With Sheila on my shoulder ...

This week our garden has exploded and I am required to be a cooking, canning, crazy woman to keep up with the harvest.

Thirty-eight pints of tomatoes and 6 quarts of cinnamon apples so far. Not to mention eight small jars of hot pepper jelly, four jars of applesauce and six pints of farm stand peaches I brandied. And there's more out there waiting for my attention. If you don't have a garden, you can buy fresh local grown at farmers markets or roadside stands a short drive from home. Even city dwellers can manage to find local fruits and veggies.

Admittedly, I'm not so nuts about canning when it's hot outside and I'm boiling a batch of jars inside. Thank goodness for my A/C. But canning is not hard work, easy to follow instructions are readily available. When winter comes, the bubbling pot on the stovetop will be the result of home or local grown bounty. Then I'll be happy.

It's important to keep in mind that hot water bath canning is only safe for high acid foods like tomatoes and most fruits. Added lemon juice or vinegar in recipes generally indicate that your canning will go well. Always use proven recipes or test your food using litmus paper. If you have no idea where to find the stuff, just order it online. Tomatoes and tomato sauce are the safest kind of food for home canning and a litmus test really isn't necessary.

This afternoon, I'm simmering up a batch of pasta sauce for home processing. My version of the classic bubbling pot is slightly different but a pretty tasty adaptation of the original Silver Palate cookbook recipe. The Silver Palate Cookbook has a good variety of sauce recipes for different dishes but page 70, Pasta Sauce Raphael has always been my favorite. The two ingredients I don't add for canning are the marinated artichokes and the grated Romano cheese.

When winter comes and the air in my kitchen is redolent with the smell of last summer's harvest, it'll be time to turn to page 70 of The Silver Palate Cookbook to execute Steps 2, 6 and 7. Slightly out of order but with Sheila Lukins on my shoulder the taste will be superb as always.


4 pounds ripe meaty tomatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fine grated or chopped yellow onion
2 cloves finely grated or crushed garlic
1/8 cup shredded fresh basil (1 tablespoon dried)
2 sprigs fresh oregano (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (2 tablespoons dried)
1 small pureed medium-hot red pepper (1/4 teaspoon chili powder)
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 jars (6 ounces each) marinated artichoke hearts
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Drop tomatoes, a few at a time, into the boiling water for about ten seconds to loosen skins. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and set to cool in a large bowl of icy water for a few minutes. After all the tomatoes are cooled, skins will easily peel off. Cut into halves, squeeze out most of the seeds and chop coursely. Reserve.

2. Drain artichokes and reserve liquid. (Skip this step if you aren't an artichoke fan or if canning sauce for future use.)

3. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and saute onion, garlic, oregano, parsley and red pepper puree for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add ground pepper.

5. Add tomatoes and salt, simmer uncovered over medium low heat about an hour. Stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan while cooking. For use as a plain sauce or to can, skip steps 2, 6 & 7 for now.

6. Add artichoke marinade and simmer another 15-30 minutes, stir often.

7. Add artichoke hearts and continue simmering until the sauce is thickened to your liking, approximately twenty minutes more. Stir in grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste and serve with your favorite pasta. (To learn about what different types of pastas are available, turn to page 67, The Silver Palate Cookbook for a pasta glossary. You will be amazed.)


  1. hola. did not realize she had passes. i have one of her books. "All the Foods We Love...." i tried to sign up to follow your blog but could not for some reason. the garden looks great !!! i just bought a kale plant yesterday and love it. best wishes, marie bestwishesmarie.blogspot.com


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