I’ve been AWOL from this blog. Life took over. In the real world, I manage a state wide, grant funded program and the fiscal year ended. We had a week of events every day and I needed to finish up the grant paperwork for the last 5 months. Add into this 10 bushels of tomatoes, a drainage disaster requiring a major excavation and a foundation fix, a house painting project, finishing unpacking, and my 18 year old cat boy dying of congestive heart failure and you’ve got my last two months. Life. It happened.
Well, the cleaning fairy has come and blessed us with her cleaning sanity. The tomatoes have all been processed, and we’ve come to terms with the death of my kitty and my husband’s (in late August). We’ve now got two new kitties in our lives and the tomatoes all went where they were supposed to – canning jars in the basement.
That all said, I’ve got lots of new recipes to share!
The one I’m most proud of is probably the tomato paste. I read a lot of recipes for it and came to the conclusion, thru experimentation, that none of them worked well, so I should do all of them. I tried that and it worked well.
Here’s what I did:
Core your tomatoes and roughly chop them. Drop them into a pot & bring to a boil. Get out your immersion blender & go to town on the pot. Chop everything in sight!
Put it all back on the stove and reduce by about 50%.
Cook it until it gets darker – scrape the dark bits into the center and spread flat. Keep scraping these off the sides and flattening the thickening goo into the center. (This about.com article, by Molly Watson, on tomato paste was the guide for this part of the recipe.)
When it’s nice & dark, and really looks like paste, stop. (Took about 3 hours to reduce all the way for me – keep an eye on it!) Put it into a 4 oz jar and finish with a thin sheen of olive oil.
Cap and water bathe for 45 minutes.
The combination of both the oven cooking and the olive oil makes this quite rich. 1 bushel cooks down to 4-5 four ounce jars.
I also did meaty spaghetti sauce. Can meat you say? Egads! The horror! Eeek – I’m scared of canning meat!
Fear not. I give you my brand new most favorite picture from face book – I don’t know who originated this, but if I did, I’d give ’em credit!
When the zombie apocalypse comes, you’ll need a can of your favorite spaghetti sauce! Besides, with a pressure canner, it’s both safe and easy.
My mom’s spaghetti sauce – (modified for canning)
2 lbs of ground beef, browned
4 onions, chopped & browned
1 whole head of garlic, chopped
Cook the first 3 ingredients up first and then add the pre-processed tomatos.
1/2 bushel tomatoes, cored, blanched and rough chopped (add more or less depending on how thick you want it…)
3 green peppers, chopped
Oregano & thyme to taste (I usually put in big handfuls of fresh)
2 bunches of fresh basil, chopped
Optional – Parsley
Remember that tomato paste you just made? Use that to thicken this recipe to your taste. I put in 2 four ounce jars.
Salt & pepper to taste
When you’ve spiced it to your taste, put into quart jars & pressure can for 90 minutes @ 10 lbs pressure.
The last thing I worked on was tomato soup. For years, my mother and I have tried to recreate my grandmother’s cream of tomato soup. We’ve never succeeded. But she was there the day we made this – it was fun to cook with my mom. This recipe is good, though, even if it’s not my grandmother’s soup!
Researching, we started with Betty Crocker. Moved on to Better Homes & Gardens and Good Housekeeping. Then, took off on our own tangents!
Here’s what wemade:
½ bushel of tomatos, cored, skinned & rough chopped – do these first & set them aside.
3 onions, browned
2 leeks, browned
Brown these up in the pot with some olive oil first then, add the tomatoes and the following 3 spices
1 piece cinnamon bark
1 TSP whole cloves
3 bay leaves
(Put the cinnamon, bay & cloves into a small spice bag so you can find it later. If you don’t, you’ll have an unexpected surprise!)
Cook down for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, scoop a cup or so full of the liquid into a measuring cup. (I use a 4 cup measure.)
Add to the liquid
4 Tbsp flour
3 cubes chicken bouillon
Get out your immersion blender and blend this all up so you’ve got a nice thick, smooth goo in the cup. Add the mixture back into the rest of the pot. Pull the spice bag out and immersion blend the whole pot. When you’ve blended, add the spice bag back in and add:
6 Tbsp sugar
1 Tsp cayenne pepper
¼ cup vinegar
2 TBSP Basil
2 TBSP salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Adjust to the spicing to taste/thickness. Pour into quart jars & process for 45 minutes in a water bath.