Monday, December 6, 2010

eat; my famous pasta sauce


I grew up with pasta sauce and espresso coffee running through my veins. From as early as i can remember, my family would get together at the end of summer to all par take in the ritual of creating sauce for the year to come.

Everyone had a job to do with the 20 or so wooden crates of tomatoes my dad brought home from the local market. My sister and dad would wash out the long neck beer bottles we collected over the year, with bottle brushes in hand. I can still hear the sounds the brushes would make against the glass, brushing and scrubbing them clean, with the metal handle crunching and sliding against the necks of the bottles on their way in and out in an almost percussive beat and the sound of the water being poured out of each one, in long drawn out gulps. They would then turn them upside down, leaning one against each other to dry in the sun. 

My mum and brother had the job of washing the tomatoes which would annoyingly float in the big white bucket of water, seemingly in an act of rebellion against what they knew their fate would be.  As if choreographed in a dance, my mum and brother would help each other pick up a crate, one on each side, placing it up against the side of the bucket and then tip it,  watching as the tomatoes tumbled over each other, cascading into their awaiting bath. I always wanted this job only because I wanted to create big splashes of water as the tomatoes tumbled into their bath and be covered by the water they pushed aside. Never did happen. I think my mum knew I would create havoc!

Because I was the littlest, my job would be to simply pop a few leaves of fresh green basil into each bottle awaiting to be filled with the juice of the tomatoes. The rows seemed to be never ending as the brown bottles would all be lined up, like soldiers at attention, on every table we could get our hands on; from folding camp tables to make shift, two planks of wood type tables. With a gentle push of encouragement by my tiny fingers through the necks of the bottles, I would watch as the green basil leaves made their journey to the bottles bottom. Seeing them struggling to maintain their intense green colour as they collapsed and surrendered at the bottom, engulfed by the brown light shining through, always felt like a sad ending for those poor basil leaves. 

Once our prep jobs were done, we would all collectively hover around the machine that would squeeze out the juice from the tomatoes, spitting out their skins to one side. The machine made a rhythmic sound churning constantly, not ever waiting for a second for the next lot. We all took turns at tossing big handfuls of tomatoes into the top and watching the juice collect into an awaiting bucket. My mum would be the pourer of the sauce into each individual bottle with an aluminum saucepan and a blue plastic funnel, while my dad stood ready with golden bottle tops and his strength, to close them up ready for the boiling. Their fate was sealed and they would be gently placed into an overlapping pattern within their 'grave like' 44 gallon drum that would transform them into our pasta sauce.

By the end of the days making, we would all be covered in sauce, scratching away at the dried up remnants of tomato on our skin, whilst mum would roast vegies and meat on the fire under the barrel that housed our days work, bubbling away cooking the sauce within each bottle.  We would occasionally get the fright of our lives as a bottle exploded from the pressure. It didn't happen every year but the anticipation was always there that we might just be frightened out of our wits at any moment. 

My mum still does make a very small amount each year to this day (i think more for the sake of reminiscing about those days) with my brother joining in while they bond over this special practice that is now becoming obsolete within the modern day Italian family.

In those days, Australian/Italians had no choice but to make their own food as buying a bottle of pasta sauce was simply not an option. Now days, the variety is in abundance but i still enjoy making my sauce from scratch when tomato's are in season, rather than opening up a jar. Maybe it is my way of holding onto my childhood memory of making sauce.

The following recipe is really basic but the flavours are amazing and i guarantee, you'll never buy a jar of already made sauce again!

What you need;
1 420g can of peeled whole tomato 
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced finely (I use organic and they are always smaller so I use 3)
1 birdseye chili, chopped (if you like it hot that is!)
3 Tbl of olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
4 basil leaves, torn into small pieces 

It's all in the canned tomatoes!!!! If you can get your hands on Annalisa brand of peeled tomatoes, do yourself a favour!!! Otherwise, any organic brand will be fine. You can get whole or chopped. I prefer whole and will direct this recipe to using whole peeled tomatoes.

Pour the oil into a frypan on med to high heat. Once hot, throw in the chopped garlic (and chili). Cook the garlic for a minute and then throw in the can of tomato. Add water to the can, filling it up to  just under a third of the way and swirl it around to clean off the remaining sauce within it. Pour this into the sauce and let it simmer for about 10 minutes on a med to low heat.

After 10 minutes, if using whole tomatoes, gently press against each tomato to break them up. I like my sauce reasonably chunky but you can press them until you find a consistency you like. Add salt.

The sauce should be ready within about 20 mins. Once you turn the heat off, toss through the torn basil leaves. NEVER EVER COOK BASIL!!!!! Whenever using basil, always throw them in after the heat has been turned off. The flavour will be more intense and create a freshness to any dish.

Pour over a good quality pasta, freshly grating a good quality Parmesan and serve with a great bottle of wine!

I have used a 420g can for this recipe which will cover enough pasta for about 2-3 people. If you need to cook more, simply double or triple the recipe. Easy! This sauce can be frozen for use at another time.

I use this recipe for lots of things including my vegie lasagna and pizzas. If you are wanting to use it for such things, i suggest adding a little more water so it will be more runny and spending the time to break up the tomatoes so they are not so chuncky.

Buon Appetito!

pink; green pink caviar

Pink lips, pink tongue, pink jelly. Do yourself a favour and watch this video on 'full screen' option on your computer. Marilyn Minter, who is based in New York, has been one of those artists in which I'm not sure if I love her work or hate it. She blurs the lines between the beautiful and the grotesque, questioning conventional notions of both. What is beautiful? What is grotesque?  Her works are completed with a high gloss, high definition, hyper-real execution capturing images such as women wearing designer stilettos, covered in mud and dirt. She works in photography, painting with enamel on sheets of metal and recently (by accident) in video.

This video I'm featuring above is a short exert of Minters Green Pink Caviar which totally captivated me when i first saw it earlier this year at MOMA in New York. Shot with a macro lens and slowed down to almost snails pace, it is completely mesmerizing and definitely sent me into a whole new world, where detail became oh soooo seductive. With a macro perspective of such detail, the womans tongue slowly sliding across the screen, sucking up and spitting out the slippery jelly, is both gracious and visceral. It is a feeling that is felt deep within ones own body on viewing this work, as if her tongue were licking our internal organs with long slow sliding strokes, sucking in and spitting out our jelly. This is were the work grabs you and is, I imagine, what Minter was hoping for. Is it beautiful to feel as if your internal organs are being caressed and stimulated by a tongue, or is it grotesque? Our own perceptions of sensuality are being asked to be layed out on the table with those of what society claims they should be; to be compared, discussed and challenged.

I was so lured and seduced by this lush work that Katya had to literally grab my arm to drag me away from it otherwise i would have stayed in MOMA for days, like a stunned mullet! I like it when a work does that without giving away too much, sending me into a state of vagueness, emptying my brain of any thoughts whatsoever and allowing me to succumb to a place full of sensuality and sexuality.

You can check out more of her work at

love; 10 things i found to love this week

1. Flannel Sheets! Yep, it's that cold here in L.A the flannel sheets have come out, believe it or not! Oh how I love flannel sheets in the winter. My housemate thinks they are totally unsexy suggesting I should imagine horizontal folk dancing between these sheets! 'As if!', she proclaims. Well, I might have to agree...yes they are completely unsexy!!!!! But if you don't have a human hot water bottle, between stops, i think they are a great addition to any bed!!

photo by Julie Ponder
2. Sprinkling a few drops of essential Lavender Oil onto my freshly washed sheets as i'm making up my bed. If you haven't done this before, i suggest giving it a go! Sooo nice to slip in under the sheets after doing this...and apparently lavender helps you have a better nights sleep. Double bonus! 
FYI, it is also a great ant repellent!!!
3. L.A bus drivers! I've had the most fun bus drivers here in L.A than anywhere else in the world! I always make an effort to say hi and ask how they are doing when boarding and yelling out "Thankyou!" as i exit the bus. One bus driver greeted me with such a huge smile one day when I was wearing a really feminine flowing pale blue dress. "I really like your dress! You know why i like your dress?" he asked, as i was sliding my money into the slot. "No', I  answered with anticipation. "It reminds me of a fairytale. You look  like a princess!" Boy did he make my day!!!!
4. Madura Tea. Oh how I love a cup of this Australian tea! I love it soooo much that when i lived in Beijing for three months, I brought my own supply of this tea. All the tea in China has nothing on my Madura! I have my favourite mug I like to drink from that I have also brought from home. I like my tea strong with a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar and a dash of milk. The small amount of sugar does make a difference fyi! It does to my tea what a pinch of salt does to cooking!

photo by Julia Theobalt
5. Chocolate stilettos?!?!?! WTF?!?!?! I want them and i wanna crunch on them soooo bad!!!! My friend Julishka who lives in Berlin went on a trip with her boyfriend to Amsterdam and came across these shoes tagging me in the picture on facebook! How lovely!
6. Talking about shoes...HAVE AT LOOK AT THEEEESSSSE!!!! Miu Miu released a whole collection of shoes last year inspired by the old fashioned teapot. Wish I could afford a pair or three!!!! I'm keeping a close eye on ebay!!
7. Hummingbirds drinking the nectar from the brightly coloured cactus flowers in my backyard. Did you know they are the only birds that can fly backwards?!?!?! They are the sweetest looking birds and move so elegantly and strategically while feeding. The neighbours cat, Maurice, seems to think so too!!!!
 8. Watching people people watching. I love doing this on the bus especially. It is an exercise in letting your imagination run wild wondering what the person you are looking at is thinking of the person they are looking at!!!!
9. My Bialetti espresso maker. Hale the espresso maker!!! I can't start my morning without it! I even travel with my maker so i don't miss out on my morning ritual. If you love coffee, do yourself a favor and by one of these machines!!!

photo by Christo Crocker
10. A good artist friend of mine, Simon Zoric sent me a link to his blog during the week. I love his work and was completely blown away by this piece which he calls Mood-O-Meter. You can't see the tiny writing in this pic, but it's range goes from Angry, Depressed to Horny. How amazing would it be if all of us had one of these strapped around our necks?!?!?! You would certainly know who to keep well away from and who you should gravitate towards!