Cooking Up an Idea


All weekend, I’ve been puzzling over a “what happened then” element in my new proposal. It’s been making me crazy because no matter how many notes I jotted down, how many creative naps I took, how many brainstorming sessions I had with John, it wasn’t coming to me. Then I decided to make some quick and easy marinara sauce for dinner and voila! In ten minutes, I had the missing piece in technicolor detail. I just needed to stop trying so hard and start living. That’s what I always tell new writers: you need to live life to be able to create. Sometimes I forget my own advice. So do you need a good idea? Start cooking!  



Idea-Stimulating Marinara Sauce

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil

5 shallots

1 clove minced garlic

2 T olive oil, divided

salt and pepper

1 tsp sugar

pinch red pepper flakes

1 bunch italian parsley, chopped

2 splashes of white wine, divided

1 pint mushrooms sliced


Saute the shallots in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and saute a few more minutes. Pour in crushed tomatoes, s and p, sugar, pepper flakes and a splash of wine. Cook over low heat, partially covered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, saute mushrooms in olive oil for a few minutes, then add a splash of white wine and continue cooking till tender. Toss the parsley and mushrooms into the sauce and serve on penne pasta or chicken. And don’t forget to jot down those ideas! 


  1. Margo on September 29, 2008 at 8:57 am

    What a yummy recipe Diane…you must be a fantastic cook besides a fabulous writer! I love your motto ‘live life to be able to create’…and how true that is. Can’t wait to hear what this new WIP is all about…you realize we are all on pins and needles, right (lol)!

  2. Denise on September 29, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Looks delicious!

  3. Gina on September 29, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Ah! My Italian friend Diane. You’re not gonna believe this, but I made a very similiar Italian sauce last night myself without the wine. Your recipe sounds divine!

  4. brenda on September 29, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    No recipes for you-but later…I do have the best spaghetti recipe-with red wine…and that potato soup…the girls loved it-were here for Nana’s birthday…I will be 61 tomorrow and considering my mother died at 60…it was and has been a traumatic year for me…I am a younger 60 than she (although cancer was what got her)…I am a vegetarian (16 years)…exercise at least 5 times per week…etc. etc…
    Good books: A PERFECT DIVORCE by Avery Gorman (wrote Kramer vs Kramer)…was intriguing…the connection between the husband and wife (ex) because of son…I can relate to that from my marriage to the father of my children (we were together almost 30 years)…THE ART OF KEEPING SECRETS-a short almost novella by Patti Callahan Henry (southern writer)…intriguing because of the secrets involved and how OTHERS jump to conclusion almost immediately when something BAD happens to others… NOW AND ALWAYS by Lori Copeland-not one of her best-but a quick read…As to the other books I have read lately-not worth mentioning exc. of course BLUE BISTRO…

  5. brenda on September 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    P.S. Gina and Denise…if I get my work finished…I plan to join your chat on Thursday night-I could care less about the debates this time…sorry…but I can’t discuss what frustrates me…thanks for getting the chat together. Which book did you guys choose for this month???

  6. GIna on September 29, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks Brenda. Chats on Thursdays should be fun. Don’t know how many people will be able to log in this week, so we’ll see. Don’t get discouraged if there aren’t many people there. Many are watching the debates.
    We’re still voting on this month’s selection. We should have an announcement by tomorrow.
    If anyone is interested, what I’m referring to here is my forum Anyone can join.
    I’d love that recipe for sauce with red wine Brenda.
    I’m a Wizard of Oz freak and I just found out that Gregory Maguire is putting out a book on the Cowardly Lion. Sort of in the same format as he wrote Wicked.

  7. Denise on September 29, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I’d love to come to chat; what time? Unfortunately, I would not miss the debate this week for the world. Lol I also have another obligation on Thursdays…Survivor.
    Gina, I could not get into the Maguire books at all. I love Wizard of Oz but just can’t do sci-fi & fantasy.

  8. Diane Chamberlain on September 29, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Margo, I am so not a good cook. If I were, I’d be making the sauce with actual tomatoes instead of from a can. Before I moved in with my first husband, way back in the day, I read The Joy of Cooking literally from cover to cover and became a fair cook, but I got out of it over the last decade or so. Suddenly I’m interested again, though, and enjoying it.
    Now, I’m sorry to miss your chat Gina, but I’m salivating over the very thought of this debate! There is so much that needs to be discussed. I do have friends who, although politically active, don’t watch the debates because they can’t stand the tension, but I eat them up.

  9. Ann on September 30, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    I love the debates!

  10. brenda on September 30, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Gina email me…I’ll get the recipe together…As to the debates-sorry…I can’t comment…
    P.S. For me to say that is unbelievable…I am so into politics.

  11. Margo on October 1, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Gary and I are glued to CNN and we watch all the debates, conventions, etc….I’ve been known to stay up all nite just watching this stuff.
    Diane, Gary is the cook in our family but when I have the time, I enjoy cooking with him…especially holiday meals and great soups and things on weekends…I love it when he makes his spaghetti and that’s when I stay out of the kitchen. (-:

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