How I Struck Gold In My Own Kitchen

I discovered something amazing this week that I need to share immediately: dish gloves. I supposed I’ve know about the existence of dish gloves for some time, and have even had a pair under my sink for years. I just always thought they were kind of unnecessary and ridiculous. So what really happened this week is I became a believer in dish gloves.

With the cold weather coming my “winter skin” is already setting in, making my hands dry and miserable. Anyone who knows me knows that I am constantly fighting a pretty extreme battle with the skin on my hands. I’ve tried everything and usually find little relief. To make matters worse, since I don’t have a dishwasher and am always cooking, my hands spend a lot of time in water. This is the last place they should be since water strips away the moisture barrier in your skin. Last year, I visited the dermatologist about my eczema and her first recommendation was to wear dish gloves.

So, I gave them a try (a year later) and am totally hooked. If you struggle with dry, cracked, chapped hands in the winter I highly recommend dish gloves. The pair I have are plain old pink latex gloves and they do the job just fine. But for fun, I spent some time perusing other options and stumbled upon the market of handmade accessorized dish gloves. Here’s a peak at what I found:

Cute and Classic…

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Ditsy Floral Nitrile Cleaning Gloves$13 Etsy.com

Fringe!

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Designer Rubber Dish Gloves, $20 Etsy.com

For the temptress…

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Kitschy Kitschy Ya Ya Dish Gloves, $22 Etsy.com

How do you keep your hands in good shape in the cold weather?

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Six Pack Beefaroni

While summering in the Finger Lakes region of New York last year, I was introduced to Beefaroni- a classically amazing pasta dish I had somehow never had before. (Among other life-changing things I was introduced to in the Finger Lakes were the Finger Lakes, wine tasting, and dry Rieslings.) The cheesy, saucy deliciousness took my idea of comfort food to a whole new level. I’m pretty sure I had three bowls full just to make sure it was real.

Upon arriving home and back in the real world, I began toying with ways to lighten up this dish and make it into something I could eat all the time. Here is what I came up with.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 medium sized spaghetti squash
1qt. tomato sauce
extra virgin olive oil
ground turkey or lean ground beef (I have also used venison and bison, which are both fabulous lean options)
sea salt and pepper to taste

optional twists:
1/2 lb shell or elbow pasta
1/2 lb firm tofu (diced small)
parmesan or romano cheese to sprinkle

Baking the squash
Preheat your oven to 350F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise and scrape the seeds from both sides. Sprinkle each half with sea salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil.

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Wrap both halves (separately) in tin foil and bake for 45 minutes. The squash should be very tender and string easily when scraped with a fork when done. The flesh color will turn a brighter yellow. Test both sides before you take it out of the oven. Remember it will continue to steam in the tin foil as it cools. Set aside. Once cool, scrape the insides of both halves to make your “spaghetti.” If you bake the squash ahead of time this is a quick meal to throw together during the week.

In the meantime, heat up a saute pan and toss in your ground meat or tofu when hot. If using tofu, add a tbsp of olive oil to the pan before adding it. Season with salt and pepper to taste. After it browns, cover with tomato sauce and simmer on med-low for 10-15 minutes. If you are cooking pasta as well, put it onto boil as well.

To serve, start with your spaghetti squash, (pasta if using it) and then top with meat or tofu and sauce. I especially love this meal because it’s easy to make a clean veggie meal, and add the meat and pasta to keep everyone in the house happy. Both versions are tasty, satisfying, and make great leftovers.

spaghetti-squash-tomato-sauce-beefaroni
Meat version on left, veggie version on right

Tomato Sauce To Write Home About

This year we finished up our annual day of tomato canning with over 100 jars of crushed perfection. Alas, no matter how many we make, it’s never enough to last through the year. You’d think we were dealing with gold bars the way everyone in my family gets all greedy and stealth-like when dividing up the shares. I kid you not when I say I have had to smuggle jars out of my house to share with friends, and even my grandmother. It’s never pretty, but that’s just how treasure is.

So, until my allotment runs out, I’ll be feasting on my favorite meals and not rationing properly at all. Of course, all my favorites start with tomato sauce.

Basic Tomato Sauce
Makes about 6-8 servings (I always make at least this much so there is extra to freeze.)

Ingredients:
2 one qt. jars (or 2 28oz store bought cans of whole tomatoes*)
1 large yellow onion
a few fresh basil leaves
sea salt to taste
extra virgin olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves (whole)

*Store bought canned tomatoes often contain citric acid and other additives. Because tomatoes are naturally quite acidic, they stay well preserved without additives. Look for a brand that contains just tomatoes, or tomatoes and fresh basil.

In a large, deep sauce pot heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on med-low. I use a deep pot because the sauce doesn’t lose as much water while cooking and ends up with a better consistency.

While it’s heating, slice your onion as thinly as possible. When the oil is nice and hot, add onions and allow them to caramelize on low for 5-10 minutes. Make sure that they do not start to brown.

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Once the onions are translucent, add in your tomatoes. Here’s a tip: pour the tomatoes over the back of a wooden spoon to keep from splattering yourself.

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Turn up the heat and bring everything to a slow boil. Then, reduce the heat to low and simmer. Stir in in the garlic cloves, basil and a pinch or two of salt. Simmer on low, covered, for at least 45 minutes. If you have the time, you can let it cook for longer. Stir every 15-20 minutes with a wooden spoon.

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During the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the lid to allow the sauce to thicken up. Taste again and add more salt if necessary.

Freeze the unused portion for quick weeknight meals.