Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Frugal Gardening - in the Winter?

Ok, I'm not really gardening in the winter. But, I am still enjoying the tomatoes I grew in the summer. I've learned that tomatoes freeze just fine if you plan on cooking them.

Last year was the first year that I seriously grew a vegetable garden. I had planted a few vegetables before and even tried indoor sowing, but it wasn't a planned effort and none of it turned out very well.

But, last year I went at it full force. I planned, plotted, winter sowed (more on that in another article), staked, and watered and ended up with a large crop of Roma tomatoes to show for my efforts.

We ate our fill of tomatoes all summer then froze the rest. The great thing about freezing tomatoes is you don't need to do anything to prepare them for the freezer. Just rinse them in water, pop them into a freezer bag, and leave them till you need tomatoes in a recipe.

Frozen tomatoes are much easier to skin than fresh tomatoes. Just soak them in warm water for a few minutes, cut an opening in the top of the tomatoes, then just push them out of the skin. They usually pop right out.

I made Cabbage and Kielbasa with some of my frozen Roma's last night (instead of the can of tomatoes the recipe called for), and it was great. The tomatoes broke down quickly and tasted good in the soup. The meal was all the more satisfying knowing that I had grown those tomatoes myself.

In case you'd like to try the recipe, I'll add it here.

KIELBASA and CABBAGE
  • 1 large Onion, chopped
  • 1 T butter or Margarine
  • 1 lb Kielbasa sliced into 1/4" rounds
  • 1 head Cabbage, chopped
  • 1 - 28 oz can whole Tomatoes (or 4 cups frozen whole tomatoes, skinned)
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
In a large stock pot, saute onion and Kielbasa in margarine until onions are transparent (OPTIONAL - you can just toss everything in the pot and simmer). Add cabbage, tomatoes, and chicken broth. Cover and simmer until cabbage is tender (1/2 to 1 hour), stirring occasionally.

This can be made in the crock pot, but the amount of cabbage will have to be reduced. Only half a head of cabbage will fit into my crock pot, so halve the recipe if your crock is a standard size.

Begin your garden dreaming now, so that you will have plenty of home-grown, freshly-frozen veggies for next winter.