Not too long ago, O said out of nowhere, “I want to make a list of my nervouses.”
She took an imaginary pad of paper out of her pants and with an imaginary pen began to write. “What is my first nervous?” she asked.
“Hmm,” I said, intrigued by this impromptu therapy session she was running. “Do you get nervous about being dropped off at school?”
Yes, she agreed, this was true. We were just nearing the tail end of her month of school anxiety. Tears at drop-off had stopped but she still wasn’t 100% Gung-ho about the whole thing.
As we continued to work through her list of “nervouses” two other biggies emerged:
1.) There are too many kids at school
2.) She doesn’t like to go to sleep
Neither of these were a surprise to me. But still, it made me kind of sad. As adults, we all suffer from anxiety. Who among us hasn’t been paralyzed by a small task that feels overwhelming or lain awake at 2am crushed by anxiety over big life issues? As a parent you realize that anxiety starts at such a young age. No matter what sort of protected, fairy tale existence you try to create for your child they are not immune. They are human. And life is scary.
My conversation with O made me start thinking about my own list of nervouses and which ones I need to prioritize and conquer. For the last month, the one that’s been keeping me both paralyzed and tossing and turning is so simple it’s silly.
My stomach just rolled. Arranging for strangers to come into my home and take care of my little defenseless daughter is near the top of my list of nervouses. Which isn’t to say we’ve never left the house without O. We had a worry-free and fantastic babysitting swap with our dear friends who also had a baby, until they moved across the country; we leave O with grandparents the few times a year they visit so we can have a date night; we’ve also had a few random babysitters who came over after O was already asleep. Mostly, though, Sorin and I go out separately and date nights are few and far between.
When I was easing back into work after O was born, we had two different sitters for brief periods of time. Both were lovely girls that I trusted but I realized pretty quickly that I was much more comfortable with a group care situation. It was with great relief that I found her current preschool when she turned 2. Yes, it is the school that O claims has too many kids – 24 for the record, although usually not all 24 are there at once. Watching over them are 4 teachers, 3 aides, the school owner and additional teachers who lead enrichment classes. I am completely comfortable with this arrangement, a small village watching over my child instead of one stranger in my house at night.
Ideally, of course, we’d get to know a person who would sit for us regularly and no longer be a stranger. But the truth is, we don’t go out that much. Who can afford to when you have to tack $30 to $60 of childcare on to every evening?
But mostly, it’s not the cost. It’s that I just can’t bear kneeling down and telling little O, “See that stranger who just walked in the door? She’s going to stay with you and put you to bed tonight while mom and dad leave. Good luck! Have fun!”
Yes, O and I have some codependency issues, but I don’t want to start delving into that right now. My goal this week was simply to solve the babysitting problem that I’ve been avoiding for months. It needed to be solved, because we have two events in November, a dinner and a concert, that we don’t want to miss.
And then just like that, once I finally faced the issue and forced myself to deal with it, a solution appeared. It turns out that one of O’s preschool teachers also babysits on the side. Someone we know and O knows who will come over and watch my girl. Phew.
Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce
I chose this recipe because one of my other anxieties in life was that I was never going to make a great meat-free red sauce. I’ve made a lot of mediocre and flat-out bad red sauces over the years. A good red sauce is something every cook should have in their back pocket to pull out when cravings for spaghetti strike. Especially since most jarred sauces are so awful.
I think Bon Appetit’s Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce has finally removed the curse. It’s a lot like Marcella Hazan’s famous Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, but easier and more flavorful.
When I decided to make the sauce, the only whole peeled tomatoes I had were of the cheap Trader Joe’s variety and the can had been sitting in my pantry for awhile, continually shoved to the back. I had one measly, moldy garlic clove that I had to throw away, making it the first time ever that I didn’t have an abundance of garlic on hand. I wasn’t surprised by any of this though. I’ve known for a long time that whenever I try to make a red sauce, the culinary gods conspire against me.
But I soldiered on. I crushed those pale, limp canned tomatoes in a baking dish with a finely chopped shallot instead of garlic and the remaining ingredients: 2 anchovies, 1/4 cup unsalted butter chunks and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Roasted in a 425 F oven for 40 minutes (stirring once), the sauce comes out thick and deeply flavorful. It’s magic. I pureed the sauce until smooth, since I knew O would have nothing to do with a chunky sauce. I added a little more salt. Then I tossed it with a 1/2 pound of capellini and about 1/3 cup of reserved pasta cooking water.
Grate cheese on top, liberally sprinkle with fresh oregano and basil. It’s the best easy + delicious vegetarian red sauce I’ve had in a long time. I think it would be stellar with meatballs, too.
Next time, I’ll add the garlic the original recipe calls for and I’ll use higher quality whole canned tomatoes. I’d also like to try cutting the amount of butter back just a bit and replacing it with olive oil. When I first tasted the sauce I thought 2 anchovies was too much, but the more I ate the more I realized that 2 was probably just right. Definitely add at least one; it’s a secret ingredient that gives the sauce a little extra something.
Here’s what I recommend: Go over to Bon Appetit and make their recipe for Bucatini with Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce. After you understand what the recipe is all about, then start making a few changes if you want. Or not. It just might be perfect the way it is.