Sunday, September 12, 2010

Waiting for the Sauce

How much of human life is lost in waiting.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I sit here waiting, I started to contemplate all the time that one wastes in a lifetime waiting.  Waiting to graduate, waiting for the next best job, waiting for Mr. or Miss Right, waiting for the tomato sauce to finish canning...

For those of you who have canned, it could be a whole day process, depending on what you are making.  Today, I made tomato sauce.  My day was spent skinning, de-seeding, chopping, cooking, milling, simmering, and then canning tomatoes.  It is the end of my day, and, after waiting about an hour, the tomato sauce just came out of the canner.  An hour ago, I was tired, and I wanted to be done.  But I waited that last hour.

Is the wait worth it?  I believe so.  I finally figured out how to make a good sauce, and it will be enjoyed in the middle of winter.  But, like so many other things in my life, I hate waiting.  I need to be doing.  I make the time go by faster by keeping myself busy doing something else. 

Is that good?  Sometimes, yes.  You can get much accomplished while waiting.  You can enjoy the now while waiting.  A friend of mine is waiting for that million dollar check to come in the mail.  She first told me about this check about a year ago.  Knowing positive thinking will bring that check, she stays encouraged daily and laughs. Yet, at the same time, she is working hard to meet her needs for today and enjoying life to the fullest right now, but not giving up on that check arriving one day.  So, accomplishing other tasks and claiming a positive outcome are two positive things about waiting.

When is keeping busy not good?  When you need to rest.  God said "Be still and know that I am God."  Be still - don't do anything, just believe that He is.  It could be a time of rest, of relaxation.  A time to rejuvenate yourself, so that when the waiting is over, you are refreshed.

So, the next time I need to wait, maybe I'll try just waiting instead of doing.  Maybe then I won't wonder why I just totally exhausted myself to the point that I have no idea why I'm thinking about waiting and that this post may not make any sense.

Side Note:  When you put your life on hold, waiting for the outcome you want to be fulfilled from the waiting, life doesn't always give you what you want.  Sometimes God is telling you "No, that's not the direction I want you to go."


After years of trying, revising, and cooking tomato sauce, and then not being satisfied with the results, I think I finally figured out the trick of making delicious tomato sauce.  The recipes always say to cook until thick.  Well, my husband and I would strain the tomatoes with a tomato strainer, put it in a big pot, stir, and stir, and stir a million times more, and after around 8 hours of cooking and stirring, the sauce may be at the consistency that we like (or almost there).  Our sauce always turned out tasting acid-y and burnt.

When I started to make tomato sauce this year, I looked at that big pot, and I started to think that maybe the surface wasn't big enough to evaporate the liquid in a shorter period of time.  So, I tried a good pan.  I took out my Pampered Chef 12" Covered Skillet, put the chopped tomatoes in it, and put the temperature up high, stirring ever minute or so.  When the liquid came to a boil, I turned down the burner to a medium heat, and continued letting it boil (still stirring).  The liquid evaporated, and, in about an hour, I had about half the liquid.

I then poured as much of the tomatoes and liquid as I could in my canning food mill.  I let the liquid drain, and returned it to the skillet to let it thicken some more.  As it thickened, and I stirred, I put the tomatoes through the mill.  When the liquid had reduced to a thick sauce, I added the really thick tomato sauce, and then added the rest of the ingredients to the skillet and put on simmer for about an hour so that the flavors would blend into the sauce.  After around 2-1/2 hours (compared to more than 8), my sauce was done and tasted oh so good.

I discovered that the secret of making good sauce was the pan you used!  Even though I am partial to Pampered Chef products, any good skillet will do, you just want to make sure it has a big surface and a thicker bottom.  This may be a small investment, but it's well worth it.  We use our skillet at least 3 times a week for regular meals.  If you are interested in the pots and pans I sell, email me and I will send you a link to my website.


Italian Tomato Sauce
makes about 5-6 quarts, depending on desired thickness

30 lbs or 24 cups tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded, and chopped
3 cups onions, chopped
2 cups green peppers, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced, OR 2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. salt
1 Tbs. and 1 tsp. of each - basil, oregano, Italian seasoning
1-2 Tbs. brown sugar (to taste)

Take the tomatoes, and follow the directions above.  While it's thickening, saute onions, green peppers, and garlic until onions are transparent.  After sauce has thickened, add remaining ingredients except sugar, and simmer for about an hour.  Add sugar, and simmer 5-10 minutes more.

Can or freeze according to instructions found in canning books.  If canned, don't forget to add the lemon juice - 2 Tbs. per quart.

Aunt Janet

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Old Friends

“Good friends are like stars.... You don't always see them,
but you know they are always there”
Author Unknown

There is something to be said about old friends. The one that, even if you haven’t seen each other in eons, you can pick up the conversation like you were never separated. Talking for hours, laughing, crying, reminiscing and making new memories. The type of friend that wouldn’t be surprised if you called in the middle of the night crying, even though you haven’t talked to them in ten years. They understand. They have been a part of your life for so many years that they know who you are deep down inside. They know your joys and sorrows, maybe not for the past year, but for a lifetime.

I have a handful of friends that I can call my true friends. There is a bond between us that time will not break. Some are from high school, a couple from college, and one that is my lifetime friend – we met across the fence when we were 3 or 4. They have stood by my side, attended life events – graduations, weddings, christenings, and, yes, deaths and funerals. I would be there in a minute for them, and, I know, they would do the same for me. We are like fine wine that gets better as it ages, even if it is out of sight, only to be savored after years of silence.

You know who you are. I love you. You are unique, each different from the other. From you, I have gained strength, love, and confidence (clothes, concert tickets, and dill)– each bringing a different combination of all. I am blessed to call you my friend.

Aunt Janet’s Famous Sayings

“It is very important to keep in touch with / see / talk to your girlfriends.” I’ve tried to pass this down to my nieces, because I do feel that women bless each other. Face it – you can’t talk to a guy like you can a girlfriend. They are on a different plane than we are. Women understand women. Can you ask a guy if he thinks you’re going through menopause because you can’t remember anything? Will a guy give you his honest opinion about your new haircut? No, but a girlfriend would, and she would help you decide what style would bring out your best features. A friend would even tell you that she didn’t think it would be wise to foster children because she knows me. When I love, I love with my whole heart, and when the love is taken away, my heart breaks and I feel the full strength of the loss and sorrow. I am one of those people who does not try to stop feeling, and, at times, the feeling is too deep.

A couple of times, I had several people question the strength of an old friendship after years of separation. All I can say is that, once a friend and I bond, the bond lasts. So, my best friend in high school is still one of my best friends. My friend across the fence is still my oldest and dearest friend. It’s not that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Women are so busy taking care of others that they forget to take care of themselves, which sometimes means picking up the phone because they know once they are on the phone with their cherished friend, they will never get off, and dinner has to be made, the laundry done, you need to go grocery shopping… They are on our mind, in our heart, and included in our prayers always.

True friends reconnect. I’ve gone as far as calling my college friend’s ex-husband to get her phone number – she had changed it when they divorced. I found his workplace because I knew he was a principal in a certain area.  I poked a friend’s brother on facebook, just so I could get her attention. You know, girls in the house, mom doesn’t get the message, so never returns phone calls. Hehe I’m sending a friend from work a retirement card, even though she retired months ago. Hey - it’s the thought that counts. And I found out two other friends are retiring because I saw them going into a meeting for imminent retirees. (You know who you are because I don’t send my blog link to you since you asked me not to. And I know you still love me. I better be invited to your retirement party weeks in advance!)

To my nieces and younger woman – friends are so important. They keep you grounded. You can laugh and cry with them. They know your weaknesses and secrets. Cherish them.

Now, let’s see how many of my friends leave a comment. I’ll guess none. They are all so busy!

Grandpa's Stories (& Quotes)

The 27th anniversary of my dad’s death just passed, and he has been on my mind. My cousin passed away during the summer, and I see his wife’s grief. When someone died, my dad would say:

“Live for the living, not for the dead.”

My dad lost his first wife when his youngest child, my sister chosen by God, was only about 5. He talked with experience, and I wish I could reach out and help her. Someone once told me that, even though we may be separated from our loved ones for years, when we get to heaven, in heaven time, we are only separated for the blink of an eye. I miss you dad, but I know I’ll see you soon – maybe in 50 years.

Money Making Tip

I’m asking your opinion with this one. My friend is in a belly dancing group. They perform at many events. Do you think that a belly dancing class, along with a jewelry show, would fly?

She suggested it, and I think just maybe, as long as I don’t have to belly dance. Okay, I have high frequency hearing loss, and cannot keep a beat for the life of me. I would stick out like a sore thumb, or look like a jester or rodeo clown. Get the picture? It would be hilarious, but I don’t think so. So, to my friends and family, it’s not that I can’t sing. I can’t hear to be able to sing. There. I told you guys, after you’ve made fun of me for years.

Money Savings

Specials at thrift stores – I went to a thrift store yesterday after being told that they were having a $5 bag sale. I filled the bag with Lee Jeans, a Coldwater Creek top, a Liz Claiborne jacket, and about 8 other items. For $5!

One thing to keep in mind is that these are donated clothes. Look for clothes that are not worn, do not have stains, and fit. About half of the items I bought were brand new, a couple with the tags still on. I checked each item to make sure that there were no obvious stains or flaws, but forgot to check the size on a pair of jeans. Their tag said 10. The inside tag said 14. You will see these jeans posted on ebay soon.

This is a great way to save money, but keep in mind dry cleaning costs. Is the jacket really worth $5 if it costs $10 to have it dry cleaned? The jacket I bought was in such good shape that I feel it was worth the small investment.

Specials aren’t usually advertised in newspapers. So, if you want a bargain at a thrift store, you usually have to watch their windows for “sale” signs. Also, some thrift stores do not carry what I would call high quality items. Shop around until you find one that does. The one I found carries mostly designer clothes at unbelievable low prices.

Lastly, remember to always wash your "new" clothes.  You never know who was in them last.

Cherish your friendships,
Aunt Janet
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