So I thought, well, as long as I'm having an existential crises, I might as well learn something from it. If I'm concerned about basic cookery, let's get to some real basics and build up from there, right? I wrote about that already, but I decided to start with the tomato sauce since it is, frankly, the easiest. Or, at least, the easiest to find all the ingrediants I needed, which is good enough. I tried to find a really basic recipe, but one that was still a little different from the shit I was pulling before - all it asked for was a pound of whole tomatoes, a little salt, 5 tablespoons of butter, and an onion. It was barely a recipe - more of a method and an exhortation to practice patience. At the end, it was still a little chunkier than I wanted, so I hit it with an immersion blender to smooth that shit out (Kay's idea, actually), and it was actually terrific. Could not have gone better and actually went a lot better than I'd hoped.
Complete success. Very nice.
The meatballs were way more complicated. I know my way around meatballs pretty well, actually, and thought about going super basic with them, but they were actually something of a secondary objective and I felt I could be more elaborate. So, I went with recipe from Martha Stewart, and I feel like I understand the basic principles. The beef I got was the best I could find - grass fed, whatever - but the fat content wasn't exactly right. I felt like the egg and panko I was adding as a binder would probably be enough to make up for that and I was already adding ricotta as part of the recipe - I'm honestly not sure if they could have come out much better. They were moist enough in the center for sure, so... I dunno. I guess it doesn't really matter if it's 5% one way or the other on fat, frankly.
The pasta was a bust, though - I'm glad I had dry backup pasta. I just... lost control over the eggs in the well of the flour in a complete and total fashion, and I'd never made it before. I think it was a mistake to halve the recipe, and it was probably a mistake to try to make fresh pasta for the first time at the same time I was making scratch meatballs (and I'll never go back to frozen - ever, even before this. There isn't a comparison, and I'd rather go meatless) and making a sauce in this way for the first time. You know, I got too ambitious.
Primary Goal: Tomato Sauce - Achieved
Secondary Goal: Use Sauce - Achieved
Secondary Goal: Make Fresh Pasta - Failed
Tertiary Goal: Meatballs - Achieved
Still looks pretty good, to me. I'll get the pasta another time.
Right now, I've got my trial batch of home-made mustard in the fridge, chilling. (Illing.) I've made condiments before - mustards, a sweet chili ketchup, mayo a few times. But, nothing really systematic - either the result of a one shot requirement where I needed mustard and only had some powder, or some kind of elaborate recipe I don't have a good grasp of the practicals on. If the mustard turns out, then I'll never really need to buy mustard again, because it's easy as hell to make. So, we'll see.