So, I don't think that I have kept it a secret that I do not like super hot and muggy weather (you know, the type of weather that is typical in August...), but I do like August for other reasons... And all of those reasons can be found in a vegetable garden. I mean, is there any additional reason that you can think of to actually like August? Neither can I. I think that I also mentioned in another blog article that I am my grandmother's favorite grandchild (I've turned off the commenting for this blog so that none of my cousins or brother can refute that), so I am a beneficiary of the colossal vegetable garden that lives on this property. I am not sure if you follow Karamoor's Instagram, but last weekend I showed a video of me using a ton of tomatoes to make a 3 part sauce. And lemme tell ya, it did not disappoint. This week, I scored 2 more flats of plum tomatoes that I plan to use to make a boatload of bolognese - be on the lookout for those steps on Sunday afternoon (we've got a party Saturday night, so I probably won't be up too early the next morning...). In addition to all the tomatoes, I've been lucking out with peppers, carrots, string beans, and a whole lot of cucumbers. I also got some XL zucchini and squash (not great for eating, but they got so big because of all that rain and they couldn't go into the garden to pick) that I used for zucchini bread. It has been saving me A LOT of money at the grocery store because I would say that on average, I eat about 50 cups of vegetables a week....maybe more. And that doesn't include sweet potatoes. So, summer vegetable season really helps out the old pocketbook.
Are you interested in how I made my sauce last weekend? I bet you are. Even if you're not, I'm going to tell you what I did because it turned out great. I used to throw the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water and then turn off the water and leave them in just long enough for the skins to crack and then I would have to peel the skin off and squeeze out the seeds and it was just the BIGGEST pain in the rear. So, on my way to Wholefoods on Sunday, I swung by Kitchen Kapers in Montgomeryville and bought something that I have been meaning to buy for like 2 years. Makes no sense why it took my so long to get one because they are like $35. Anyway, what a time saver! I threw all of the tomatoes whole (after I cut out any ugly parts) into a massive pot (I think I had like 20 lbs of tomatoes or something like that so I had to use the largest one I had). Luckily, we just got married, so there is no shortage of pots in my kitchen! So, if you cook these tomatoes on low for like 20-25 minutes and stir them around with a large spoon, the tomatoes start to break down and release their own juices...so nothing burns. I should mention that I added 5 cloves of garlic with the uncooked tomatoes so that it would incorporate into the sauce from the very beginning. So, once everything was nice and juicy and the tomatoes were soft, I broke out my new food mill and used the medium hole insert (I wanted some chunks in it and I don't mind a few seeds) and removed all the skins and most of the seeds. Once all the tomatoes were milled, I separated the juice into 3 parts. I eyeballed about 1/4 of the sauce into a separate container, and then I poured some of the sauce to fill about 1/2 of an inch in two (2) 1/4 sheet pans, and then left the remaining 3/4 (minus the sheet pans) in a large pot.
-For the large pot, I put that back on the stove over low heat (for about an hour and a half) to let it cook and bubble and reduce. To that sauce, I added salt (don't add too much and taste in little increments so that you don't OVER salt...no one likes salty tomato sauce), I added another 4 cloves of crushed garlic, and some red pepper flakes. When there was about a half hour left on the stove top, I added a large handful of ripped basil leaves and oregano.
-For the 2 1/4 sheet pans (you could just use a 1/2 sheet pan if you wanted) I put them in the oven at 350 (with the sweet potatoes I was cooking for lunches) and let them reduce and reduce and reduce until I was left with a delicious tomato paste. Make sure that you keep an eye on this or it could easily burn. Stir it every few minutes and more frequently as the water continues to evaporate.
-For the removed 1/4 of sauce, I did nothing to it. I left it and all its fresh tastiness alone and added nothing.
Once all separate components were completed, I added them all together into the same pot. I tasted, and then seasoned with more basil and oregano, salt, and I added a little sugar. I portioned it all out so that I could freeze it and not have to defrost the whole heap at one time. I didn't add onion or anything - I will do that when I am going to use it. I kind of wanted it to be a blank canvas that I could use for anything. Making pizza? Got a sauce for that. Making bolognese? Got a sauce for that. Eating some spaghetti and want an arrabiata? Got it covered. Anyway, give it a whirl. I'd say that it took a total of about 2.5 hours, so it's a great Sunday-while-you-meal-prep project.
To wrap up today's blog, I am going to make a brief mention of Karamoor wines (since I talked about Karamoor's vegetable garden and sauce for the rest of the post). Today, we are bottling our 2016 Chardonnay. There will be about 430 cases when all said and done. We will probably send it out to our Mixed Wine Club members for the September shipment! Stay tuned for next week when I promise to show you some vineyard pictures since we are approaching harvest! Have a wonderful weekend! Until next time...