Fresh tomato sauce

It’s taken a while for me to get this recipe down, but I think I finally have it. Last night we had this sauce over whole wheat fettucine with some roasted zucchini on the side, and it was absolutely wonderful. I didn’t add any sugar to the tomato sauce, but because I used all garden fresh tomatoes they made it super sweet. And with green peppers and basil also from our backyard it was fresh, fresh, fresh. Love it.

Anyway, I have found some kitchen gadgets that make saucemaking so much easier for me. It’s still a pretty messy and involved process, but it can be simplified.

Top left you have a soft peeler. Even though you are going to blanch the tomatoes to get the skins off, you’re bound to have a few stubborn pieces. This device peels them right off. And if you wanted to save time or dishes to clean by just straight peeling them, this is what you should use.

Top right is a cutting board with a built-in strainer. This is great for cutting tomatoes because you can push the juice and seeds into the strainer instead of watching them run down the sides and onto your cabinets, which always seems to happen to me.

Bottom left, a wire mesh strainer will help you grab your tomatoes out of the water after you blanch them. You can find these really cheap at Asian foods stores.

And finally, a sharp paring knife. Don’t mess around with a dull knife, especially when you’re cutting tomatoes. We did for a long time, until my cousin mentioned that she got a 40 percent discount at Williams Sonoma, and we got this Wusthof beauty.

OK, so onto the recipe. I’m writing it here for 6 tomatoes because that’s what I had ripe from our garden (really 7, but some were small), but you can double, triple, or whatever you need to do for the amount you have. For saucemaking we grow Amish paste tomatoes from Seed Savers because they have lots of flesh and fewer seeds.

Fresh tomato sauce

6 medium tomatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 green pepper, diced
1/4 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
6 or so basil leaves, cut into ribbons

Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Later you can make the sauce in this pot. Meanwhile, cut the stems out of your tomatoes and remove any split, bruised or bad parts.

When your water starts to boil, drop in the tomatoes for about a minute or until you can begin to see this skins loosening. Drop them into an ice bath to cool off.

The skins should peel right off, but if they don’t, just remove them with the soft peeler or a knife.

Next, slice the tomatoes into chunks and remove the seeds. You probably won’t be able to get all of them, but that’s no big deal.

Don’t worry about saving the juice – you’re actually going to try to boil it off in a few minutes anyway.

Dump out your boil water and start heating the oil over medium. Drop in the onion, green pepper and garlic and saute those for a few minutes. A little zucchini might be good here, too. Sometimes we add a hot pepper.

After you’ve seeded all the tomatoes, cut them into half-inch chunks and drop them in with the rest of the veggies. Season with salt and pepper, but hold off on adding the basil until the end.

Here’s the part where it gets a bit tricky. I’m impatient and I always want to take the sauce off before it’s really done. In order to get a thick, rich sauce it’s going to have to simmer for a while. It could be 20 minutes, it could be an hour. Fresh tomatoes are very watery, and that’s no good when you go to pour the sauce over pasta. So let it reduce by about half. This only leaves you with maybe 2 cups of sauce, but a little goes a long way, and it’s so, so good.

I would say mine probably simmered somewhere in the 30-40 minute range. When it’s ready, drop in the basil and serve.

Ripple blanket – halfway there

I might actually be slightly less than halfway done with my big blanket, but I try not to think about that. Because if I imagine that I have more than the work I’ve already put into this left to do, I might explode. (Though it looks kind of long and skinny in this photo, measurements tell me it’s at a 2 x 1 ratio).

I think I calculated that by the time I’m finished I will have put something like 48 skeins of yarn into this.

But, it is really cool. Seeing it all laid out makes it worth the work, and I believe it’s something I’ll have for a long, long time. Or at least as long as we have an orange couch.