Category Archives: half hour

Tomato Jam

Guy Clarke wrote a song that we love to sing every summer: “Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes, nothing in the world like home grown tomatoes. There’s only two things that money can’t buy, and that’s true love and home grown tomatoes!” So true! The best things about this season are baseball, homemade ice cream and home grown tomatoes. Big fat juicy ones! Tiny little jewel-like ones. We love them. This Saturday morning, I picked about a pound of the cherry tomatoes, variety of Chocolate Sprinkles. I made the jam to have with whole wheat cheese waffles topped with ricotta.

There were older folks in our home town who thought that they should be considered a fruit and ate them with cream and sugar. Apparently they like them that way back east, also. When we lived in Maine, we got a fruit juice and cracker snack every morning. I chose tomato juice, which I had always had with salt in it. One sip of my juice that morning, and I was shocked to find that sugar had been added!

My mom planted them almost every summer when we were younger, and I would eat them til my mouth was raw. I remember one summer the harvest was so abundant that mom sent my sister and I around the neighborhood with a basket of tomatoes to sell. Dad continued to plant them (Teri may have planted them on his behalf) and he usually had a few to pick on the plants behind the garage before I left town. We had a joke. I would leave one on the fence post for him to find. He would always pretend to be amazed at how it got there! After we cleaned out the house and I drove away for the last time, I found a tomato to leave on the fence post.

Mom made tomato preserves a few times when I was little. This recipe is similar to what I remember.

TOMATO JAM

28 – 32 0z can tomatoes (note: I used fresh Chocolate Sprinkles cherry tomatoes)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil (note: I used about 2 Tablespoons dried)
chopped onion — again, I used about 2 tablespoons dried.
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar……Guess what? I didn’t have any so I used lemon juice, about a tablespoon.
salt and pepper.

Put it all in a pot and bring to a boil. season with salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium, and mash the tomatoes with a potato masher. Cook until thick, about 20 minutes.

I think this would be good with red pepper flakes instead of basil (just a dash!) or with mint. The jam I think that I remember mom making …..I think it had cinnamon and cloves ….if I were doing that, I might add some chunks oflemon with the juice. I will definitely make it again.

One Dish Meals: First in a Series . Macaroni and Cheese

One of my sons has suggested a “one pot” theme.  Good idea, especially if the dish is such that you can do like the cavepeople did and all stick your spoons in the same pot!  No dishes! I like it.  To my way of thinking, soup makes a great one pot meal, especially if you have got (or have made!) some really good bread.  Anyway, watch this spot; there will be more to come.  But for the first one pot meal, let’s make it macaroni and cheese.  Technically, I use 2 pots, one for the mac and one for the sauce, but there is a way to make it in one pot.  Here it is.  Don’t forget  to serve with applesauce.

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 bag of macaroni – usually about a pound.  And I like to use whole wheat mac, the spirals.
  • 4 tablespoons butter.  and it’s better if your butter is not margarine.
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk (or alternatively, 2/3 cup dry milk powder mixed with 2 cups water. or add the powder with the flour and then stir in the water.)
  • 0ne pound (or more) of cheddar cheese, shredded — or you can  use a mixture of Monterey Jack, cheddar, etc.  Sometimes I also use some cream cheese.  And, while some would say that Velveeta is not real cheese, it sure does melt nicely. Use the big box.
  • salt and pepper
  • additional seasoning: I like to use either Worcestershire sauce or Lawry’s seasoned salt.  Some chopped green onions are also good.

First, you need a big pot in which to boil your water and cook your macaroni.  I assume you can follow the directions on the bag.  When it is cooked, drain it and return to the stove (but turn the burner way down.  In fact, turn it off for a while.  The mac is pretty hot.) Now, stir in the butter and let it melt, and then add the flour.  Now the milk (or the milk powder and water). Now, with the heat on low, start stirring in the cheese til its melted.  If you choose to add the additional seasonings, go ahead.  Remember, the more cheese the better.  That’s it; you can eat it out of the pot, or if you are from southern Kansas, pour it into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 til brown on top.  (buttered bread crumbs always make a good casserole topping.)

Like my Mom said, “Feed ’em macaroni and cheese!”

A Word about Powdered Milk

I don’t suppose anyone likes to drink powdered milk, but it is handy to have around.  If you bake or cook any recipe that calls for milk, the difference won’t be noticeable if you substitute reconstituted dry milk. It’s cheaper, and it keeps for a long time. And then you can save the real milk for drinking and eating cereal.