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A Return to the Kitchen

It’s been a while. It’s been strange days on Forest Street, and the predictable, comfortable rhythms of my daily life, including cooking and blogging have seemed very far away. First there was the tsunami of political activism that washed over me in January and left me gasping on the beach as I tried to fight City Hall. Last Sunday, around the time it became clear to me that I was fighting a losing battle and should succumb graciously to the waves, my mother fell down the stairs and broke her leg. This required surgery, the surgery and post-operative pain required morphine, and the morphine resulted in more than two days of delusions, paranoia and talk of restraints. Really, it was a lot for me. At the end of a day at the hospital I found myself more interested in some Pinot Grigio and sleep than in cooking, eating or writing.

Today I woke up after a good night’s sleep, knowing that my mother was lucid, my father had slept, and that I would have some time to begin the return to my life. On the kitchen windowsill were two 12-ounce containers of grape tomatoes I had bought Before the Fall (by which I refer to the literal, rather than the biblical) and they still seemed to be in pretty good shape. Moving slowly and cautiously, I located an onion, some garlic, and a bottle of olive oil. I vaguely remembered fresh basil in the refrigerator, but it turned out not to have been so hardy a survivor as the tomatoes.

Lunch. I knew I could make a rustic tomato sauce for lunch. I diced the onion, smashed several cloves of garlic, and started a healthy dollop of olive oil heating in a sauce pan. I sauteed the onion and garlic until it smelled like heaven, and a return to goodness, and then I threw in the tomatoes, skins and all.  As they began to  burst and release their juices I stirred, added a little wine, a little salt,  a little  oregano, and tasted every now and then to see if it was good. It felt just like cooking, and by the end (after adding a little bit of sugar, which surprised me because the tomatoes themselves were so sweet) I had sauce. I simmered it while I boiled a pot of penne, and grated fresh Gran Padano cheese.

It wasn’t elegant, and it would have been better with basil, but it was good. It was good and it was fresh and it fed the people I love. I think I’m back.


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

9 responses »

  1. welcome back.

    i’m glad your mom is ok
    i’m so sorry she has had to endure such a fall
    she is lucky to have you so close by

    your sauce sounds lovely
    that’s a favorite dinner of mine

  2. Welcome back! Sorry to hear about your mom, but glad she’s on the mend. And some good comfort food never hurts.

  3. yep…. been missing ya! Glad the worst of the fall is over. Good to see you!

  4. Ann,

    There is no doubt the tomatoes were glad to see you. You were missed. But hey, it’s MOM.

    Having spent your last cartridge, turning to run is what anyone must do. You will find a time soon when you must refrain from saying “I told you so” as you hear others remark at how wrong it is, how bad it has become. They will forever resent the change, having never left camp or fired the first shot. True inner acceptance comes from knowing at least you tried. Sleep only comes to those who fight bravely. Those who know you are proud of you. Teach Sam where not to waste his bullets.

  5. look at it this way, you are practically the only person in america who has tomatoes!

  6. Welcome back, we missed you. Hope your mom is recuperating well. What a nightmare! Such stress when loved ones are in pain. Glad you came through it with such grace. You’re a good daughter, I know. Funny comment from Amy about your being the only one with tomatoes. The spinach recall is still vivid in my mind. I hope to grow my own having got some heirloom plants this weekend for free from a Tomales nursery–San Francisco is not an optimal climate for tomatoes, but I’ll hope and pray for the best. P.S. I NEED that garam masala recipe when you’re up to sending it. Love from Eric

  7. Welcome back Annie!!!!
    I hope your mom is doing well. I’ve missed your writing!

  8. Welcome back, Annie. I’ve missed you. I am so sorry to hear about your mom, and I know it is scary and difficult to take care of a parent who is being treated with morphine.

    I’m thankful she turned the corner and is better now.

  9. Claudia, thanks so much! She is un-better again at the moment, but that little respite was lovely. So was the sauce…..

    Ricki, Christina, Eric, Mary and Katie, thanks. I am trying to “be back,” and failing so far. i have just acquired a laptop, however, and I think there is WiFi at the rehab facility, so maybe I can sneak in a post or two while she’s napping.

    Amy, you are right – and I should be grateful because they were delicious and I am neither wretchedly sick nor dead!

    Robert, you slay me. I think that may be one of the most perfect and beautiful things I have ever read. If I could, I would hug you.


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