Friday, February 06, 2009

Real Moms vs. Good Moms – Jarred Spaghetti Sauce

Certain shows on TV will have us think that to be a Good Mom, one MUST do things in a certain way. A few of you have already thought of a few shows and instances that fit that description. For non-moms or if you aren’t sure what I mean, read on.

I love cooking shows. The birth of the TV Food (they took off the TV part and added Network) was like a dream for me. More on that in another post. As a mom, I now watch the shows with a new perspective. The chefs on these shows will have the viewer think that the ONLY way to cook is from scratch with all fresh, natural, the best quality and the most expensive ingredients they can find. Rather than adding dried basil, they grab a handful from a beautiful plant growing in their windowsill or from their lush garden. Chicken should always be butchered from whole. Never use anything pre-prepared.

Who has the time or the money? Yes, butchering my meat from larger cuts is less expensive but, have you ever cut up a whole chicken? Yarg! My house doesn’t face the right direction for growing gorgeous herbs, indoors. The jar of dried usually costs the same as a plant and won’t wilt or die. The deer and squirrels eat all of my other plants. I have Mums and the shrubs that came with the house.

One of my favorite cooking shows, America’s Test Kitchen, was testing jarred spaghetti sauces. The host of the show, Christopher Kimball, said he NEVER uses jarred sauces. He acted as if, well, it was a crime against nature. He also acted the same way when the tested jarred salsas. He ALWAYS makes his own sauce explaining that it takes the same amount of time and tastes better. He didn’t give his recipe.

I’ve used jarred sauces all my life. Any time my mother made sauce from the garden tomatoes, it was bitter and kinda nasty (sorry, mom). I made it once and it was bitter and nasty. I have since found some easy recipes and have made decent sauces. They still need work because, I have to do the recipe with very low salt. The secret ingredient is usually salt. I welcome recipes but remember, when I used canned tomato stuff, it is usually ‘no salt added’.

Why does using a jarred sauce make me a bad cook? My kid is sick and he wants yoodles. He wants me to sit with him, not cook. If I can dump 1 thing in a pot, I’m happy. My choices are limited because of our salt restriction so the one I use is slightly healthier than the others.

What is the difference between making my own sauce from canned tomatoes and getting it from a jar? I can make it lower in salt. It costs a bit less. It doesn’t really take less time or effort. One jar vs. 3 cans. Aren’t they all pre-processed?

Oh, one last weird thing. I don’t like to microwave my tomato sauce. To me, it tastes better if I do it on the stove in a pot. I am sure it has something to do with the reactivity of the tomatoes and the pan. Does anyone know this for sure or is it just a weirdism of me?

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