Friday, March 18, 2011

No Fried Green Tomatoes Here!

My partner made an interesting comment the other day while we were discussing herbs, and indoor gardens and the plethora of survival info on the web. Not her exact words, but this is the gist of what she said...
It's all well and good that we grow this or that, but then what?
And that's a good question.
Above is a picture of our tomato seedlings. I was reading the other day about sprouts, and got curious if tomato sprouts could be eaten.
Apparently not; they're poisonous in this stage.
Mental note: no tomato sprout munching.
Okay, so they grow, and they get sliced and dried (even if they are cherry tomatoes), then what?
There is no point in putting a lot of energy into growing ones own food, and then taking steps to preserve it, if one won't eat what one has saved.
Even if the brown stuff DOESN'T hit the fan, all this saving and stashing is a good way to support our lean budgets. So again, it makes sense to stash what your family will eat. So, you've got some dried what? Tomato sauce. Me being the geek I am, I went scouring the web to see if someone had already done this. I give you, ModernSurvivalBlog's recipe for dried tomato sauce...

  • 1 typical size fresh garden tomato will result in about 6 slices, each about one-quarter inch thick – excluding the end pieces.
  • 1 typical ‘can’ of diced-stewed tomatoes from the grocery store (my cans say 14.5 ounces) is equal to about 30 slices of tomato.

For example, when a recipe calls for 4 cans of diced tomatoes, I will substitute about 120 slices of dehydrated tomatoes.

Keep in mind that re-hydrating dehydrated tomatoes will not be as ‘pretty’ as the original, but, believe me, most of that original flavor will be there, just a bit mushy instead. For sauce, it doesn’t matter!

Modern Survival Blog recipe for tomato sauce, using dehydrated tomatoes

The sky’s the limit, go ahead and experiment!

  • Dehydrated Tomato Slices (about 120), cut into smaller pieces, re-hydrate, strain – save 3 cups strained water for recipe add
  • Water (3 cups)
  • Tomato Paste (optional, thickness to taste, 3 cans… 6 oz. cans)
  • Garlic (8 cloves – chopped)
  • Onion (1 – chopped)
  • Sugar (1/4 cup)
  • Worcestershire Sauce (1/4 cup)
  • Parsley (1/8 cup – dried, or 1/4 cup fresh chopped)
  • Basil (2 tsp.)
  • Oregano (1 tsp.)
  • Sage (1 tsp.)
  • Marjoram (1/2 tsp.)
  • Salt (1/2 tsp.)
  • Pepper (1/2 tsp.)
  • Olive Oil (1 Tbsp.)

This tomato sauce recipe is good as it is, or you can add meat to it and enjoy just as well.

Tomato Sauce Recipe Instructions

After cutting the dehydrated tomato slices into smaller pieces, dump them all into a pot of water (cool or room temperature) to re-hydrate. Stir them up so they are all covered with water.

The tomatoes will be re-hydrated enough in 30 minutes. Then, strain the tomatoes. This gives the recipe a base-line of tomatoes to start with…

Then, add all ingredients into a pot, and slowly bring to a rolling boil at medium heat.

Then, lower heat to simmer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, use a masher to mash the ingredients.

Then, taste test, and realize the magnificent flavor!

Add meat if you wish, then simmer until all flavors are blended, and any meat is cooked. This is typically about one hour on low heat.

If you had added tomato paste, you should use a covered pot. If not, then boil down to your liking.

Remember, you can’t go wrong. Use your own experimental judgment!

Hopefully this will encourage you to consider dehydrating your excess tomatoes during the summer growing season, which will greatly reward you during the winter months!

If you have a chance, please drop by Modern Survival Blog. It's always an interesting read.
I'm off to cheer on the seedlings... what have you done this week to prepare?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coffee and The Mighty Dandelion

This past week, we were warned that food prices were going up again. Now, some of you might have been warned weeks or months ago, but just this week, someone said the C-word.
That's right... COFFEE
My coffee prices are going up! AUGH!
*breathes deeply*
Ok, I'm in control again.
So this shock led me to starting not only stashing coffee before it goes up to $10 for 2 pounds of the stuff, but also looking into finding an "extender" that won't taste gross. Of course, that will require actual scientific experimentation.
The first step is to look into historical replacements.

Chicory comes to mind, it's been used as a coffee substitute on a commercial scale since 1970, but probably long before that. I've not tried it, but I'm sure I've seen chicory plants in our neighborhood.
Dandelion root is supposed to be tolerable. It's enjoyed a long life, mentioned first in Harper's Magazine back in 1886. In 1919, it was widely talked about as a cheap substitute for coffee. After harvesting, chopping, roasting and grinding, it's said to be a passable and tasty alternative, and as an added boost, it's good for your liver too!
I think this may be the first thing I'll try, especially since I want to harvest dandelions this year for so much else.
So many people think of the poor dandelion as just a noxious weed, but for the folks not allergic, it is so much more.
A great addition to almost anyone's diet, in so many different ways. We are getting good here at slipping in healthy food without the boys knowing; it's a little like a challenge.
The leaves are tender if harvested in early spring. They can be slipped into a salad, or boiled with spinach. These green darlings are higher in Vitamin A than carrots! They're loaded with iron, magnesium, zinc (good for alleviating cold symptoms), copper, selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamins A and K, and, I could go on and on, but suffice it to say this is a plant that we here plan on taking the MOST advantage of this year, from root to leaf and beyond!

In the meantime, I will continue to buy all the coffee I can while it's still $8 or cheaper for two pounds.
I'll let you know how my experiments go...just as soon as spring comes back!