Greetings from Illinois. How about taking a peek into our home on a warm day? The air feels thick and muggy; the way it looks, we’ll have a hot summer day for sure. There are tomatoes I’d like to turn into pizza sauce today, peaches to do at Mom’s and most important of all, care for my family.
It’s 6 a.m. and my husband, Daniel, is ready to have some quiet moments of meditation. He loves sitting on the deck in the freshness of early morning spending time with God. Daniel has headed for the shop at my parents’ property, where he builds rustic furniture.
Nine-month-old Austin awoke earlier than usual, so I decided to put him down for an early nap as well. After 15 minutes of rocking, I finally decided that my little sunny boy simply wasn’t ready to shut his big blue eyes just yet. So I took him to the kitchen with me and set him on the floor, where he played a bit. Soon he crawled over to where I was washing breakfast dishes. I dried my hands and scooped him up. As I picked him up, I heard the pitter-patter of Julia’s feet running down the hall, through the living room and to the kitchen.
It was obvious to see how pleased Austin was to see his big sister as he stiffened with excitement as he grinned from ear to ear. I left the dirty kitchen and the tomatoes that were waiting on me and decided to give the children some attention. I dressed Julia, combed her hair and got breakfast ready for her. Breakfast is always a big deal to her. This morning, she chose homemade granola with milk and a cookie.
By the time she was finished with her breakfast, Austin was getting a bit grumpy and ready for a nap.After putting Austin down and finishing the story, Julia and I knelt and prayed together asking God to be with our friends and family and thanking Him for caring for us.
Having put Austin to sleep and Julia cared for, I was ready to tackle the tomatoes. While fetching several onions, Julia’s call greeted my ears: “Mama! Mama!” Turned out it was just one of the many relatively minor “emergencies” a mom deals with during t course of a day, so I was able to turn my attention back to Austin and whether Julia had woken him up while calling out to me.
“Oh no,” I thought. “That probably woke Austin.” I dashed over to him. Sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed when I saw his big eyes popping open. Thankfully, I was able to get him back to sleep again before too long.
Heading back to the kitchen, I set to work cutting up tomatoes, onions, and peppers. The clock’s hands seemed to go faster than mine. Soon it was time for lunch. I decided to keep it simple. We had ribs that Daniel grilled the evening before, along with a tossed salad.
After lunch, I was ready to do one of my favorite steps in canning: filling the jars. I enjoy working in the kitchen, but there’s a special satisfaction of seeing rows of canned goods preserved for the months ahead. By the time the last jars were filled the children and I all felt warm, tired and sticky, yet I was tickled with the 17 one-quart jars and 9 one-pint jars of pizza sauce that had been made. The kitchen still needed a quick clean-up before I could leave for Mom’s house, where my sisters-in-law and I had planned to help her with peaches that Dad had picked in their orchard.
I grabbed the broom and was sweeping the floor when I heard Julia calling me from the porch. I set the broom aside and opened the door. Before long, I was able to wrap everything up in the kitchen and we were on our way to Mom’s house, eager to get out of the hot kitchen and ready to spend the afternoon with her and the rest of the family.
Are you interested in trying a favorite sauce recipe of ours? It is similar to pizza or spaghetti sauce and can be used to replace it in many recipes. It is also a delicious replacement for salsa. The Parmesan cheese gives it an outstanding flavor along with smooth texture. It can beat eaten fresh or canned. If you are using a Victorio strainer tomatoes have to be cooked first. If you are using a blender, they don’t have to.
9 quarts tomato juice
1 gallon tomato paste
9 stalks of celery, chopped fine
9 medium onions, chopped
4 green peppers, diced
2¾ cup Parmesan cheese
3 cups sugar
1 quart ketchup
6 Tbsp. paprika
6 Tbsp. salt
3 Tbsp. dry mustard
3 Tbsp. chili power
3 Tbsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. black pepper
Cut the tomatoes into chunks and blend in blender until smooth. Cook celery, peppers, and onions until tender. Bring to boil. Combine all ingredients in a large canner. Bring to a boil, and as soon as it begins boiling, remove from heat. Pour into sealable containers. Enjoy hot or cold as a dip for crackers. Makes 36 quarts.
Readers with culinary or culture questions or stories to share may write Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.