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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tomato Time Again and Our Favorite Meal!

Tomato plants gone wild. 
Tomato plants back in June without support!
Tomato plants without cages gone wild!
This year the production quantity I expect will be a lot less. Not because of the weather but because of silly me. I ordered cages so late that by the time they came I already had 2-3 foot vines and had to wrassle them (much more difficult then wrestling) into the cages.Needless to say the vines suffered so I'm sure it'll cut down production. But there are still a lot of green tomatoes and I just processed my first batch.

Now in cages and coming out the top

Second bed of tomatoes

Future tomato sauce! I love these red cages from Burpee

But the good news is that I finally bought some cages to last past one season! These Burpee cages came highly recommended by Cheryl Snider. You may not know her but she's a knowledgeable gal! Her husband and her plant about 40 tomato plants every year. So they know what they're doing.

Here's the link for the cages:   Burpee Pro Series Cages and Extenders Red


Yesterday started the tomato sauce canning season.  I used my favorite kitchen appliance, the electric tomato strainer and my assistant, Rylie, and we had enough that after cooking down to make 4 quart jars of sauce. Which is about half of what I got from the Arkansas Traveler's alone last year. We'll probably eat half of it tonight because I'm making spaghetti and meatballs for Pat's birthday. Today using beef instead of the traditional turkey because a patient brought me some beef from a locally grown, free range cow.

So here again is my trusty friend I bought from Harvest Essentials Roma Deluxe Electric Strainer


Isn't she lovely.... isn't she beautiful. If I knew how to embed Stevie Wonder singing here and not get in trouble for copyright and what not I would.

Now let's see if I can find my meatball recipe. I can't find it so I'll just write it here from memory. For family of four where one of the children is a 6' 2" 21 year old male, I use 1 and 1/2 lbs or even 2 lbs of ground meat. But if you have 2 little kids 1 lb. would be enough.

My Meatballs

1 1/2 lb ground meat
Fresh minced herbs, have to be small or meatballs fall apart
      Basil, marjoram or oregano handful of each
Garlic cloves 3-4 minced
Onion also minced
2-3 eggs, can use 3 egg whites and 1 full egg if your funny like that
Rolled oats (in my case gluten free) 1-2 cups depending on consistency
Salt/pepper to your tastes

And I think that's it. I make them bigger than golf balls but not quite as big as a baseball but pretty close. Palm size. I have browned them a little, a lot, and not at all. Honestly the latter tasted the best but fell apart too easy. So try and brown them barely, just enough to help hold together. I think the reason they taste better when you do that is then they soak up more sauce.

Then I add them to the sauce. The sauce I make different every time and I wish I kept track of the best results. But I haven't done that plus I assume since I keep it pretty simple that when one is excellent it's due to the tomatoes I used. I try and raise a paste tomato and this year it was San Marzano. And for the second year I grew Arkansas Traveler, a pink tomato. I like the pinks because they're low acid and we all have some heartburn issues.

Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Herbs

2 quart jars of tomato puree I've cooked down already
2 small cans of tomato paste or a pint I made
2 more handfulls of fresh herbs or couple tablespoons of dried herbs
Salt/pepper
Taste and add a little sugar if needed

I'll cook up spaghetti in two pots, one regular and one gluten-free. Or all gluten-free but since my husband and Joe don't need gluten-free and it costs so much they usually get regular.

When I make paste I do it by roasting the tomatoes in the oven first. See the previous blog post for Easy Peasy Tomato Paste.