From Seed to Sauce

Back in July, I wrote about our Tomato Insanity, a bumper crop of tomatoes from just two plants. I gave away sacks of tomatoes, made salad and salsa, and still they kept coming. An article from the University of Nebraska suggested I freeze tomatoes for cooking. And so I did.

This week, with my son and daughter-in-law coming for a post-holiday feed, I decided to make sauce.

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Working with freezer tomatoes has one big positive. I used warm water from the tap to peel them – an amazingly quick and easy process. No boiling water, no scorched finger tips, virtually no mess.

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Here is my recipe for spaghetti sauce:

    One minced yellow onion
    Three minced garlic cloves
    2 TBSP olive oil
    1 TBSP sea salt (or to taste)
    1 TBSP mixed peppercorns
    18-24 frozen tomatoes, diced and mashed
    Water or red wine to just cover
    Fresh basil to taste
    Fresh oregano to taste
    1/4 tsp nutmeg

In a soup pot, cook the onion in olive oil on medium heat until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic for about two minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt and spices, then the water or wine. Cook, stirring frequently and mashing tomatoes until you see a sauce-like consistency. Taste and adjust the salt and spices as needed. Allow the sauce to cool, then run it through the blender.

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A basic but tasty sauce. I made some bison meatballs, some grain-free focaccia bread, and what seem to be called ‘zoodles’ – noodles from zucchini squash.

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I added a salad, real pasta for the less adventurous – although everyone tried a zoodle – and there you have it. A non-traditional, post holiday meal from the garden.

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Thankful for 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to my readers. I’m thankful you took the 2014 journey with me! And I hope you keep reading as the annual gardening cycle restarts for 2015.

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In time for the holidays, we scored this beautiful poinsettia at The Flower Farm in Spring Hill, KS.

Just in time for Thanksgiving…

A little Christmas surprise. One of two new Episcias, this one called Noel, now in bloom.

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Can You Say Gesneriaceae?

Last summer while strolling through the Paola Farmer’s Market, I stopped to look at plants for sale. One booth had an interesting plant with pink, cream, and green variegated leaves set in an old-timey aluminum pot. The plant was gorgeous, the pot horrendous, and when I figured out I was looking at an African violet (Saintpaulia ionantha), I had to buy it. The seller told me that the gorgeous foliage made up for the fact that the plant rarely bloomed.

I brought the plant home, put it in an east-facing window, and it bloomed. Immediately and profusely.

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Encouraged by my handiness with this one African violet, I decided to purchase a couple more. I found one at the grocery store that I liked. It was in bloom when I bought it and is blooming still.

Branching out, I found some online African violet vendors and bought a few more plants – some standard and some semi-miniature. I received plants with three leaves. They’ve all grown new leaves from a plant stand in a west-facing window.

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Next, I learned about self-watering pots, both ceramic and plastic. By using self-watering pots, I never have to touch the leaves with water – great invention (or so I thought)!

Finally, I ventured out to see the Kansas City African Violet Club’s plant show and sale. I came home with a couple more African Violets and a couple flame violets (Episcia).

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Yesterday I attended the last of our Extension Master Gardening classes: three hours on houseplants. What did I learn? Never put plants, especially low-light plants like African Violets, in the window. When watering – and this is true of all houseplants – water to saturation and then let the soil dry to allow the plant to breathe. Although the presenter backed off a bit when asked about drip watering. I imagine my self-watering pots are a lot like drip watering.

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African and flame violets are from the same family of plants, Gesneriaceae. Quite the mouthful! I visited http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=gesneriaceae to learn how to pronounce the word.

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I wonder which plants will live and which will bloom. Now that the 2014 growing season is done, this little project will keep me gardening through the fall and early winter. Soon I’ll be thinking about planting veggies from seed again – although didn’t I swear off that process last year?

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/ho-10.pdf
http://www.ag.auburn.edu/hort/landscape/Aviolet.htm