Spaghetti and Romas

What do you do with twenty ripe Roma tomatoes? Make sauce! Today I used my harvest to make a fresh tomato sauce for our spaghetti dinner. It took some time but the end result was superb!

First, I rinsed all of the tomatoes.

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Next, I put 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and sautéed onions (1/4 onion or more) and minced garlic (4-5 cloves) until they were browned.

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As I sautéed, I also cut up the tomatoes. Once the onions and garlic were done, I added in the tomatoes, some basil, a pinch of oregano, parsley, a tad of salt and pepper.

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I set it to simmer for 20 or 25 minutes,

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and was added to pasta and served.

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Compared to the store-bought sauces we’re accustomed to, this sauce was rich and flavorful and the taste of the fresh Roma tomatoes was evident in every bite. After this meal, I don’t know that we would be satisfied with sauce off the shelf again!

But They’re Blue!

I’ve always thought there was something wrong with eating blue or purple colored food. I admit it. Eggplant? Ew.  Figs? Ick. Blueberries? No way. I was biased! I had my exceptions; grapes and plums were good, but they’re really dark red. All of that changed on Tuesday. If you read my post Tuesday, we went blueberry, raspberry and peach picking. I was excited about the raspberries and peaches, but I picked the blueberries because my Dad and Chuck love them. Then, it happened.

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I actually tried a blueberry. My taste buds burst with the sweetness! It was delectable. I ate another and another. I could not believe how good they were. I was hooked! Now I know that I was wrong all along. Those tiny little berries that I have detested since I was small are really good, and good for you!  It seems those little blue berries, along with red and purple fruits, have anti-cancer properties as well as a whole host of other benefits. They are incredibly good for you. Of the 84 calories you consume by eating one cup of blueberries, only 4 calories are from fat, yet they have 4 grams of fiber (14 % DV), 24 % of your daily value of vitamin C and a whopping 36% of your daily value of vitamin K.

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This is my plea: if you are like me and dislike foods for no apparent reason, try them, you may find you actually like them.

Did You Know?

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a way for farmers and gardeners to manage pests by using pesticides only when necessary.  Rather than just spray a field for prevention of pests, an IPM grower would use pesticides as a last resort. First, they prepare their soil and make sure it is sufficiently prepared for the crops. Next, they plant tolerant crops. Then they use weather forecasts to predict if there might be a pest outbreak. They set out pest traps to determine if pests are present, and also monitor the pest found to determine what damage is being done.

Once the damage meets or exceeds the threshold for that pest to do significant damage to the crop, the farmer or gardener takes action. They decide if the problems can be controlled by methods such as early harvesting or sterilizing equipment. If those methods do not work, they try to use biological controls such as the pest’s natural enemies. As a last resort, pesticides are used only after everything else has failed and the entire crop is at risk. Before anything is sprayed, weather and the extent of the problem is taken into account so that the correct amount of pesticide is used, and there is minimal drift to other areas. Finally, all of the steps taken above are recorded to help with future decisions.

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When IMP is used effectively it can prevent pesticides from being used except when necessary to preserve the crop and the farmer’s economic interest. The farmer has the advantage of using a pesticide only when his crop is threatened, and the consumer knows that the farmer they buy from has taken steps necessary to reduce their pesticide use to a minimum.  IMP is often used with organic farming as well, the only difference being that the pesticides used are derived from natural materials.

Don’t Have a Farm in Your Backyard?

Neither do we! We have a small  garden, but it is not big enough to supply us with all of the fruits and vegetables we need. This means we have to get our produce from somewhere, so today we decided to go green and went picking. By picking your own, you know where the fruit or vegetables come from, how the farm deals with pests, and when they were picked. Inspired? Visit pickyourown.org and click on your state or country to get started.

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How is picking your own different from the supermarket?

  • It’s fresh! You can pick the ripest, tastiest berries and eat them right away.
  • Your food comes to you almost as naturally as it would if you picked in your backyard – just add a drive to the farm.
  • No packaging waste is involved. You can bring your own containers to take your goodies home with you.
  • It is less expensive than the store. Because you are not only cutting out the middle man but a few other guys as well, they can charge less and still make money. Plus, you don’t pay for what you eat in the field!
  • You are supporting a local small business, not an argi-giant. Most pick your owns are small family-owned farms.
  • You can learn while you pick. If you’ve never seen an unripe blueberry or the flowers on a raspberry, you will get your chance. Often the farm will help you find out how to pick ripe produce too.
  • It’s fun! You can’t run around and stuff your face while you shop.

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Review of Wrap-N-Mat

I have been using the Wrap-N-Mat for three years now. I originally bought these because I wanted an environmentally-friendly alternative wrapper to baggies for sandwiches. A friend recommended these as a green substitute for ziploc bags and I ordered three. At the time, there were only a few fabric choices, so I ended up with three green Wrap-N-Mats.

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This advertisement for wrap-n-mats shows how they work. Notice the green color – it must have been their original choice! Continue reading “Review of Wrap-N-Mat”