From the Kitchen of barb0812

Mama Mia Marinara!



Basil with roma tomatoes halved

Basil and Roma Tomatoes

If you were lucky enough to get a crop of tomatoes this year before the squirrels, you were lucky indeed!  I have had this secret fantasy of making my own marinara for some time, and so this year I did it! Yes, it takes some time to do, but it’s not hard and so worth it to try once.

I had originally thought I would try my hand at canning marinara this year, but I decided that was not to be in the cards–it’s not as easy as canning pickles.  So, I ran into my Trader Joe’s for a few items and right into my favorite employee at the checkout.  He saw I was purchasing some pasta and asked me where the marinara was, because he didn’t see any in my cart.  I exclaimed, “I am making it myself!” And in his thick Italian accent he said, “Well, aren’t you the Italian cook? I make mine, too, and freeze it in Ziplock bags.” I asked him how long it keeps, and he told me several months. Good to know, and what a great tip to pass along!

I make about 2 cups of marinara at a time because it’s less time consuming and I usually have plans for it. If all you need is a cup, I would recommend just freezing the second cup for use another time.

This recipe needs about 38-40 small roma tomatoes.  When I say small, I mean the garden variety which usually only gets about double or triple the size of a cherry tomato.  If you have fresh basil, pick yourself about 4-5 leaves.  Slice your tomatoes in half and place them face down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat.

Roma tomatoes pictured halved and face down on a cookie sheet with Bruno the dog

Bruno is watching over my work!

Place your tray of tomatoes in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool to the touch and begin taking off the skins.

Garden roma tomatoes, halved and baked at 400 degrees for 10 minutes to remove the skins

Roma tomatoes ready to be de-skinned

Slide your skinned tomatoes into a food processor or blender along with your 4-5 fresh basil leaves and get ready to pulse for your puree.

roma tomatoes and fresh basil leaves pictured in a food processor pureed

roma tomato and basil puree

In a one quart pot, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium low heat.  Add onion and sauté for several minutes, then add the minced garlic and continue cooking another minute.  Add the wine and allow this to cook down for several minutes before adding the tomato puree and seasonings to the pot.

A pot with onion and garlic in a saute.

onion and garlic being sautéed.

Cover and simmer on lowest heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If you own a food sieve and don’t like all the pulp and seeds, strain it before you enjoy in your dish

Homemade marinara from small garden roma tomatos with basil and garlic

Homemade Tomato Marinara


Posted By: barb0812

My dogs consider me the "greatest chef of all time"...I am lover of all foods vegetarian and advocate for growing your own veggies--no matter the size! I am one of the Co-founders of Hey Good Cookin' and a believer in cooking for yourself because everyone deserves it!

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From the Kitchen of oregonwingnut

Humanity at its Best

Soba noodles plated with a dipping sauce

Soba Noodles with Dipping Sauce


In March 2011, as the world watched a powerful tsunami rage through Japan, I sat glued to my TV. As a swirl of emotion rose up in me, much like the images of the tumultuous sea devouring everything in its path, I watched in disbelief. Unlike other tragic situations where I’ve felt empathy mixed with a sense of disconnection, this was personal. Japan is a part of me, and I am a part of Japan.

My thoughts began to rewind twenty years to the 1990’s when I lived in the city of Amagasaki. I remembered the sights and smells of the market I passed each day, the sound of trains whirring by and the taste of shabu-shabu, a one-pot broth dish I’d grown to love. Japan is where I discovered all the best parts of myself.

For days after the tsunami, more and more images from the media and my own recollections cluttered my mind. On one particular day when I felt overloaded with all the sadness and helplessness, I received an email about a man who owned a noodle shop. With the massive destruction shining a spotlight on how truly small we all really are, and in the face of overwhelm of all that needed to be done, one man decided to do something. He made noodles. He offered a bowl of comfort and nourishment to anyone who needed it.

I wept when I read his story. The simplicity of his generosity touched me. Noodles, a seemingly insignificant contribution, was his vehicle to connect people and help heal his country.

Fortunately, this is not an isolated incident. There is evidence in every community of people reaching out to others from food drives to soup kitchens. At first it may appear that it is about providing a basic need, but I have a hunch it’s more about connection. I hope the example of the noodle man will inspire others to offer assistance, or better yet, share a meal and get to know one another. What a positive contribution that would be.

From the Kitchen of oregonwingnut

Being Neighborly Is Still Alive!


Apples bringing neighbors together

Last year, on the first day of fall my doorbell rang. I live on a quiet street and rarely have spontaneous visitors, so I expected to either find a child nervously waiting to entice me into buying chocolate for a school fundraiser or discover a leaflet attached to my doorknob trying to convince me to vote for a candidate in the upcoming election. I was surprised to see a new neighbor standing at the door with her grandmother. She’s not someone I know well; our previous connection consisted of a brief introduction over a bargain table at a yard sale. She explained that from her upstairs window, she had noticed that my tree was brimming with apples rapidly transitioning from green to red. She was wondering if I would have any apples to spare and brought some bags for picking just in case. I was thrilled to share and equally excited to not have to pick them up off my lawn.

A couple days later I noticed a jar on my front porch. The hand-stamped label read APPLE BUTTER followed by a note, “Thanks for sharing your apples! Have a happy fall. I like it on wheat pancakes or buttered toast…or just by the spoonful!” I was touched that she had thought of me and put such care and attention into her gift. As I unscrewed the lid to a blast of cinnamon, it dawned on me that this was the first time I had ever had anything made from my apples. Each year for the last decade, I’ve made myself a broken promise to harvest my apples and create some yummy, sweet and gooey concoction perfect for a crisp fall night. Then each fall turned to winter, and I plant the seed in my mind for next year.

I’m grateful for my neighbor’s knock on the door that day. This experience reminded me that life can be so completely simple and satisfying.

I love how food can be the great connector bringing people together. I love that generosity and being neighborly is still alive, and we only have to give it to receive it. I love that the simple act of picking apples and making apple butter deepened a bond between a grandmother and her granddaughter. I love that I’m truly inspired to keep my promise to myself this year.

As summer is drawing to a close and I gaze out the window at my apple tree, I’m making a public vow to get up one lazy Saturday morning, pull on some faded jeans, put my hair in a sloppy ponytail, pluck apples off my tree, and create something yummy, sweet and gooey to share with someone. I challenge you to grab your apron, dust off that rolling pin and make something to share with someone in your life. Better yet, make something for someone you want to get to know better.

Apple Butter Oven Style

This recipe is adapted from the 1959 Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook.

  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 6 lbs. apples, cored, peeled and sliced
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 3 ½ – 4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. allspice
  • Pinch of nutmeg


1. Combine water and salt. Add apples then drain, but do not rinse the apple slices.

2. Process in a food processor until the apple slices turn to pulp. There should be about 2 quarts of pulp and juice.

3. Combine the pulp and juice with the cider in a large baking dish. Place in a 350 degree oven and let it simmer about 3-3 ½ hours, stirring thoroughly every half hour, until the mixture is cooked down about half and is thick and mushy.

4. Return mixture to food processor and blend until smooth.

5. Combine sugar and spices, add to the apple butter and return to the oven. Continue simmering for approximately 1 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

Yields 2 quarts

For canning: Pour into hot jars, adjust the lids and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.