- I drove through the desert at night, from the Coachella Valley to Las Vegas. It was a full moon in the Mohave National Reserve.
- Selfie with mama.
- Selfie with dad.
- This is my new soap. The pour was a fail, but the color and the formula was perfect. I was going to try dancing tunnels but the batter thickened up and I was lucky to get it into the mold with a spoon. I’m getting close to perfecting my signature soap.
- I discovered these beans in my mama’s fridge, labeled ‘betswelas,” a borrowing from Spanish “habichuelas.” I’m surprised that they didn’t get the Mexican word (ejotes) or the European Spanish word (judías verdes). Habichuelas reminds me of Caribbean, Andean, or maybe Central American Spanish.
- I made pansit. It was really good, and the key was the broth. But also I burned the veggies in the wok, which makes them taste better. The whole time I was thinking about that America’s Ethnocentric Test Kitchen, where they decided definitively that woks don’t work for stir fry.
- The next morning for breakfast I baked baguettes and made a tortilla de patatas.
- That night for dinner I made pupusas, curtido, and even that thin tomato salsa that they serve with pupusas. The pupusas were loroco y queso, and my mama recognized the loroco and identified it as bagbagkong, or sabidukong. It’s good in Ilocano garden vegetable recipes, and it’s available at the Mexican supermarket.
- I made bread with my mama’s dough. I was trying to slash a star. There was an issue of the paper sticking.
- My mama says the bunot (coconut husk) polishes the floor better than the electric polisher the bought. Added bonuses, she gets her exercise, and also the dogs don’t lose their minds with the bunot.
- My mama helps me with my sewing project.
- She sewed me a Möbius Strap for my ukulele! Apologies to the inventor.
- My mama tested out her new pasta making extruder by making bucatini from scratch!
- I made a tomato sauce from scratch. It was spectacular.
JP’s Tomato Sauce Recipe
Toast some black pepper in a pan over medium. Douse with olive oil and start roasting your garlic in there. Don’t wait for it to finish, just get it started. Add in some oregano.
Dump in half of a little thang of anchovy filets in olive oil and crush them into the oil with your stirring spoon. Don’t tell skittish people about the anchovies, they will be annoying. Drop in some chopped onions and get them to translucent.
Drop in a bunch of chopped tomatoes. Add salt, more oregano, thyme, bay leaf, whatever you find.
Stew it for half an hour over medium low. If you need more umami, splash in a dash of soy sauce and don’t tell Italian people; they will talk about their nonna as if that’s relevant to the situation, nun me ne frega, mi hai capito? Eu! Anyway I forgot to add the soy sauce, but I did add some red pepper paste.
Tell your guests to wash their hands and sit down at the table.
Boil the water off. Then add the hot pasta and spoonful of the pasta water. Crank the flame up to high and then toss the pasta into the sauce until that water has boiled off again and the stewed tomatoes are clinging to the pasta for dear life. Turn the heat off and drizzle with more olive oil.
That’s eat. Serve it hot with grated parmesan.
There are a few things that add umami to any dish (besides just adding MSG). They are cooked tomatoes, parmesan cheese, soy sauce, and anchovies. The reason pasta in tomato sauce is appealing is because it’s super umami. I’m so, so sorry for all that sour tomato sauce you’ve eaten over your life. For the Filipinos, that half cup of sugar in your tomato sauce is why we’re all overweight and diabetic.
I drive back to the desert tomorrow.