Tag Archives: marinara

Harvest Monday

May 4, 2015

We are still harvesting spinach every other day.Nieto Photography 2015We were able to harvest a bit of lettuce and cilantro this week for the first time!Nieto Photography 2015

We went to a U-pick strawberry farm early in the week and stocked up for jams this winter.Nieto Photography 2015My neighbor’s overwintered kale is loving the cool weather we’ve been having. We’ve picked about 3 grocery bags-full for juicing.Nieto Photography 2015My daughter planted some onion seeds last fall and left them over the winter. One survived and just started to go to seed so she went ahead and harvested it this week.Nieto Photography 2015We are nearing the end of our stash of tomatoes and sweet potatoes 😦 We no longer eat sweet potatoes. I am saving the last few for the baby 🙂 I used most of the tomatoes this week to make just over 4 quarts of marinara sauce. My husband asked if I could make a marinara-scented candle. The house smelled SO yummy!Nieto Photography 2015I just finished taking pictures for my monthly garden post. Most things are sprouting, even with our cool weather this week. It is supposed to warm up considerably this next week so hopefully our beans and corn will catch up with everything else.

What are you harvesting? Check out what other gardeners are up to at Daphne’s Dandelions today 🙂


Harvest Monday

October 20, 2014

Today is the date of our first frost (zone 7b) and apparently this winter is supposed to be a doosey. However, we are still in the 40s at night (70s during the day) and I, for one, am THANKFUL! 🙂

Because of this, we are still able to harvest peas, tomatoes, peppers, and a few raspberries.DSC_5778Other than fresh eating, the peas are frozen for later use.DSC_5780 DSC_5776 DSC_5777We ran out of marinara/passata sauce this week so I made another batch with 2.5 bags of frozen tomatoes, picked earlier this summer.DSC_5783

Also, because we have not reached first frost, I have not had to:

  • rip up the tomato patch including peppers, tomatoes, and marigolds
  • harvest the rest of the sweet potatoes, which is good because I have NO CLUE where I am going to store all of those!
  • cover any of my lettuces, spinach, or root crops that were planted late & will need protection
  • cover my strawberry plants for the winter

And for all of this, I am thankful. I also see all of the work ahead of me and I am overwhelmed just thinking about it! I have spent the week getting out winter clothes for our family of eight. Not fun. Next week, I’m going to have to jump on my ‘prep the garden for the winter’ list.

The covered kale is really loving this cool weather. We have enjoyed many kale salads each night since not many of my spinach seeds sprouted and even less of my lettuce seeds. All is well. We love kale! 🙂 DSC_5787 DSC_5790(From the garden: kale, green beans, sweet potatoes, peppers (in the bean burger). Also made at home – whole wheat bread)

Are you able to continue harvesting? Check out what other gardeners are up to at Daphne’s Dandelions for her weekly Harvest Monday!

fyi: these pics are NOT from Nieto Photography. I took the pics from my husband’s camera this week & asked him to send them to me so I could post. He is so incredibly busy this time of year, he forgot to take his tag off of it 🙂

Using the Harvest

October 1, 2014

What have you been doing with all of that garden produce this summer? My desire is to eat it straight from the garden. I want to truly eat seasonally so I would prefer to not preserve most of our harvests.

However, we do not do that 100%. I freeze extra produce —

  • peas
  • green beans
  • corn
  • tomatoes (to use in soups or sauces later in the year)
  • blueberries

Lately, I have been running out of room in the freezer so I made some marinara sauce.Nieto Family - September 26 14 - 0042We store extra produce in the basement as well —

  • potatoes
  • sunflowers
  • pumpkins
  • spaghetti squash
  • watermelons

We noticed some spaghetti squash was molding this week so I cut off the molded parts, cooked, and froze those. DSC_5564DSC_5568I saved the sunflowers for the winter for the chickens but I realized now is actually a good time to give them the sunflowers because they are moulting and need extra protein so I am throwing the heads out to them, little by little.

We are also eating the potatoes, little by little. We have about a month’s worth left; which works out perfectly, since that’s when the sweet potatoes will be ready to be harvested.

Of the watermelon that was harvested this year, some were given away but most were put in our basement. DSC_5406We are currently eating the last one and the kids are done. This is what eating seasonally looks like, folks. The first taste of whatever crop is wonderfully anticipated. By the time the crop is done, so are the eaters, typically. 🙂

Thick, Easy Marinara Sauce

September 30, 2014

I have always had trouble growing tomatoes. I am getting better but have not ‘arrived’ yet. For this reason, I have not ventured out to find a really good marinara sauce. This summer, I decided that would be my goal: to find a perfect marinara sauce for our family. I was quite skeptical because my marinara recipe had to be

  • easy
  • smooth
  • thick
  • and easy… 😉

Smooth is pretty easy to come by but thick and easy do not tend to go hand-in-hand. The last marinara sauce I made was easy but only tasted okay. And I broke our crockpot in the process 😦

I ran across a Passata recipe from Chiot’s Run (wonderful blog) and decided to try it out. She is very knowledgeable when it comes to animals, gardening, and cooking so I trusted her comments about the sauce. From what I can tell, Passata and marinara are pretty much the same thing and we use marinara sauce for everything (pizza, pasta, making sloppy joes) so I went for it.

I do not want to heat the house up during the summer so when tomatoes come in, I just stick them in a freezer bag, whole. I used two gallon freezer bags full of tomatoes to make two quarts of thick, smooth sauce. There were only a few paste tomatoes. Most were large, slicing heirlooms and lots of cherry tomatoes.

I used the same ingredients as she does but I did a few things differently:

STEP 1: Line ingredients on pan. My tomatoes were mostly frozen still. I only let them defrost enough to be able to cut them in half.

Nieto Family - September 26 14 - 0013STEP 2: Roast 2 hours at 300. Nieto Family - September 26 14 - 0039Nieto Family - September 26 14 - 0041(YUM!)

Step 3: Scoop everything into the Vitamix with a slotted spoon. Save juice as a broth for soups.

Step 4: Pour sauce into jars and freeze (an idea I also got from her).
Nieto Family - September 26 14 - 0042Look how thick! The spoon was basically vertical. Nieto Family - September 26 14 - 0044 It was super thick. I had to use the plunger to blend it all up. There was no need to cook it longer in a pan/pot, as recommended.

The verdict: Wonderful! Even my daughter, who hates tomatoes, loved it 🙂 I still tasted a slight tomatoey taste that you don’t taste in store bought tomato sauce but I assume it is just because there is no sugar in my sauce. If there is anything else I can do other than add sugar, please let me know!

Highlights of the recipe/process:

  1. I can use frozen tomatoes and the consistency does not change
  2. the oven is on a fairly low temp (roasting is normally done on higher temps)
  3. the whole process takes about 2.5 hrs, including clean up (rather than taking all day)
  4. no crockpots were broken in the process
  5. I only used roasting pans and my Vitamix to make it (no pots, no food mills, etc.)
  6. and it makes a THICK, not to mention tasty sauce

I think we have a winner! Seriously, it is so difficult to find a good tomato sauce that can be used for pizza, spaghetti, whatever! This is it (I’m pretty sure)! Thank You Chiot’s Run! 🙂

Just to reiterate:

  • NO Peeling
  • NO Food mills
  • NO canning
  • LOVE IT.

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursdays and Simple Lives Thursday, hoping to help some other struggling marinara-maker 🙂

Harvest Monday

August 11, 2014


We continue to harvest tomatoesDSC_5163peppersDSC_5158Nieto Family - August 07 14 - 0002Nieto Family - August 08 14 - 0046zucchini, cucumbers,Nieto Family - August 07 14 - 0001DSC_5156This is our last yellow squash. I had to finally rip up the plant. Most of the squash was rotting before it grew to a harvestable size, it was crowding out many tomato plants, and the squash bugs were starting to take over.

…and beans. We are getting enough beans from our garden to eat fresh about 3x/week but our neighbor planted too many beans and did not want any of them to go to waste so one day this week, we went over there and picked 5 gallons of beans, snapped, blanched, and froze them. We are good with beans for the rest of the year! 🙂Nieto Family - August 08 14 - 0280We are also still getting a strawberry here and there and some kale as well. No pictures of potatoes but we still have about half of the patch left to be dug up. I am hoping it will last us until the sweet potatoes are ready…when is that, exactly? October, I think?

Fall Garden:

My kale and cabbage seedlings that were doing so well were attacked by cabbage worms this week. I know I need to cover them but I wanted to wait until later in the season because covering them also means it is hotter conditions for the seedlings and in August, I am looking how to make the seedlings cooler. What I need to do is rip the screen out of the window frames and use it to cover the seedlings but I can’t seem to find our wire cutters to make the hoops smaller and the screen is not big enough to cover the entire area as I have it covered now. I decided covering the area (though making the seedlings warmer), is the best bet right now.

Tomatoes: Our early blight is getting worse. It may have to do with our very wet summer. As I was pruning this past week, I had to rip out four tomato plants that had finally given up. We are still able to harvest tomatoes but it is only a matter of time. It will be interesting to see if we get enough tomatoes, even with all of our issues, to last us until next year, as far as enough salsa and marinara sauce. We’ll see.


It has cooled down this week quite a bit (mid0-80s) and it has been rainy so I baked all the bread to feed us for the next month, blanched and froze corn and green beans, and made marinara sauce for the first time.

I filled up the Vitamix 5 times with tomatoes. I ran it outside because the baby was asleep. 🙂 DSC_5141(this is a variety of tomatoes – indigo purple, roma, early girl, black krimm, and homestead)

This filled the crockpot twice. It took 20 hours to cook the tomato juice down to tomato sauce each time. I did this all in a row in our 9yo crockpot and by the end, it cracked 😦 Off to find a new one.DSC_5143(mid-way into cooking) DSC_5144(fully cooked down tomato sauce)

I then sauteed onions, garlic, celery, and sweet red peppers from our garden, added them to the tomato sauce with herbs, and let it cook for about 30 more minutes. In all, this made 3 quarts of marinara sauce.  The only work involved for me was making the marinara sauce. And all of this from one week of tomatoes. Not too shabby 🙂

I guess I just need to space out the heating of the crockpot. Until we get another one, I will be freezing our tomatoes whole. I do not like preserving but there are definitely benefits to doing it. I still want to be able to harvest year-round from our garden but preserving adds variety in the winter and helps out if certain crops fail.

I am all about easy though. I freeze instead of canning…use the vitamix instead of peeling and deseeding my tomatoes. I am also all about cheap/no cost. I try to freeze more in jars (I already have) than in bags that have to be bought.

If I have the room in my freezer, I like to freeze my tomatoes whole and preserve them in the winter, when I want to heat up my kitchen. What about you…are you preserving your harvest or just eating soley in season? I would LOVE an outdoor kitchen during days like these! 🙂

Head over to Daphne’s Dandelions to see what other gardeners are harvesting these days.