I can't claim to have a Nonna, or even any substantial Italian heritage, but I do have an appreciation for a "just right" tomato sauce over fresh, perfectly al-dente pasta. My wife and I go through so much pre-made pasta sauce and salsa each year, that this past Spring, I embarked on a tomato-growing adventure. The picture above captures about a dozen tomatillo plants, nearly 50 tomato plants (half "Amish Paste" and half "Cherokee Purple"), and a handful of hot pepper plants, on a piece of land graciously lent to me by my school. The idea is that the tomatoes will yield an enormous crop - plenty for all the fresh eating we can imagine, and plenty left over for all the cooking and preserving that we have the time or energy to take on.
The potential hitch in the plans is that I've never grown more than a couple tomato plants in our city-sized side yard, and have never actually made tomato sauce or salsa from fresh tomatoes. I'll take on the challenge of learning how to cook and can (mason-jar) delicious pasta sauce for my "Networked Learning Project" - a part of my first year experience in Michigan State University's MAET graduate program. I'll avoid online recipe books (traditional media, just stuck online), and instead focus on the strong opinions and unique experiences of YouTube amateurs and online forum contributors, who I'm sure each believe wholeheartedly that their technique is the one-and-only "best ever." Stay tuned for the inevitable trials and tribulations of Nate's Sauce, v1.0.