I need several breaks during these long days of writing. I stand up every hour or so and do the dishes or water the plants or make up a grocery list or just go sit outside in the sun. I decided this weekend I'd cook between chapters to stock the freezer with some homemade foods. Cleaning, paring, chopping and slicing give me ample time to think about my life outside the book. (I have to remind myself sometimes that I still have one. A life, that is.)
I love fall for a lot of reasons, namely apples, pears, plums, pumpkins, tomatoes, zucchini and onions. On my way home from Pittsburgh yesterday, I stopped at my favorite farmer's market along Route 66 in a small, small town aptly named Orchardville. I like it because the family raises fabulous produce, they're nice folks and they take checks. (Does anyone carry cash anymore?) I picked up a half peck of Empire apples, five pounds of Roma tomatoes, three large zucchinis, some onions and a large bulb of garlic.
I had an additional five pounds of tomatoes here at home (gifts from gardening friends) and decided to make double batches of spaghetti sauce and roasted vegetable chili. I also wanted to make applesauce, something I hadn't done in...wow...four years, maybe? It's been a long time and I really don't know why other than I used to make it for my kids and they're grown and out of the house now. Come to think of it, I stopped making several things because the kids are gone, things I like to eat. So with this batch of applesauce, that crazy thinking is over with.
I forgot how much I love homemade applesauce. I poured a half cup (direct from the saucepan) in a small bowl and topped it with a quarter cup of Breyer's Double Churn fat-free vanilla yogurt and stood in the kitchen and ate it. Oh my, dare I say it was better than sex? I hope no one heard me :)
I'm ready to write again. Hope you're all enjoying the fine foods of fall as well. Be good to yourselves. Eat an apple or a pear or a plum or some pumpkin. It's good for you!
And because I know a few of you will ask, here are the recipes for the spaghetti sauce, the applesauce and the chili:
Lynn's Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta (and Pizza) Sauce
Serves 6-10, depending on what you're using it for
2 pounds Roma or plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
6 peeled garlic cloves
1 T fresh rosemary leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
1 T fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
½ tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Spray veggies lightly with non-stick spray. Roast for 20 minutes. Flip the vegetables and roast for another 20-25 minutes or until they start to brown.
Scrape everything into a food processor fitted with the chopping blade or a blender and process until pureed. Pour contents into a large saucepan. Add vinegar, tomato paste, salt and basil. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. I sometimes go an hour for richer flavor.
This sauce keeps well for a three to four days. In fact, I think it tastes even better the next day. It’s great on pasta, squash and homemade pizza.
Lynn’s Roasted Veggie Chili
4-5 cups total of veggies of your choice: carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, sweet red pepper and/or butternut squash
1 C chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ to 2 T chili powder (use more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
1 t sugar (may need to add a bit more later in the cooking process)
1 t salt
1/2 - 1 t cumin
1 t dried oregano leaves
1 t cocoa
½ t red pepper sauce
28 ounces canned diced tomatoes, undrained (or 5 -6 medium sized fresh tomatoes, skin removed, seeded and diced)
2-4 C vegetable or chicken broth (You probably won't need this if you use fresh tomatoes. It also depends on if you like your chili more like a stew or more like a soup)
2 cans (15 ½ ounces) red or white kidney beans or black beans or a combination of the two
Cut up the veggies into bite-sized pieces, put them on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, sprinkle with garlic powder, cumin, and black pepper, and roast in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes or until brown, flipping once after 15 minutes.
In a Dutch oven, spray the bottom with cooking spray and cook onions and garlic until tender, about 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except for the beans and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for at least an hour (I usually cook it for three hours). Add beans and heat through or cook an additional hour if you'd like.
Lynn's Favorite Applesauce ala an old Betty Crocker cookbook
4 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and quartered (about 4 cups)
1/2 c water
1/3 - 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
Cook apples in water on medium heat until soft, 10-15 minutes, breaking them up with a spoon. Add rest of the ingredients and boil and stir for one minute. You can mash it with a potato masher for a smoother consistency, or leave in chunks.