Monday, October 17, 2011

Ketchup, Spaghetti Sauce and creative activities

 Hello! How is your week starting out? Ours is going pretty well!

Last week we did some final canning. I think it is probably the last but it always hard to tell for sure.

In my canning I tried something I had never done before- Ketchup. It was one of those things that I didn't feel a great need to do as I figured it would be time consuming and ketchup is so inexpensive to buy. But since we had lots of tomatoes and since I have been doing more reading of labels lately (and trying to stay away from things that don't sound healthy) I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

 The method that I used (and I found the basis of my recipe here, though I had to alter the spices, I didn't peel my tomatoes, I used honey instead of sugar and I added some beet puree- thanks to Mara's suggestion- to make it nice and red since I had used some yellow tomatoes) went pretty smoothly and ended up seeming pretty like normal ketchup to me. Jonathan loved it and asked me if he could eat it by the bowlful - I declined. Ken's verdict was that it needs a little improvement- he thought it tasted a little to tomatoey.
 I don't know if I will make ketchup every year but it was fun to try this time!

 After I had made the ketchup using up all the ripe tomatoes we had at our house my Mom called wondering if I would want any more tomatoes- theirs were ripening fast (in their garage where they put all the green ones when we got frost) and she was tired of working with them (and had already done a bunch). I said "sure".

I decided to make Spaghetti sauce with these tomatoes. I have tried spaghetti sauce in the past but didn't like all the cooking down that you have to do to make it thick and we also don't care for runny spaghetti sauce. In my making of ketchup I had come up with a new method that eliminated a bunch of that boiling down and so I decided to apply it to spaghetti sauce too.

My method was this:
 After washing the tomatoes I would then cut them in half (or quarters) and then take them in my hand and give them a squeeze over a bowl. The majority of juice and seeds would then come out.
 Next I would cut them into small chunks and put those in a pan. When I got the pan pretty full I then pureed them using my handheld blender. That makes it so the skins aren't even noticeable. I am not sure why I have such an aversion to peeling things (especially apples and tomatoes) but I guess it seems like a waster of time and valuable food.
Since I had squished out much of the juice into the other bowl, the stuff in the pan was already somewhat thick. I then added the other stuff (like garlic, onion, green peppers, salt and herbs) to it and then I did bring it to a boil and then lowered the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for around an hour before putting it in jars and water bathing them.

 I found this a much quicker method of making fairly thick sauce and it didn't waste so much electricity either. I think I will do this again!

 With the extra juice that I had squished out into the bowl I took that and strained the seeds out, added salt and herbs, heated it up and canned it for drinking. I thought it made quite a tasty tomato juice. So much nicer to be able to use it rather than just make it go up in the air as steam.
The spaghetti sauce
Now that the canning is done we have been having fun turning to other creative pursuits. I am enjoying the changing of the seasons.
 Whittling has been a common activity around here. Come visit here again tomorrow as I will be talking about using things you carve as Christmas presents.

 We have also been enjoying sewing and I often find Mara sitting with cross stitch in hand. I so enjoy seeing my kids use their time in a useful and productive way.

  Today knitting was the main project of the day. My sister Keren was over and was wanting help in learning how to follow a knitting pattern and wanting to try doing a cable stitch. I had fun helping her and then soon found I had a whole line-up of students!

Aaron giving it a shot.

Megan preferred to "do it her own way".

Mara made some good progress.
Everybody but Jonathan joined in, he thought he would stick with carving.

Those are some of the fun things we have been enjoying on our homestead lately. How is life at your place going?

Don't miss out on my current giveaway of natural dish washing detergent.


Finding Balance mommy said...

Love the pic of Mara sitting with the sun streaming in. You are an inspiration to keep it simple and enjoy every day. Thanks!

Abbi said...

Thanks Mandy!
It is our goal to have a simple life but sometimes that is a struggle! We will keep working at it though. :-)


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