I’m not a pack-rat but I do collect quite a few unusual things: Old Chinese opium weights, miniature clocks, cookery books, Georgian snuff spoons … just to name a few. So when my friend at Zeb Bakes asked to see my miniature clock collection, I decided that now was the time to dust them off, give them a gentle shake, and see if cajoling was a substitute for an alkaline battery.
My modern miniature clocks all require a battery, and keeping them running is both a boring and a costly proposition. As a result, the little beauties are usually packed away in tissue paper so they’re not damaged. The larger mantle clock in the photo is made from Ginkgo, and it was handcrafted in Denmark near Fåborg as a wedding gift when my in-laws were married. We were asked on our 25th anniversary what we’d like for a gift to celebrate our longevity, and I asked if we might have that clock. When it chimes, it always reminds me of their old house, Christmas celebrations, summer holidays, children, their old dog named Trine that snapped at me when I tried to sit on Peder’s old bed, and the love and affection that my in-laws showed me when I met them for the first time. That clock, its chime, and its constant heart-warming tick-tock is very much a part of me now. Once a week it requires double winding – one key for the clock mechanism and another for the winding the chime. I love that clock.
The letter “T” is also for: Rich Red Tomato Sauce. This is my version of Marcella Hazan’s Basic Italian Tomato Sauce, tweaked to include black pepper, cayenne pepper, and a bit more butter added at the end to thicken and gloss the sauce.
Rich Red Tomato Sauce
2 pounds of fresh tomatoes, seeded and skinned (or 2 large tins chopped toms
8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed (5T to start and 3T stirred in at the end)
1 large onion, peeled and cut in half diagonally
Flaked sea salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
If using fresh tomatoes, pop them whole on a baking sheet into the freezer and allow them to freeze hard. Remove and thaw. The skins will slide right off, and you can squeeze out the seeds and excess juice easily into a strainer. Keep the strained juice for soup stock. Chop the tomatoes into chunks (remove core and stem), and place them in a heavy-bottom, oven-safe pan with the salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir well. Add the onion cut into 2 equal halves, and 5 tablespoons of cubed butter. Bring to a slow simmer on the cooker, and then place the pot uncovered in the oven at a low temperature (approximately 150C/300F/G2) that maintains the simmer for 1 hour, stirring once every half hour. If the tomato chunks are still firm, continue cooking another 30-45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. If a smooth sauce is required, use a handblender (stick-blender). I usually press any solids against the back of a spoon, keeping some of the chunks intact for use as a pasta sauce. Serve with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
You might also consider adding to the finished sauce chilli peppers, chopped black olives, fresh basil and a squeeze of anchovy paste for a tasty Puttanesca sauce. Or just plain with 36-month-old Parmigiano-Reggiano Stravecchio cheese as I did for lunch today.
The Letter “T” is also for Sedrick-the-Tenacious.
My boy is alive.
And 4 hours later, I’m begging him to stop climbing the walls.
I’m not exactly sure what I do with him now … besides shower him with praise and take photos from various angles, forcing friends and foes alike to speak kindly of him. Do I toss out 3/4 of the volume and feed him again? Should I do that before or after I teach him the lyrics to The Rocky Horror Picture Show?