Monday, September 29, 2008

Under My Umbrella

There is a certain satisfaction that comes from doing something to benefit others. Yesterday four of us braved the rain to make the three plus mile trek through Boston for the 2008 Memory Walk. Every year our Fearless Leader, my Aunt S, gets our team pumped up to raise donations toward finding a cure and we all did pretty good this year, missing our goals by not too much. The walk itself is always a good time even though none of us are in shape and we all have blisters by the end of the day, we know exactly who we are doing it for and that alone negates any physical pain we may feel.

It was pouring rain this year, the first time that has happened since I have done the walk, but the temperatures were in the low seventies which made it bearable. We had to wait for Aunt S to complete her work registering walkers at the VIP tent so luckily we were on the tail end of the sea of dueling umbrellas.

The clear dome umbrella I carried did nothing to keep my feet dry in the lakes of water we trudged through along the route. I finally had to pretend it was 1984 and peg my pants just to keep the mud from collecting on the back of my legs. We wore our team shirts proudly; Matt was the only one not wearing multiple layers so he showed it off.

On top of the Prudential building there is an observation deck with a 360 degree view of the city. I highly recommend checking it out as it is a fantastic view for tourists and life long residents alike. Sadly there were probably not too many people taking advantage of this yesterday. Hurricane Kyle was the reason for the soggy day and it was cool to see how the bands of clouds shrouded the Pru.

The walk takes us down Storrow Drive, past the Hatch Shell and then crosses the Mass Ave Bridge to head back down the opposite side of the Charles River, ending back in Cambridge where we started. Crossing the bridge is an experience itself. There are units of measure painted on the sidewalk all the way from one end to the other. The bridge is not measured in feet per se but in Smoots. What is a Smoot one may ask? The abridged version – Oliver Smoot was a student at MIT, he was five feet, seven inches tall and in 1958 he allowed his pledge class to literally turn him end over end to acquire an accurate measurement of the bridge. The bridge is 364.4 Smoots plus one ear in length. I will let everyone do their own math on that one. Even though fifty years have passed since this was first completed, the painting of Smoot markers is maintained on the sidewalk. Here is the halfway point. I guess they were not too fond of their collegiate experience.

On the Cambridge side of the Charles River are some of the most wonderful skyline shots to be had in the city. The rain slowed by the time we made it to this point and the clouds cleared from the Pru allowing me to snap this cool shot with birds on buoys, spreading their wings presumably to dry out. To the left of this would be the Hancock followed by Beacon Hill (marked by the gold dome of the State House) and ending at Boston Harbor with the view of the financial district.

None of us thought the Sox would actually play their double header with the Yankees due to the intermittent tropical downpours but the lights went on at Fenway Park and they battled it out between the raindrops. Although we let them have the first game, the Sox ended the night on a high note of jumping around after their nail biting win. Here, the infamous Citgo sign (visible from the Mass Ave Bridge) marks the basic location of Fenway. Do not look for a gas station underneath it as it is simply a big neon billboard; a permanent fixture on the Boston skyline.

It only took us a couple hours to complete the walk with all the stops to snap photos, use the bathroom, or acquire snacks but because we started late we were among the last to arrive back. The free lunch I mentioned previously was the only down point in the day; the outfit providing said lunch piled the food onto the early walker plates (while we waited in line for literally an hour and a half, we watched them pass us with full plates). By the time we got there they had begun to run out of food. My Mom is a vegetarian and was not eating the steak (which is all that was left). I was mortified when they gave her attitude for asking for a couple extra French fries instead and then scowled at her as they literally tossed them on her plate. I asked for a small extra steak tip and was told no because there were so many other people to feed and we should have gotten there two hours prior. Simultaneously we all said we had, we were in line watching full plates of food go past us. He laughed and my stomach turned. Because we all wanted to make the day as excellent as possible, we decided not to let that little set back throw us so the four of us planned to meet at our place at six o’clock to go for dinner.

I had acquired ten huge tomatoes from my dad earlier in the week and was planning to make a sauce on Sunday after the walk. Dinner had not been part of the original plan but Matt and I were swinging by the grocery store on the way home to pick up a can of paste and fresh basil anyway so we added some whole wheat crusts, onion, shredded mozzarella and pepperoni to the basket so we could have a nice homemade pizza night at our place with the ladies. It went over so well there was not a single slice left.

It is no secret that I am not the most domestic of gals but the one thing I make really well is a red sauce. Since so many of my bloggy friends share their awesome recipes, I figured it would be nice to do the same. I am not including measurements as I think adding or subtracting is all to taste but this is the recipe from fresh tomatoes so please bear in mind this is definitely an all day endeavor. I personally think there is something blissfully therapeutic about stirring sauce all day; it allows me to slow down a little bit. It is especially nice to do this on a Sunday with football on in the background. Enjoy!

Red Sauce

Roughly dice and remove seeds from 8-12 large tomatoes. In a medium sauce pan bring to a slow boil uncovered. Leave on medium heat uncovered and boiling for approximately one half hour. Stir frequently bringing the liquid up from the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle salt, pepper, sugar, nutmeg, allspice and additionally desired spices on top and let sit. Chop up a whole bunch of basil and fold into the mixture. The tomatoes should still be pretty chunky but watering down somewhat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.

In a separate frying pan brown some garlic then add red onion and fry until the onions start to become clear. For a meat sauce, add the meat to this mixture and cook thoroughly. Add this to the sauce and stir in. Add one small can of tomato paste and stir in to thicken. Splash in a small amount of red wine (about an eighth of a cup) to balance the garlic and add flavor.

Continue boiling the mixture on simmer for two to three more hours, stirring about every fifteen minutes. Taste every half hour or so as the flavors begin to blend and add spices as desired. The longer it cooks the thicker the sauce will be. Allow to cool (covered) for about a half hour prior to eating.


Expressions By Devin said...

Great blog entry,I loved looking at all your pictures.Sorry it rained on the walk,Hate when it rains on important stuff:0)Great blog,I am following your blog:0)

Rosebud Collection said...

I felt myself get furious with the people serving the meals..what arrogant pups..What a great job all of you did and in such awful weather.
Your sauce sounds wonderful..will have to copy it..Have a great day..and let me say, after yesterday, you all deserve it..

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Thanks Devin, I am loving your blog too! I am going to follow you to see what fun stuff you produce for the holidays :)

Rose it was so wrong. Plus one of the things they tell us with relation to Alzheimers is eat lower fat/calorie foods and more fiber. Steak tips & fried potato enter that equation how exactly? I definitely voiced my displeasure on the follow up walk survey this morning. Everything else was TOP NOTCH!!

Suldog said...

Sorry! Tie the two pieces together in your browser.

Suldog said...

First, nice new look.

Second - I encountered that "Halfway To Hell" thing many years back. I ended up writing a heavy metal song because of it. Here's the history:

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Inspiration can certainly come from everywhere Jim, that song was great! Actually both parts of it were good but I liked 2 better :)

Rosebud Collection said...

Jenn, thanks for asking about the hurricane..We did well..We are between Damariscotta/Rockland, on the coast..Just had rain..Wasn't it a crazy storm? Thanks again for asking..

Sahara said...

I actually love walking in the rain and especially if it's not so cold as to make it miserable. And like Rosebud I could feel myself getting warm with the attitude that the food servers decided to display. Kudos to you all for not letting it ruin what was definitely a good thing! :)

I love your homemade tomato sauce, I could almost smell the garlic as you were describing how to make it! No wonder there wasn’t a single slice left!

caf said...

well that must have been a fun walk in the rain, it mkes it more interesting.

pastrywitch said...

I love food that simmers all day...especially on rainy days. Sounds like a fun walk, even with the rain. Sorry about the food people; sounds like a planning issue.

Maine-y-ac said...

Great blog -- and yes great pizza!
Aunt S

High Desert Diva said...

Nice to see a bit of Boston on your wet walk.

The red sauce sounds divine.

Judi FitzPatrick said...

Hey Toots,
Love the new look of the blog.
Love the writing.
Loved the pizza, especially the sauce!
Love the photos.
Love you!

Bridgete said...

Mmm...thanks for the sauce recipe. Vanessa doesn't really know how to cook so I get to start actually cooking - I got lazy when I lived by myself.

Remind me when the walk is next year, I'd like to join you. =) Although I'll have to remember the stingy food people, after all that walking it's possible I'd faint if they didn't feed me properly so I'd want to bring snacks of my own just in case.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Rose I'm glad you all are ok :) Crazy storm indeed!

Sandra, Kim & Kate there is definitely something cool about walking in the rain, especially getting home and putting on new fuzzy warm clothes after then making something yummy :)

Mum & Aunt S glad you enjoyed the pizza and everything else :)

Charmaine & Bridgete hope you both get a chance to try it out & glad you liked the pictures! Its a deal Bridgete, I would love if you wanted to walk with us! There are apples/oranges and other snacks like luna bars along the route as well as water so it isn't totally bad plus they also had little yogurt tubes at the end. You wouldn't starve if we planned right :) Fainting is not approved lol!

Chris Stone said...

The Smoot story is great. And it does sound like a great day.

Nice new blog look!

Buggerona said...

Great Event and great all these people have joined:-)
If it happens to come over there, I should write down all the highligt you suggests:-) Thanx:-)
And I really enjoyed the recipe of red sauce, very well done girl!:-)
You wrote down, together with the red sauce, also the typical italian sauce that we call "sugo"(if you put also meat and onion)...And yes for the recipe it takes a lot of time:-(
So, I'm forced to suggest you the quickest recipe for a kind of red sauce:-)
Take some red small tomatoes, chunk them in tiny pieces and put the aside. Then take a pan and put some olive oil (extra-vergin if possible), some pieces of garlic, salt, pepper and let it heat up for a few minutes. Then put the tomatoes and some fresh basil and let it cook for about 10/15 minutes, till you see a good look. That's it. If you're brave enough and fond of it, you can add some curry:-P I love it and it gives an exotic mood:-)
Hugs Jenn and let me know if it works:-P


Octavine Illustration said...

beautiful pics of boston...foggy and romantic. a memorable day it seems. and thanks for the recipe...

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Silvia thanks so much! That sounds yummy & easy! Mmmm I will definitely try this :)

Thanks Chris & Cara! it was a really great day :)

Bridgete said...

Oh good, I'm glad I won't end up fainting even if there is a lack of proper lunch. =)

ginger said...

mmmmmmm, saucy! you made me get up and go get some tomatoes to munch on. looks yummy! maybe i'll try that on a cool fall day soon! thanks!

sorry to hear about the "free lunch," but it seems like you handled it well.