Saturday, January 13, 2007

Wooden Spoon Aficionada - Arrabiata Sauce

Today I wrote a four page handwritten letter to a perfect stranger. The object of this exercise was to write a letter telling them about one of my favorite things. It was to “be specifically a thing – not a person, pet or anything living and breathing”. I found this theme to be intriguing. I proceeded to write my hand scribed letter and found myself challenged as to write about ONLY “one” particular favorite thing. I managed to complete my letter with what I felt had a sense of appeal and interest. Hopefully, my “pen pal” will appreciate what I shared and write me back.

One of my favorite things I did not disclose in my letter is my affinity for wooden spoons. I’ve collected wooden spoons for many years. Starting from my mom’s kitchen, I have the wooden spoon that we used when I first learned to make a pot of rice. I have the wooden spoon that was handed to me by my college roommate’s grandmother when she taught me the true “marinara” sauce from her beloved Italia.

During the years of collecting, I have accumulated more spoons than any one person can use in a lifetime, if only used once. I have them in different sizes, shapes, and colors. I have them in different types of simple to exotic woods, such as, juniper, olive, walnut, cherry and various other fruitwoods. In my travels, I make it an obligation to add to my growing collection. I hand carried a long handled spoon from my trip to Spain, used only to make the Paella Valenciana specialty dish. Family and Friends bring back wooden spoons from countries they’ve visited and gifted them to me. A neighbor brought me back a "tasting" spoon from Bulgaria. I spot them at thrift shops, tag sales and flea markets. I do not discriminate against well-used, stained or distorted wooden spoons. I’m not limited to just spoons. I also have wooden spatulas, ladles, spreaders, tongs, mortars, pestles, bowls and platters. These exquisite wooden specimens are my favorite treasures. They are my allies in the kitchen.

They feel at home in my hands. They are soft, warm and inviting. They embrace the liquid broths, creamy sauces, and thick syrups. They meld together grains of Arborio for risotto, crush plum San Marzanos for marinara and gently bring together the softest scrambled eggs. My wooden spoons can caress the ever-sensitive non-stick pans and aggressively mix up bulky bread dough. They can take on the challenge of thick polenta and requisite of delicate soufflés. They can dissuade a hand from picking at the pot or entice a taste of a savory morsel.

Arrabiata Sauce (Ah-rah-bee-AH-ta)

Makes 6 servings


1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans whole tomatoes, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Heat oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic in oil for 5 minutes.
Stir in wine, sugar, chopped fresh basil, crushed red pepper flakes, tomato paste, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, black pepper and crushed tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered about 20 minutes.
Ladle over the hot cooked pasta of your choice. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. Serve hot.

NOTE: Our choice is usually "Penne" pasta. This is a simple marinara sauce. It's the addition of the crushed red pepper flakes that makes it "Arrabiata" meaning "angry" in Italian.

My most favorite wooden spoons of all are the ones hand-made by my darling hubby, Ander. He is a talented artist and can always turn a plain old chunk of wood into an exquisite piece of “objet d’art”.

Life is a banquet, my friends.


Anonymous Ivonne said...

Wow, Anni! That's a lot of wooden spoons!

I think it's wonderful that you have so many wonderful memories associated with some of those spoons. And you're right, they do become like an extension of you, each fitting your hand in their own special way!

4:58 PM, January 14, 2007  
Blogger anni said...

Ciao, Ivonne!

What you see is only what's out. I have loads in boxes, crates and bins out in the garage!

Need a wooden spoon?

Have an enjoyable week!

Anni :-)

5:26 PM, January 14, 2007  
Anonymous sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

Someone suggested to me that I should throw away my wooden spoons because they are prone to carry bacteria. Shudder the thought!
I too have spoons for special uses, my gumbo spoon, my roux scraper...

5:48 PM, January 15, 2007  
Blogger anni said...

Hi, Sandi!

Thanks for visiting and leaving word! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

As for clean up on these treasures, I use a standard sanitation process used in the food industry. I scrub the surface with steel wool and hot soapy water. Then do a diluted chlorine rinse, followed by a citrus rinse (citric acid .005ppm). It's worth it to keep them for sentimental reasons.

Anni :-)

7:34 PM, January 16, 2007  

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