Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Give Me A Hand

So, what’s the difference between a bunch and a hand of bananas?

See, this is why I’ve (mostly) stopped drinking coffee. I end up Googling obscure, useless information that will be permanently burned into my brain forever. But on the brighter side, this gives me awesome mingling skills at parties!

But mostly people think I’m some kind of nerd. Anyway…

My next door neighbor brought me this GORGEOUS piece of edible art yesterday and I almost don’t want to touch it. Almost. I had two of the ripened ones yesterday for a snack as I was doing yard work and I was surprised to find that they didn’t really taste like bananas at all. They had more of a neutral, fruity flavor, with maybe just a hint of “banana-ness” and their texture was meatier than the marshmallowy bananas you find at the store. In my opinion, they were exactly what a banana should be.

I don’t know what kind they are, but I know my husband and I will eat every single one!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chunky Basil Pasta Sauce

Can Jam Challenge #8

The thing about canning and preserving is when you first start out, you put up almost anything you can get your hands on. After a while, you finally realize and say to yourself, “What am I gonna do with 20 jars of hot-dog relish?” That’s where friends come in, right?

Eventually, even your friends are like, “What am I gonna do with all this hot-dog relish?” So, over time you learn to make the recipes you REALLY like and use regularly, and just as importantly, the ones your friends REALLY like too.

Fresh homegrown tomtoes ready to be made into sauce
There are a gazillion recipes out there for home-canned tomato sauce, but I really like this one from "The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving"; I’ve talked about it before. I’ve used this sauce on pasta, in soups, pizza, even pot-roasts.

It’s a very versatile and delicious sauce, and only the most tasty and cherished home-grown tomatoes get the honor of being used to make it. I don't even bother making other tomato sauces because this is so good!

It's so hard to come by a really good, honest-to-god homegrown tomato down here unless you grow it yourself, which is what I do, twice a year. One of these days, when I have tomatoes to spare (is that even possible?), I'm gonna have to be a little more adventurous!

Chunky Basil Pasta Sauce
Recipe Source: The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving
Yield: 8 cups

8 cups (2 L) coarsely chopped, peeled tomatoes (about 9-12 tomatoes)
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
2/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (5 % strength)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon pickling salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 6-oz/156 mL) can tomato paste

Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, wine, vinegar, basil, parsley, salt, sugar and tomato paste in a very large non-reactive pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until mixture reaches desired consistency, stirring frequently.

Remove hot jars from canner and ladle sauce into jars to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of rim (head space). Process 35 minutes for pint (500 mL) jars and 40 minutes for quart (1 L) jars in a BWB.

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