I've been thinking about the word "easy" lately. It seems to be applied to everything; sometimes in a way that appears dismissive of the time and effort that someone put in to something, and sometimes to try to make an activity seem like it might be more fun.
I also tend to apply it to my own accomplishments or things that I've made, often in an effort to be modest. The thing is, though, most things that I consider to be worthwhile aren't easy. They take time and effort and dedication and creativity.
Take cooking, for example. I cook for a lot of reasons: to eat healthily, to enjoy new flavours, to gain new experiences, to connect with my culture as well as other cultures, and so on. Whether I'm making a tomato sauce that takes 10 minutes or food for a party of 40, cooking is not easy. It needs my full attention, no matter what it is.
The aim is always to be proud of what I've made and served. That's why it can be quite disappointing or disheartening when someone says something about how easy something is to make. For the time it took for me to make the dish, I was thinking of nothing but the end product, and all the steps it took to get from start to finish - the right way to chop, how often to stir, when to taste, how to season.
We all do this in our everyday lives, at home, at work, with our friends and our families - just because something doesn't seem challenging or interesting to others, we downplay it and our own abilities. I plan to stop myself from measuring things in terms of easy from here on out. Or, instead of describing something as easy, maybe I'll go with "not too complicated" or say that it "comes together quickly". No more dismissing accomplishments.
Not-Too-Complicated Tomato Sauce
(for pasta and pizza and anything else you'd like it for)
1 clove of minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tin of San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon of sugar - keep aside in case you want more
1/2 teaspoon of sea or kosher salt - keep aside in case you want more
3 torn up fresh basil leaves
Heat a heavy-bottomed pot on the stove at medium-high heat. Add olive oil - swirl to coat. Add garlic and cook till it no longer smells raw - about 1.5 to 2 minutes (don't let the garlic turn brown - golden is okay, but brown is not). Add tin of tomatoes, sugar and salt. Bring to boil, then turn heat down to simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer only 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Add torn up basil leaves. Stir. Taste to see if sugar and salt are correct, according to your preferences.
Sauce can even be made into a soup if you puree it and add a little bit of water or stock. Great with a baguette rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, then grilled, or even a fontina grilled cheese sandwich.