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Canning Fresh Tomatoes

8 Aug

My new-found gardening hobby has spurred an urge to preserve the fruits of my labor.  I showed you the potting shed and the tomatoes that I have grown this summer.  The next thing I wanted to do was can some so that I would have wonderful, fresh tomato sauce to cook with all through the year.  A friend of mine and I planned a canning day and made crushed tomatoes.  She went to a local farmers’ market and bought around 20 lbs of tomatoes.  No I have not raised enough of my own to can that much!  Not sure if I want to grow that much at once…  Anyway I am going to show you what we did in case you want to try canning.  It takes a long time and is a lot of work, but it really is satisfying to have done this, and I look forward to using these fresh tomatoes in my homemade sauces!  I will tell you this from my experience; if anyone ever gives you a jar of homemade jelly, jam, tomatoes or anything else, it is a gift from the heart, truly!  A lot of standing and being hot in a hot kitchen goes into this process, so if someone is willing to share that sweat equity with you, you must be a dear friend!

Tomato prep

Fresh tomatoes


After blanching them to loosen the skins, dunk them in an ice water bath

After blanching them to loosen the skins, dunk them in an ice water bath













Cut tomatoes and prepare to cook

Cut tomatoes and prepare to cook













Get clean jars, lids and rings ready to sterilize

Get clean jars, lids and rings ready to sterilize













Boil the jars

Boil the jars













Fill with cooked tomatoes and process in the boiling water

Fill with cooked tomatoes and process in the boiling water













And there you have it, home made canned tomatoes!

And there you have it, home made canned tomatoes!


Forgotten Cookies

30 Oct

If you want a quick and easy go to cookie recipe for anytime, but especially during the busy holiday season, try my Forgotten Cookies!  My Mother got this recipe from a lady in our town when I was very young and she always made them.  I’ve been making them myself for years now and sometimes people will ask me if I’m going to make “those little white cookies”!  They are meringue cookies that you mix up, put in the oven and leave overnight, hence the word ‘Forgotten’.

2 egg whites
2/3 c sugar
1 c nuts
1 tsp vanilla
1 c chocolate chips
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Let the egg whites reach room temperature then beat until foamy.  Add the sugar and pinch of salt and beat until stiff peaks form in the meringue.  Add vanilla flavoring.  Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.  Line two cookie sheets with foil.  Drop the meringue onto the cookie sheets.  Place into the oven and turn the oven OFF.  Leave in the oven 6 to 8 hours and when you pull them out they will have set.

Strawberry Meringues

31 Jul

One of my favorite summer desserts is strawberry meringue shells.  They are light and airy and don’t make you feel too full in the summer heat.  I always use strawberries as the filling, but you can use any fruit that is fresh this time of the year.  You could also use pudding or custard as the filling rather than fresh fruit.  Any option works!  They’re quick and easy to make and look pretty to serve if you have someone stopping by for a light dessert.  The key to making this dessert a success is firmly whipped egg whites.  If your mixer has a wire whip attachment use that.  It makes the egg whites much stiffer resulting in a beautiful meringue.  Here’s the recipe.

3 egg whites at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
dash salt
1 c sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil.  Combine the egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar and salt together in  a bowl.  Beat with mixer on high until it forms stiff peaks.  Add in the sugar and continue mixing umtil very stiff peaks form in the meringue batter.  Drop the batter onto cookie sheets in 8 even dollups.  Round out each dollup making a bowl indentation with the back of a spoon (this will hold your filling after it’s baked).  Bake for 35 minutes until lightly browned.  Turn the oven off and leave the shells in there for another hour to dry.  Then you can remove them from the cookie sheet liner, fill and serve.

Fresh Papaya, Hawaiian Style

21 Jul

Papaya is a delicious fruit and I had used it to mix in with smoothies before, but did not truly appreciate the wonderful taste of the papaya itself until we tried it the way they serve it in Hawaii.  Now is the time to have papaya because they are in season and are just beautiful.  You want to select one that is nice and ripe and you can tell because the outside skin will have a lot of yellow on it.  If it’s all green, it’s not ripe yet.  Cut the papaya in half, lengthwise, and remove all the seeds.  Wash and slice it.  While you’re preparing the fruit toast some coconut flakes, either fresh or from the package is fine.  For two servings toast about a cup.  I put the coconut in a metal pan and broil it for a couple of minutes until it’s partially brown.  Place the coconut flakes on the plate as a bed then place the sliced papaya on the coconut.  The secret ingredient is the lime!  Cut a lime into quarters and squeeze the juice of half a lime onto each plate over the cut papaya.  The lime mixes with the papaya and the sweet coconut and it is just wonderful!  It’s a great summer breakfast and a pretty presentation if you have company over in the summer and want to serve something a little different with your breakfast!

Makin’ Meatloaf

26 May

I have really tried to be resourceful during our months of basement living and limited cooking facilities to try to still make homemade and somewhat enjoyable meals a lot of the time.  Sometimes it’s takeout and sandwiches, but when I can I try to cook.  As you know we have a combination microwave/convection oven in the basement bar kitchen.  I put it to the test and tried making a meatloaf and let me tell you, to my amazement it turned out great!  The convection oven thoroughly cooked it through and browned the top like a regular oven would!  I also have limited spices and condiments while we’re living here so I’m going to share a super easy, scaled-down version of meatloaf.  Try it if you’re in a big hurry.

1 lb ground beef
1/2 c chopped onions
1 egg
1/2 c milk
1/2 c bread crumbs
Mix together and put in a loaf dish
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c BBQ sauce
Mix together and spread across top of loaf
Bake at 350 for an hour

It Doesn’t Get any more Southern than this!

16 Nov

I made cheese crisps this afternoon. Remember when your grandmother would have her Circle meeting parties or Bridge games at her house? Mine always served these. It’s always standard fare for Southern ladies’ teas or church meetings! This recipe comes from a precious little cookbook assembled by the Baptist church ladies in my home town. I have had this for years and years. I don’t know how many of the ladies are even still around today but it’s still a go to cookbook for me. It’s called ‘Meetin’ and Eatin’ and I think that says it all for most church meetings. I don’t know of any that don’t include some kind of refreshments.

Cheese Crisps

2 sticks butter
2 c sharp cheddar cheese
2 c plain flour
2 c Rice Krispies
½ tsp cayenne pepper

 Cream butter and cheese.  Add cayenne pepper and stir.  Add flour and Rice Krispies.  Roll into small balls then press with a fork.  Cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

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