Slow Sauce

I made my first batch of sauce last weekend.  The tomato plants have struggled along and I needed to do something with what I had but it was not enough.  I went to a farm stand on Saturday and bought a box of “seconds” for $15 and started the 4-5 hour process of making sauce.   A friend of mine wants me to teach her how to can tomatoes so I wrote down quantities and steps this time. Usually I just do it and don’t follow a recipe however it is hard to tell someone else how much of each ingredient to have on hand!

The garlic, onions, basil, oregano, carrots, squash, eggplant, and about a third of the tomatoes are from my garden.  The purchased tomatoes and peppers come from a farm close to Gettysburg, PA so I am saying this is slow sauce.

This process takes awhile and it seems like I use a ton of pots, pans, utensils, etc so the end result is a messy kitchen.  Thank goodness the cleaning crew came on Monday though I am still finding tomato splatters in the kitchen.  The pot is 12 quarts and just eyeballing it at this point, I thought I had 8 quarts.

I finished the process on Tuesday with a hot water canning bath.  And ended up with 9 quarts, I processed 7 quarts as that is the max the canner holds. The rest will go into lasagna as requested by my son before he returns to school.

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Fresh out of the canner

Here is the recipe, documented mainly for my benefit, so maybe I can repeat it!

Tomato Sauce

  • 36 cups peeled and roughly chopped tomatoes.  These were a mixture of Brandywine, San Marzano, Cherokee Purple, Yellow, Beefsteak, Stripey and Amish Paste
  • 1/2 large chopped cayenne pepper (will cut back on this in next batch)
  • 3 large chopped green bell peppers
  • 3 large chopped carrots
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • I small chopped eggplant
  • 1 small chopped yellow squash

I chop everything in the food processor and then sauted it in olive oil until soft. I combined the tomatoes and vegies in the 12 quart pot to bring to a boil.  Then I added the following:  (all the measurements are estimates as I did not measure anything)

  • 6 tbls black pepper
  • 3 tbls onion powder
  • 2 tbls garlic powder
  • 2 tbls smoked paprika
  • 2 tbls cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbls white pepper
  • 1/8 cup pickling sale (no iodine)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped oregano
  • tomato paste, added later to help thicken sauce

I brought this to a boil and then simmered it a couple of hours to reduce.

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BLTs adjusted

We finally have some tomatoes from my garden, it took awhile with rainy May and the chloratic tomato plants I had.  Some I grew myself and some I ordered from a company that is totally devoted to tomatoes but I won’t mention their name (smile) as the plants came in dismal condition.  So we had to get them healthy enough to be planted.

Last night we had BLTs for dinner, the bacon came from Springfield Butcher.  And each of us changed it up a bit as we built the sandwich.  There was the BLT+cheese-cheddar on the first sandwich and pepper jack on the second sandwich.  And the BT+basil, my personal favorite. The last one was BLT x2 with lettuce then tomato then bacon then tomato then lettuce layered between the bread.  I did not take photos-photo fail-again.

Also I made ratatouille with all the ingredients from my garden, eggplants, yellow squash, peppers, onions, garlic, basil, and tomatoes.   Doesn’t get more local/slow food than that!

 

Living

“Summertime and the living is easy” sums up my sunny season.  Not to age me however saying I think of these lyrics done by Ella-not Sublime does so.  My leisurely summer has been way different than past summers and included some firsts-like doing consulting work and acquiring a beach condo.

Fall moves into view with gardens looking dried out and weary, leaves starting to fall, and produce piling up on countertops.  The produce has provided lots of good eating and putting food up, I will make another batch of salsa and some hot pepper jam.  The fall garden got off to a rocky start, the pests almost wiped out the napa cabbage and broccoli, The snap peas are coming up, and the lettuce is trying to through the last of the summer heat.

Caught August’s full moon while at the beach on a late night stroll.  It was a very windy night, the surf was up with the tide.

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The next day proved absolutely gorgeous, low humidity, and later in the day during low tide, I took the following photo after I awoke from a long nap.

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We ended up the summer seeing Los Lobos at  The Hamilton.  It was sold out, and a great show!   And heres the setlist.  Enjoy

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  1. (The Young Rascals cover) (with “La bamba” reprise at the end)

Preserving and Persevering

I have started the canning and preserving mode.  Even though the first part of the summer with all the rain about did in the garden between weeds and fungi of one kind or another, I have managed to limp through it and now the plants look like they will continue bearing for awhile.  The tomatoes are doing better, the cucumbers have been slow but now are going full on, the peppers and tomatillos are producing non-stop and the eggplants have finally kicked in.  The squash rotted away and I didn’t replant timely.

In betweeIMG_0088n trips, I made tomatillo sauce and marinara sauce though both were small batches, about 5 1/2 quarts of marinara and 4 quarts of tomatillo sauce.

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This last weekend, I made bread and butter pickles, using a new-to-me recipe found here Chef John’s breadnbutter pickles.   This recipe adds jalapeño peppers, some clove and whole peppercorns.  I really like the taste, a bit more layered and not as sweet, of course being the only consumer of pickles in the house-I have no one to help with the comparison!

I am freezing tomatoes as I pick them and hope to have enough to make more marinara.  I think I will have to buy some romas to augment my supply in order to make salsa.

I have lots of poblano, habanero, green bell, jalapeño, and hot peppers.  I will make stuffed peppers and freeze them today.  In the next few days will make the first batch of hot pepper jam.  The kitchen counter is crowded!IMG_2661 I am starting to plant the fall garden, ordered a hard neck garlic variety and more sweet onion sets.  I will plant some green beans, mesclun, kale, radishes, beets and turnips.  Also picked up some napa cabbage and broccoli starts at the local big box store, on an impulse, so will find a spot for these too!  And have been planning some clean up work at the community garden so need to start recruiting assistance!  Looking forward to a bountiful fall.

Reaping or weeping

We have had just an enormous amount of rain the last few weeks.  The community garden has been flooded, leaves are yellowing, fungi raging through, and weeds taking over.  From here on out, inIMG_2488IMG_2479terest may wane as the initial blooms of excitement fade what with weeding, 90 degree days, and bugs-lots of mosquitos.   We had about 5-6 inches of water in the gravel walkways which means the rainwater cache system underneath was completely full.  Had to pump the water out across the field and to the street several times as we keep having torrential downpours.  The silver lining is we don’t have to water!

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And while all of the hard work can be a bit much, the harvesting helps, tomatoes are ripening, along with peppers, cukes, squash, onions.  The fence at the community garden keeps all the critters out except for little chipmunks and squirrels.  At home, all my tomatoes were stolen, the numerous San Marzanos, and the Georgia streaks!  I suspect a ground hog or raccoon.  With the neighbor and her dog gone for the summer, the critters have free rein.  I will have to put up a fence now to keep them out.  We enjoy the Cherokee purples and mortgage lifters, making Caprese salads, BLTs, sliced tomatoes on sausage biscuits, hopefully I will start canning tomatoes very soon.

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Snow

DSC_0065We had a lovely, long snow yesterday, beautiful heavy wet flakes.  About mid-day, the ladies came through the backyard on their way up the hill to bed down for the duration of the storm I suppose.  I guess they have a spot out of the wind, protected somewhat from the weather. During warmer months, I have seen spots where they  bed down in the grass.  We also saw our friendly fox, making his/her? rounds, trotting up through the woods following a similar path that the deer take.  I tried to capture the fox on film but no such luck.

We did eat at Hanks Oyster Bar the other night, and will definitely go back.  I had 1/2 dozen Virginia oysters for a starter, followed by a pear and arugula salad and a crab cake, both items from the small plate menu.  Hubby had the ceviche (yum! and a generous portion) and the seared scallops on cauliflower puree.  The prices were a tad high though typical for Old Town.

Even with all the snow and ice this past week, my thoughts keep turning to the gardens.  I have transplanted some seedlings to bigger pots and will plant more this weekend.  I loved this Washington Post article by Barbara Damrosch, Resolved no more bad garden habits.  All things to TRY and remember as I plan and work in the garden this spring-if spring ever arrives…

Hump Day Doings

If you watch TV, you have probably seen the hump day commercials?

During at least one meeting on a Wednesday, someone at my work would mimic the “guess what day it is”, some better than others, bringing much needed humor to the subject at hand.

Now my Hump Day looks a bit different. I have my to-do list still. Doing yoga, calling the plumber, going to the grocery store (in anticipation of 4-8 in of snow tomorrow!) are way different than my work to-dos such as scheduling interviews, reviewing and editing budget testimony, IT roadmap, Approps committee talking points, hot issues etc.  And I usually experienced more than 1 fire to put out each day and it could easily trash my day to the point where I accomplished little else.  Oft times the fires came up from somebody’s failure to deal timely with a deadline or request.  A constant source of frustration!

So we just melted away all the ice and now tomorrow are due for 4-8 inches of snow though I hope the forecasters have it wrong!  DSC_0065

I have focused on indoor tasks, like cooking, organizing files, etc.  The other night I made Braised chicken with carrots and fennel.  I saw the recipe in Southern Living and left out the green olives (as the hubby won’t eat olives), added fennel and bone-in chicken wings.  I had to up the ingredient portions to about 1 1/2 the requirement.  Served it over couscous, the small kind not Israeli.  And then lightly steamed some asparagus to place on top.
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We plan to eat out tonight looking at one of these new-to-us restaurants.

Hanks Oyster BarBRABO or Jackson 20 all in Old Town.  I want to go to Hanks though I don’t think they take reservations.  I like BRABO’s menu though it is pricey.  So will see where we end up as we will be at home tomorrow, I’m sure.