Adopt a Tomato for Pennies!

This past Sunday, we went to a farmer’s market & bought lots of good yummy stuff.  We asked the seller about “seconds.”  Imperfect tomatoes don’t sell well at full price.  They require a little work but they are so worth it.   Since we were planning to make sauce, these tomatoes were a perfect fit for us.   

(I should add that Eric’s mom first told us about this farm stand and their imperfect tomatoes. She and I canned whole tomatoes last weekend & it was so fun!  We got 8 quarts full out of the box!) 

He didn’t have many then, but said to come back at the end of the day.  We were rewarded with a full box (10 or 12 pounds!) of tomatoes!  We only had to throw away 3 of them that were beyond saving.   And that box of tomatoes only cost $5!  I left a tip, but even at that, these were so cheap!   

It also made me happy that the farm stand was able to offload these less-than-perfects toms, and make a little money (although I do feel like we were undercharged big time.)

So we spent Sunday night in the kitchen,talking, listening to music, & making tomato sauce.  It was great.  

The best way to peel tomatoes is to drop then in boiling water, and then dunking them into ice water.  If you haven’t done this, you are missing out big time.  

So we boiled all 10 lbs of tomatoes, peeled them, cored them, and removed the seeds.  
Here I am, peeling….

 And peeling…

And peeling…

All in all, the peeling/seeding/coring process took about 45 minutes for the two of us.  Eric is the superior cook, so he took on the task of making the sauce in our giant lobster pot.   Everyone has their own recipe, so I won’t bother repeating ours.  All I’ll say is, add a little bit of Worcestershire sauce.  It makes a difference.  

I went to bed, and Eric dutifully stayed up to stir and clean up.  (Love him.)  Tonight I took the sauce & froze it into 16 oz containers.  10 in all.  I somehow found room in the freezer, and now we have lots of sauce for so so so cheap.  Plus, your own sauce is always better! (Or in my house, Eric’s tomato sauce is always better.)  

Here’s the math: 

Tomato sauce on sale: $1.99/26 oz or $0.07/oz (for reasonably good sauce- I’m not comparing against bargain basement sauce here.)

Our sauce: $5/160 oz tomato sauce or $0.03/oz.  Even if you add in the time we spent, it’s totally worth it.  It’s delicious, we know where it came from & what’s in it.  And, it’s ours.  

We’ll be doing this again, for sure.  Lesson learned: Always listen to your mother-in-law.  🙂 

Freezer Chili- another recipe from the "Freezes Beautifully" category

Right now on my counter is a Crock Pot (seldom used device in this house) that is simmering some Chili Con Carne.

Chili is a dish that originated in Texas. Since Eric and I are planning a trip to San Antonio, I thought this chili would be a perfect meal. See here for the original San Antonio Chili recipe: along with a ton of other fun facts about chili.

But onto our chili. Eric took a little freezer inventory recently and found some pork and sirloin. Just odds and ends that we had frozen after a meal (lots of leftovers when you cook for two.) So he threw them into the Rachel Ray dutch oven, seared them, and cooked them for approximately eleventy-million hours (a technical term meaning a long time- but really about 20 minutes.)

Here’s the chili recipe he uses:

3 pounds stew meat (beef, pork, and/or lamb)
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer, preferably a medium ale
1 (16-ounce) container salsa
30 tortilla chips (crushed)
2 chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce, chopped
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the chipotle peppers in adobo)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
He cooked the meats in the oil for about 20 minutes, deglazed the pan with the beer, and basically threw it all into the crockpot. It’s been cooking for about 12 hours on low.

Top with sour cream, some yummy cheese (we like Monterey Jack) and some fresh chives or cilantro.

Added bonus: The house smells lovely!

Every cook (I think) has an awesome, unique chili recipe. What’s your secret??