AMAZING FOODS: Special Recipes for Special Circumstances

Scott Edelman got himself a hit with his podcast series Eating the Fantastic; the Vandermeers published The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals and there have been cookbooks published based on Middle Earth, Star Trek and more.

Not to mention that NPR just notified me that people are spending more time and money on the retail side of food than on  pretty much everything else these days.  Heinlein famously stated that he was competing for beer money.  Not so much anymore, now authors are competing for meal money.

Sharing our meals has now become a big social thing and its about time that Amazing Stories started doing so as well.  We are, however, going to add our own little twist.

When I got married, I had to promise that I would be the “food preparer” in chief, otherwise no deal.  I had no problem with agreeing to that.  Sticking two boxes of stuff into the microwave instead of one was not too high a price to pay for martial bliss.

Actually, I’d begun to “cook” fairly recently and I kind of liked the idea of having an audience to experiment on; and the opportunity to blend two different sets of family recipes was intriguing. The bases I would be drawing from were Brooklyn-Jewish (chicken soup with matzoh balls) and ItalianSicilian-English-American (pasta & shepherds pie).

We quickly established that “Gefilte fish is disgusting” (not) and that shepherd’s pie must absolutely have creamed corn in it.

But we did manage to settle on a few things that made both of us happy, particularly my spaghetti with vodka sauce (sauteed mushrooms and spanish onion, 1/3 pork sausage, 2/3rds ground beef, bell peppers, garlic, italian seasoning).

But then Karen got sick.  Perhaps the worst thing that happened was that her favorite foods turned on her: pasta, tomato-based things, cheeses.  She was stricken with violent acid reflux and her normally quiescent lactose intolerance became a serious issue.  No milk products, no acidic foods, no tomato sauce, combined with a natural aversion to most vegetables, fishy things and a general lack of interest in meats, and we faced an eating crisis.  The diet was reduced to plain pasta (olive oil and salt), pancakes or waffles, an occasional egg (over easy – I finally managed to learn how to turn one over without breaking the yolk).

But then I remembered we live in a modern era blessed with search engines and I began to hunt.

There are, believe it or not, recipes for mac-n-cheese for the lactose intolerant, vegetable-based mayonnaise, cheeses that have little to no lactose and even tomato sauce without the tomatoes.

I am of the positive belief that Karen is not the only person associated with science fiction who has eating restrictions.  The lactose intolerant among you can, I am sure, testify to the fact that taking lactaid pills is not always an effective remedy.

I was pleasantly surprised when Google returned “Nomato” sauce in my searches for “tomato sauce without tomatoes recipe” search.  Actually, dumbfounded to discover that such a thing even existed.

I was, of course, naturally skeptical.  Many substitutes are substitute in name only, leaving a lot to be desired in the taste, texture, color, perception arenas.

I didn’t bother to search further for home made recipes; Nomato was a brand, available in jars an easy if relatively expensive online order.  I figured we’d check it out and if it showed promise stick with it;  if not, I’d try to figure out how to doctor it into acceptability (you can always add garlic!).

I was denied by the producer.  They’d finished their run for the year and had shipped it all off. No Nomato for Karen.

So I shifted strategies and hunted down mac-n-cheese for the lactose intolerant; several good recipes were found, for which I had to devise substitutes for some of the ingredients, but the results were successful; aged cheddar (white) has next to no lactose by the time it reaches the store shelves.  Dissolving the cheese into reduced lactose fat free milk, some corn starch, a bit of this and a bit of that makes for a very tasty meal that Karen can tolerate well. (There are “all vegan” recipes as well.)

The need for pasta sauce though was a continual burden, so I hunted deeper.  And found several recipes for home made “Nomato” and decided to give it a try.

Every single one of those recipes cautioned that color was important, so be careful with the beets.  I chose to ignore those cautions my first time out, you should not.  When it comes time for the blending phase, do what I didn’t and add the beets gradually until color is to your desire.

Before laying out the recipe, a couple of other things.  First – this stuff tastes great!  It smells like tomato sauce, tastes like tomato sauce and if you get the color right, could probably even fool a handful of tomato sauce epicureans if they did not have knowledge beforehand.  Given all of the vegetable goodness packed into the recipe, one might even be tempted to use it instead of tomato sauce as being a healthier option.

Second, I did manage to find a supplier of bottled Nomato and ordered in a jar for testing.  A bit expensive ($7.99 for a 16 oz jar plus shipping), but if your food prep extends more towards irradiating boxes rather than chopping up beets, you’re covered.

No Tomato Tomato Sauce

1 decent sized sweet potato
1 small to medium beet
3 carrots
3-5 cloves of garlic
1 large onion
chopped basil
lemon juice
peppe, salt
lemon juice
olive oil


chop up the carrots, onion, celery, beet, sweetpotato and garlic.

Drop it all in a pot with water to cover and set to boiling until everything is soft.

You may want to boil the beet seperately.

When everything is boiled through, drain the water and commence blending everything until smooth.

Add the beet chunks last, one piece at a time until the paste’s color resembles marinara sauce red.

Add the spices to taste…generally a half to a full tablespoon of each. You’ll have to sample as you go.

There are numerous recipes around…just search for “no tomatoes tomato sauce”.

This recipe is very much a work in progres and very much a custom designed substitute…so don’t get frustrated if your first batch isn’t exactly what you were looking for.

Next time: eggless mayonaise!

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1 Comment

  1. I am seriously lactose intolerant, so much so that two or three tablespoons of cow yogurt ruins my digestion (and mood) for the better part of a day. However, I can eat yogurt, cheese and ice cream–as long as they are made from goat milk. There are hundreds of varieties of goat cheeses out there, including multiple varieties of cheddar (your local Trader Joe’s is an excellent source of a very tasty preservative-free version). Try them in small doses to verify it works for Karen first. Goat cheeses have half the calories, half the fat and contain a sugar that is half as complex as lactose. They’re a bit milder when melted, and don’t always crisp quite so deliciously under the broiler, but these are quibbles. Pecorino Romano _must_ be made from goat cheese, so it’s a safe alternative to Kraft parmesan (real Reggiano is safe, by the way, since it’s aged so long that, like well-aged cow cheddar, there’s no lactose left). Good luck.

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