returns to a boil. Drain, transfer to a large serving bowl and immediately toss with sauce and serve.

A fresh loaf of bread – store bought, alas, rounded out the meal.

And just as an aside…

I have always felt that food is the great equalizer – that sitting down and enjoying different foods from different countries and cultures can open our minds and our hearts to others different from us.

Go to Chef Google and type in the name of a country and type “recipes” after it. Cook something different. Learn what other people have for breakfast or dinner.