Home Canning Tomatoes

This week has been quite productive.  On Monday, I sold my first two trays of sweets.  One tray of cookies (lemon cookies and sugar cookies) and one tray of brownie bites (mixed flavors).  It was a last minute order and I delivered it in about 4 hours.  Woo Hoo!

Then on Wednesday I realized I had a few too many fresh tomatoes to eat before they went bad (you never actually have too many tomatoes).  So I canned a few of them.  I did two separate canning processes and thought I would tell you about them here.

First, I canned regular, home grown, garden tomatoes.  These are the big, sweet, juicy, delicious ones that you just can’t get in the store.  They will make the most wonderful soups this winter!  I happen to have my grandmother’s copy of a booklet called “Food Preservation in Alabama” (published in 1950).  The process for canning tomatoes that I found in there makes the best canned tomatoes of all.  Here is what it says:

“A water-bath canner is used for processing fruits, tomatoes, pimientos, rhubarb, jam, preserves and relishes.  The temperature of boiling water (212 degrees F) is the temperature required for destroying bacteria that would be harmful to these products.  A higher temperature will affect flavor and vitamin content.”

I use a large stock pot, because I don’t have an actual canner, and it works quite well.  You will need some kind of a rack in the bottom (the book suggests a wooden rack, but anything that will boil and will raise the jars off the bottom will work).  You will first need to sterilize your jars, canning funnel, lids (always use new lids) and the tongs you use to place and remove the jars from the sterilization process.  To sterilize them, place the jars, funnel and then working end of your tongs (leave the handle where you can get to it) in your canner full of boiling water and boil them for 5 minutes. At the end of 5 minutes, turn off the heat and drop the jar lids in for just a minute.  Remove everything and set aside on a clean towel until ready to fill.  To can my tomatoes, I use the cold pack method given in the book:

“Select firm ripe tomatoes of medium size, free from spots and decay (I used all sizes, as I wanted them chopped anyway).  Wash, place in a wire basket or square cheesecloth, and dip into boiling water for about 1 minutes, according to ripeness.  Then plunge quickly into cold (iced) water, drain, peel and core promptly (and chop if you want).  Pack into containers (sterilized jars) as closely as possible and until enough juice is released to cover the solids (this is why it works best if you chop the tomatoes).  Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart.  Process in a water-bath canner for 30 minutes (pint or quart jars).”   Make sure you wipe off the top of the jars before placing the lid and hand tightening the band.  The rim of the jar must be clean to get a good seal.  The water in your canner should be hot but not quite boiling when you put the jars in, and don’t start your timing until the water comes to a boil.  Also, make sure the water in your canner covers the jars by a least an inch.

Canned Tomatoes

Aren’t they beautiful?  I also had a big bowl of grape and cherry tomatoes.  I am bad to watch the Cooking Channel and had seen an episode of French Food At Home where host, Laura Calder, canned these tomatoes whole.  The episode was called Well Preserved. I followed her directions and wound up with 3 quarts (half full) of tomatoes.  I didn’t have any fresh thyme, so I used fresh basil (I use it with tomatoes a lot), and it took a lot longer to get them to collapse down than she said, but I think they turned out beautifully:

Canned Grape and Cherry Tomatoes

I wish I had an large open shelf in my kitchen, I would display my canned tomatoes as decoration (until I eat them of course).

Have you every done any home canning?  What is your favorite fruit or vegetable to can?

Happy Canning!

A Happy Mess

When you are trying to make recipes your own, whether it is to make them healthier, or just to put your signature on them, they do not always turn out like you planned. Sometimes, though, they turn out to be a good thing crazy good!  Such is the case with the revamped cheese straws.  The DH and I were watching a cooking show I had recorded the other night (like he had a choice) and the cook was making cheese straws. So, DH decided he wanted me to make some cheese straws.  I told him I couldn’t have wheat (I have an intolerance for it) and he said, “so change the recipe so that you can eat it”.  The challenge was is on.  I have been reading about substituting chick peas, nut flours and other flours (like rice or oat) for wheat flour.  I know there are some other changes you have to make when you do, but I am still in the learning phase and don’t know all those things yet.  I have tried some other’s recipes with these substitutions, but have not tried making my own…before now.

Not Exactly Cheese Straws

I decided to use mostly chick peas in place of the flour, but also added a bit of pecan meal.  When I got the dough made, it was a little too soft, so I added a bit of brown rice flour.  They end result was not exactly cheese straws, they were more like cheese crisps.  They flattened out completely and were crispy and a bit chewy at the same time…and we (DH and I) absolutely could not stop eating them.  I made the first panful with the cookie press, like you would most other cheese straws, but when they flattened out, I decided to make the rest as crackers.  They are quite greasy and soooo tasty.  They are wheat free and gluten free, but nowhere near fat free.

Cheesy Cracker Crisps

Cheesy Cracker Crisps

  • 4 cups shredded extra sharp cheedar cheese
  • 1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup pecan meal
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Put all ingredients except the brown rice flour in your food processor and process on high until it starts forming a dough (make take a couple of minutes), stopping halfway through to scrape the sides of the bowl.  Then add the brown rice flour and process just enough to get it mixed in well.  Form into 1″ balls, place on greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a fork.  Bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until slightly browned.  They will flatten out as they bake.

I think these would probably make a great little appetizer for a party.  Try them and let me know what you think.

What delightful mistakes have you made lately?

I will be sure to let you know when I get my wheat free cheese straws to come out actually looking like cheese straws 🙂

Baked Turkey Breast Filets

The recipe name may not be very orignal, but the results are delicious!

Baked Turkey Breast Filets

  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs. Turkey Breast Filets
  • 2 Tbsp. Brown Rice Flour (or All Purpose Flour)
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Paprika
  • 1/4 Tsp. Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp. Butter
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 8 oz. Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz. can diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 2 Bay Leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flour, salt, paprika and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge turkey filets in flour mixture and shake off extra.  You want them just barely coated.  In medium skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat and brown turkey filets on each side.  Place on lightly greased shallow baking pan.  Add remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil and the butter to skillet. Add onions and mushrooms, and cook until onions are softened.  Add garlic and cook slightly, being careful not to burn garlic.  Add tomatoes and bay leaves and bring to boil. Lower heat to medium low, cover and cook 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and spoon vegetable mixture over turkey filets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until turkey is cooked through.  Serves 4-5.

This makes for really moist filets with lots of flavor.  We love lots of tomatoes, but if you like less tomato flavor, a 14.5 oz. can of tomatoes would probably be enough.

Can you tell we like garlic.  I use it in a lot of recipes.  It just gives such good flavor.  Let me know if you try this and like it (or if you don’t like it).  I really want to know.

Now I better get out in the garden.  The weather is rather cool this morning and it will be perfect for working outside.

What topics would you like me to write about on here?

I really would like to hear from you.  All topics will be considered.  Have a great day!

Regrowing Leftovers

I am sure this title has you saying, “what?”.  Yes, some of the fresh food you buy can be regrown.  I have just recently discovered this and have begun to try it.  I was really pleasantly surprised at the results.

I first found a pin on Pinterest about regrowing celery (don’t you just love Pinterest?  I admit it, I’m an addict).    So, I decided to try it.  I took the stalk of celery I had in the fridge, cut off the bottom about 3/4 to 1 inch thick, and put it, cut side up, in a shallow bowl of warm water.  The water was about halfway up the piece.

Celery Day 1

The directions I found said to leave it overnight then plant it.  Well, I didn’t exactly get it planted the next day…or the next, or the next.  Anyway, you get the idea.  I actually left it in the water for about 2 weeks.

Day 6

After about a week, I began to notice the center start pushing up and some new growth in the middle.  When I had time, I transplanted it to a pot of dirt, just barely covering the top of the original piece.  Now, after about a month, the plants are an inch or more tall and one even has stalks beginning to show.  I have two of them about that same age, and another one I started last week.

Approximately 6 Weeks

My plan is to transplant them in the garden after the last danger of frost has passed and then just cut off ribs as I need them.  I also want to make sure, as fall approaches, that I have some more started in pots to grow indoors all winter.  Maybe I can keep enough growing to not have to buy celery.

I have also read that you can regrow green onions, ginger root, garlic and sweet potatoes. The green onions are done pretty much the same as the celery.  I have some started, so I’ll let you know how they do.  I remember as a child growing sweet potato plants from a piece of potato that had an eye.  I am eager to try my hand at the ginger root and garlic.

I will most certainly be reporting on this more in the future.  I will keep researching this idea and also report my progress with particular items.  Happy Gardening!!

What are your favorite things to grow?