food · OBSERVATIONS · pretend play · slice of life

14-Hour Tomato Sauce

Some, not all, of the San Marzano tomatoes are pictured with the apron (once I threw it in).

9:00 a.m. I donned my apron while I glanced at the box of tomatoes and said, “let’s do this.” I removed two large pots and several bowls from the cabinet. I set out the cutting board and the knives. Everything was in place. Time to check on Isabelle before I begin.

I approached her play room where I saw her playing restaurant with her Little People. I was about to walk away when she looked up at me. She began to cry.

“What’s wrong?” I asked her.

“Pie (play),” she said through her tears.

“No honey, I’m going to make sauce now. You keep playing with your Little People.”

“No, pie!” she stated as she tugged on my apron.

“I’ll come and play with you after I start the sauce. Or you could come and help me.”

“Mama, sit!” she paused. “Pie!”

I inhaled. The sauce can wait. I can start in an hour once she gets bored of me. It’s raining outside. She’ll get bored of me soon. One day she’ll be 15 years-old and she won’t want me to sit down and play with her.

“Let me put my apron away,” I said as I untied it.

“Soon, Mama. Pie, Mommy,” she said watching me lift the apron over my head and walk towards the kitchen.

“Yes, Izzy. I’ll be right back and we’ll

11:00 a.m. Tractors, cars, boats. Little People. Mega Blocks. More books than I can count. A mini fort on the couch. We were going strong. The tomatoes remain on the counter — untouched by me. My husband was still at work. He’d be done soon.

“Do you want to go out for brunch with Daddy?” I asked.

“No!” she shouted. “Pie!”

Why did I ask if there was no choice? I’m falling down on the job! Hey, she doesn’t even know what brunch is.

When am I going to get to those tomatoes?

2:30 p.m. We returned from a lovely brunch. Marc got Isabelle out of her dress and ready for her nap while I changed into my cooking clothes (ratty t-shirt and old workout pants). I was going to make the shopping list for him to take to Wegman’s and then start the sauce.

3:45 p.m. Begin cutting x-es in the bottom of the tomatoes so the skins would peel off easily.

“This is a thankless job,” I declared to Marc as he got ready to go to the supermarket.

“You don’t have to do it,” he said.

“I’ve bought 15 lbs. of tomatoes. I’ve gotta do it!”

“I can buy sauce at the store,” he said.

“Then these will go to waste,” I reminded him.

* * * * *

I tired of cutting the x-es and decided to begin the blanching process only to find we barely had any ice. Marc turned on the ice maker, but it didn’t produce ice fast enough.

“I’ll buy some at the store,” he said.

“I’ll start with this and will ask Lori for more if I need more before you come back.”

* * * * *

I sent Lori a text. I needed more ice. She gave me enough to do half of the tomatoes since she, too, was making sauce.

6:30 p.m. Marc returned from Wegman’s with a bag of ice. I immediately got back to work blanching the other half of the tomatoes.

Of course, Isabelle wanted to play, again. This time with Mommy. Somehow I convinced her to watch me blanch the tomatoes kneeling on a chair on the kitchen. She helped me measure the salt and sugar and dump them both into the pot.

Marc helped me crush the blanched, cored, and seeded tomatoes, I put everything into the stock pot by 7:15 p.m.

8:30 p.m. The sauce needed to thicken more, as Lori said it might. Therefore, I kept it simmering on the stove for another 45 minutes.

9:30 p.m. I removed the pot from the stove and put it on the front stoop to cool since I wanted to go to bed by 10:00 p.m. Even though Lori told me to leave the lid off, I kept it cracked since I didn’t want any bugs flying in.

“Go out there and stir it every ten minutes or so,” she told me. “Otherwise, you’ll get a lot of condensation.”

9:40 p.m. I took a spoon outside and stirred. As I shut the door to head back inside, I heard liquid drip onto our front carpet. I put my hand underneath the spoon so nothing else would drip. That’s when I felt the sauce drip on to my skin. “OW!” I declared.

I quickened my pace and raced to the kitchen as the sauce dripped onto my hand, which I didn’t think to protect with an oven mitt.

“Ow! Ow! Ow!” I hustled around the island and then threw the spoon into the sink and flicked the sauce from my hand causing it to splatter who knows where. “OUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCH!” I yelped. (Some other choice words were probably said.)

I ran to the sink, turned on the cold water, and put it on full-force. My husband must’ve heard me scream from upstairs because I heard his footsteps pound down the steps as the water ran over my pink palm.  Note to self: Always put something under a spoon after it’s been in hot liquid!

When he arrived I recounted what happened.

“Would you bring the pot inside?”I finally asked. “I’ll wait up ’til it’s cool.”

“What time will that be ’til?” he asked.

“Probably 11. All I want to do is sit on the couch and do nothing.”

I proceeded to lay down on the couch with a ice pack on my hand and watch “The Newsroom” live. (I never do that since I’m always in bed. It was a treat to watch it live, if you don’t count the searing pain on my hand!)


11:00 p.m. I was spooning the sauce into a container I realized the purple basil chiffonade shouldn’t be seen. I forgot to use the immersion blender. Great. I’m never going to get to bed.

I removed it from the drawer, put it together, and stood back for fear it would splatter on me and do more harm. It blended quickly leaving purple confetti-like bits in its wake. I spooned it into a container for the week and into bags for the freezer. I threw the pot in the sink and went upstairs for the night — at 11:15 p.m.


11:20 p.m. I applied Vitamin E oil to my hand and went to sleep.

This morning, I woke up with less pain in my hand. While it doesn’t feel 100% normal to the touch, it doesn’t quake when water touches it. Further, the pinkness faded overnight. Oh, the power of Vitamin E oil!

Finally, even though it took me 14+ hours to finish the sauce that should’ve taken 2 – 3 hours to make (at most), I don’t, for a second, regret spending the morning playing with Isabelle.  After all, one day she’ll be 15 years-old.  And not only will she not want me to play with her, but she might not even want to help me make tomato sauce.


11 thoughts on “14-Hour Tomato Sauce

  1. Goodness! What a day you had! The sauce does look great and will taste even better knowing the process you went through to create it. Yes, it is likely one day Isabelle won’t enjoy the pleasure of your company, so enjoy it while you can. 🙂

  2. That is some delicos looking sauce, even if it was quite an ordeal to get it all done. And you are right about Isabelle at 15 – catch play time now while they still ask for it!!

  3. You made a good choice to play with Isabelle. Maybe spending time with her will make her wish to spend time with you when she is 15. Building a relationship takes way more time than making a sauce.

  4. I think I would have a quit a looooong time ago! And you are right about Isabelle not wanting to play in just a few short years, so enjoy it while you can. Lesson learned…the sauce can wait! 🙂

  5. One day she will be fifteen, then twenty… the days pass quickly, and you will be glad for the days you played… you are storing up smiles for your future! And giving your daughter a firm foundation to stand on as she grows.

  6. Yes, when she is 15 you can make sauce again….until them there are some pretty great ones you can buy and no one will complain. NOW, I sometimes make sauce, but if I get the offer to go for a Sunday bike ride, I go.

  7. It sounds like “Everything else can wait” is still at the forefront of your mind :). I am glad that you were able to accomplish both your sauce and quality time with Isabelle.

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