Friday, September 23, 2011

Tasty, Tenacious Tomatoes

      Growing our own small "Victory" garden is a good way to control the way our family's food is grown. While cukes, peppers, herbs, and Jack B Littles are happily growing, tomatoes are the focus.  Romas, Better Boys, Early Girls, etc are the tomatoes we choose to grow in Zone 6 , although, next year I 'd like to try heirlooms. Recent studies suggest that New Girl, Jet Star, Fantastic, and First Lady may have more antioxidents.  Tomatoes are so good for us, the lycopenes (inhibitors of heart disease), vitamin A and C and potassium packed.
 Recently I read that eating tomatoes, ketchup, tomato sauce, soup, etc more than two times a week can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 21 to 43 percent according to Dr. Edward Giovannucci of the Harvard University School of Public Health. WOW!                                                                                   
Romas floating in cool water.
     In early Fall, spending a few weekends to process the 80 lbs or so that are them down into containers of sauce is a labor of love. We can't get enough..sometimes we even go out to a farm and pick more to make sauce. The sauce is so good, fresh, and healthier...not to mention the pride factor....Imagine my pride when the kids returned from college one weekend to say, its tastes better than their fave, Prego. :) Admittedly, I have been waiting years to hear that, they're growing up.
Tomatoes are placed in hot water for 5 minutes, to soften. Sliced, they are ready to be cranked thru the machine.
Tomato milling machines are awesome. They puree
Our tomato milling machine is awesome! It separates skins and seeds from juice. We run the skins thru twice to get more pulp.

We change our shirts several times while processing. It beats the years of doing it by hand.

Pure red gold. It will become tomato basil soup and simmered into pasta sauce.
  There are a lot of tomato soup recipes with chicken stock bases, this one is pure, fresh pressed tomatos. This recipe is a Saturday soup, leave simmering while complete house cleaning, etc.

Tomato Basil Soup
8c fresh "squeezed" tomato. (see above)1/2 tsp olive oil. Finely chop and add 1 carrot and 1 celery stalk 1 sm  yellow onion, 3 mashed garlic cloves and simmer down to thicken.  (1/2 Red Pepper optional) Bring to boil, then simmer on low heat for 2 hours.
2 tsp of salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
dash of hot sauce/ optional
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/8 tsp parsley
Continue low heat cooking for 1 -2 hours, stir occasionally, but no need to hover over pot, the magic happens on it's own! Chiffonade Basil on top of soup before serving.
Once the soup is done, it s so versatile, add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and crusty bread.
Endless other options tried: stir in shrimp, or 2 tsp half and half, sprinkle crumbled bacon on top, croutons

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