Defining community

What is community?

I’ve really enjoyed hearing more from you over the last few weeks. Love the encouragement, the suggestions, the notes from your kitchens.

One of the things I wrestle with concerning the blogging world is how we all fit together. I love that I’m able to inspire someone to try quinoa, or to cook in instead of ordering out, but I also think it’s a little freakish that we’re all huddled around our computers, “talking” to each other.

As I said to a friend the other day, it cracks me up that companies are actually making money – and lots of it – by creating online recipe communities that make people feel they’ve made a friend if someone in Texas made the same chicken pot pie recipe they did today. “Like, OMG, we have SO much in common!” Dude, knock on your neighbor’s door – that’s community.

Yet, I use those sites. And you’re reading here.

Together, we are redefining community, which is fine with me. I just hope we don’t forget how to speak to each other face to face.

Anyway. My neighbor Sheldon brought me a big bag of heirloom tomato seconds from the farmers’ market this weekend, which just made me sparkle with pride in my little block’s sense of community. First Avenue, represent.

I adore the process of making homemade tomato sauce, but it has its drawbacks: for one, I typically make way more than I need. It also requires some attention in the form of stirring, and I have extreme difficulties not adding the contents of the entire refrigerator.

My husband wasn’t around for dinner last night, and I decided that instead of scratching my tomato sauce plans, I’d scale them back. This is enough sauce for two very healthy portions of pasta, or four more reasonable bowls full – I put half the sauce on top of whole wheat fettuccine with a sprinkling of herb and garlic goat cheese, and put the other half in a freezable container for my dad, who will most likely ignore the label and eat it as soup. (He’ll be here in August, when we make a trip back east to see my husband’s family, and I’m starting a collection for his consumption.)

Have you ever watched yourself eat spaghetti? I had the misfortune of angling my knife in just the right way last night, so as I leaned toward the plate for one of the first bites, I caught a reflection of my lips pursed around the noodles in the knife’s blade. Then I actually got to watch the chewing/slurping process required to get one’s noodles into one’s mouth. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was downright disturbing. But I’d never seen it, so I kept watching.

Close-up: Quick Slow Sauce 2

Recipe for Quick Slow-Roasted Tomato Sauce
Recipe 184 of 365

Nothing beats homemade tomato sauce, but sometimes being physically present in the kitchen while it simmers doesn’t jive with my schedule. Here’s a five-ingredient oven version that requires zero attention once you get it in the oven (which takes ten minutes, max). Toss it with your favorite pasta, or use it as a base for chicken or eggplant Parmesan.

TIME: 10 minutes prep
MAKES: 4 servings

1 1/2 pounds good tomatoes, cored and chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Handful basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place tomatoes, garlic, and basil in a large baking dish. Drizzle the ingredients with the oil, season with salt and pepper, stir to blend.

Raw Quick/Slow Tomato Sauce

Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the tomatoes are soft, the liquid has mostly evaporated, and the garlic is roasted. Use an immersion or regular blender to puree to desired smoothness. Season again to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

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Filed under commentary, farmer's market, recipe, vegetables

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