As my weekly training hours climb, the amount of homemade granola and canned creations in my cupboards dips dramatically. And the more I resort to simple classics, like my favorite grainy date muffins, basic soups, and roasted veggies.
In the words of Joseph Conrad, “I must be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.” And right now, Ironman training has me wrapped in its tentacles.
Most of my kitchen dreams remain trapped in Pinterest or chained to some kind of food-blog-so-good-it-should-be-a-magazine ideal. My sprouting, canning, and DIY-Nutella experiments are few and far between. There are only so many hours in the day, and with the way I tend to fill them, leftovers usually get spent on friends, beer, or Lena Dunham. Or all three at the same time.
But the fact that I’m only a shadow of the ideal organic-buying, aromatherapy-loving, guitar-playing hippie isn’t the point. It’s the spirit of it. I started this blog not to achieve perfection, but the chase and the discovery of things that are worth it. like Like this homemade ketchup. It comes together in an evening, and lasts a really, really long time—the perfect partner for eggs and sweet potatoes, or whatever Paleo/Whole30/trendy triathlete diet of the moment meal you’re whipping up.
Another gem from my Small-Batch Preserving book, homemade ketchup will turn your Heinz-love on its head. Not everyone has the time or inclination, of course, to cure their own salmon or roast their own coffee, but every once in awhile it’s interesting to see if it might be worth actually making something you love. And nobody’s asking you to keep it regularly stocked in the fridge. Just try it once.
It’s really the simplest thing. Tomatoes, a little onion, red pepper, vinegar, sugar, and spices come together in a marriage of blend-simmer-blend, and you end up with an impressive condiment for burgers, meatloaf, quiche, or whatever else needs a dollop. Try it. Even if you never make it again, it’s worth a shot.
7 cups chopped peeled plum tomatoes (I’ve used half quality canned and half fresh, as well as all canned, to equal success. If using all fresh, dip them in boiling water for 20-30 seconds to get the skins to peel off easily)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp pickling salt
1 cinnamon stick, 2 inches long
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
- Combine tomatoes, onion, and red pepper in a blender (I love my Vitamix!) or food processor and process until smooth. Remove to a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- Add vinegar, sugar, and salt. Tie cinnamon, allspice, cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf in a cheesecloth, and add to saucepan. Return to a boil and boil gently, uncovered, stirring frequently, until volume is reduced by half or until mixture rounds up on a spoon without separating, about 1.5 hours. Remove cheesecloth bag.
- Store in refrigerator for up to two weeks, or process in a home canner: Remove hot jars from canner and ladle ketchup into jars to within 1/2 inch of rim. Process 15 minutes for half-pint jars. See tips for safe home canning here.