Monday, 23 February 2015

Pasta Sauce

Bill got an ENORMOUS crock pot for Christmas. I was happy enough with my old £5-bargain-from-the-fleamarket-15-years-ago crock pot, but he wanted one that you could take the 'crock' part out and soak it. 

I've been trying to think what to do with this GIANT thing other than cook 16 meals worth of beans at a time. I think of crock pots as being mainly to do with beans or with meat. I don't wish to add substantial amounts of meat either to our diets or our pocketbooks. 

One thing I did remember cooking 20-some years ago when I lived in Salt Lake was the pasta recipe from The Tightwad Gazette.  As I recall it was practically a party day any time I took a jar off the shelf for dinner. 

I had loads of homegrown tomatoes then and I did the proper canning thing with a hot water bath and all. I remember being really paranoid because of the odd case of botulism associated with home canning, so I was very careful to follow the rules. And I promised myself NEVER TO TASTE something I'd canned that wasn't just right - I'd talked to a woman recovering from botulism who'd done just that, even though she knew it was risky. She was lucky to have survived.

The recipe doesn't call for a crock pot, but I remember struggling to get it all into my biggest pan. So I decided to see how it worked in the new BIG crock pot. I used tinned tomatoes (on sale at my green market four 800g tins for £1!), counting them out and squeezing most of the juice/water out. Bill helped me by grinding the onions and green peppers in Grandma & Grandpa's old meat grinder. I cooked everything except the tomato paste in the crock pot (it was barely half full, but those were huge tins of tomato paste) over night. I added the tomato paste the next day, mixed it all up and put it into jars, not quite filling them to leave room to freeze. 

It smelled and tasted wonderful, mainly because of the herbs and garlic! That said, the tinned tomatoes weren't as big as my homegrown ones (and nothing ever compares to home grown tomatoes, right?) so the paste is a bit acidic. I may try adding a bit of baking soda, not being a huge fan of sugar. When I make it again - and I expect I will - I'll probably double up on the tinned tomatoes. Also, I'll probably try cutting back on the oil, maybe by a third to begin with. We're not on a low fat diet by any means, but it's not unusual for us to find processed foods too oily and a lot of older-fashioned recipes are too rich for our taste.

All that aside, I was well pleased with the outcome and will look for other sauces to make in batches to freeze. 

Do you use a crock pot much?

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