Marinara Nirvana

Here’s a recipe for pasta with meat sauce which produces large portions for 8 people for three dollars per serving.

Allium for the Masses

In a future scenario we’re at a remote location serving a spaghetti feed, outdoors. Our induction cooker boils water in a minute and our sauce can be made ahead of time and heated to a safe temperature quickly. During the pandemic era this will be a to-go situation only, obviously. Pick it up and bug out. A spaghetti feed, by the way, is the quaint Pacific Northwest descriptor for a fundraiser that offers pasta with garlicky red sauce. The secret here is the six pound can of whole tomatoes that costs under five dollars.

Sautée garlic until almost brown, add tomatoes, tomato paste and spices and cook for 20 minutes. That’s it! Been making marinara sauce for decades and know what I’m doing.

Whole canned tomatoes are more flavorful than buying some mushy sauce but you’ll want to purée them a bit and maybe cut off any stem ends if they seem hard.

  • $3.89 - Six pound six ounce can of First Street whole peeled tomatoes.

  • $1.29 - Seven ounce can of tomato paste.

  • $0.89 - Six cloves of garlic.

  • $0.24 - Dried oregano and red pepper.

  • $2.29 - Two pounds of quality pasta.

  • $3.29 - Grated parmesan to serve 8.

    TOTAL COST: $8.00
    COST PER SERVING: $1

At a dollar per serving, we can afford to throw in some MEAT! Let’s be honest - people want this.

  • $6.99 - 13.3 Ounce package Isernio’s Italian Sausage.

  • $6.99 - One pound ground Oregon Country Beef.

  • $3.29 - Let’s not forget the dry goods - we’ll need Chinese food takeout containers, forks or chopsticks, napkins and ramekins for the cheese.

Adding $17.27 to our initial $8.00 gets us to $25.27 divided by eight would be $3.15 per serving.

Add-ons are endless but could include garlic bread (Good bread, garlic, butter, parmesan cheese and parsley). Also maybe cucumber salad. See the Nirvana Wok menu for options.

Asparagus Attack!

I’m honored that elderly people at the supermarket ask me questions. The other day at Quality Food Centers (QFC) I explained to a nonagenarian man that the 88 cent per pound asparagus was for the “digital deal” and involved some sort of online funny business but that the sale price of $1.49 was well worth it, despite the woody look of the stem ends. Because we are all dying for seasonal, local asparagus to hit the stores! That year-round Mexican shit from Trader Joe’s is horrible.

Do you support grocery workers? Want them to tell you about the guy selling newspapers outside QFC who never wears a mask, or the guy who I saw sneeze in front of the carts as I was going in? Want to see how many possible sources of infection workers are exposed to on every shift? Is a temporary $4 increase in pay enough for these people to risk their lives? The Union representing grocery workers, UFCW21, fights hard to give grocery workers a fair shake. Mention them the next time you’re chatting with a checker.

But Never In the Morning

One good thing about the pandemic is that Lottie’s Lounge in Seattle’s Columbia City area serves to-go cocktails! In this era of weirdness outdoor drinking with open containers has been normalized. Buy a beverage and wander home. That concept is here to stay.

Nothing to do, nowhere to go, oh … I wanna be sedated

One bad thing about the pandemic is that I’ve been playing video games for the first time in 20 years. A pleasant, mindless distraction and a waste of valuable time. The last game I loved was Sim City 2000 (1993) and now I’ve got a free golf video game on my phone. It’s soothing.

Speaking of inane screen time, I’m not a huge movie or TV watcher but just in the past month I’ve watched three horrible movies.

Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President (2020)

A documentary that examines Carter’s relationships with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan deteriorates when Carter’s association with the Shah of Iran – a ruthless, torturing, murdering dictator that the U.S. set up with a coup – is glossed over. The omissions in this film turn it into an anti-Iran propaganda piece that would make the creators of 300 or Argo blush with envy. If you can easily find a good left-leaning documentary on these streaming services please let me know. Last time I checked for Harlan County U.S.A. (1976) and a few other vital works they were unavailable.

Gangs of New York (2002)

Plodded through this even though no movie should run over 80 minutes. Scorsese is creating a mood here - a scenario in which a smarmy guy with greasy hair, a top hat and a handlebar mustache gets more screen time than is imaginable.

The Irishman (2019)

Scorsese indulges his fetish for huge period piece crowd scenes (CGI?) with an epic, confusing, overlong mafia movie starring great actors in misplaced roles. Jimmy Hoffa is played by an Italian actor. The Irish man is played by an Italian actor. A disturbing subplot involves Joe Pesci and an underage girl. Every mafia cliche imaginable is shrouded in the now annoying boomer/Scorsese fetishization of 1960s culture, with 1960s music pumping during vital scenes. My brain is now jelly - a sweet, jiggly substance solidified not with pectin but with schmaltz.

Induction Junction

Made some fried chicken wings to be served with our secret recipe ranch dressing (the secret: sour cream, mayo, buttermilk, vinegar, fresh herbs, spices) and cooked them outdoors! If you have the luxury of having a yard avoid messy fried food projects this way. Also don’t make fried food - that’s what restaurants are for.

Processed Junk Food Update

First Street brand orange & cream bars resemble the orange creamsicles we all remember and at under $5 for a box of 12 are economical. They are labelled as “artificially flavored” but you could make the same damn thing with orange juice concentrate, cream and sugar while avoiding the artificial flavor and polysorbate 80. Would taste better that way too. Wait. Listeria? Sigh. Corporate junk food will always be problematic.

–Alex