Category Archives: Food

Mrs S’s Italian Sauce Recipe

After posting this pic on social media yesterday I got a few requests for the recipe. As I began writing down a recipe that has been handed down mostly experientially I got to reminiscing how it came to be part of my family’s food history.

Bumper crop of my folks’ tomatoes being turned into Italian sauce #italiansaucemadebyportuguesecook

A post shared by Regina Martins (@reginatmartins) on

These are my memories of that time, and names have been changed to protect the innocent. 

Mrs S was an Italian lady I met when I was a child. She taught my Mom how to make this sauce and it’s the only recipe we ever use. Mr S was my Dad’s employer, very rich, very very very fat, and had a mistress he openly and unashamedly ‘dated’.

Where Mrs S was matronly in appearance, the mistress (we’ll call her Donna G) was a blonde version of Sophia Loren. We got to meet both of them, not at the same time, although each lady knew of the other’s existence. Both ladies were friendly and pleasant to me.

I remember being quite confused by this situation, and I remember my folks explaining things to me in a way that my 9-year old self could understand.

Ok, back to the recipe…

Tomatoes galore – photo taken by my Mom
©2017 Regina Martins

My folks have a bumper crop of tomatoes this year. They’re growing all over the garden, amongst the flowers and bushes. I love the idea of a garden being both beautiful and edible, and my folks certainly have this.

The secret to this recipe is to layer or build the flavours and the simmering allows them to develop and deepen.

The longer it simmers the deeper the flavours allowing them to develop. The best sauces have simmered on a low heat for 1- 2 hours – this takes courage.

Mrs S’s Italian Sauce Recipe


Onions, lots, chopped

Tomatoes, lots (peel, pips and all), chopped coarsely or quartered or sixth’d if large (I used about 15 – 20 medium ones – see pic above)

Red paprika pepper – half a one – coarsely chopped

Red wine, to taste


Cracked black pepper

Sweet paprika powder, 1-2 tsp

Cumin powder, 1 tsp

Coriander powder, 1 tsp

Olive oil

Garlic to taste, chopped

Basil leaves – optional

A note on the onions - the more onions the better, thicker and tastier the sauce - I usually put between 3 and 6 large ones, white ones (never tried it with red, I’m sure it’s lovely).


  1. Chop the onions finely – I prefer using the food processor for this.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot (oil quantity, Jamie Oliver style, glug glug glug…). Once heated, add the coarsely chopped paprika pepper and the paprika powder, and turn the heat down slightly.
  3. Allow to soften a bit then add in the onions and stir to coat with the oil and paprika mixture (the oil will be a yummy reddish colour). Braise until soft.
  4. Add the cumin and coriander powder and mix. Coriander tends to absorb the oil, so keep an eye on this. Let fry for a minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes and garlic and mix well. Allow the flavour to develop for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the wine, salt and pepper. Stir well.
  7. Allow to simmer on a low heat for a looooong time.

Keep stirring every once in a while. If it starts to slightly stick to the pot (slightly, not burn), just stir it loose, this is part of the layering of flavour. Remember the courage bit.  Wine helps (drinking it, not adding more as this will just make the sauce too liquid. Drinking it on the other hand helps with the courage).

So when is it ready?

Italian sauce with fresh basil leaves from our garden
©2017 Regina Martins

At the end of the day it’s about what it tastes like to you. The moment it tastes yummy, it’s done. When done, stir in whole basil leaves.

I like to blend it to make the sauce into a smooth consistency. Leave chunky if you wish.

Tip: If the tomato is too acidic, add 1 tsp of sugar.

By far the most popular use of this sauce is over pasta and I confess that this is my favourite pasta dish of all time, plain, with lashings of parmesan cheese on top. Che and I will also be using it when we make pizza.

So there you have it!

Hope you enjoy it as much as I have cooking and especially eating it. Let me know how it turns out.

Feel free to Like or Share this recipe.


Our Christmasses Are Green

Have I told you yet that our Christmasses are green?

We don’t have white Christmasses here, we have green ones. Green hills, green grass, green heat. The sky is blue. The pool is blue. It’s summer here. Maybe in the early morning when soft mist rolls in high lying areas there is a bit of white. It is soon replaced by green though.

Continue reading Our Christmasses Are Green

Wonderful Wonderbag!

Some time ago I bought a Wonderbag and what a wonder bag it’s turned out to be!

Last night, during Earth Hour, Ché (Husband) and I ate Kitchri cooked in the Wonderbag. I cooked the lentils, spinach and rice for 15 minutes on the stove top at about noon. It immediately went into the Wonderbag, nice and snug, and at 5pm I opened it to reveal perfectly cooked and delicious Kitchri!

The Wonderbag is the invention of South African Sarah Collins (Top 10 Finalist, Most Powerful Women Entrepeneurs, Fortune Magazine 2013). It’s a slow cooker minus the electricity.

When rolling blackouts started in 2008 she remembered how her grandmother used to put cushions around her pots to keep the food cooking after it had been removed from the fuel source. So she came up with the Wonderbag.

The wonder of the Wonderbag is that it’s extremely useful for communities in Africa and other continents who battle against odds to cook food using wood and kerosene stoves. Apart from the danger of using these fuel sources in small huts and shacks, they also add to  environmental pollution. You can read about the Wonderbag story on her website.

Anything you’d cook in a slow cooker or crock pot is ideal for cooking in the Wonderbag.

The impact of the Wonderbag is wide. She has some interesting infographics on the site. Here are some of the impacts of wide-spread cooking with the Wonderbag:

  • Saving of energy, water and time, simply by making cooking more efficient
  • In developing countries, the basic need to feed a family has huge challenges:  Staple diets require long cooking times, yet there is little access to energy and water
  • Lack of clean fuel means using charcoal or tree-wood for cooking
  • Cutting down trees results in deforestation as communities quickly use the tree wood around them, digging up the roots when desperate
  • Deforestation leads to foraging  further afield, which is done by women and also girls, often taken out of school
  • Foraging as far as 5-10 km per day leaves women open to violence
  • Poverty will not end if girls don’t have time for school, women spend 4-6 hours of their day cooking, and the environment is ravaged

The above points are taken from the Wonderbag website – go on over to the site to see the full list of environmental, social and economic impacts and challenges, especially in the developing world, that the proliferation of the Wonderbag hopes to address.

Click here for recipes on Pinterest.

The Wonderbag is available from the Wonderbag site and

Note: I wrote this post because I believe in the Wonderbag. I have used the Wonderbag, been astounded at the results, and am a fan. I was not paid to write this post.