Out with the old, in with the new, the saying goes this time of year. So I thought it would be fitting to clean out my refrigerator (the old) and use the slow cooker (the new) in these last days of December 2012. This slow-cooked "kitchen sink" pasta sauce is the product of my incredibly therapeutic efforts.
Now, for some reason, I've had a tough year. Probably has a bit to do with trying to work a full time job and care for two young kids and often not doing a good job at either -- despite having paid help and a loving husband.
I've experienced this general sinking feeling that, in my overextended world, I am always failing in some aspect of my life, whether it be mom, wife, lawyer, daughter, sister or friend. Somehow I'm always coming up short. It is a rather ridiculous feeling given all that I have to be thankful for, but it weighs on me nonetheless and has done so intensely this year.
Frankly, I'm sure I'm not alone in being a little down on 2012. We live in a world of hurricanes, semi-automatic guns, stagnant economies and fiscal cliffs.
The bottom line is I'm ready to give 2012 a good kick in the butt and get on with 2013. It's time to brighten my outlook, laugh a little harder and just let life be what it is and enjoy those little precious moments that we get with our family and friends in our crazy days.
So yesterday into the slow cooker went frustration over careers plateaued by unfair politics, recessions and the decision to have children, along with some carrots, celery, garlic and a shallot.
In went guilt over not spending enough time with my children together with some ground meat, ground pork and a lonely piece of turkey bacon (I'd have added more if I had it!).
In went tears over missed opportunities, a little mediocre wine given to us by some vendor at christmas and some tomato paste. In went a little generalized anger along with some crushed red pepper, black pepper and salt. In went anxiety over money and the future along with some dried basil, a touch of nutmeg, a big can of crushed tomatoes and some chicken stock.
I stirred up all that food and emotion and walked away from the crock pot. I let it all just simmer away.
Eight hours later I returned to add some whole milk (changed to cream in recipe below) and salt and pepper to taste.
I served up my kitchen sink sauce (which is gluten free!), spooning it over some high end imported organic pasta that somehow made it into my grocery cart at Whole Foods when I wasn't looking (not sure it was worth the 200% mark-up).
The balding hunk, the blond, sensitive child and the white haired imp and me (a.k.a. "the fam") ate it up.
The miraculous thing was that this slow-cooked kitchen sink pasta sauce just made us happy and full.
To all those reading this, enjoy the tail end of your 2012 and take a cue from me. Make your own kitchen sink pasta sauce, and let it simmer away as you look forward to 2013. Cheers!
Slow-cooked "Kitchen Sink" Pasta Sauce
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Julie du Pont
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 8 hours 10 mins
Total time: 8 hours 25 mins
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2-4 pieces of turkey bacon
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup cream
- Saute carrot, celery, shallot and garlic in a saute pan or slow-cooker with a saute function for 10 minutes, until softened.
- Add turkey bacon, beef and pork, stirring until browned.
- Add wine and tomato paste and stir.
- Add in basil, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, sea salt and ground pepper until sufficiently mixed (Move to slow-cooker if necessary).
- Add crushed tomatoes and chicken broth.
- Turn slow cooker to low and let simmer for 8 hours.
- Add cream and salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for 10 minutes more.
- Serve hot over pasta, quinoa pasta or polenta.
Julie du Pont is a Darien resident, mom and lawyer. She blogs about food and entertaining at weekend table. and on Darien Patch. See also the "Darien Food Blogs" and "Darien Food & Drink" topics pages.