Even though I became an official adult over 4 years ago, I haven’t really felt that adult for most of those years. I’m quite sure I’ll never pin down the cause to a single source, but I do know that recently I accomplished something that made me have an AHA! I finally feel like an adult! moment. In our society, culture, and family, cooking is considered one of the most important phases of a girl’s transition into adulthood. One is officially given responsibilities and duties in the kitchen once they hit what I call cooking maturity. Despite the fact that I’ve had phases of this responsibility from quite a young age, I never felt like I owned it until last year, when I created my own signature tomato sauce.
Tomato sauce seems like an awfully easy thing to make, but in reality, it isn’t that easy. Yeah, sure, you can open a can or bottle of store-bought bolognese sauce, pour it over your spaghetti, and feel satisfied as everyone devours the dish, but that’s nothing compared to creating your own signature tomato sauce and having everyone devour the dish!
My mom rejects the idea of processed tomato sauce in favor of homemade tomato sauce, but as far as I know, she has never had a signature tomato sauce. She has multiple variations of tomato sauce, most of which is raw tomato blended with herbs and frozen into little cubes she adds to the pot while cooking. I decided that I didn’t want to follow that path, so I thought I’d come up with my own tomato sauce.
I wanted something that’ll work for pizzas, pastas, and even loubiya, white beans in tomato sauce cooked in the traditional Algerian way. I know it won’t be exactly traditional, but that’s how I cook. I can’t stick to a recipe unless I know for sure that my modification will only ruin it, or it’s the first time and I’m doing a taste test. I wanted something that would taste well on a cheese pizza and have no taste clashes when using curry powder. Not too spicy, but not too bland either.
In short, my requirements seemed impossible at the time. Add to that the fact that most herbs usually used in tomato sauce, such as oregano and basil, are too rare to find where I live. I, however, wasn’t going to give up. Challenges are sort of my thing, as long as I’m committed to the cause, I almost always see them through till the end.
I geared up my search engine skills, and went around the Internet reading about how to make tomato sauce. Once I had the basic idea down, I set about working on how I was going to get it done. I knew I wanted my tomato sauce to be of medium-thickness, so I could either dilute it with water or boil it down for a more thick, paste-like sauce. I also wanted it to be blended before cooking so all the flavors can set in well. I decided to use onions, garlic, hot green peppers, coriander leaves, and dill leaves, in addition to salt and tomatoes, of course!
I didn’t create a specific recipe. I wanted to have an idea of how the proportions will be, so I could scale it up or down easily. I tasted and tweaked, and was pretty sure I was going to end up with a disaster, until it went through the cooking process. I smeared it on some mini pizzas I was making, and made sure every last drop was wiped off the pot. It was a huge success!
That moment, while I watched my mom and sister eat the pizza, and complain only about the dough, I knew I was an adult, at least when it comes to cooking. I may have to work on my pizza dough, but I have a signature tomato sauce already.
Here are some images of dishes that my tomato sauce graced:
Are you interested in having your very own signature tomato sauce? Here’s a link that might help you get started! I use allrecipes intensively when looking for new recipes. I especially love the feature where I can search recipes by ingredients I’m interested in using and ingredients I don’t have at hand or am not interested in using.
What would you use to describe what I call cooking maturity or cooking adulthood? Let me know your thoughts below!