There are days when things happen that make us question who we are, the choices we make, and why we make them. Sometimes, those days give us answers that make us happy, or validate us. Today was not one of them.
Some days, things just don't go well. Today was one of those days.
No details necessary. It just was.
Sometimes, after days like today, I come home and try to disappear. Today I felt a need to do something else. I took a swim. I cooked myself dinner.
One of the only things I like about the occasional night when I'm alone at home is that it really doesn't matter when I eat. Or what I eat. Often it'll be something very unhealthy followed by a pint of ice cream. That would have been pretty cliche after a bad day, so I went a little different route.
Last night, I noticed some heirloom tomatoes in the kitchen that were softening up. A pink, two striped reds, and a yellow. I blanched them (dropping them in boiling water for a minute or two, followed by ice water), peeled them, and stuck them in a Ziploc bag in the fridge.
Tonight, around 9 or so, I heated up a little olive oil in a saute pan, and in the meantime I chopped garlic and a small onion. Once the oil was hot enough (slightly shimmering), I threw in the garlic and the onion, cooking over low heat until they were soft and the onions were translucent without letting them brown. It took about 10-20 minutes. It smelled good.
I crushed the tomatoes partially in my fingers in the Ziploc, removed the harder core pieces, and added the tomatoes and the juice from the bag to the pan. I cut them up with a knife, lowered the heat, and added a couple of splashes of leftover rose wine. Liberal salt, a couple of grinds of white and black pepper, sprinkled oregano and basil, a few red pepper flakes, and a cover, and away we go. Kept the pan covered, and let it hard simmer away so the tomatoes would break up. I don't really remember how long. It was probably two hours. (As long as the pan is covered and the heat is low, nothing will burn and the liquid won't reduce off too much.)
We usually have 9-minute spaghetti in the house. At some point while the sauce was cooking, I boiled some water, covered the pot, and turned off the heat. About 10 minutes before I was ready to eat, I turned the heat back on, brought the water to a boil, and salted it. I always salt my pasta water. A lot. According to Marcella Hazan, the water should taste "like the sea."
From watching TV cooking shows, I learned that pasta should be nearly completely cooked, then tossed in the pan with the warm sauce until it's al dente, rather than pouring sauce over the pasta after it's already on the plate. I cooked the 9-minute pasta for 6 minutes in the boiling salted water, drained it off, then tossed it for a minute or two in the original saute pan with the heated sauce.
Then I ate it. It was good. And I didn't feel the need for a pint of ice cream. Tomorrow is another day.