No Ladybugs Were Harmed During the Making of This Sauce


I was feeling adventurous that day.  So instead of sticking to my list, I roamed up and down each aisle of Sam’s Club, eyeing things I would not normally buy.  Then I saw it: the gi-normous can of crushed tomatoes.  I thought, “That would make a gi-normous pot of red gravy.  My family likes red gravy.  I should get that.”  In the cart it went.

It sat in the pantry for a couple of weeks.  Anxiety started to set in.  I didn’t have a suitable recipe.  I’ve only made homemade red gravy once.  I’m not sure I’m ready.  What if it’s not as good as my mother-in-law’s?  My old fears welled up, and I actually considered returning it for a refund donating the can to the food bank.

Then Mr. Wonderful went out for town for a few days, and I figured I had a window.  I’d try it, and if it turned out badly, throw it out and buy a gallon of sauce from Venezia’s – no one would be the wiser.  Game on.

I posted a request on Facebook for recipes and input from friends, and got lots of great responses.  Since I was making an ordeal adventure out of it, I opted to follow my nephew’s advice.  He is, after all, of Sicilian descent AND in culinary school, and he taught me about barding when I made braciolone.

Armed and Dangerous.

Armed with his recipe, I went to the grocery store.  (Not Wal-Mart, the actual supermarket with fresh produce and specialty herbs!)  I got the freshest herbs (the kind still potted…) and spices I’ll probably never use again.  But if this was good, Mr. Wonderful was going to love me more than ever.  (Italian boys have weird relationships with food.)

I picked fresh basil from my garden, and washed it carefully.  (NOTE: always check fresh herbs thoroughly, including the underneath side of the leaves where Ladybugs hide.  I almost added a little extra flavoring to my pot!)

I poured a glass of wine and put on my apron (to get the full “chef” effect), and started cooking.

Fresh herbs. No Ladybugs.

Seasoning pouch. This keeps the greens out of the sauce and saves my kids the trouble of picking them out.

I felt very sophisticated making the cheesecloth pouch, and kept looking out of the window to see if by any chance a Food Network camera crew was nearby, because surely this much effort was worth my own TV show.   I filled the pouch with great care while singing an Italian song.  (That part of the recipe came from my friend’s mom, Ms. Bernie.)  I followed the recipe carefully, making notes on any variations for future ordeals adventures.

Two glasses of wine later Three hours later I tasted my sauce and it was delicious!  The plan was to have it for dinner the next night, when Mr. Wonderful returned home.  I transferred the sauce to smaller bowls to store overnight, because I forgot one important detail: when making a gi-normous pot of anything, make sure you have enough containers to store it or enough people to eat it.  (Gi-normous pots do not fit in the fridge.)

I felt accomplished and validated when I was finished.  I have now completely conquered my fear of Italian cooking, and will be scouring the Food Network’s web site later to let them know I’m ready for my show.

And the next time I go to Sam’s, I’ll grab 2 cans of those tomatoes.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “No Ladybugs Were Harmed During the Making of This Sauce

  1. Pingback: The New Normal | The Lucky Mom

  2. Pingback: Impulse Buying — or How to Get Your Kids to Clean Their Rooms | The Lucky Mom

  3. One of my favorite pasttimes is cooking and one of my more favorite things to cook is ITALIAN! Being Italian and married to an Italian, I can never go wrong with a good hearty lasagna and homemade gravy!
    Too bad your youngin’ is lactose intolerant! Ugh, there really is no substitute for a non-dairy ricotta/cheese!
    Gravy and wine, we have a glorious relationship when we interract! Harmonizing the most glorious symphony!!
    Glad you found a great recipe to use! And I totally dig the cheesecloth idea! How fanatastic! *secret* It takes me 2 days to make gravy and I sneak vegetables into the gravy that the kids have no idea exist (zuchinni, squash, carrots), its a glorious little white lie :)

    • I love those little white lies. I sneak veggies in meatloaf and burgers. Peel zucchini and shred it on the fine cheese grater. (It turns clear when it cooks.) Then mix it in the meat, cook them your favorite way, and watch the kids eat their veggies!

  4. Greg

    I love spending Sunday (no that’s not the only day I cook) in the kitchen cooking for the family, listening to music and sippin’ a little vino. It doesn’t matter what you are cooking, if it starts with sauteing the trinity in olive oil your house is going to smell like love. Ladybugs are lucky right, so eating a ladybug must be lucky too!

  5. Anonymous

    Girrrl you crack me up and right before leaving the Kroger I was working in I thought about that recipe of Miss Bernie’s too. Shredded cheese was on sale and I thought I would make some lasagna. Well that Kroger at least doesn’t sell the contadina garlic sauce. Got the rest of my stuff and will have to make a second trip to another store. Got the wine too, so I should be ready to make it on Sunday. I will sing Mama Mia while I do it since that’s about all I know in Italian and think of you and her. LOL

    • I don’t make lasagna as often anymore. (Slick is lactose intolerant… is that TMI?)

      My kids’ fav is Chicken Spaghetti – just smothered chicken in red gravy served over pasta… I switch up the pasta shape to shake things up! I loved using the immersion blender to puree the veggies because they were in there but the boys didn’t know it.

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