Sick of U.S. politics? Into the kitchen for a quick antidote

The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper endorsed President Obama for a second term. When a staffer of the Plain Dealer was asked why the editorial board did not endorse Mitt Romney, he replied, “We didn’t know which Mitt Romney to endorse.”

That said, I have had more than my fill of politics this time around. The two candidates have been running for two years, at least, longer than anyone running to lead any other country in the world. The money spent on this election would have paid a year’s salary for practically every high school teacher in the U.S. or fed the hungry for the same amount of time without having to provide them with food stamps. It would also save all of the people who have had nervous breakdowns or telephone rage after answering so many robocalls.

When I have had enough of one thing, I often find myself in the kitchen chopping onions. This week was no exception. This time I was slicing onions. That was because I was making a recipe for fresh tomato sauce. Tomatoes are coming into their own about now and are plentiful and a bargain at the ferias.

I have a way to peel tomatoes one at a time. Take a coffee mug that the tomato will fit into (I like medium size, not large tomatoes) and fill it half with water. Put the mug in the microwave to boil. Cut a cross on the bottom of the tomato and drop it in the just boiled water. Leave for 20 seconds. Fork it out and let it cool. It is much faster than boiling water on the stove. I used 5 small tomatoes (you will have to reheat the water in between). I then put them in a food processor. If you are really fed up with the news, you can chop the tomatoes with a knife and get it out of your system.

In heavy bottomed pot, put 2 TB olive oil, add the sliced onion and cook at moderate heat while you peel and empty seeds from a red sweet pepper and cut it into inch squares, more or less. Add two tomatoes with some sprinkles of red pepper flakes and cook until the mixture is reduced by half. Then add tomato pulp, and a little seasoning plus a bay leaf. Cook covered for about half an hour. This is basic. You can add garlic, wine or more seasoning.

This fresh tomato sauce is good on pasta, on meat, or with fried eggplant. Eggplant is also plentiful right now and the “Japanese” eggplant, the long, thin kind, makes great rounds of fried eggplant to add to sauce.

I have Marcella Mazan to thank for the sauce recipe. Her “The Classic Italian Cookbook” is my favorite cookbook, and it is so spotted it looks like every sauce I’ve ever made splattered it. My other cooking bibles are “Joy of Cooking,” 1973 edition, and Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook.” My go-to book for finding descriptions of all the food and drinks available in Costa Rica, along with their Spanish names, is “Feasting and Foraging in Costa Rica,” by Lenny Karpman. This book also has reviews of many restaurants, not just their cuisine, but often their histories. Lenny, as many will recall, was the food and restaurant reviewer for A.M. Costa Rica a while ago.

Being also a retired cardiologist, Lenny is my go-to person to find out if whatever the current palpitations I am experiencing are life threatening. So far so good.

To add to my calm this week, I have ridden the crosstown bus, Semana Cementerio, Ruta 2. I had the pleasure of riding on the newly cemented Avenida 10. Very nice, indeed, although I did notice that the stores that once thrived on those blocks seemed deserted. Ah, small businesses, where have I heard about them before. No, No, back to chopping onions.

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