Thursday, September 5, 2013

Getting Saucy

Recently our local farm posted that they were having a u-pick tomato event.

I'm always up for a good deal on organic produce and this seemed like a fun family activity, so we headed over to get picking. My plan was to bring home a bunch of tomatoes and make sauce to freeze. 

Now, I've never actually made homemade tomato sauce so I didn't really have a good idea of how many I should pick, but I figured the more the better because I love pasta sauce and all things Italian food! Well, 35 pounds of tomatoes later I was ready to get saucing. 

Did I mention I bought a bunch of corn too?

Ok I didn't buy a tractor full of corn, but I DID buy about 16 ears with the intention to freeze that, as well as about 20 pints of blueberries to freeze. It was about to be a busy week of cooking and freezing!

This is what 35 pounds of tomatoes looks like.

Ok, now it's time to learn to make sauce! I started by emailing my Italian friends to see if they had any secret family recipes they wanted to share with me. I received one recipe for vodka sauce from my friend's Dad who is from Italy, but I had already used up my tomatoes so I haven't tried this yet. I can't wait to though! I also received one from another friend's Italian grandmother for a tomato basil sauce, which I did try and it was simple and delicious! Now, I'm not trying to imply that only Italians know how to make a good sauce, but I thought it'd be fun to get some authentic instruction. 

Next, I did a little online research of different tomato cooking methods. I tried boiling some to remove the skins, I tried roasting some, I turned some into soup, some into salsa, and some we just used to make B.L.T's. It was quite the experience and it took me an entire week to use up all the tomatoes. Now, my freezer is FULL of sauces and soups and food-wise we are totally prepared for the zombie apocalypse, provided we don't lose power and everything in the freezer melts. 

This is the soup I made and it is delicious 

And here are a couple of the recipes I used for inpiration in my sauce making

I cooled all of the sauces then put them in glass jars to freeze. 

I am a total recipe follower. I am a nervous cook and I have a hard time doing my own thing in the kitchen, I generally put my trust in the professionals. But I am proud to say that by the end of the week I was making up my own recipes. This is a first for me and a big step for my cooking confidence! 

When you think about it, most cooks aren't really inventing new recipes all that often. They are mostly changing and tweaking classic recipes to make them "their own". Well, I can safely say now that I can prepare a batch of tomato sauce without the help of a recipe. Sure, I will read others' recipes to look for inspiration and ideas, but I no longer feel that I need to strictly follow a recipe to get good results in the tomato sauce department. 

The next task is to learn to make a killer lasagna and to master the art of chicken cutlets to go with all of this sauce I have on hand. Have any good recipes/techniques you want to share with me? I'd love to hear your ideas, even if you aren't Italian! ;)

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