Hearty Winter Recipes

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PHOTO: FOTOLIA/MONKEY BUSINESS
That spring, after a winter of watery chili and seeds in my teeth, I packed my gourmet cookbooks off to a rummage sale and went from farm to farm drinking coffee and copying recipes based on the facts of country life.

Tomatoes — being easy to grow and high in food
value — are found in most homestead gardens . . .
including ours. Our first year in the country we set out
48 plants and had all the fruit we could eat raw, with 8
bushels left over to can for the winter. Now, there’s no
trick to putting up tomatoes . . . but cooking with the
product is something else again.

Garden-Friendly Hearty Winter Recipes

I pored through my
cookbooks, only to find that all the recipes I wanted to
try started out, “Take a can of tomato paste” (a
substance which my home-canned fruit didn’t resemble in
any way). That spring, after a winter of watery chili and
seeds in my teeth, I packed my gourmet cookbooks off to a
rummage sale and went from farm to farm drinking coffee
and copying recipes based on the facts of country life.
Those superwomen in the woods gave freely of their
knowledge on anything from hazelnuts to beekeeping . . .
and one day, while she showed me how to cut up a chicken
for freezing, a neighbor solved my tomato problem with
the following formula:

Tomato Concentrate Recipe

7 quarts of tomatoes, cut in eighths
7 stalks of celery
4 onions
7 stalks of parsley
7 bay leaves
4 cloves
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup of salt
7 tablespoons of flour
7 tablespoons of soft butter

Combine the tomatoes, celery, onions, and parsley with
the spices and boil until the vegetables are soft. Add
the sugar and put the contents of the pan through a food
mill. Then blend the salt, flour, and butter, stir the
paste into the tomato mixture, bring the concentrate to a
full boil, and can it in pint jars.

The uses of this concentrate are unlimited. You’ll
probably find plenty of your own . . . but here are some
of ours to get you started:

Tomato Soup Recipe

1 pint of concentrate
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 pints of milk

Warm the concentrate, add the baking soda, heat the milk
in a separate pan, and stir it into the tomato mix when
both liquids are hot.

Clam Chowder Recipe

1 recipe of tomato soup (above)
2 cups of clams
1 large potato, diced
1 or 2 carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch of celery leaves, chopped

Mix all the ingredients and simmer the chowder 20
minutes.

Winter Minestrone Recipe

1 pint of concentrate
3 cups mixed dried beans and peas
1 quart cold water
1 handful of broken spaghetti
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon oregano

Cover the beans and peas with the water and soak them
overnight. In the morning add the other ingredients,
bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer it until the
vegetables are tender.

Swiss Steak Recipe

Brown a round steak, surround the meat with cut-up
potatoes, and slice a large onion over all. Sprinkle the
food with salt and pepper, pour on a pint of concentrate,
and bake the dish in a medium oven until the potatoes are
done.

Beef Stew Recipe

1 pint of concentrate
2 pounds of cubed beef
Lard
Salt
1 pint of water
2 large potatoes, cut up
1 large onion, chopped
Peas, beans, carrots, celery, or any vegetables you have

Brown the meat in a little lard, season it with salt, and
add the other ingredients. Cover the pan and simmer the
stew until the beef and vegetables are tender.

Chili Recipe

1 pint of concentrate
1 pound of dried beans
1 quart of cold water
1 quart of canned tomatoes
Salt
A pinch of red pepper
Chili powder to taste
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 pounds of ground beef

Soak the beans in the water overnight. The following day
add the tomatoes, concentrate, salt, and spices. Fry the
onion and garlic until they’re limp, add the ground beef,
brown it, and combine the meat and bean mixtures. Simmer
the chili until the beans are soft and the liquid
thickens.

Italian Sauce Recipe

1 pint of concentrate
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup of butter
1 quart of tomatoes, put through a food mill
2 tablespoons oregano
Salt
Pepper
1 bay leaf

Fry the onion and garlic in the butter until the pieces
are limp. Add the other ingredients and simmer
everything, partly covered, for about 1 hour. I use this
sauce in all my Italian dishes. If you want chicken
cacciatore, for instance, add a handful of mushrooms to
the above recipe, pour the mixture over a browned
chicken, and bake the bird for 1 hour.