Saturday, September 20, 2014

Homemade Ketchup From Garden to Table

How do you spell Ketchup… that is my question to you. Is it Catsup or Ketchup? Even my spell checker didn't correct me on either of those (and believe me my spell checker isn't shy).  Perhaps it is one of those "You say "Potato" and I say "Po-taw-toe" things; different parts of the country say it and spell it differently?  If you know the answer to that please let me know…. and while you are at it, could you tell me where the name Catsup/Ketchup came from.  I'm sorry that I haven't done any research on it; but I did enjoy making up a wonderful batch of Ketchup with Luke this week.  He is great at making sauces and condiments, and this tasted so good when he made the first batch I said… "we gotta do it again; I'll help and take pictures".  So we did.  I was surprised at how easy it was to make a tasty Ketchup.  I have purchased Ketchup from the health food store, and didn't care for it, because it was bland and didn't taste like what I was used to.  I'm glad to learn how to make it, because I don't like the excess gmo sugars, high fructose corn syrup and who knows what else is in the "old favorite" brands.

After we had made up our Ketchup, Luke made hamburger and fries for us; all homemade, from the buns, to the french fries, to the mayonnaise. Believe me Steve and I were trying to figure out how to fund Luke's restaurant it was delicious…. and what a perfect setting for the ketchup final pics.   

Homemade Ketchup from Garden to Table
6 lbs fresh plum tomatoes
1/2 of 1 medium sized shallot or onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 pinch of ground clove (about1/8 teaspoon)
3 Tablespoons Paprika
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, julienned (you could also use a pinch of dried ginger instead)
16 ounces Apple Cider Vinegar (or 2 cups)
1 cup organic unbleached No GMO Sugar, Sucanat or any sweetener you prefer. Don't be afraid to taste test for sweet preference.
1 Tablespoons Himilayan salt

  1. Rinse and chop tomatoes with skins on. 
  2. Place into a large stock pot.
  3. Add bay leaf, spices and fresh ginger.
  4. Cook on medium heat for 40 minutes.
  5. Pour into a sieve type strainer, pressing tomato mixture through until all is well strained.  You will want to do this very thoroughly, and may feel as if you are kneading bread.  Keep pressing through until there appears to be only skin and seeds left.  Be sure to scrape the pulp off from under the sieve with a rubber spatula.
  6. Put tomato sauce back on the burner, add sugar and vinegar and cook down for another two hours, or until sauce has thickened to desired consistency.  This is a little like making apple butter.
  7. You can store in jars in the refrigerator, or water bath can according to altitude instructions in your area.
  8. Makes 1 quart
Rinse and chop 6 lbs of Plum tomatoes with skins on.

Add onions...
ginger, and other spices

Cook on medium heat about 40 minutes.

Strain out seeds and skins.

Press skin and seeds thoroughly into the sieve to get all the juice and pulp out of it.

Put the strained juice and pulp back into the stock pot.  Add sugar and vinegar cook another two hours, or until it has thickened to your desired consistency.
Don't let the strong vinegar smell worry you, it cooks down also, and tastes just right when finished.
Makes 1 quart


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Home Journal

The last few weeks have been an up and down sort of thing around here; with fighting off a virus of some sort, to trying to clean up garden veggies (which I haven't really made a dent in), to enjoying Luke, to planning a trip to Florida to visit our girls and grandchildren.  I was able to can 9 quarts of tomatoes, and Steve helped freeze 24 quart bags of Chilies, and 5 quarts of corn.  That will probably be it for us for the year in terms of preserving food. I may yet cook up a few things for the freezer, as there is still quite a bit of eggplant, chilies and tomatoes in the garden.
We celebrated Luke's 32nd birthday a little over a week ago and went out to eat at the "Elephant Bar", which is one of our  favorite restaurants.  We had a great time.  September is loaded with birthdays  in our family, and to those of my very precious family members who we were/are not able to celebrate with yet… Happy Birthday… we're looking forward to catching up soon!

Luke and I have been doing some cooking in the kitchen together, and having a great time. I asked him if I could post some of his cooking and recipes; and  I was delighted to get to make some homemade ketchup with him this week, as well as a delicious French Apple Custard cake, all of which I will post about soon.  

We are feeling that Colorado weather at work, with all of its extremes; we had 35 degrees  one day last week, and in the 90's this week, all of which has kept us between sweaters and warm socks, to flip flops and shorts within a very short period of time.  As I mentioned earlier, we have had that crazy virus that has caused us to cough for more than 2 weeks. Perhaps the extreme changes in weather contribute.  So I  have pulled out all of our favorite remedies (and a few more that we have added to our list) and we are taking every last thing in triplicate. I am thinking to be healthy and strong and  have my immune system well defended by the time I go traveling. 
Now for those of you who have read this far, and have been wondering what in the world is  the picture I have on my header?  I will tell you at last.  It is a Pinocchio Eggplant. Well at least that is what Luke and Steve and I have called it.  It grew this way.  Isn't it strange?  Luke bought it at one of the Farm stores this week.  It is indeed a marvel. I would like to make up some sort of headline for it, because it seems to deserve it… but I am too foggy headed it will have to do as is…until another time.
  Hope you all are staying well, and enjoying some lovely Fall days.
Have a great week everyone.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Calabacitas means little squash or Zucchini.  This dish is really a casserole containing Zucchini or Mexican squash, fresh corn, chilies, onions, tortilla chips and cheese.  It is a wonderful side dish, but is so satisfying, it can be served with tortillas or biscuits as a main dish.  With all these veggies in season right now, and most of them in my garden, I've been craving it all week.  I ended up making 2 batches for the mere fact that the first batch got eaten before I finished my pictures. Ha.  It is named for the squash in the dish, but is probably as much of a corn and chili casserole as it is a squash casserole.  It is topped with cheese, finely crushed tortilla chips and yes, more cheese.  I must confess, cheese and crust; these are the things that make veggies so delicious to me ( I do wish I didn't feel that way).  If you wished to make this Trim Healthy Mama friendly, or low carb, simply leave off the tortilla chips and reduce or leave out the corn.
I like making this in a cast iron skillet.  It works out perfectly, because you begin by frying the bacon in the cast iron skillet, and your whole dish ends up there, so there is very little clean up afterwards.

Begin by frying the bacon nice and crisp.  Take the bacon out and cool on a paper towel.  Leave 2 Tablespoons of bacon grease at the bottom of the skillet.

Cut up the squash into chunks (I leave the skins on).

Place them into the pan on top of the bacon grease.

Shuck and prepare corn.

Cut the fresh corn off of the cob.

Add corn to squash.

Clean, core, de-seed and chop fresh chilies.

Sprinkle on top of the corn.

Chop the onion.

 Sprinkle onto of the chilies.

Chop or crumble the bacon.

Add to onions.

Looks good already doesn't it?

Place on burner and turn to medium high heat.  Stir mixture as it cooks.

Saute for 5-10 minutes, or until veggies are beginning to brown and squash is just beginning to look cooked.

Remove from heat.  Add 2/3 of the cheese. and lightly stir it into the vegetables.

Top with crumbled tortilla chips.

Add remaining cheese evenly over the top of crumbled tortilla chips. Cover with aluminum foil and place in oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

It should be nice and melty.

Top with green onions.

Dish it up and Enjoy.


2 medium small Calabacita squashes or Zucchinis
4 medium cobs of corn/corn cut off of cob (you could also use 2-3 cups of frozen corn).
2 medium sized fresh green chills,  cored, seeded and diced (you could also use roasted or canned green chilies).
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 pieces of bacon, fried and crumbled (I use an uncured organic bacon)
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or montery jack cheese
1 1/2 cups finely crushed tortilla chips
2 green onions, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook bacon in skillet until nicely crispy.  
  3. Drain bacon on paper towel.
  4. Leave about 2 Tablespoons of bacon grease in skillet.
  5. Add vegetables one after the other and top with bacon. 
  6. Place skillet on stove top.  Stir and saute 5-10 minutes, or until squash and corn are just beginning to look cooked.  I don't like it to be over cooked, it tastes best when it is slightly crunchy.
  7. Now top with 3/4 of the cheese, stirring into the vegetables as you add.
  8. Top with crushed corn chips and more cheese. 
  9. Place into preheated oven and bake 15- 20 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle with green onions.
  11. Serve and Enjoy.

Have a nice weekend everyone.
Blessings, Pam