It’s not like marinara is expensive to buy necessarily and tomato sauce definitely isn’t, so each year when the kitchen is destroyed and my back aches from standing all day I question why I go to all the work to make my own sauce. What makes me take on this labor of love year after year?
It always starts romantically enough. Tomato plants heavily laden with so much fruit that they are toppled over. The window for wonderfully ripe tomatoes fresh from the garden so short. The smell of the plants on my skin long after I’ve left the garden. Too many tomatoes to possibly eat fresh. Too precious to even think of letting go to waste. And basil and oregano grown so big that they threaten to take over the paths in the herb garden.
I grew up on a farm and the pull of those roots are never stronger than they are in late summer. The time each year when we canned and froze, made jam and pickled. This is when we put down the majority of the food that we would eat all winter long. There was such a sense of comfort in a freezer packed full and pantry shelves lined with jars. It’s a pull than even as an urbanite now is too strong to ignore.
And so I stand over the steaming stove on a hot late summer afternoon – blanching the tomatoes, peeling and seeding. The house filled with the smell of sautéing onions and garlic. A pot bubbling away on the stove for hours.
At the end of the day, when the mish-mash of recycled containers are filled and labeled with masking tape and black marker, I realize everything in that marinara is either from my garden or my parent’s and it’s a good feeling. The freezer door closes and the country girl in me feels just a little more prepared for the winter ahead.