Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Spaghetti Sauce Adventure...

On Monday my friend Linda and I picked tomatoes at a local pick your own tomatoes and raspberry farm. It is just a nice patch of land a lady in our town plants and then has an honor system where you put your money in a jar on her porch. I picked a little over 1 bushel [$10] and then came home to day of satisfying work.

I put my jars in the dishwasher before I left to pick so they were ready when I returned home and then I washed and cored the tomatoes.  My friend Judy, who lives in New York gave me a simple recipe for making spaghetti sauce. It is not too much work at all because you take the cored tomatoes and toss them in the blender to make a puree. It is quick and easy.

To 4 quarts of pureed tomatoes, you add 1 chopped onion [I just cut it up a bit and tossed it into the blender with the tomatoes so I didn't have to chop it.]

I assembled my spices and extra virgin olive oil and was ready to make the sauce.[I did add some fresh basil too, but I didn't have too much so I also had to add dried.]

Next I filled my HUGE pot and began to simmer the sauce, adding tomato paste and simmered some more.
I love my huge tulip shaped stainless stock pot. I don't use it often, but when I do I am so thankful I have such a great pot. 

After simmering, I put the some of the sauce in jars and fired up the pressure canner. I know my other pot is still full, and that is because I added more puree and herbs. A bushel of tomatoes makes a lot of puree!

After processing all my batches I was satisfied to see all the jars sealed and are ready for winter meals.
I included the recipe below in case anyone is interested. The making of the sauce goes pretty quickly. It takes a while to cook it down and process it, but that gave me time to clean up the kitchen and start dinner--Basil Fetuccini with marinara sauce, cheese and some local ground beef.


Take care,


4 quarts of pureed tomatoes*, just wash, take out the core and put in a blender, skin and all
1 chopped onion [I put large pieces in the blender-a food processor would work great]
1/2 C olive oil
3T sugar
1-2 tsp garlic powder or a couple of cloves of crushed garlic
3 T parsley flakes
1-2 tsp basil, dried or fresh chopped
1-2 tsp oregano
2 T salt
       *Best combination is 1/2 Roma and half of a Big Boy type tomato

Cook 30 minutes on medium heat.


1- Twelve oz can of tomato paste [if not using Roma tomatoes, might want to increase this to 2 cans of tomato paste.]

Cook 45-60 minutes more at a steady simmer. Sauce will thicken nicely.
Yields 7-10 pints of sauce [depending on the tomatoes and how much tomato paste you put in].  Can at 10# pressure for 8 minutes. with about one bushel of tomatoes I made 4 batches or about 20 quarts of finished sauce. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to School--How can we get it ALL done? Buddy up!

Homeschooling. Ahh, the joy of having your children home all day, learning and growing in the fertile environment of your very own home. It can be the most challenging job you will ever have. And, if you have many children it can seem impossible to meet the needs of everyone.

For years I have had moms and dads ask me how they can possibly teach 2, 3, 4 or more grades at once? Is it possible? And as this new 2011 school year is in its infancy, the questions begin again. How can we get it all done?

If you have more than one child and there is an age gap of a couple of years or more, one of my solutions is the "buddy time." You can probably guess what it is, but I will elaborate a bit by giving an example of how it looked in my home.

Around 10:00 daily I would have everyone stop whatever they were doing so we could do buddy time. I don't think I called it that, but that is what it was. Usually one child needed some special attention, so I would have that child spend time with me and the other four buddy up. It could be that Chad helped Kari with math, while Cris took Scotty out to play, freeing me to give Dusty some one on one time. Or, I might buddy an older child to listen to a younger read or give a couple of kids free time [upstairs in their room] while I had an older help and younger and I got dinner started. There are many scenarios, but basically everyone stops what they are doing 1-2 times a day and they buddy up for 15-30 minutes in order to get it all done.

I am not saying it always worked perfectly, but it worked pretty well. Another suggestion is to pay an older child to grade papers if you need help. I have a friend who has 9 children and she says that if one child wastes her time then said child has to give her the same amount of time in chores, etc. That helps get the chores done and curbs children wasting time too.

I have more ideas of how to run a more efficient homeschool and will post them in the coming days.