Frozen Sheets of Pasta Sauce

We’ve had lots of tomatoes (the ones that survived the carnage) and they all come at the same time.  They’re pretty much done for the season, but we’re just finishing up processing everything.  So in addition to canning some for later use, I made a ton of pasta sauce to freeze.  I would’ve canned it but I couldn’t resist using my own recipe, not a tested, canning-approved recipe.

I used a similar recipe to the black king pasta sauce but with a mix of all the different types of tomatoes.  Mainly black kings, early girls, and beefsteak.  I also threw in a few banana peppers.

Then I poured 2 cups each into freezer bags and froze them flat.  Freezing them flat makes them take up less room in the freezer and I figured about 2 cups will be a good amount for a meal for my little family.

I figure when we actually eat these sauces, we can toss in any vegetables we have on hand.  Eggplant, carrots, mushrooms (fine, not actually a vegetable), squash, beans, corn (yea, a grain), and whatever else we have.  I’d even give something like boiled spinach a try mixed with the pasta and sauce.  We could also throw in leftover meat of practically any kind.  Pasta sauce as a leftover catch-all.

Black King Pasta Sauce

One of the types of tomatoes we planted this year is a variety called Black King tomatoes.  They ripen to a deep purple color and have a unique and complex taste.  We decided to use a bunch of them to make some pasta sauce.  Excepting the basil leaves (which we got at the most recent food swap) everything in the sauce is from our garden.

Black King Pasta Sauce

5-6 black king tomatoes

1 green bell pepper

1/2 of one red cayenne pepper

2-3 green onion lengths

a few leaves fresh basil

Chop everything coarsely and put in a large pot.  Heat over medium heat and semi crush the tomatoes.  I used a potato masher but you could also just use the back of a spoon.  How much you crush it is the difference between chunky and thinner sauce.  Cooking it longer will make a thinner sauce too.  I made the sauce a few days in advance and stored it in a recycled store pasta sauce jar in the fridge.

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We poured it over whole wheat pasta and topped with parmesan cheese.  It was good.  It convinced the hero that he wanted to grow black king tomatoes again next year.

Do you grow any unique tomato varieties?

Tomato Disaster

**Warning, this post contains images of tomato carnage, if you are squeamish, look away.**

We’ve had a lot of rain this year.  Very strange for normally drought ridden Georgia.  I thought this was good since I didn’t have to water the garden very often.  What my lazy self didn’t realize is that too much rain is really bad for tomatoes.  We’ve lost a ton to splits, had almost all of the plants (and cages) knocked down in heave storms, and I think we have leaf blight killing the plants.  We’ve started picking any with a tinge of red and started preserving them thinking they won’t last very long in the garden.

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*sigh*  At least I’ve learned a lot of what not to do next year.

Stuffed Bell Peppers from the Garden

We were at a bit of a loss with what to have for dinner tonight.  We need to go to the grocery store soon so we didn’t have much to work with.  Or so I thought.  I started thinking about what vegetables we had.  We had some broccoli and ruby chard in the fridge.  Yum right?  Then I realized we also had a wealth of tomatoes, green onions, and various peppers in our yard.  It was exciting to realize we had much more food than we had thought and so I made stuffed bell peppers.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

2 bell peppers

1 tomato

a few sprigs parsley

1 onion green

about a cup of chopped broccoli

a few scoops ricotta cheese

olive oil

Preheat oven to broil.  Cut the stem off of the bell pepper and slice it in half.  Spray or brush the outside of the pepper with olive oil.  Chop the tomato, onion green, broccoli, and parsley and put inside the bowl of the pepper.  Cover with a thick layer of ricotta cheese.  Bake in oven about 15 minutes, until skin of pepper starts to wrinkle.

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We also had some cornbread.  It was really good.  Enjoy!

Fresh Picked Produce in a Sandwich Wrap

So we had a huge jar of sprouts and needed something to do with them.  So I decided to make some sandwich wraps.  We used a bunch of produce from the garden as well as those bean sprouts.  These are great for a hot summer afternoon, especially for an outdoor picnic.  We made 2 wraps so I’ll include our measurements, but feel free to adjust accordingly.

Sandwich Wraps Recipe

1 small bell pepper

1 tomato

handful of parsley

handful of bean sprouts

2 whole wheat tortillas

cream cheese

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Chop the pepper and tomato into small chunks and cut the parsley up.  Scissors is probably your best bet with the parsley.  Spread the cream cheese over the tortillas covering the whole thing.  Sprinkle the chopped veggies, sprouts, and parsley over top.

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Roll, slice, and enjoy.

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They were really good.  You could use any fresh produce you have on hand.  I think cucumbers, peas, other peppers, and even green tomatoes would also work well.

Multiplying Tomatoes…Again

Is that using exponents?  Anyways, I posted before about trying to get new tomato plants out of some branches I had pruned from my existing plants.  I thought the one I just stuck into the ground wouldn’t take, but it seems that it did.

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I had also started a branch in a jar of water waiting for it to sprout roots before planting it, and after about a week, it has sprouted roots.

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So I planted it in the ground and gave it a good watering.  Here it is:

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Hopefully all these transplants will keep us in fresh tomatoes for a while!

Salsa Verde: Completely Homegrown

I like the idea about dishes made completely from items from my garden.  I have dreams of a variety of things, but the main thing is salsa.  The hero and I love salsa and spicy food in general.  Thus the ghost pepper plant.  In fact, the main reason I wanted to start gardening was to grow my own salsa.  I wanted tomatoes, green onions, hot peppers, and cilantro.  And that’s where my garden started.  It has since grown (pun intended) to include many more types of plants.

Anyways, I made my first completely homegrown salsa today.  I couldn’t quite wait for the red tomatoes that I normally use, so I decided to try it with green tomatoes.  I’ve never done anything with green tomatoes, I don’t even think I’ve ever even eaten fried green tomatoes  So I wasn’t totally sure how it would turn out, but they are surprisingly tasty.

So I picked three green tomatoes, two sprigs of cilantro, one big onion green, and one still green cayenne pepper (I also added one I had picked a few days ago).

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To make the salsa I basically chopped everything up and mixed it together.  Easy, delicious, and healthy.

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We ate it on Melba toast and it tasted very fresh.  The minion even had some with the hot peppers removed.  She seemed to like it, but it was a little hard for her to pick up.  The green tomatoes didn’t have as much liquid as the red tomatoes that I’m used to, so the salsa was lacking that a bit.  My dad suggested pureeing a bit of the green tomato to add the liquid.  Give it a try, and let us know how your green tomato salsa turns out.

 

Multiplying Tomatoes

If you have 3 sisters and they have 5 tomatoes each, how many tomatoes does your family have?

Ok, not that type of multiplication, I’m talking about taking the pruned branches of tomato plants and  using them to sprout additional plants.  I tried to do this with a branch from my grape tomato plant, but I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I just stuck the branch in the ground and hoped it would sprout.

Apparently, you’re supposed to put it in water and wait for it to sprout roots before planting it in the ground.  So I’m trying again with another branch.  It is currently in a jar of water on my front porch.  I’ll keep checking it and waiting for roots.

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Giant Grape Tomatos

Grape tomatoes are bigger than I though they would be.  Not the actual tomato, but the plant.  I am growing a Juliet Roma Grape Tomato plant in my garden this year and it is trying to take over.  I didn’t know this but cherry and grape tomato plants get bigger than regular tomato plants.

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There is a cage around it, you just can’t really see it because the plant is OVERGROWN!  I told my dad that I was pruning it a bit on one side where it was trying to take over a pepper plant and he told me that you are really ‘supposed’ to prune tomatoes and  that I can grow new plants from the branches that I prune off.  I’m not going to start to prune all my tomatoes, but I did replant one of the branches I pruned off the next time.  Then I decided on a whim to try to prune it ‘properly’  Just to see what happens.

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I don’t have any idea if it will make a difference or even if I will be able to keep up with it.  Or hey, even if the branch will re-root, but it’s worth a shot.