Per Jenn's request, here is my spaghetti sauce recipe. I took photos of the process, but now I can't figure out how to add more than one photo to the blog. Ah, well, at least I enjoyed myself!
I posted this recipe to a Myspace group a few months back, too. My sister taught me how to make this sauce, which is cheaper, healthier and infinitely yummier than anything you can buy in a jar. Not to mention, of course, the meditative quality of the preparation ;)
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 6 oz can tomato paste
3-8 cloves garlic, peeled and diced (depending on
1/2 small onion, peeled and diced (optional - I'm not a big fan of onion, so I don't usually add it, but it can be yummy!)
basil and oregano to taste (in the summer I use fresh basil and oregano from my garden; in the cooler months I used dried)
1-2 tbsp sugar (optional)
meatballs (optional -- recipe follows)
In large pot (dutch oven, soup pot, etc), slowly heat enough olive oil to cover bottom of pot over medium heat. When the oil gets shimmery, raise heat slightly, then add garlic and onions and sautee, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add tomato paste and stir until well combined. Next, add basil and oregano and diced tomatoes and continue to stir. Then add crushed tomatoes, stir again, reduce heat to simmer and cover. (If you want to add meatballs, do it now!) Let simmer at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the sauce is a bit more acidic than you'd like, adding 1-2 tbsp. sugar will reduce the acidity. Skim fat if desired before serving. Serve over hot cooked pasta.
While the sauce is simmering, combine 1 lb. ground beef (or turkey, or beef/pork/veal meatball mix) with 1 egg and about 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs. When well combined, roll by hand into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Brown meatballs in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, until they are browned all over (doesn't matter if they are cooked through -- they have plenty of time to do this while they are simmering in the sauce.) Drop one by one into the sauce, stir gently to cover the meatballs, and simmer for at least 1 hour.
Canned tomatoes are readily available in any supermarket. Tastiest brands (IMO) are Muir Glen and Hunt's; cheapest way to go is store brand.
Storing/freezing extra sauce is great for a quick meal (just heat sauce on stove or in microwave, cook some pasta, and you have dinner in less than 15 minutes). I store sauce in the plastic quart wonton soup containers from Chinese takeout (thoroughly washed, of course!) You can also use Ziploc freezer bags for storage -- just make sure the sauce is cooled and that you have someone to help you, as you will need 4 hands to get the sauce into the bag! Sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer for several months.
Feel free to experiment by adding sauteed mushrooms, green peppers, etc. to your sauce, and spices such as crushed red pepper, rosemary, etc. It's your own homemade sauce, after all, so it should reflect your tastes :)
Warning: your house will smell AMAZING while the sauce is cooking. Neighbors may drop in unannounced!