Getting Saucy in the Kitchen

Tomatoes!

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I had to make tomato sauce, and while that was simmering, I made tomato salsa.  While that was refrigerating, I blanched and froze my string beans.  While they were freezing, I saved the rest of the bean seeds to use for next year.  After that, I roasted eggplant to make Baba Ganoush.  While the eggplant were roasting, I grated squash and zucchini to freeze for upcoming breads and cakes.  I then threw a little of the grated squash into the sauce…… Phew!  Getting there – We ought not go hungry, that’s for sure!  Here is the sauce recipe:

Wenz Tomato Sauce

One 6 oz can tomato paste

Fresh tomatoes – I used approximately 12 Plum tomatoes and 5 or so “Early Girls”(once they were blanched and seeded, tomato flesh plus juice equaled about 3 cups)

3 cloves garlic (Lisa gave me a bunch of garlic she grew, in exchange for some eggplant)

1 med-large onion

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Basil, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper to taste

Optional – ¾ lb ground beef, browned

Optional – some grated zucchini and/or summer squash(adds nutrition)

We have vegetarians in the family, so I make the sauce without the meat. 

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The fresh tomatoes need to be plunged in boiling water, then ice water to slide the skins off.  Then the seeds need to come out.  Squishing them up with your hand is the best way to do it, and that is best done over a strainer.  After that, place the tomatoes, tomato juice, and other ingredients in a saucepan or slow cooker for about 3 hours or so(simmer/low setting).

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How about some Salsa?

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No, that’s neither me nor Joel….Here is our version of Salsa-in-the-works(note the little Red Hot Chili Pepper on the left):

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Wenz Salsa

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

2 large ripe red tomatoes, seeded and chopped

3 cups Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes, halved

One hot chili pepper, chopped(I would have added another, but I only had one Lonely Pepper, Sgt.)

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1 Tablespoon minced cilantro

Juice of one small lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix ingredients.  Place in an airtight container in fridge for a couple of hours.  Get out the tortilla chips and Margaritas, and enjoy!

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If anyone has great tomato harvest recipes, I would love to know!  This week, I will feature more of my favorites.

Have a delicious day!

Wendy

A few helpful hints

Hello there!

Over the years I’ve received a lot of great tips about gardening.  It fascinates me that even with those tips, some things just seem to resonate better for other people.  For example, one year my cucumbers were spindly, but my neighbor was canning pickles.

There seem to be a few things, however, that really do work across the board.  The “Basics:”

-The first and foremost is the quality of your soil, or planting medium.  We use horse manure, peat moss and either Perlite or Vermiculite mixed.  We compost, too, and that is added after harvest.

-Water-gently, steadily, and often in the summer heat.

-Keep those weeds out as much as possible.

I know, that was stating the obvious.  Here are a few other things that could also help:

-Planting certain plants together can often bring good results.  I had a grapevine that looked like it was dying, only to plant some hyssop near it, and now the grapevine has lots of green leaves!  Onions or garlic are good companions for a lot of plants, like the cabbage family plants, potatoes, and beans.  They also are good companions for roses.  I plant chives near my roses and the roses thank me for it every year.  The chives produce a beautiful purple flower in early spring, followed by the glorious rose show thereafter.  For more in-depth information, read Louise Riotte’s “Carrots Love Tomatoes and Roses Love Garlic,” available here.

-I don’t use chemicals.  When we have stubborn weeds, we might pour white vinegar or boiling water on them, which makes for easier removal.  One must take care not to douse any nearby “good” plants in the process.

-Fear not!  Don’t be afraid to try planting something in your garden.  What is the worst that could happen?  It won’t grow?  “If at first you don’t succeed…..”  Just make notes about it so you can refer back the following year(s).

-Talking to other gardeners is one of the best ways to obtain information.  You can read every book on the subject, but local neighbors will have the inside scoop for your area.  If you can get hold of your local Cooperative Extension, that is most excellent as well.

And, in the interest of frugality:

-Plant seeds as much as possible.  As you gain confidence, the seeds you plant can be seeds that you have saved from your own plants.  Venture out and exchange seeds with others.  Look online for a local seed exchange near you.

-Exchange plants.  I had to thin some lilacs, roses, and lilies.  My friend took them happily.  She is the same friend who gave me starts of  lamb’s ears and rose campion.

-Get the manure from a local farmer, or, if you raise animals, you have that covered in spades!(a little gardening humor)

-Look on Craig’s List or the local classified ads for things like hay for your compost.  Some people have old barns full of hay that they would gladly give away for free.

-Don’t give up!  I have had severe challenges with tomatoes for YEARS!  This year, FINALLY, I think I will have salsa and marinara sauce coming out of my ears!   I read A LOT about them, talked to my gardener friends who grows great tomatoes, and there you have it.  Here is how I did it this year:

-I bought plants.  Starting tomatoes from seed has turned into “Epic Failure”(as my kids would say) in the past.

-Strip away bottom leaves.

-Place cardboard tube around bottom of plant and plant at a sideways angle, deep into the soil, covering where the leaves were stripped.

-Plant carrots and basil next to the tomatoes.

-Water regularly.(Again, stating the obvious, but….)

-Sprinkle with egg shells and coffee grounds every so often. ( At the beginning of the season, I tried a little store-bought, organic fertilizer, too.)

-As the tomato plants grow, use cages, stakes, or some kind of supports.  Tie them to the supports with old nylon stockings.

-Pick ’em as they ripen!

Here is a peek at some of my cherry tomatoes.  Those little yellow and white flowers are chamomile:

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Happy gardening!

Wendy