Making Tomato Sauce

Making Tomato Sauce

Along with the joys of harvesting my own fresh veg and some fruit comes a bit of a reality check!  I’ve got to process all this stuff!   For instance for a good part of the last year we have been having a bumper tomato crop.  Now we really appreciate a good red, ripe, tasty tomato as opposed to the things we buy at the shop – all they are good for is slicing and putting on the top of the macaroni cheese just so you have something red there.  Come to think of it paprika does a better job!  So along with tomatoes in the salad and grilled tomato for brekky, the gravy, stews and curries usually have a tomato or two lurking in there.  They are also good on top of the roast to stop it drying out, I’ve made many a batch of tomato soup, Bolognese sauce and I tried drying some and putting them in oil but they were too crunchy.  Don’t know what I did wrong there.

The pantry is now home to many bottles of chutney and tomato sauce and a neighbour friend told me that you can simply freeze whole tomatoes for later use in stews, so there are quite a few boxes of tomatoes festering in the bottom of the freezer.

The finished product.

The finished product.

We’ve also had a lot of zucchini and squash.  As we speak I have thinly sliced zucchini and onion draining in a colander in the cold room, ready and waiting to be made into pickles.  We’ve had zucchini slice, zucchini fritters, stuffed zucchini and zuchs in the stews and curries.  Any other ideas folks??  They are mounting up in the coldroom!

I’m managing to keep up with the eggplant – but only just.  They are the little long skinny ones and have been delicious – even the horrible white grubs think so.

But I think I am going to be snowed under by the okra.  There are about a dozen okra bushes, I dotted them all about the veg garden to provide shade for other plants and they are really starting to produce!  They go into the stews and curries too and I fry them up with lots of different herbs and spices and we have them both hot and cold.  I’ll hit the internet for some new recipes for the okra I reckon.

And lastly the fruit – well we haven’t been drowned in it, but we could be if 8 large watermelons all get ripe at the same time!  One melon busted open when the temperature reached 48 last week, luckily I was present, rescued it and popped it into the coldroom.  It’s a very nice, tasty 6kg melon.  How do you know when to pick them!!!  I know they should make a drummy sound when you tap them – but they all sound sort of drummy.  And yesterday I picked a 9 kg one, will cut it open today, fingers crossed it’s going to be yummy!

Then there are the rockmelons, they too suffered in the heat and the chooks ended up with 3 last week, (they sort of just cooked inside).  But there are more that I have high hopes for, picked 4 good sized ones this morning and ate one for lunch!

As cattle producers we are eating more F&V than lean beef and my halo just might choke me.  Even Greg, when confronted by all the nice salads that I am making, eats more vegetables than meat these days!

Delicious Okra from my garden.

Delicious Okra from my garden.

 

 

Advertisements
Our eldest doing the mincing, no electrics here!

Our eldest doing the mincing, no electrics here!

During a recent “cool spell “we went and got a killer.  By this I mean the freezer was nearly empty and so we drove out into the paddock, selected a fat little Hereford heifer who wasn’t a particularly good sort, shot her and cut the meat off her. The Hereford’s eat so much better than anything with Bos Indicus in it.  In our opinion!!!!  Probably got a lot to do with what they are eating themselves. We then loaded the meat onto old shearers stretchers on the back of the Toyota and brought it home and hung it all up in the coldroom.  Very satisfying to see the shoulders and the back legs, the rumps, sirloins, rib fillets, neck, briskets and the rib bones all hanging up waiting to age a little, then to be cut up a little more and bagged and then into the freezer.  It also occurs to one that one is going to be doing a lot of butchering in the next week or so.   With those blunt knives.  The magpie family is happy as there are lots of scraps for them and the 2 little dogs are beside themselves with the smell of all that divine beef. They are heartily sick of Chum and My Dog!  The big dogs can also expect some delicious bones and scraps.  It really hurts the hip pocket when we have to buy meat and sometimes we do for various reasons.

We make up a big tub of brine to corn the meat in ( silverside, sometimes some rib bones, brisket etc) this lives in the coldroom for about 10 days, long enough to cure the meat.  We mince certain cuts (with an electric mincer) and also make sausages and rolled roasts.  The shin is diced for stewing meat, some cuts are used for crumbed steak and so we are right for meat for about the next 6 months.

It’s a far cry from when Greg was a boy and all they had was a meathouse to store the meat in while it cooled down and a couple of Kerosene fridges.  Then if they killed a beast it was only ever in the winter and after about a week of having fresh meat they had to salt the rest as the only method of preservation.  The meat was cut into chunks of about 1 or 2 kilos rolled in salt and kept in corn bags in the coolest place they could find. Sometimes hung up in trees.   It also had to be inspected every day to make sure that the flies or ants hadn’t found it, sometimes they would wash the meat and resalt it.  I reckon you would get fairly sick of eating corned meat all the time!  Occasionally they would buy a sheep off a neighbour and kill it for a change in their diet – nice leg of roast mutton would have been a real treat!

Back then meat was the staple in the diet; veg consisted of potatoes, pumpkin and cabbage and maybe some carrots.  Salads were a bit suspect – the ingredients for them were very hard to obtain anyway.  With the exception of tomatoes and onions the rest of the “Salad” usually came out of a tin:  beetroot, peas, corn, bread and butter cucumbers, and for special occasions – asparagus.  Oh, potato salad was also very popular!  Sometimes there were fresh vegies if they had a vegetable garden going, but back in the 50’s and 60’s Australians were a very conservative bunch – there was no multi cultural stuff happening in the food department out here and not much in the cities either unless you happened to have a Greek, Italian or Lebanese for a friend.  So what did they grow in the garden?  Tomatoes were prized as was lettuce and cucumber and then there were the old staples – pumpkin, carrots, silverbeet, beans, peas and beetroot.

It was still very much like this when I came out here in the late 70’s, but we did have a large gas freezer that we checked twice a day to make sure it was still a goer and there were no bits of fluff around the naked flame underneath it.  At least we were now able to freeze the beef instead of salting it.  And we did have a great vegetable garden too when we lived in the Shearers Quarters and also when we first built our house and now I have another one.  Back at that the Shearers Quarters!

We probably still eat more meat than the urban population but it is about 35 % of our diet now not the 70% that was once common.  That’s in my household anyway!  Not the same everywhere I’m sure.

 

Our little old meathouse at the Shearers Quarters.

Our little old meathouse at the Shearers Quarters.