Monday, July 2, 2012

Magical Love Potion: Analysis of Tomato Sauce’s Essential Ingredients

Illustration for Roman de la Rosa by Guillaume de Lorris. 1475.
Ink, pigments and gold on vellum.  See it at the British Library

“Stock up your pantry and your freezer with things that aren't perishable: Your favorite jar of tomato sauce that lists 'tomato' as the first ingredient, lots of grains, olive oils, vinegars, tomato pastes, onions, shallots. When you go to the store, you only have to pick up meats and produce.” ~ Giada De Laurentiis

“Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes/What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes?/ Only two things that money can't buy/ That's true love and home grown tomatoes.” ~
John Denver, 'Home Grown Tomatoes' (from a song written by Guy Clark)

Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world -- except for a nice MLT -- mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is lean and the tomato is ripe.” ~ Miracle Max, Princess Bride

"Are you going to Scarbourough Fair?/ Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme/ Remember me to one who lives there,/For she once was a true love of mine." Scarbourough Fair.

It’s been two weeks since we ate our last jar of homemade tomato sauce.  T added onions, garlic and fresh basil, and ½ can tomato paste.  We had it over fresh pasta with shaved parmesan pecorino romano cheese with salad greens from our garden and Klondike bars.

I had made the tomato sauce in my crock pot last August when our tomatoes begin to ripen out of control.  I remember the red sauce bubbles filling my home with an aroma that makes you want to eat and sing Puccini. Okay, it’s only me that wants to sing Puccini others at my home would rather hear Carlos Santana or Cake.


In 1992, I went to a hands-on lecture at my local bookstore (sadly gone).  Judith Todd, Ohioan and certified herbalist, talked about her recently published book.  What I remember about her was her frankness, thoughtfulness, grand-motherly manner, plus she came wearing a scientific hat which I needed.  She taught us how to make scented bath salts with essential oils.  At that time, I’d thought of the essential oils as only scents and didn’t know the traditional healing properties.  Jude showed me how to make a stress headache relieving soak (Rosemary and Eucalyptus).

I purchased her book and many other books soon after.  I soon discovered that the herbs I used to make my food taste good had healing and spiritual properties they brought to the dish.  Like in many instances, our culture had lost the stories about our food ingredients that the ancients gave us.     

Take the basic ingredients for tomato sauce: tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery, peppers, garlic, oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme and bay leaves.  Mixed together in the right proportion and left to slowly cook, you create a wonderful smelling sauce.  With the right cook, you might even say: “WOW” and go into a non-stop eating frenzy.  Or have that scene from the movie Heartburn happen – Jack Nicholson takes the whole bowl of pasta and Meryl Streep to bed.  What is going on there?  Have you ever stepped back and analyze these ingredients beyond their culinary properties of tasting good?

Bay Leaves

A quick analysis of the tomato sauce properties, love, fertility and harmony seem to be the overall themes  (See the following website or check out the resources listed below).  For some, is the sauce speaking a love potion?  I leave you to conclude. 


The information I’ve shared about the traditional healing properties of these herbs and vegetables should not substitute for seeking advices of a licensed health professional (e.g., nurse practitioner or family practitioner) for a medical problem.  If you are thinking about taking herbs; you should use it as part of an integrative medical system.  Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative (Weil).   

Please let your health care provider know that you are taking herbs, because they can interact with the medicine that is prescribed for you.  Example: Grapefruit is a great source for vitamin C, but interacts in a not good way with Zoloph and Lustar (anti-depressant medication), Novir (anti-viral medication), several cholesterol reducing and blood pressure medications.


Sauce Cooked All Day
By Beth Malchus Stafa
published SpringStreet 2011.

That place in Burlington
some neighborhood spot you found - 
the aroma of warm tomato sauce
knocked me back when you opened the door,
wedded drafts of tangy sweetness-
oregano, basil, onion,
and some magical ingredient
they'd never divulge.

We stayed until the early hours -
drank the house red,
ate roasted garlic 
slathered on crusty bread
then dipped into that red gravy
kissed later.

Our newly married fingers folded in,
with no no way to know then how we would touch,
after a lifetime of sauce spattered tablecloths-
to when my hair is moon-dyed
and I stir forever,
hunger for that savory sauce
the taste of our zesty beginning.



BEMS Crockpot Tomato Sauce
Recipe for Crockpot Tomato Sauce

From many sources.......
  • Cut up enough tomatoes (skins and all ) from your garden or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to fill your crockpot up to two inches (5 cm) from the top.
  • 1 medium onion cut up
  • 1 carrot cut up
  • 1 celery cut up
  • 1 pepper cut up
  • 4 cloves of garlic - smashed
  • 4 Tablespoons (15 ml) of Italian Seasoning (or in my case - walk into your garden and pick, oregano, rosemary, basil and thyme)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of pepper
  • (Sometimes I add fresh basil, chard or spinach to this mixture)
Cook everything in a crockpot on medium setting all day. I usually start around 12:00 on Sunday and cook it to about 6:00 pm.

Puree tomato mixture by putting it into the food processor in small batches Be very careful this is hot! Dump mixture into a larger pot and cook down while stirring.

If I’m not planning on using the whole batch in the next couple of days – I can it. If you plan on canning please read up on how to do this. I add lemon juice to my jars to increase the acid in my sauce. I'm sharing the OSU extension site for your use if you decide to can you can find many other sources on the web and youtube.


Buchman, Dian Dincin. Herbal Medicine: The Natural Way to Get Well and Stay Well. Outlet Book Company¸Inc. New Jersey. 1979.

Clarkson, Rosetta E. Green Enchantment. Macmillan Publishing. New York, New York. 1940.

Cunningham, Scott. Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise. Llewellyn Publications. St. Paul, Minnesota.  1993.

Dugan, Ellen. Garden Witchery: Magick from the Ground Up.  Llewellyn Publications. St. Paul, Minnesota.  2003.

Hutchens, Alma R. A Handbook of Native American Herbs: The pocket guide to 125 medicinal plans and their uses. Shambhala. Boston, Massachusetts. 1992.

Mowery, Daniel B. The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine.  Keats Publishing, Inc., New Canaan, Connecticut. 1986.

Rain, Mary Summer. Earthway: A Native American Visionary’s Path to Total Mind, Body and Spiritual Health. Simon and Schuster, Inc. New York, New York. 1990.

Sanecki, Kay, N. History of the English Herb Garden. Villers House, London, England. 1994.

Todd, Jude C. Jude's Herbal Home Remedies: Natural Health, Beauty & Home Care Secrets. Llwellyn Worldwide. 1992.

Magical Realism Fictional Reads
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen


  1. I love, love, love this post! Thank You so much for the recipe, poem, quotes, etc....

    I'm going to be reading Garden Spells in the next few days...just waiting for my daughter to pick up my library order today and I'm well on my way.

    Brightest of Blessings to You! :)

    1. I'm glad you liked it - it was a great review about the stories herbs and flowers tell us. Great read - hope you enjoy. Just read another book - The school of Essential Ingredients by Eric Bauermeister. This too reminded me that food and its ingredients has a healing touch. I love this quote about food - every time we prepare food we interrupt life. We pull up a carrot or kill a crab - or maybe stop the mold that's growing on a wedge of cheese. We make meals with those ingredients and in doing so we give life to something else. It's the basic equation, and if we pretend it doesn't exist we are likely to miss the other important lesson, which is to give respect to both sides of the equation. (45) Another spin on food - I would add if we miss what the ancients told us - we also miss another piece of the equation of our food.


Hi all - I really like your comments, but have had a change of heart regarding anonymous comments. My CCWWW beliefs are that you need to stand behind what you say and what you do. Peace out.