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Kitchen Yarns + How To Make Roasted Tomato Sauce #FoodieReads

Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food by Ann Hood* showed up on my recommended reading list for my Kindle. And I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker, finishing it in just one sitting. But, really, Amazon's algorithms are always spot-on, so I'm not surprised that I loved this memoir.

On the Page
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Let me start with this: I've never read any of Hood's novels. I can't even name one. But I truly enjoyed this memoir and will be looking for more of her books.

And, Kitchen Yarns is one of the best titles. Ever. It's such an image-invoking name.

Each of Hood's anecdotes are threads. Memories, conversations, and events that bind together family, friends, and food to create a poignant book. Each yarn explores how the happenings shape her as a person, as a wife, as a mother, and as a writer.

The book also includes recipes throughout. I've bookmarked several of them and am on the hunt for other recipes that she mentions but doesn't share. Most of the recipes are not difficult, but they seem to be ones that you will make over and over again until you no longer need a recipe!

And food, for Hood, is also cathartic. "That even in grief, we must eat. And that when we share that food with others, we are reclaiming those broken bits of our lives, holding them out as if to say, I am still here. Comfort me. As if with each bite, we remember how it is to live."

She lost her brother and her young daughter. "Once, I had cooked out of loneliness. Once, out of joy. Now I was cooking to keep from losing my mind from grief. I began making more and more complicated recipes, driving to ethnic markets for ingredients. Dinner took hours, sometimes even days, to make. I marinated and rolled and simmered and kneaded. I cooked to save my life."

She is an ardent eater. You have to respect someone who appreciates good food. "...what has put me into a state of ecstasy is the pork tasting: house-made sausage, slices of leg, pulled brined shoulder, and a chop. I am a carnivore. And the meat that makes me drool, that makes my heart speed up and my eyes shine, the meat I love the most, is pork."

Hood is a remarkable writer and, it appears, an amazing cook. This book was a joy to devour.

In the Jars

There were so many foods that were inspiring, including "Real Indiana fried chicken has exactly four ingredients: chicken, flour, salt, and pepper." She describes her first memory of that childhood favorite: "Indiana Fried Chicken. No buttermilk. No spices. No brining. The chicken is simply dusted with heavily salted and peppered flour, then fried in lard. It is crispy and moist and the best fried chicken in the world. I am three years old, wearing a dress covered in a pattern of yellow flowers, running toward my mother. And the world is perfect."

I am on the hunt for a recipe for daffodil cake because it sounds gorgeous and those are some of my favorite flowers. "...daffodil cake, an angel food cake with egg yolks stirred in at the right time to create the shape of daffodils in bloom."

I am definitely on board with her love of Spaghetti Carbonara. though oddly I have never blogged my recipe. I'll have to change that. Hood writes, "Spaghetti carbonara has become my comfort food, the food I make when I’m lonely like I was that long-ago afternoon in Rome, the food I make when I want to welcome others into my home. I still love my red sauce, and I dip my bread into that simmering pot on my mother’s stove. But to me, spaghetti carbonara is the food not of my youth, but of my first steps into adulthood."

But the food mention that sent me to the kitchen was her description of Mama Rose's red sauce. "In the Italian American household where I grew up, red sauce ruled. Every Monday, my grandmother Mama Rose made gallons of it in a giant tarnished pot. She started that sauce by cooking sausage in oil, then frying onions in that same oil and adding various forms of canned tomatoes: crushed, pureed, paste. Without measuring, she’d toss in secret ingredients. Red wine. Sugar. Salt and pepper. Parsley from her garden. Always stirring and tasting and shaking her head, dissatisfied, until finally she got it just right. At which point the sauce simmered until, as Mama Rose used to say, it wasn’t bitter."

This roasted tomato sauce is one of my favorite tomato sauces. And it's so easy to make; it's so much easier than having to peel tomatoes for my basic tomato sauce.  Note: this is not a finished tomato sauce. It's a tomato base that I will open up throughout the year and season as I cook. Think of it as a roasted tomato canvas. There is nothing in here except some vinegar to keep the acidity high and safe for canning. There are no aromatics, no herbs, and no salt included.

  • 15 pounds organic, ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
  • also needed: jars, lids, bands, blender or food processor

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice tomatoes in half and lay them, cut-side down, on a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet. I can fit about 15 pounds of tomatoes on two large, rimmed baking sheets.

Roast the tomatoes for 1 hour, rotating trays halfway through. At the end of the hour, the tomatoes should be nicely charred and caramelized.

In batches, blend the tomatoes with the juices until smooth. Pour into a large pot or Dutch oven. Simmer the sauce until reduced by a third - or more if you like it thicker. Stir in vinegar.

Spoon sauce into sterile jars and process in a water bath. Let cool until the jars seal.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more, but it helps support my culinary adventures in a small way. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Click to see what everyone else read in July 2020: here.


  1. Absolutely my fave way to make tomato sauce. I also throw in onions, peppers, basil and rosemary when roasting. I usually freeze mine.

  2. I think I would love this book as well and I am definitely using that recipe come canning time.


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