Tomato Sauce

When one has access to A) free babysitting and B) large volumes of tomatoes…..you make sauce!!! Here are my happy three pots of sauce bubbling away on the stove.

I only managed to burn myself once, spill a million times and actually finish the day with 20 pints of pure tomato goodness. My house uses this all the time instead of store bought sauce. Note: I don’t season my canned sauce. I prefer a blank canvas to be spiced up later.

How do you like your sauce?

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Inattentive Gardening

Between keeping up with a two month old and doing some late summer traveling….we sorta lost track of some of our garden. Our tomatoes and bell peppers aren’t doing diddly squat and worms ate our jalapenos. But wowza our zucchini went nuts and we didn’t notice…..

Here’s my hand for scale….

These were too woody and tough to eat but we made a nice vegetable dice for the deer in the nearby woods, lol. And fingers crossed we can salvage some more produce yet this summer that isn’t ginormous.

 

Cookie Cravings

Happy New Years to all! Now, maybe it was pregnancy in general or the fact that PB (the nickname I have given this fetus = picky baby) has rejected most things I have tried to eat lately……but I NEEDED rolled sugar cookies this holiday. It was just an irrational craving I could not kick.

I baked a batch two weeks before Christmas and then promptly got an upper respiratory virus and didn’t get anything done for 15 days. I was disappointed the cookies were stale by the time I was ready to frost them. So on Christmas weekend I baked a fresh batch and nabbed some buttercream and decorations from my Aunt Barb. And boy howdy did I go to town!

Everyone else cleared out to go to Ferdinand and I had three hours of peace and frosted quietness. My decorating skills leave something to be desired but the cookies were scrumptious and JUST what I wanted. The cookies didn’t last long either!

What was your holiday craving this year?

Tomato Madness

This weekend my husband took Jellybean all by himself to the Kansas State Fair and to see his side of the family. You guys….just between you, me, and the blog….I haven’t had a weekend alone in my own house for THREE YEARS. Since before Jellybean was born, for real.  I’ll let that sink in….and with the recent sleep jihad by Jellybean (we have been to a doctor and we all agree that he’s having legitimate allergy/sinus/bloody nose pain and issues….my baby has to have very minor surgery and it breaks my heart but it will help him and Lord knows we ALL need to sleep better)

But I digress, I had almost the whole weekend! Jellybean got me up multiple times between 4 and 7 am the night before so I decided to be industrious after they hit the road. I pulled seven or eight gallon bags of tomatoes frozen from our summer garden and started simmering tomato sauce. This is most the ingenious thing my grandma taught me. Since my tomatoes didn’t set enough at one time to make batches of sauce we freeze them in bags after being washed and de-stemmed. When you pull them out and dunk them in warm water the skins slough right off and the flesh can go right into the cook pot. There is no blanching or peeling….its amaze-balls!

It was hot and messy but in the end I made 3 1/2 pints of super hot jalapeno salsa for the hubby. And then 12 pints of plain tomato sauce for cooking. I’m sooo happy to be filling my pantry with these goodies for a fresh pick me up mid-winter!

I did a fair bit of knitting as well while the sauce was simmering. I’ll show you that later this week….stay tuned!

Happy Knitting!!

Wine Time

I have the good fortune of making friends who happen to have cool jobs. My friends from my grad school days opened a winery about 5 years ago. Its Prairie Fire Winery located on I-70 west of Topeka. They make all their wine from only Kansas grown grapes. And last weekend they hosted a grape harvest event and I scored a ticket! Thought I would share a few photos from the event. Salud!

White wine sangria….mmm

Flint Hills view 

Me sweaty after harvest

The lovely grapes 

A robins nest tucked in the vines
The happy group!

Garden Goodies

My husband and I have been taking turns in the garden this summer. Okay, to be fair he’s done most of the work because Jellybean has been in a “mommy only” phase that has absorbed most of my time. But this morning I snuck out before Jellybean woke up and picked these beauties.

We planted basil, tomatoes, jalapenos, green bell pepper, cherry tomatoes and onions. All but the onions are thriving! I believe we will either have BLTs or fresh chunky garden salsa for supper tonight!

Canning Day

I had some rare toddler free time thanks to the miracle that is a friends sleepover. I decided to put my butt in gear! I harvested fresh basil from the garden and made some yummy pesto! I froze this batch into little discs to pull out this winter.


And I picked five lbs of apples for making jelly. I was a little disappointed that after cooking I only got four cups of juice when the jelly recipe called for seven. Jam and jelly require precise measuring so I had to fudge a little and used some of apple sauce pulp mixed with some purified water to get to seven cups of liquid. The jelly is very cloudy as a result and set very very firm. I’m definitely going to taste this before sharing with anyone…

I had been cleaning out the freezer and found four gallon sized bags of last years tomatoes. I decided to cook them down into sauce. I managed to get eight whole pints!

The house was very warm all day and I ended up running the dishwasher three times but it was very nice to stock my pantry and feel like I accomplished something off my list!

What’s Cooking: Beef Ragu

I decided to use up some stew beef that had been kicking around my fridge this weekend.

I googled a simple Beef Ragu recipe from the web that was designed to work in my instant pot. I didn’t have all the ingredients exactly so I winged it. It was pretty tasty looking going in…Then upon arrival home I found a steamy pot of deliciousness waiting for me. ~ Side note…A LOT of beef fat had floated to the top. I skimmed it off before shredding the meat you see below~
We didn’t have the right shape of pasta but penne seemed to do nicely.

All in all, it was tasty. The beef was rich, soft and shredded nicely. My toddler turned up his nose but the hubby liked it just fine. I found that it would have been spectacular with something salty to balance the sweet carrots and beef. Maybe some nice shaved parm?? Next time….

Happy Cooking!

Best of Intentions

I decided to pull out a recipe from my new cookbook for the Instant Pot. I picked the breakfast casserole because I had all the ingredients and it sounded yummy. Basically it’s a steamed egg casserole with spinach, bacon, sausage, cheese, hash browns and seasonings. This is what it looked like before:

I ended up having to cook it for an extra 6 minutes to get the eggs to set and then despite liberal lubrication this is how it came out of the bowl….

I dumped it onto a cookie sheet, added some extra cheese and broiled for several minutes to finish it off. Now it was extremely tasty and loved by toddler and adult alike. Just not very pretty….

The bacon helped to soothe my cooking wounds. Happy Cooking!!