Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You don't make it from scratch?

So, I've got a friend who used to make fun of me for not making my own spaghetti sauce. He was always surprised and asked me each time I saw him, "You don't make it from scratch?" I think he asked me over and over again because of his age not because he was trying to be annoying.

When we were married, I started buying Delmonte Traditional spaghetti sauce and grew to like it! It was all I ever used and could think of nothing else to try. That is until we started giving up high fructose corn syrup. I think Delmonte's brand only has corn syrup, but still trying to avoid syrups altogether. I even looked into buying the dry mix that you get in the seasoning aisle and just add tomato sauce to it. I'm pretty sure though they still contained high fructose corn syrup solids and a whole bunch of other chemicals we don't want.

This friend of mine, used to tell me, I make mine from scratch. Only I found out that he was talking about buying the spaghetti mix and adding the tomato sauce to it. I don't consider making it that way from scratch, myself!

So, this got me wondering how hard is it to make my own spaghetti sauce. I searched online and found tons of recipes! And decided to be brave and try this one:

I just can't remember which link I found it on.

1 can crushed tomatoes
4 Tablespoons oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups water
1- 6 ounce can tomato paste
3 leaves fresh basil
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Saute onions until golden brown. Add rest of ingredients and boil. Lower heat and simmer until desired thickness. Skim off oil. It will rise to top when sauce is done.

Now, I like my sauce a bit sweet, but instead of adding sugar to it, I found I can just add a pinch of baking soda. It starts to bubble up as it reacts to the acid in the tomatoes. I taste it and keep adding it until it tastes like I want it to. The baking soda addition makes it taste sweet without having to add any sugar. Don't ask me how this works, I don't know.

The first time I made this I was in a hurry. You can't be in a hurry when you make this sauce. It turned out good but it was very watery. The other day when I made this, I was in a hurry (I know, I know), but still wanted it thick, so I kept it at a higher heat and stirred constantly. Which made the sauce sputter and spray me occasionally (ouch!), but overall it turned out great!

It makes a lot of sauce. I halved the recipe yesterday and Nick and I both had two plates (the second helpings were smaller than the first) and there was enough leftover for both of us to have leftovers for lunch today.

I also forgot to buy crushed tomatoes so I substituted a can of stewed tomatoes seasoned with bell peppers, celery and onions. I also substituted a pinch or two of basil leaves for the fresh basil. I was mad because I had some fresh basil that I got from my CSA basket and was excited to try it but it spoiled before I could use it.

So, that's the new recipe I use all the time now. I suppose if I could find another recipe to try, I might consider it, but happy with what I've got.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Join a co-op today!

Why you should join a local co-op:

Yesterday while my friend was making pickles she was putting in the appropriate amount of dill seed that the recipe called for. She had bought a small container of dill and who knew that it wouldn't be enough. It was about 5 tablespoons worth and she needed 6. So I ran home and got some dill I had bought at the mennonite bulk food store. Comparing the two containers. She probably paid at least a dollar for her container (though the next time I'm at Walmart, I'm going to check to see exactly how much it was) and my container was .67 cents! for three times the amount! I've heard that the mennonite store has since closed, and that is too bad since they had such good spice prices. However, the co-op I am a member of carries a pound for $6! And they are organic too! That is a lot of dill seed! I think I'll see if Jill wants to split a pound with me.

Getting your spices that cheap is one good way.
Saving on gas (or for some, time) by getting it all in one place is another.
Want more reasons?

The great meat sale!

So, I've talked before about the meat sale that our local grocery store has everyday. You buy five packages of meat for $25 and I always wondered if it really was a good deal or not. Thinking along the lines of "if it's too good to be true..." I thought they might just put a high price on the label and then write over it "Only $5!" But they don't. You can walk down a bit further and see the exact same meat for the regular price. And no, the food is not outdated or about to go bad. There is nothing wrong with the meat. I asked the guy how they can have these great sales and what he told me made sense, but I just can't remember what he said. I'll ask him again and post his answer.

So, anyways last week, I created a menu of what foods I wanted to have for the next two weeks which I will post up later. I wrote down everything I would need to buy to make the meals and went to Marvin's with list in hand. The $25 meat sale includes chicken, pork, beef. I bought 2 packages of ground beef, 1 roaast, and 2 packages of steak. When we got home, I cut up the meat accordingly to what I needed in the recipes and wrapped it all up in freezer paper. I had 6 packages of steak and 2 packages of ground beef leftover that did not go with a meal, which will be used in next week's planning.

If I do this a couple of times, it shouldn't be too long before I'll have a months worth set aside.

Cell phone zippered pouches

Last week a friend asked me to sew her a cell phone holder that she wanted to give to a friend. So I took out my supplies and started to d...