Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - Shots and Thoughts

Here I am in this photo looking at and recording a small portion of my world. As my last post of this year I thought it would be fun to look through photographs I have on my laptop and pick a few out to post. I sure can't take any new ones today. It looks like we live in a cloud right now with all the fog outside.

Looking through the photographs also gave me opportunity to reflect - the photographs I have downloaded are still in the batches when they were shot - little remembrances of this past year - some bringing back good memories, some not quite as nice, but all pieces of my life.  Of course pieces of my family's lives also but I don't like to include them too much in this blog as they may be unwilling participants in that.

To start with, the shot below is one I took early in 2011 waiting on my grand girls at our designated meet spot, the Visitors Center in Pensacola at the foot of the 3 Mile Bridge.  We live in Gulf Breeze and they live in Pensacola so it's a good half way point to meet to pick them up for visits.

Entrance to Bayou Texar -
Pensacola, Fl.

The photo to the left was shot from the deck of my house sometime in 2011. The view is westward.

The photograph below is another westward shot, at sunset.

The flowers remind me of the spring and summer when the garden plants start to grow and bloom. It is always a source of enjoyment for me to see what's new. This past year was no different.

This sailboat photograph was taken down the street from my house after a few days of a tropical storm. This sailboat was anchored out in front of the house for 1.5 days but couldn't make it to the end and ended up here at Linden Avenue boat ramp.

To close this post - a sunset at Pensacola Beach during a few days off when I stayed on Pensacola Beach...walking quietly along.         I'm due for another one...:-)              Happy New Year!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Acadian - North and South

"Today, the five main concentrations of Acadian descendants are found in the Canadian maritime provinces, Quebec, Louisiana, New England, and France."
...but now there are a few in Pensacola/Gulf Breeze area to get access to delicious Florida oysters...

This past Thanksgiving I made my usual traditional meat stuffing*, a French-Canadian dish that was always on our table on the holidays, either at our house or at my grandparents' tables - Mémère and Pépère Chabot, or Mémère Bossé. I have made it year after year and it NEVER, EVER tasted like my Dad's - NEVER! It is the single most frustrating culinary goal I have. My boys love meat stuffing and they are always gracious about mine, as is my husband but they will admit if pressed that it is not like Pépère's - and so the quest continues...My parents are both French-Canadian and both grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, about 20 miles SE of Providence, Rhode Island. I remember growing up with  summer vacations and holidays there full of aunties, uncles, grandparents, cousins and food, regional and ethnic during those trips.

So back to Thanksgiving's meat stuffing - I made too much and froze the extra. The stuffing was OK but it still lacked something. I was already thinking about what to do with it at Christmas, what I could do to spice it up a bit. My sister Michele was hosting the family Christmas Eve gathering this year and the theme was a Cajun Christmas. (She is the oldest of the twin girls, the last female birth in our family. The final child was my brother Bobby, the only boy in a family of 8 children.)  I had just been to New Orleans with my husband and we had eaten at a wonderful restaurant, Cochon's, where I ordered a Meat and Oyster Pie. The filling reminded me of our family's meat stuffing and I had decided then that I wanted to try to make Meat and Oyster Pie for Christmas. The party was the perfect opportunity to make myself do this and so this blog entry is that recipe, or as close to it as I can remember!

I started with the recipe for Cajun Meat and Oyster Pie below, and used it for my inspiration but I did not follow it to the letter. I always use Pillsbury Pie Crusts - found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store because they are good and I am a terrible pie crust maker.

I made the roux as directed as far as the coloring but I added more flour. I set the roux aside. I did not have green onions - I forgot them when I went to the store and I was not going to go back so I added a little bit more onion. I chopped up a green pepper, an orange pepper, a large onion, one elephant garlic. and parsley. I let them simmer in the oyster juice for about 10 minutes, then I added the oysters (I purchased at Joe Patti's, seafood house in Pensacola that you can always rely on for fresh seafood) and the roux and let them simmer about 15-20 minutes. I added salt and pepper to taste and some cayenne pepper.  While that was simmering I made one cup of short grain white rice. The meat stuffing was thawed. After the roux mixture cooled I added the meat stuffing and about 3/4 of the rice I had made, mixed together. And then I made the little pies shown below to take to the party and I made one whole pie to keep here at the house for my family.

My conclusion of this endeavor? I am very happy with the results with a few tweaks to the recipe planned -  a bit less oil in the roux and the green onion tops. It's kind of exciting to me to adapt the heritage I treasure to the area where I live and to create something of my own to pass on. Also, it might get me off the hook from all these years of trying to make meat stuffing like Dad's!

Merry Christmas!

Cajun Meat and Oyster Pie - (the inspiration for my pies)
 1/2 cup oil
 1/4 cup flour
 1 pound ground round
 1/2 pound ground pork -- lean
 1 large onion -- minced
 1 small bell pepper -- minced
 4 cloves garlic -- minced
 1/4 cup chopped green onion tops
 1/4 cup parsley -- chopped
 1 pint oyster -- chopped/drained
 2 teaspoons salt
 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
 3 cups biscuit mix
 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
 1/8 teaspoon salt
 3 tablespoons shortening
 8 or 9 Tbs iced water
 Heat oil in skillet. Add flour. Stir until roux becomes dark brown.
 In another skillet brown beef and pork. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic,
 onion tops and parsley. Saute until vegetables are wilted. Add
 chopped oysters, salt and pepper to taste. Add roux and simmer on low
 heat 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside and cool. 
 Prepare pastry:
 Stir biscuit mix, red pepper and salt together with fork. Cut
 in shortening with pastry blender or 2 knives. Sprinkle water until
 dough can be worked into ball. Divide in half. Roll out very thin, cut
 into 3-inch rounds. Place 1 tablespoon meat filling in center. Fold
 in half.
 Crimp open edges together with fork. Bake on ungreased sheet in
 preheated 375F oven 20-25 minutes until golden brown. (Can also make 1

* - Below is my Dad's Meat Stuffing Recipe:

Place TWO parts ground beef to ONE part ground pork in pan
with just enough water to cover the meat and simmer one hour.

Add finely chopped onion and garlic cloves to taste and
simmer another two hours. Somewhere along the line season 
with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to taste.

Shut off and let it sit for awhile to cool and for the fat to settle at 
the top. Then skim off the fat and thicken with bread crumbs. 

To skim the fat a good way is to push a fine strainer down a bit 
at the top of the pan and siphon off the fat and some liquid with 
a baster. There should not be much visible water in the pan 
when you start with the bread crumbs. It should just be a pretty 
wet meat mixture. Baked at 350 degrees until set, or stuff turkey with.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Where is Wisdom?... and Understanding

I read in the paper yesterday that Christopher Hitchens has passed away. It has only been in the recent weeks that I even knew who he was. I stumbled across his essay Tropic of Cancer  in The Best American Essays 2011. The essays were compiled by Edwidge Danticat, a favorite author of mine, and so I picked the book up off the table of New Arrivals at Barnes and Nobles and headed for the comfy chairs to read through it to determine if I would purchase it. Tropic of Cancer was a surprise. To the best of my knowledge it was originally published in the September 2010 issue of Vanity Fair.  I found it so well written that I was very intrigued by this author. When I got home I googled the man. To my surprise and disappointment, I found that he was a very vocal atheist. You see, I have a problem with that in an evaluation of what is truly brilliant, or great, or even wise and what is really the true value of anothers opinion or art. What I put my time and effort to is important to me and I want it to count for something. When I read about Picasso's life I found that he was cruel, and mostly to family members. That devalued his artistic skills in my eyes. Hunter Thompson, a man I found to be a true original, at least at first, I can only question the value of his opinions in the last part of his career due to his violent end. That also is my opinion of Ernest Hemingway. I don't know what that opinion of mine says about myself but that is not the issue here or my purpose in writing this. Why I am writing is my own effort to sort through the skill of the man which I found to be great, and what is truly as I wrote earlier, brilliant and worthy of my time.

In writing this I quickly bogged myself down with what words of my own I would or could use to argue that to have no belief in God was actually the opposite of brilliant, or great, or wise. My point of view or attempt to articulate that was feeble, very feeble especially in light of Mr. Hitchen's considerable writing skill. But then I recalled a favorite passage in Scripture, chapter 28 in the book of Job. And so I am ending this with that passage because it says what I mean much better than I ever could.

Job 28

Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found

 1 There is a mine for silver
   and a place where gold is refined.
2 Iron is taken from the earth,
   and copper is smelted from ore.
3 Mortals put an end to the darkness;
   they search out the farthest recesses
   for ore in the blackest darkness.
4 Far from human dwellings they cut a shaft,
   in places untouched by human feet;
   far from other people they dangle and sway.
5 The earth, from which food comes,
   is transformed below as by fire;
6 lapis lazuli comes from its rocks,
   and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,
   no falcon’s eye has seen it.
8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,
   and no lion prowls there.
9 People assault the flinty rock with their hands
   and lay bare the roots of the mountains.
10 They tunnel through the rock;
   their eyes see all its treasures.
11 They search[a] the sources of the rivers
   and bring hidden things to light.

 12 But where can wisdom be found?
   Where does understanding dwell?
13 No mortal comprehends its worth;
   it cannot be found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, “It is not in me”;
   the sea says, “It is not with me.”
15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold,
   nor can its price be weighed out in silver.
16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,
   with precious onyx or lapis lazuli.
17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,
   nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;
   the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.
19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;
   it cannot be bought with pure gold.
 20 Where then does wisdom come from?
   Where does understanding dwell?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
   concealed even from the birds in the sky.
22 Destruction[b] and Death say,
   “Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.”
23 God understands the way to it
   and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth
   and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he established the force of the wind
   and measured out the waters,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
   and a path for the thunderstorm,
27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
   he confirmed it and tested it.
28 And he said to the human race,
   “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
   and to shun evil is understanding.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Orleans at Night

The Night

You slept with me
last night
(I was so glad)
curled up,
not moving much.
The moment you came
and laid down
I knew your presence,
it stroked my heart
and I slept.
When I awoke
I stayed perfect-ly quiet
to keep you
from waking up to go.
Did my heart beat?
Was I breathing? - I was so still.
Slowly I rose up,
on my side of
this particular bed
and without looking
at you.
I went to the day
leaving you behind
to come
and go...
in the night.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey Thanks

Thanksgiving was 2 days ago. I am sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing but what I want to do - which has been searching the internet for suppliers and information on a business venture/dream that I have  - researching options and prices - and I have been trying to make use of the turkey that was hanging out in the fridge, getting up from time to time to stir this or that - and so I thought that I would make another post in this blog showing my efforts to be a good steward of turkey. Below you can see a Pot Pie that I just took out of the oven (I let it cook about 5-10 minutes too long I think) - and...

the turkey broth that consists of all the bones of the turkey and the meat that I got tired of cutting up for the pie, as well as garlic, onions, sweet peppers, fresh thyme, fresh parsley, salt, pepper - maybe something else I can't remember that I threw in the mix - and it's been cooking down for a few hours. I used three cups of the broth for the pie a few hours ago. After it cools I'm going to strain it and freeze the broth that I don't make soup with.

I know this information is too exciting for everyone who stumbles across this entry but I wanted to write a post with a Thanksgiving theme. I wondered how to write something really meaningful this morning on being thankful, in particular being thankful when you have some serious things going on in your life that you really are not very thankful for, but I have not had the quiet time to put all that together in my head. The TV is going as I write - seems to be something about an earthquake slowly crumbling the United States to would be hard to be thankful about that! But perhaps the emerging realization of the main character regarding how he really loves his little daughter as they race away from the pursuing cracks, and the rekindled appreciation of what really matters can in a way, make you somewhat thankful for the earthquake?

(How's that for pulling it together?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

MB's Oyster Dressing

It's the day before Thanksgiving 2011. I just made my Oyster Stuffing and thought that I'd post the recipe since my children love it and maybe someone else might want to give it a try.

1 - 32 ounce container oysters                                    
1 - 14 ounce bag of cornbread stuffing
1 - tablespoons snipped fresh sage
1 - celery stalk diced fine
1 - shallot diced
1/2 - onion
1/2 stick butter - NEVER margarine
6 eggs

Make this the day before and put in a bag with all the air out of it, store in refrigerator until ready to stuff turkey or bake.

Put oysters in colander in bowl you will be mixing ingredients in so the liquid will drain into the bowl. Melt butter in pan, not too high a heat. Add sage, shallot, onion, celery - cook on low heat until vegetables are soft, not mushy. Set aside. Add cornbread to oysters juice in the bowl. When you add the oysters to the cornbread, just pull them apart to size you want. I don't cut them up small because it is better if your an oyster lover to have larger bits in the stuffing. Pulling them apart also helps to make sure there are no shells in the oysters. Add the vegetables and mix. Then add the eggs and mix together until your sure that there are no whole portions of the eggs and that the mixture is very moist. Put in bag and refrigerate. Making this the day before is very important to the taste. I do not add salt or pepper but I am sure that you could. I just don't use much salt and the oysters have some in them. I bake at 350 degrees but I don't know how long really - just till it's done!

I hope you enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sage - grown on my windowsill

Friday, November 11, 2011

Just Photos

Ducks Come
Ducks Go
Ducks In a Row
Bee In
Bee Out

...and that is all that this is about!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pho for Me - a trip to Brownsville

The Vietnamese Soup Pho is one of my favorite meals. You can buy a great Pho at Tu Do Vietnamese Restaurant at 7130 North Davis Highway, Pensacola, Fl. - OR - you can make your own. I have eaten Pho many times at Tu Do and it is always excellent, at a very reasonable price. I am still after my third try, trying to make it myself to the same excellence as Tu Do. Can't say that I have reached that point yet, but I'm still trying because I like the trip to Bien Dong and I like the experience in the kitchen. If you want to learn to make Pho, Bien Dong on Mobile Highway in Pensacola is the place to go for your ingredients. Tucked away in the back corner of the market is a small butcher shop where if you talk to the owner, he will get you just what you need for either chicken or beef Pho.

The recipe below is the basic recipe I used the last two times I made this but for the spices listed, (coriander and cloves) I used a bag of spices shown in this photo. It has both coriander and cloves in it but it also has star anise, fennel and a few pieces of bark I have not identified. The owner of Bien Dong suggested that be used.
One weekend, especially a cold one, give this a try. The recipe below is one of many you can find - I'm sure that there are dozens and dozens of versions of Pho. The main thing to remember is that the broth must be clear, either beef or chicken. That means a quick boil of the meat, discard the water, add fresh water and seasoning and skim all foam that comes to the surface. If you like this soup as much as I do and start making it, it seems that it will be a one of those recipes that evolve over time to just the way you like it. Hope you enjoy!

Chicken Pho Recipe (Phở Gà ) this recipe from
While beef phở may be the version that most people know and like, chicken phở is also excellent. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in phở gà (pronounced "Fuh Gah")within the Vietnamese American community, and a handful of restaurants are specializing in the delicate noodle soup. Some of them use free-range gà chạy or gà đi bộ (literally “jogging chicken” or “walking chicken”), yielding bowls full of meat that has a flavor and texture reminiscent of traditionally raised chickens in Vietnam.
If you want to create great chicken phở yourself, take a cue from the pros and start with quality birds. If you have never made phở, this recipe is ideal for learning the basics. It calls for fewer ingredients than other phở recipes, so you can focus on charring the onion and ginger to accentuate their sweetness, making a clear broth, and assembling steamy hot, delicious bowls. While some cooks flavor chicken phở broth with the same spices they use for beef phở, my family prefers using coriander seeds and cilantro to distinguish the two. To compare chicken with beef phở, see my beef pho noodle soup recipe.
Serves 8
2 yellow onions, about 1 pound total, unpeeled
Chubby 4-inch section fresh ginger, unpeeled
1 chicken, 4 pounds, excess fat and tail removed
3 pounds chicken backs, necks, or other bony chicken parts
5 quarts water
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1-inch chunk rock sugar* (about 1 ounce)
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted in a dry skillet for about 1 minute until fragrant
4 whole cloves
1 small or 1/2 large bunch cilantro (bound stems about 1 inch in diameter)
1 1/2–2 pounds small flat rice noodles (bánh phở), dried or fresh
Cooked chicken, at room temperature
1 yellow onion, sliced paper-thin, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained
3 or 4 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, leafy tops only
Black pepper
Optional garnishes 
3 cups bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound)
10 to 12 sprigs mint (húng) 10 to 12 sprigs Thai basil* (húng quế)
12 to 15 fresh culantro* (ngò gai) leaves - (MB uses cilantro)
2 or 3 Thai or serrano chiles, thinly sliced
2 or 3 limes, cut into wedges
Make the pho broth
1. Place the onions and ginger directly on the cooking grate of a medium-hot charcoal or gas grill (as pictured, to the right) or a gas stove with a medium flame, or on a medium-hot burner of an electric stove. Let the skin burn (if you’re working indoors, turn on the exhaust fan and open a window), using tongs to rotate onion and ginger occasionally and to grab and discard any flyaway onion skin.
After 15 minutes, the onions and ginger will have softened slightly and become sweetly fragrant. There may even be some bubbling. You do not have to blacken the entire surface. When amply charred, remove from the heat and let cool.
2. Rinse the cooled onions under warm running water, rubbing off the charred skin. Trim off and discard the blackened root and stem ends. Use a vegetable peeler, paring knife, or the edge of a teaspoon to remove the ginger skin. Hold it under warm water to wash off any blackened bits. Halve the ginger lengthwise and bruise lightly with the broad side of a cleaver or chef’s knife.  Set the onions and ginger aside.
3. Rinse the chicken under cool water. Detach each wing by bending it back and cutting it off at the shoulder joint. Add the wings and neck, if included, to the chicken parts. If the heart, gizzard, and liver have been included, discard them or save for another use. (Some cooks like to simmer the heart and gizzard in water and slice them for adding to the noodle bowls.) Set the wingless chicken aside.
4. Remove and discard any loose pieces of fat from the chicken parts. Wielding a heavy cleaver designed for chopping bones, whack the bones to break them partway or all the way through, making the cuts at 1- to 2-inch intervals, depending on the size of the part. This exposes the marrow, which enriches the broth.
5. To achieve a clear broth, you must first parboil and rinse the chicken parts. Put them in a stockpot (about 12-quart capacity) and add cold water just to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes to release the impurities. Dump the chicken parts and water into the sink (make sure it is clean), and then rinse the parts with water to wash off any clinging residue. Quickly scrub the stockpot clean and return the chicken parts to the pot. Put the chicken into the pot, breast side up.
6. Pour in the water and snuggle the chicken in between the parts so that it is covered with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Use a ladle or large, shallow spoon to skim off any scum that rises to the top. Add the onions, ginger, salt, fish sauce, rock sugar, coriander seeds, cloves, and cilantro and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes, adjusting the heat if needed to maintain a gentle simmer.
At this point, the chicken is cooked; its flesh should feel firm yet still yield a bit to the touch. Use a pair of tongs to grab the chicken and transfer it to a large bowl. Flush the chicken with cold water and drain well, then it set aside for 15 to 20 minutes until it is cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, keep the broth at a steady simmer.
7. When chicken can be handled, use a knife to remove each breast half and the whole legs (thigh and drumstick). Don’t cut these pieces further, or they’ll lose their succulence. Set aside on a plate to cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before assembling the bowls.
8. Return the leftover carcass to the stockpot and adjust the heat to simmer the broth gently for another 1/2 hours. Avoid a hard boil, or the broth will turn cloudy.
9. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve (or a coarse-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth) positioned over a pot. Discard the solids. Use a ladle to skim as much fat from the top of the broth as you like. (To make this task easier, you can cool the broth, refrigerate overnight, lift off the solidified fat, and then reheat before continuing.) Taste and adjust the flavor with additional salt, fish sauce, and rock sugar. There should be about 4 quarts (16 cups) broth.

Assemble the pho bowls
10. If using dried noodles, cover them with hot tap water and let soak for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are pliable and opaque. Drain in a colander. If using fresh rice noodles, untangle them, place in a colander, and rinse briefly under cold running water.
11. Cut the cooked chicken into slices about 1/4 inch thick, cutting the meat off the bone as necessary. If you don’t want to eat the skin, discard it first. Set the chicken aside. Ready the yellow onion, scallions, cilantro, and pepper for adding to the bowls. Arrange the garnishes on a plate and put on the table.
12. To ensure good timing, bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat as you are assembling the bowls. (For an extra treat, drop in any unused white scallion sections and let them poach in the broth. Add the poached white scallion sections (called hành chần) to a few lucky bowls when ladling out the broth.) At the same time, fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil.
For each bowl, place a portion of the noodles on a vertical-handle strainer (or mesh sieve) and dunk the noodles in the boiling water. As soon as they have collapsed and lost their stiffness (10 to 20 seconds), pull the strainer from the water, letting the water drain back into the pot. Empty the noodles into a bowl. If you like, once you have finished blanching the noodles, you can blanch the bean sprouts for 30 seconds. They should wilt slightly but retain some crunch. Drain and add to the garnishes.
13. Top each bowl of noodles with chicken, arranging the slices flat. Place a mound of yellow onion in the center and then shower some scallion and cilantro on top. Finish with a sprinkle of pepper.
14. Raise the heat and bring the broth to a rolling boil. Do a final tasting and make any last-minute flavor adjustments. Ladle about 2 cups broth into each bowl, distributing the hot liquid evenly to warm all the ingredients. Serve immediately with the garnishes

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Tomato Tale

Last weekend I accomplished one of the things on my list that I have wanted to try, make and "put up" as they say, tomato sauce. I'm sure that this blog will just be riveting to read so here goes!

First stop - Bailey's Farmers Market on Davis Highway in Pensacola, Florida.

The tomatoes there are very good although not organic. Since I bought 15 pounds of tomatoes and had never canned tomato sauce before, I'm good. I also bought 2 pounds of sweet Peruvian onions here. Speaking of Peru, I'll have to write a blog soon regarding my 83 year old father's 30 plus mission trips to Chimbote, Peru at another time. He is actually there now as I type this but back to tomato sauce.

(My friend Linda from Elberta, Alabama will very likely find all these firsts of mine regarding canning very amusing but I'm a late kitchen bloomer)

I blanched the tomatoes which was fascinating to me how quickly the skins fell off. 10-20 seconds in boiling water then out of the boil into the ice water. I did not remove the seeds - I saw some recipes that said to remove the seeds so that you won't have to cook it so long but I don't get that - I did not do that and I'm glad.

RECIPE - MAKES 6-8 Quarts
Tomatoes - remove skin -   15 Lbs
Onions - 2 Lbs diced
Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
Salt - 3 tablespoons
Pepper - 1 tablespoon
Red Wine (optional) - 1 bottle (75 cl.) *
Herbs - (oregano, rosemary or basil) - 2 cups**
Garlic - 6 cloves
Lemon Juice - 1/2 cup***
(Dinner recipe below)

1. Blanch and peel tomatoes
2. Coarsely chop them and put them in a bowl.
3. Chop onions and garlic - saute until translucent in olive oil.
4. Add tomatoes
5. Stir well and bring the entire pot to an even slow simmer.
6. Simmer until reduced by 1/3 - ( the recipe said 2 hours, it was more like 6 hours )
7. Add lemon juice, simmer 5 minutes and immediately can so have your jars ready.

Dinner Recipe:
Tomatoes - remove skin -   6 Large Whole
Onions - 1/2 diced
Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
Salt - 3 tablespoons
Pepper - 1 teaspoon
Red Wine (optional) - 1/2 cup
Herbs - (oregano, rosemary or basil) - 1/4 cup
Garlic - 1 clove

Grow your own basil. Basil is very easy to grow. I always have some growing in my window sill. The worst thing about having it is that you have to periodically spray a little bit of soapy water on it to keep these annoying little white flies from having a hang out joint - but being able to grab some fresh herbs  at any time to use is important to really making a serious effort to cook with fresh herbs. When I had my business, Photo Arts and I would talk to customers about storing their old photos and documents safely, the first thing I would tell them was to have a place in your house you can take those boxes out of the closet and put them on a table and LEAVE THEM because you will never complete the task unless you do - too large and on-going. The same is true of using fresh herbs - have them on hand and growing. How many times have you bought fresh herbs in the grocery store with a rush of inspiration only to have them turn bad in the frig?  Basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary - I have those growing now  plus sage, dill and tarragon. I have grown sweet marjoram before and miss having it on hand.

The sauce was absolutely delicious - but time consuming and while it was simmering and I was researching more on the canning side of this, I found out some things about canning this type product that made me a bit concerned. It seems that tomatoes can be quite tricky to make sure that they are safe for long term storage. I'll put a link at the bottom of this page if your interested in reading about that. (You can't click on the link because I STILL can't figure out how to add an active link to these posts)
I put the remaining jars of sauce I did not use in the refrigerator because the article made me a bit nervous, although I followed the instructions. Conclusion? Next time I think I will make a big batch for that day and more to freeze for another day. I really like the idea of eliminating extra ingredients in the food I eat and this project was very rewarding in learning something new. Although I enjoyed the project very much, I don't think I will can sauce again. If anyone has more info or experience on this and the safety of canning tomatoes/tomato sauce, (Linda?) please comment below.

* If your concerned about consuming alcohol

Preparation MethodPercent of Alcohol Retained
alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat85%
alcohol flamed75%
no heat, stored overnight70%
baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture45%
baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture:
  • 15 minutes
  • 30 minutes
  • 1 hour
  • 1.5 hours
  • 2 hours
  • 2.5 hours

**  I used basil. I have never had a tomato sauce made with rosemary, and I really don't like oregano all that much - it can overpower a recipe, so I used basil and would even add a bit more than 2 cups next time.


Why Add Lemon Juice to Tomatoes and Salsa Before Canning ...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blueberry Brain

Violet Beauregard
For some odd reason I've had the image of the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory in my head for some days now.  For those of you who do not know the story, it's about 5 children who receive a golden ticket found in random chocolate bars and tour Willy Wonka's chocolate factory for one to win a lifetime supply of chocolate. They are all, except Charlie Bucket, very disagreeable children with equally disagreeable parents. The unfortunate Blueberry Girl is Violet Beauregarde, a bragging, very competitive chewing gum chewer from Atlanta who tries the Three Course Dinner Gum when told not to and as a consequence becomes a very large blueberry. And you know, there is a story there...duh! With the image in my head I had an anticipation regarding writing something meaningful that would come to me on the obvious character defect of this child and that I would write a clever little piece that went with the picture. But try as I might, I can't come up with some profound reason I could put to writing why this image has been in my head so I'll just end this without any real purpose except maybe now Violet will depart my brain...or not, but I gave it a try. Wonder if someone is trying to tell ME something...