Pasta for Obama

The phonebankers are HUNGRY! If you’re not cut out for talking to strangers about politics, consider feeding the folks who are. I know myself well enough to realize that it wouldn’t be doing anybody any favors to put myself on the phone—or knocking on doors, eek—with the intention of swinging votes toward Obama. But I also realized that I’d better do something in order to 1) not be a nervous wreck during this crazy pre-election moment & 2) not hate myself if, goddess forbid, the election goes the wrong way.

So. I can’t call & I can’t knock on doors. They also need people to do data entry, but that’s a really bad idea for my hands. So what can I do? Well, I can cook. (I can also carve punkins, apparently, but who am I kidding? Every available surface of Berkeley is already plastered with Obama’s name or face.)

Pasta for Obama:

2 lbs. dry rigatoni (on blowout special at the Bowl!)

3 small yellow onions

most of a bunch of celery

most of a pound of carrots

2 enormous zucchinis

a bag of mushrooms

1 large can of Muir Glen crushed tomatoes

1 can tomato paste, also Muir Glen

8 or 9 fat tomatoes from Plastic Lam’s aunt’s garden (thanks!)

olive oil, salt & pepper, oregano

flat-leaf parsley, chopped & sprinkled on top for garnish

fresh grated Parmesan (optional)

Grocery bill: $13.94, plus $3.28 for the cheese

Follow usual tomato sauce procedure (in short: onions, celery & carrots first, then mushrooms & zukes, then all tomatoes, then simmer up to 2 hours, boil pasta & combine). To save time I cheated a little & used the food processor for the onions, celery, carrots & tomatoes. I had to boil the pasta in 2 shifts. When it was all done it was too heavy for me to lift, so Donna slid a cutting board underneath it & helped me schlep it off to the Obama office along with bowls, forks & napkins raided from our party supplies. Don’t forget the cheese, & a serving spoon!

When we got there, the place was stuffed full of about 100 people sitting cheek by jowl with a phone on one ear & a finger plugging the other. Some folks had been there all day, nibbling on nothing but scones & leftover Halloween candy. About what I had suspected. I ladled out the pasta & Donna walked around delivering it with the Parmesan in her other hand: “cheese?”

27 small servings vanished so fast it made my head spin. People were very happy to get real food & tickled at being served. (That’s where the cheese pays for itself. Donna sprinkles it with a lot of care & love—sorta fancy waiter meets storybook mom. You think I’m kidding!) We probably coulda brought twice as much. They also said that sandwich fixings would be very welcome, so if you don’t have all afternoon to simmer tomato sauce, just drop off some cold cuts & bread & I’m sure they’ll be thrilled.

Today I think I’ll bake taters, steam broccoli, fry bacon, bring cheddar & sour cream & let people assemble their own. Just two more days!