Monday, March 30, 2015

What is your favorite sauce tomato?

What is your favorite tomato for making sauces?  I have liked Roma and Amish Paste and used them for years. Last year our Roma's seemed to be "challenged" so this year we are starting from seed and planting Costoluto Genovese as they are highly recommended for sauce.

Roma Tomato

Amish Paste Tomato

The Costoluto Genovese meets our requirement for "heirloom" tomatoes because it has been know since before the 19th century.  It has a balanced flavor,weighs in at around 8 oz and is indeterminate. 

Costoluto Genovese
I am looking forward to soup, ketchup or as my husband says "quatsup" (see recipe below), barbecue and pasta sauce.

What is your favorite sauce tomato? Please let us know! There are hundreds of kinds of tomatoes to enjoy.
We found this recipe years ago and have modified it as we went along. Enjoy!!

Roasted Tomato Catsup (quatsup)

Makes 4 pints

5 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onion, finely diced
4 clove garlic, finely diced
8 tablespoons cider vinegar
8 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
12 tablespoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2.  In a small bowl, toss the tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes to a food processor and process until smooth. Strain, pressing against the solids with a wooden spoon to extract as much pulp and juice as possible. 
  3.  Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until almost smoking, and saute the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the tomato puree, cider vinegar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and honey, and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 20 minutes - the ketchup should be thick enough to round up on a spoon. May be refrigerated, covered, up to 2 days.
  4. Ladle hot ketchup into prepared  8 oz. jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Use a butter knife or similar to run along the sides of the jar, removing air bubbles.Wipe rim, center lid on jar, and add screw band to fingertip tight.
  5. Process 8-ounce jars in a canner bath for 15 minutes at sea level, more depending on altitude or larger size of jar.
  6. Remove canner lid and let jars rest for 5 minutes before removing from the water.
  7. Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them. Cool overnight. Once the jars have cooled, ensure they are sealed. Press down gently in the center of the lid. If it pops up and down, it is not sealed. Put the jar in the refrigerator and enjoy it for the next 3 – 4 weeks. If the lid remains taut, you've got a good seal.  Remove the rings from the jars before storing.
Enjoy the rich, spicy flavor all year long!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Testing for seed viability

Come take a peek at my blog for Mother Earth News, available at

Today we are testing for seed viability.

Thanks so much and please remember thought and comments are welcome.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Urban Homestead Herbalist

What is the difference between an apothecary and a pharmacist? The apothecary is the forerunner of the pharmacist. They gathered raw materials and prepared medications. The modern pharmacist dispenses drugs prepared by pharmaceutical companies. 

Herbal medicine came before either of the above. For thousands of years human have used plants to treat injury and illness.

To be a homesteader means to learn to do for yourself with what you have, where you are.

Everyone has bumps, scrapes and bruises so it is wonderful to walk to the garden and find a plant that can help you heal. Arnica Montana has had a secure place in the home apothecary for a very long time.

Arnica Montana

Native to Central Europe, Mountain Arnica spread to Scotland, England and North America through escape and for medicinal use.

It's primary use has been to sooth and heal sprains and bruises.

According to the British Homeopathic Association, Arnica is rich in selenium and arnica ash is high in manganese. These powerful antioxidants may be the reason for Arnica's healing properties.

Following is an easy recipe for herbal infused oil

To make an herbal infusion:
  1. pick herbs early in the day, before the sun has hit them
  2. Carefully clean the herbs ( no bugs please) and sort the parts of the plant needed
  3. Tightly pack the herbs into a clean mason jar, pour the oil of you choice (I prefer olive oil) in to cover the herbs, put on the lid and put in a cool dark place for about four weeks
  4. Carefully drain the oil and put it in a dark colored jar and store in a cool dark place.
If you are in a hurry, here is an easy, stove top method.

Stove top method for herb infused oils.
Place the herb filled jar in a sauce pan that has been filled about ¼ full of water, simmer for 4-8 hours. Remove jar from saucepan and allow to cool. Decant, bottle, label, and store in a cool dark place.

I keep our oils in the refrigerator. With care they will last about a year.
The infused oil is easily made into salves and lotions.

Have you grown or used Arnica? Please share your experiences and ideas.  We love to hear from you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Change is in the wind

I got good news yesterday that will allow a few changes.
I now am an official blogger for Mother Earth News.
This blog will still be here for you with new, additional and complimentary  information appearing at

Yes, some of you have read this article before. It was actually my "audition piece". All our new posts will be at this page.

I am happy to be a member of the Mother Earth News Team. (doing a happy dance!)