Monday, July 18, 2011

Tomato Marmalade

Hot off the stove...just finished 12 1/2 pints and one full pint of Tomato Marmalade.  The process took most of the day but was so rewarding in many ways.  Of course, the finished product itself is delicious. But more rewarding was the flood of memories from my childhood.  As I said in my "Cooking with Momma" blog, canning with my Momma was something that I treasure.  The time spent with her and the memories I hold in my heart will be with me forever.  The recipe is easy and I adjusted things to my taste.  Here is the basic recipe:

12-14 medium yellow or red tomatoes coarsely chopped
2 seeded jalapenos - seeded and membrane removed (leave a little for the heat)
1 large onion chopped (I used Vidalia)
Juice and zest of four lemons
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 - 3 cups of light brown sugar
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of course black pepper

Combine all in a large pot.  Cook over medium heat for two and a half hours.  The consistency should be thick like a jam.  I kept one jar to put in the fridge and the rest of the batch was canned for later use.  I put them in the boiling bath for 18 minutes.  

I can't wait to discover the many uses of this decedent tomato treasure.  I think it would be great with beans, on burgers or dogs or spread over cream cheese as an appetizer.  I will probably just eat it with some great crackers and hard cheese.  Happy eating!

Cooking with Momma

So, I have two days before I start the school year.   This time of year brings sadness and excitement.  I will soon be relishing the crazy and lazy days of summer as the new school year starts.  No longer can I stay up until midnight watching a cooking show or "The Golden Girls."  I will have to hit the sack by ten and get up at five - least Monday through Friday.  I am always excited to start a new year.  I love the beginning of school when children are refreshed and ready to be back.  And quite honestly, I love the routine....creature of habit I guess.

Usually with two days of vacation left, I am already working in my room.  I am a neat freak and truly believe "a place for everything and everything in its place."  However, this year is different.  I planted several tomato plants and they have decided that now is their time to put on their big show.  I have already made Tomato Pie, Texas Hot, fresh salsa and still have three windows full of tomatoes.  I could not let these beautiful fruits spoil...that would be sacrilege to most southerners including my Momma.

To make sure and save my bounty, I started looking for recipes and decided to try Tomato Marmalade (recipe and pictures later).  Of course, to "do a little cannin" you must be prepared.  I would need several items to complete the project.  I immediately thought of Momma.  My summers as a child hold sweet memories for me.  I remember the summers in our kitchen.  It of course meant fresh vegetables that included beans, corn, tomatoes, squash, okra and cucumbers.  We always had a garden and always had a lot of extra to can or freeze.  Freezing was my Mommas preferred method.  It was much easier, but if the recipe called for it, she would pull out the "big gun."  The "big gun" was her huge canning pressure cooker.  Whenever Momma decided to make her "Ripe Tomato Pickle" the cooker was always on the stove.  I distinctly remember the process of placing the jars and lids in boiling to water to maker sure they were sterile.  Next, when the recipe was ready, the jars were filled and the lids tightly turned.  They were then placed in the pressure cooker and boiled to seal tightly.  The finished product was placed on shelves in our laundry room and was treasured throughout the year. 

Even as a child, helping with this process was always something that I loved.  Standing beside Momma in the kitchen was how I learned to cook.  Whether it was canning, baking cakes and candies at Christmas or making biscuits, I loved cooking with Momma.  My children have grown up in the kitchen with both Sandra and I and with "Grandma."  They still make her Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls.  It makes me so happy that my children enjoy working in the kitchen and enjoy the bounty of the garden.  Hopefully they will want to pull out "the big gun" and try some "cannin" when they have their own homes....Momma would be happy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First Fruits

I have just picked my first Jalapeno peppers.  They have a beautiful shape and beautiful green color.  This is my first attempt at growing peppers and the process was super easy.  I am now busy searching for great recipes to feature the newest  fruits from the garden.  No pictures yet, but I have been harvesting basil and flat-leaf parsley for a few weeks.  They have been featured in many of our summer supper dishes.  I especially "loved me some" fresh Bruschetta with basil.  Even our picky eater sampled this wonderful dish.  Now....I am patiently waiting to pick our first tomatoes.   I already know that I will make some Texas Hot (a recipe from my sweet mother in law), fresh salsa (using my hot Jalapenos) and I want to try some Tomato Marmalade....I will let you know how it turns out.  "Chow" for now!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Room with a View

Just happened to look out the window of our dining room this evening.  WOW!!!  The sky was beautiful.  I took a quick picture with my Verizon phone.  Not a great phone camera, but a beautiful picture of the sky.  I know the people at the Air Show/Fireworks must have truly enjoyed the sunset.  It was a show in itself!