Tag Archives: tomatoes

Vegan Vegetable Masala Soup

IMG_13762 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 onion; diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 celery stalk; diced
1 carrot; diced
1″ piece fresh ginger; minced
2 cloves garlic; crushed
1 Tablespoon garam masala
2 cups crushed tomatoes (in season use fresh tomatoes; diced)
2 cups water

Preheat a heavy bottomed soup pot over medium-low heat. Add coconut oil, onion and sea salt. Cover and saute 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, stir, cover and saute an additional 5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and garam masala, stir, cover and saute another 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. Add water, increase heat to boil, reduce heat and simmer an additional 30 minutes.

While the soup is cooking/simmering prepare the rest of the meal. I served vegan baked potatoes and salad but a sandwich would be wonderful too.


Vegetable Seedlings Planted Indoors; an Update

March 14, 2015 I started seeds indoors (nearly 6 weeks ago). Now, April 24th, you can see the progress. It is still too cold to plant these “babies” outside but by Memorial Day, my traditional planting weekend, they will be ready to go into my Connecticut garden. On warm sunny days the trays have gone outside to help harden them off. These past few days (and the foreseeable future) they will be indoors. Wow, it is a cold April.IMG_0081

Day 9 After Planting Vegetable Seeds Indoors

DSC_0003The tomatoes and basil are popping up and reaching for the windows, their only source of light. In an effort to encourage them grow straight the trays need to be rotated daily. Each day when I check for new sprouts and the moisture of the soil I also rotate the trays 180 degrees. At this point (9 days after planting the seeds) most of the tomatoes are up and going, as are the basil, there is one eggplant that is just barely pushing at the earth and no sign of life in the pepper pots. The fact that the eggplant have begun is a good sign, they take longer to germinate than the tomatoes but not as long as the peppers. I anticipate the peppers to begin sprouting this weekend (2 weeks after planting). Until then- monitor daily, spray with water as needed and rotate the trays with sprouts.

Starting Vegetable Seeds Indoors

Just when it seems spring will never get here, on a cold and rainy Saturday in March, I started my indoor plantings for this summer’s vegetable garden. Many vegetables benefit from going into the ground as plants rather than directly sowing seeds into the earth. I annually plant peppers, tomatoes, tomatillo, eggplant and basil indoors giving them the longer growing season they need. To do this yourself you will need a solid chunk of time. It took me 4 hours from set up to clean up (it may not take you as long, I plant many trays).
I lay down a tarp (an old sheet or towels will work just as well) in a generous area to be able to spread everything out. Setting up a space to work and establishing a system makes the process very efficient. I recommend getting the seed packets out and considering how many of each type of plant you will want in May to put into the ground. I always increase my amounts to be sure to have back ups for a variety of things that can go wrong along the way.
DSC_0080Write the name of the vegetable variety on the end of a popsicle stick with a fine tip permanent marker. Be specific, don’t simply write tomato if you are planting several varieties. For example, I will be planting Italian Roma, Sweetie Cherry, Brandywine Red and Yellow.
You can purchase small plastic pots (inexpensive and reusable), use peat pots (cheap and must be purchased every year) or make your own from small yogurt cups (free and reusable). If using yogurt cups drainage holes will need to be pierced into the bottom of each cup. I put the cup on a piece of scrap wood, hold a nail and hammer it to pierce the plastic in 3-4 different places.

Fill each planting cup with potting soil (I recommend organic) to just below the rim. Most potting soil is moist in freshly opened bags. If it isn’t, or you are using a bag previously opened water the soil to moisten. If a lot of water drains out into the catch tray, pour it out.
DSC_0085Place the filled cups in a planting tray to catch draining water, make it easier to cover with plastic for the germination period and allow for easy transport of plants outdoors on warm sunny days and back in for the cooler nights. The planting trays I purchased years ago have started to develop holes (defeating their original purpose) but I use them to make carrying easier, I simply line them with large plastic salad bins. Another alternative is to put cups with holes inside a cup without a hole for individual catch trays.

DSC_0083Slide a labeled popsicle stick into the side of each cup.
DSC_0082Put 2-4 like kind seeds in each cup spreading them out evenly. Sprinkle a layer of soil on top of the seeds and gently press the layer of soil down. I usually just push the seeds down 1/8-1/4 inches below the surface with a finger and then gently compress the soil surface down.
DSC_0086Mist with water to soak.
DSC_0087Cover with plastic wrap and monitor daily. If the soil begins to dry out mist with water and recover otherwise leave the plastic intact. I recommend leaving the plastic on until the sprouts touch the plastic then remove the plastic and watch the soil carefully and mist to water as needed.

BE PATIENT, you won’t see the first sprouts for about a week. Peppers can take up to 2 weeks (especially in a space where the temperature is cool) so don’t give up.

STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT STEPS  in an upcoming post.

Vegetarian Urad Chili Stuffed Delicata Squash

DSC_00051 cup whole urad; soaked in water for at least 4 hours but up to 10

2 delicata squash
olive oil for pan

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion; diced
1 small green pepper; diced
1/2 stalk celery;  diced
1 clove garlic; crushed
2 fresh tomatoes; cubed
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 clove garlic; crushed

cheddar cheese to top; optional

Begin by soaking the whole urad in water for at least 4 hours but up to 10.
Preheat oven to 375.
Rinse and strain urad, place in a pot, cover with 4 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook till soft (45 minutes to 1 hour).
Rinse delicata squash, cut in half  lengthwise (stem to blossom end), scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard and place halves on an oiled baking sheet/dish cut sides down. Bake in the preheated oven until soft and golden on the inside (45 minutes to 1 hour). Remove from oven.
While the urad is cooking and the squash is baking; preheat a wide skillet that has a lid over medium heat. Saute onion, pepper and celery in olive oil for a few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, cover and bring to a simmer under a lid. Stir, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. The mixture should be a thick stewy consistency. If it has a lot of moisture, remove the lid and continue to simmer and stir until some of the water has reduced. Turn off heat and reserve until the urad is done.
Strain and rinse the urad, add the urad to the “chili stew” and mix well.
Flip the baked delicata squash halves onto their “backs” and mound each one with the urad chili and top with cheddar cheese if desired.
Return to oven and bake 10-15 more minutes until the meal is hot (and the cheese if using has melted).
Served here cut in half with a side of fresh baby greens.

Ketchup from Fresh Summer Tomatoes


10 lbs tomatoes (after trimming and cutting into chunks) *this filled my 8 quart pot to 1 1/2 inches below the rim*
2 onions; chopped
2 cloves garlic; chopped
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons natural sea salt (no iodine or anti-caking agents)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a large stock pot bring the chopped tomatoes, onions and garlic to a boil and cook for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and puree with a stainless steel immersion blender or allow to cool and puree in batches in a countertop blender/food processor. (NOTE: I strained with out pureeing a a second batch and it worked fine) Strain the pureed tomatoes through a sieve into a large bowl reserving all the liquid and returning to the cook pot. Let the pulp drip, reserving all the liquid, and cool.

Using a food mill process the pulp discarding the dry seeds and skin. If you don’t have a food mill use the back of a wooden spoon to press the puree through a sieve to separate the skins and seeds. Combine the now strained tomato puree and reserved liquid in a large cook pot, add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, cook at a slow boil (reduce heat if necessary) stirring occasionally for several hours to reduce the mixture to a ketchup consistency. Depending on your tomato variety and desired consistency this means reducing by half or even 2/3s. Be patient. You don’t need to watch the pot the whole time. Frequent check-ins while working on something else is perfectly fine.

This recipe yielded 8 half-pint jars for me but again, this can vary with tomato variety and final consistency. Prepare jars (more than you think as you can always use them another time but if you don’t have them when you need them that’s worse). Place jars in  a canning pot, cover with water, add 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar (optional, it keeps the jars “clear” if you have hard water), bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn off heat and leave jars in the hot water till ready to use.

Bring a medium pot to a simmer, remove from heat, place lids in hot water and cover till ready to use.

Fill each jar to 1/2 inch from the rim. Wipe rims with a clean damp piece of paper towel. Put warm lids in place and secure with the rims. Place finger tightened jars into the canning pot with the still hot water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes and allow to cool in the hot water bath. Remove jars from hot water bath. Be sure that the jars have sealed, there should be no play when pushing on the lid. Ready to enjoy or store.

Canning “Just Tomatoes” Sauce

DSC_0040When I first started canning I followed a marinara recipe but soon decided that canning “just tomatoes” would broaden the uses so now I can still make a marinara sauce but also use the tomato sauce for soups, stews, chili, sauces, rice dishes, etc.

8 quarts fresh tomatoes
3 quart canning jars and lids (or 6 pints)
1 pint canning jar and lid
7 Tablespoons lemon juice

Fill an 8 quart stock pot an inch from the rim with roughly chopped tomatoes (rinsed and stems removed). Over medium heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally, allow the tomatoes to cook until they break up and are “swimming” in their own juices (about 30 minutes). Turn off the heat. With a stainless steel emersion blender puree the tomatoes. *If you do not have a stainless steel emersion blender allow the tomatoes to cool and process in batches in a counter top blender and return to the stock pot.* Turn the heat to medium high, bring to a boil, reduce heat so the tomato sauce cooks at a slow boil. Continue cooking without lid until the tomato sauce has reduced by a third or to the desired consistency (this will depend on the tomato variety and desired consistency). This took about 3 hours. There isn’t a lot of work involved, just the patience to check in on the process and stir occasionally.

After 2 hours prepare the jars and lids (I normally put an extra jar in just in case it can always be used another time)- place jars in canning pot, cover with water, (add 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar if you have hard water to prevent build up on the glass), bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Leave jars in the hot water until ready to fill. Bring water in a small pot to a simmer, remove from heat, place lids in the hot water, cover and let sit till ready to seal the jars.

When the tomato sauce has reached the desired consistency it is ready to can. If using quart jars add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to each jar; pints- 1 Tablespoon. THE LEMON JUICE IS CRITICAL IN PRESERVING IN A WATER BATH METHOD BECAUSE IT ADJUSTS THE ACIDITY LEVEL SO DO NOT OMIT Fill each jar to 1/2 inch below the rim with tomato sauce, wipe the rims clean with a clean damp paper towel, put lids in place and finger tighten with the rings. Place filled jars back in the hot water canning pot, cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Allow to cool in the hot water bath for 12-24 hours, remove and check that the lids have sealed (there should be no play when the center of the lid is pushed). Label and store.