During this blog-cation, things have gotten a bit crazy. While I meant to be working on the blog and catching up on my Local Chef interview backlog, I have found myself with two cookbooks to write, an article for a magazine, and a class to develop.

Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely thrilled. It’s been crazy busy and crazy fun. However, I do have a tendency, especially during times of stress, to take myself a little too seriously.

All of this together that has led me to lose something which I hold very dear.

I can’t write without it. I can’t cook without it. I am not sure Manatee can stand me without it.

But don’t worry. God has my back and he has definitely found what I lost…

To Can or Not to Can

For cookbook #2, I need to make ketchup. While there are many easy, small batch recipes I could create, I of course had to go big, so I ordered a CSA produce plus from Harmony Valley and and picked up my 35 pounds of tomatoes and decided that I also should probably try canning for the first time. Because, you know, making ketchup for the first time isn’t hard enough. My plan was to do 1 batch and then start working on my own recipe for it.

The recipe called for 25 lb of tomatoes. This is approximately 100 plum tomatoes, in case you were curious.

Here is essentially what I spent 6+ hours doing:

pushing tomatoes through a sieve

After heating the tomatoes in 2 huge stock pots, I pushed them through a strainer. I returned the juice to one of the pots and added spices.  While that was simmering, I pureed the solids in a food processor. Note the plastic wrap below.

pureeing tomatoes

This is seriously my new favorite tip for easing clean up. Cover the top of the food processor with plastic wrap and then put the regular cover on to process. Makes clean up such a breeze! After pureeing, I strained again to get this:

tomato juice

Doesn’t it look like store-bought tomato juice? I am not going to lie, but I was starting to get concerned. How on earth would this turn into ketchup?

Don’t worry, there is going to be an easy answer to that.

I simmered…..

simmering ketchup

….and simmered.

It was NOT thickening.

Here is where I lost “it”. Normally, I would take this in stride.

I would take a deep breath and move on.

But instead, my eyebrows came together and I cranked up that heat.

And I simmered.

And I scowled.

And it didn’t get thick.

And my temper began to simmer.

I did start to take some deep breaths, but they were not relaxing. They were frantic. Because THIS:

not ketchup

was not ketchup.

It was supposed to have been ketchup 2 hours ago, and it still wasn’t ketchup. Did I mention that I used 100 tomatoes? How about that I spent 6+ hours on this?

After muttering and pacing around the kitchen, I decided to make the most of it and since it still had a good taste,why not can something out of the whole thing? I mean, if I screwed up canning, it wouldn’t be like I would have screwed a good batch of ketchup, because remember this was not ketchup. This could still be a great learning opportunity, so I went to get my newly purchased canning rack and put it in one of my big stockpots.

And in case, it’s not totally clear: there is no way that rack is going in that pot.

What Once Was Lost

Finally, I found it.

Laughter shook me softly.

God wasn’t going to let me get away without it.

If you don’t laugh at yourself, God will put you in situations more and more ridiculous until you have to laugh.

So, God (and ketchup): 1. Badger Girl: 0.

Well played, God. Well played.

Now, if you don’t mind I have 2 quarts (or more) of ketchup-spiced tomato sauce that needs to go into regular jars and in the fridge. I may be laughing, but I am still not giving up.


How are you making the most of the end of summer produce?

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