Wednesday, August 29, 2007

End of Summer

So it's been a little while because school's been starting back resulting in a very busy time of the year. But I feel that I need to take note of the last good crop of the summer. A bit earlier this month my family received some tomatoes from a friend, and it was his last crop this summer. So while it was very kind of him, we ended up having a lot of leftover tomatoes that we had no clue what to do with. And so, after much debate, we decided to fix homemade tomato soup.
It was the most wonderful soup that I have ever had! I mean sure Campbell has it moments, but this was simply divine. Coming from Georgia, it may have seemed to hot to have soup, but this was not the case. We served it with a roast beef sandwich in pita bread with alfalfa sprouts and horseradish sauce. We also served cheese straws with it which only improved the soup. And because I loved this soup, I thought that I would share it with you. :)

Tomato Soup

8 cups fresh, August tomatoes, peeled and seeded

NOTE: I strained my peelings and garnished 1 cup fresh juice.

Save it!

1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
6 stalks celery, very finely chopped

Cook the above ingredients in a saucepan for 20 minutes until the veggies are soft. Strain them in order to separate the pulp from the stock, pressing gently to extract as much liquid as possible. As a result, I had approximately 5 cups of cooked tomato pulp ( including onions & celery) and 4 cups tomato stock.

Place the stock only in a small saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. Set aside. Puree the pulp in a food processor. Set aside.

In a large pot, melt 6 Tbs butter; and add 6 Tbs flour, stirring with a wire whisk until well-blended and smooth. Cook until this roux turns slightly brown. Dont walk away! This will burn easily.

Add 5 cups beef stock. (I cheated and made mine with bouillon cubes. This is why I dont have to salt the soup in the end.) Stir the roux quickly as you add the stock to create a smooth base. Add 2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp paprika. Cook over medium heat until the mixture starts to boil.

Reduce to low heat and add the tomato pulp. Stir well. Cook for 5 minutes without boiling. Thin with the tomato stock (I used the two cups mentioned at the beginning of the recipe.) I suppose one could thin with a little warm milk or cream, making the result *Cream of Tomato Soup*, but I'm getting off topic.

I hope that you enjoy as much as I did! Happy Summer!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dark Tort

So my mother gave me a book to read because she knows how much I like to cook and she thought I would enjoy it. It's titled Dark Tort, written by Diane Mott Davidson. It's a mystery but the main character is a caterer named Goldy. So far I've found it very enjoyable, and what pleases me most about it is that it includes some yummy recipes in the back.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Living in Georgia, it is impossible not to have peachs during the summer. It's what we're known for and they are absolutely decadent during the summer. I'm sure it's a fruit that I could get anytime of the year if I really wanted to, but it's not something I want to have all year around. It's a food that makes summer what it is, a wonderful time to relax with friends and family and to enjoy some good food, whether it's tangy BBQ or a sweet peach.
Now a peach can be enjoyed multiple ways: fresh, a little ripe by itself. It works wonderfully for breakfast with some cottage cheese or on a salad at lunch. It can be used to make salsa for chips or for a topping on fish. But I love it in dessert! Sometimes I enjoy it with some vanilla ice cream and little bit of peach schnapps, but I love the recipe that my family had on Sunday. It's a peach crisp, very much like an apple crisp. Now I must warn, this dessert will be gone as fast as you can say peach, so make sure you make enough for everyone.

Peach Crisp
Peaches, 32 oz, frozen, sliced (if you can find good ripe peaches, that's an even better option)

Toss with 1 C of sugar, 4 Tbsp of flour
Place in an oblong pyrex dish (3 qrt)

Top with mixture
2 C oatmeal
1 C butter, melted
1 C brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1-1/2 C chopped pecans

Bake 45 minutes @ 350

*Top with some ice cream while still warm


Monday, August 6, 2007


I was going through some of my mother's recipes the other day (and I'm still working on it; she has a LOT of stuff) and I found a letter. It was from a friend of hers who she knew when she was still living in Rome, GA. Now, many of the names I didn't recognize, but attached was a recipe that my mother had requested for a seafood stew. Even though I haven't fixed it yet, it sounds delicious so I thought I would share it.

Seafood Stew
8 cups peeled shrimp ( you can also toss in crawfish, crabmeat, oysters, fish)
3 or 4 onions
2 cans of tomato paste
1 qt water
4 or more bunches of green onions
1 large bell pepper
6 Tbsp parsley
1 cup celery
10-12 cloves of garlic
1 or 2 red hot pickled peppers
1 lemon, including the rind (rind should be peeled, being careful not to peel off any of the pith)
Paprika, chili powder, sal and black pepper

First, saute the chopped onions (not green ones) and separate from grease. Then you make a roux- by browning flour in 1 1/2 sticks of butter. Add flour to use up all of the grease, probably 10-12 Tbsp. Cook slowly in iron skillet, stirring all the time. When nearly brown, add tomato paste and onions and cook until dark brown- but do not burn- keep stirring all the time.
Now chop all the vegetables fine- green onions, parsley, bell pepper, celery, garlic, hot pepper, and lemon. (Usually I pare the yellow part of the lemon and chop it up. Then I cut the lemon and squeeze the juice into liquid.)
Put the roux in a large boiler and warm, then add the water slowly while stirring to keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a boil- add chopped vegetables, salt to taste, chili powder to taste (probably 2 Tbsp or more) paprika to taste and color. Simmer for 2 hours, then add shrimp and other fish and cook until meat is done.
Serve over rice.

This sounds like a wonderful recipe to me and one that would be wonderful on a summer night or during the fall. Now personally, I would add some okra in there to make a gumbo, but I think it would be just as good without.
I have really enjoyed going through my mother's recipes and seeing all the wonderful things that she has enjoyed over the years. Do you have a favorite recipe from a family member that helps you to remember?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

What I'm Reading

Right now, I'm reading a very interesting food book called How to Read a French Fry. The author of the book is Russ Parsons, who is a journalist for the Los Angelos Times. This is his first book, and so far it's very interesting. It goes into some detail to explain the science that's involved in cooking, and in doing so one is able to better understand what is happening while cooking. I find it helpful because I feel that it's teaching me to be a better cook and to better understand what happens when things go wrong.
I also happen to own his second book How to Pick a Peach. This book explores the food industry in relation to grocery stores. It looks into how food has lost so much of its flavor and texture due to mass production. Food is now grown to look pretty and to ship well rather than for its flavor which is ten times more important! It encourages the reader to look into what they are buying in the store and to explore the possibilities of buying from local farmers.
I find on Sunday afternoons that I enjoy a good book to read and possibly a nap to help me enjoy the rest of the weekend. If you enjoy cooking as I do, or if you're just looking for a good read, I suggest either one or both of these books.