orange banana paste

Ah, nesting. For some it involves setting up the crib and painting the nursery. Sewing cute baby quilts. Scrubbing the house down and making way for all the gear that comes with modern babies.

Over here, it’s been a cooking frenzy instead.

But who can help it? There’s so much that’s good and plentiful in the garden right now. I made quarts of our favorite Bolognese sauce, using orange paste tomatoes plus handfuls of fresh oregano, thyme, parsley, and basil. Pints of bread and butter pickles for eating with burgers. A lovely green sauce from ripe tomatillos, for enchiladas and similar fare. I cured a big slab of pork belly guanciale, which will make its way into pastas, soups, and stews all winter long.

And because they make me so happy, I assembled and froze multiple batches of my grandmother’s wonton, using pot sticker filling. These we’ll drop into steaming broth and eat with chopped greens and minced scallions for easy cool weather nourishment.

I even peeled, cored, and froze pears for use as baby food down the road. It feels like storing acorns for winter.

Surely we’d be fine without any of it. We’ve been ready for weeks for this new creature to arrive, so the bustle in the kitchen feels more like a diversion, something to distract me from thoughts of just how dramatically life is about to change. One thing that I’m guessing will stay the same: we’ll like having tasty local and homegrown food in the weeks and months to come.

Recipe: Bolognese Meat Sauce

I’ve made this sauce for countless friends in the throes of new parenthood.

1 large onion, minced / 2 carrots, minced / 2 stalks celery, minced / 2 lbs ground beef and/or pork / 1 cup milk / pinch of nutmeg / 1 cup white wine / 6 cups skinless paste tomatoes / a generous quantity fresh parsley, oregano, thyme, and basil, minced / salt & pepper

Warm a heavy pot over medium heat. Swirl in 1 tbls vegetable oil and add onion, carrots, and celery, cooking over medium heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add ground meat, ¼ tsp salt, a few grindings of pepper, and cook until browned. Add milk and nutmeg and cook until liquid is essentially gone. Add wine and cook until liquid is essentially gone. Add tomatoes and herbs, bring to a slow boil, then turn down heat and cook over low for 3 hours or until flavors melt together richly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over spaghetti noodles, garnished with Parmesan cheese and fresh minced parsley if desired. Freezes great. Adapted from Marcella Hazan. Feeds 8-10.

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