Thursday, July 31, 2008

How - and how NOT - to make spagheti sauce

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about the phrase "The Fruit of Her Hands."

There are so many things a woman can do with her hands.
~ There are the traditional womanly jobs, such as cooking and laundry.
~ There are the more artistic skills of sewing, painting, and music.
~ There are the menial tasks of washing dishes and scrubbing floors.
~ There are the heart-and-souls tasks of nurturing children and caring for the sick.
~ There are the women who excel in shopping wisely, being frugal, and embarking on home business adventures.
~ There are women who can use technological skills to create wonderful things on the computer that further the kingdom of God.
~ There are women who are skilled in areas that are not normally associated with women; such as carpentry or mechanics.
~ There are women who embrace nature; they are a wonder with animals, and if they can't grow a certain plant, than surely it can't be done.

I cannot begin to list all the things we can do with our hands. How blessed we are, to be offered such variety! God is good. He has made each one of us different, yet given us the same goal; to honor Him with the work of our hands.

I love my hands. I wanted to be skilled in every area I mentioned above. That doesn't mean I will be, but it means I can try. I love variety. I want to be able to do everything! And I want to be able to honor HIM in everything. To find ways to spread His gospel. To obey His leading. To follow His commands. And to live that abundant life He promised; full of His blessing, and full of His work.

So what have you been doing with your hands lately?

I spent all of yesterday in the kitchen, making spaghetti sauce and relish.

Odd combination, you say? Maybe. But the cucumbers were overflowing in our fridge, and the tomatoes were filling our table, getting riper every moment. We couldn't eat them fast enough, and who wants to let garden tomatoes sit so long they go bad?

I have grown up with a garden in the back yard. I've helped Dad plant seeds since I was old enough to remember, and I've watched Mom can green beans and freeze things for years. (Some years were skipped because we ate everything, with nothing left over to preserve!)

But though I've snapped millions of beans, and I've washed thousands of canning jars, I've never done the actual preserving of our bounty. Not until yesterday, that is. (Well, okay, I've frozen berries, but does that really count?)

Guess what? I didn't mess up!! Well..... I didn't mess up with the sauce. Relish was a little different. But because I don't want to overload my computer with too many pictures at once, I've decided to post about each cooking experience separately. And I'm doing spaghetti sauce first. That means you'll have to wait for the relish story. :)

Anyway, here's what I started with:

Four pounds of tomatoes. Four pounds of very RIPE tomatoes. First, I removed all the stems, then boiled the tomatoes for about 10 minutes or less. I had read that doing so, then plunging them directly into cold water, would loosen the skins.

Did you know that if you boil VERY ripe tomatoes for 10 minutes or less, then plunge them directly into cold water, the skins fall off when you touch them? No - I take that back. The skins don't fall off. The insides fall out.

I must admit, getting the skins off was quite easy. It would have been more enjoyable if I hadn't been worrying the whole time that such soggy, soupy tomatoes would not make sauce of the proper thickness. ( I didn't need to worry - I found out later that I was using a pound less of tomatoes than I was suppose to.)

After removing the skins, I placed the whole messy remains into the food processor, determined to have nice smooth sauce (I don't like cooked chunks of tomatoes, and most of my family doesn't, either.)

The soggy tomatoes filled the food processor within an inch of the top. I snapped the lid on, and pressed "pulse."

Wwwwwwww! Tomato soup, meet kitchen table.

Has anyone ever told you NOT to run the food processor when it's THAT full of liquid? The reason is because the liquid will manage to spin out of the crack between the lid and bowl of the processor.

The kitchen smelled very much like tomato soup at this point.

Oh - one more tip; don't wipe up tomato spills with good kitchen towels. Red + white towels = pink towels.

Anyway...with a amazing stroke of genuineness, I divided the soup in half, and processed each half separately.

With that done, I put the lovely smooth soup into a large pot, and added the meat and spices. (See above photo.)

All that was left to do was simmer until the sauce reached the desired thickness.

Oh yes - if you leave the lid on the pot, how does the liquid evaporate?

That is the question I was asking myself after an hour of simmering.

The liquid will not thicken if the water cannot evaporate. Therefore, I brilliantly decided to remove the lid. Progress was much better afterward. :)

From that little mound of tomatoes, I made this much sauce; about 5 pints. (Each container holds 1.5 pints. These will be frozen.) My brother Curtis sampled it, and said, "This tastes just like the store sauce!" which I received as a compliment.


Sarah Jane Meister said...

That looks delicious. We didn't plant a garden this year since we just moved, but our landlords constantly are bringing over vegetables from 'our' garden - which will be ours next year - and we have an abudance of cucumbers. Relish is a great idea, I'm going to have to try that. You can only make so much bread and butter pickles, LOL The sauce looks wonderful.

Kelly said...

Hi Amber! My first thought on your comment on my blog is, "Whoa, I have lurkers???!? COOL!"

Thanks for leaving a comment. I will look forward to including you as one of my new friends. Glad I finally came across as approachable. ;-)

Amber said...

Welcome to my blog, Kelly! Glad to see ya.

Sarah said...

Good job, Amber! Thank you for sharing of your adventure. :) I enjoyed reading it!