Hi there!

I’m slowly working towards some simplicity within the home, but hey! It’s a lot of hard work!

I love having a go at growing my own veges and always use herbs fresh from my garden. I try to plant from seed whenever I can and have learnt to save and share my own seed for the following year. I make Award Winning preserves and pickles; and my husband brews Award Winning boutique beers as well. I love to stockpile and try to limit quick trips to the shops. I dabble in bread making and enjoy making my own stocks too.

I enjoy feeding my family good hearty meals, nothing like those tiny restaurant stacks you have to look for on the plate. My husband maintains our vehicles and machinery and we both enjoy fabricating on a small scale mostly relying on metal & timber recyclers for any materials needed.

While I don’t always have time to reply to comments, I love reading them. I hope you enjoy your stay and I hope you learn something new because I love sharing what I learn, and I'm always looking for another new skill myself.


Monday, January 23, 2012

A glut of tomatoes and my first zucchini

What a fantastic response so far to my Garlic give-away....the seeds are drying slowly...but there is still time to get in on the action and be a contender for some of the seed, or maybe even the clove of garlic...You never know, and I always say..."You have to be in it to win it!"
* There's also another give-away coming soon for the celebration of my first year of blogging...but you will need to wait a few weeks to see what I have planned for that one.

So...what did I do with my first zucchini? I added it to a batch of preserved tomatoes....This is actually a recipe I made up along the way for a 'ready made tomato base'....you know...for those crazy nights...When you really just have time to brown some mince...or boil up a batch of pasta.....This will be great to have in the store cupboard....It's actually turned out so well...I plan to make more...next time maybe a bit spicier though...and with more garlic.

This all began because I had sourced a 10kg box of Roma Tomatoes for $9...I wish now I had gotten two boxes...one for this, and one for relish...but I'm sure there will be more tomato bargains in the near future.

So firstly...I quartered most of the box of tomatoes (four trays in total).....and tossed some lovely fresh garlic cloves in amongst them....(no oil, and no salt)...along with some herbs from the garden...Baked them until the natural sugars began to caramelise slightly.....(sorry, no photo for this part)

I then put it all in the crock-pot to cook slowly...due to time restraints and energy levels...I wasn't really ready to cook this up after chopping all the other vegetables....but I did chop up the following:

  • My first eight-ball zucchini....(my first zucchini of any type) which hubby said looked more like a cannon-ball due to the size....lol
  • Another long zucchini gifted to me by Lee and Alison...
  • A huge bunch of Ruby Chard (coloured spinach) stems from the garden...of all colours...Yellow, red, pink and the original......

The colour is from the ruby chard...
The beauty of this sauce is that my boys aren't that keen on the zucchini or squash varieties...but they love these sauces....

Now, seeing I had used all the spinach stems for the base I was making....I decided to blanch the spinach tops to be put in smaller blocks into the freezer.....for later use. Don't pour that lovely cooking liquor down the sink yet....but strain it, just to be sure there are no impurities left behind...then use the water as the base to the tomato recipe you are making....this is what I do anyway....no point wasting those nutrients....

Zucchini and Ruby Chard (Rainbow) Spinach
I also chopped up:

  • 1 large red capsicum
  • 1 large green capsicum
  • 1 large yellow capsicum
  • 6 carrots...which I finely shredded with my slicer......
  • 2 kg brown onions

So that all goes into the spinach water to cook up................................

I then put the tomato mixture through my Moulix to remove all the tomato and garlic skins....and seeds.

When you have finished running it all through the moulix,
pour boiling water over the pulp to release more flavour...
and run it through the moulix again.
Adding both mixes together and adding some extra spices and herbs...then allow it to cook for another hour or so...no thickener is needed, because you just allow it to reduce to the thickness you like. This photo shows it about half reduced...

Pot it all up into sterilised jars....and process in a water bath for 45 to 60 minutes....Some went in the Preserving outfit......and some into recycled jars with old lids which were sealed in a  hot oven for 40 minutes.

2 from the oven leaked, so they went aside to be used first
Mum gave me advice to check for a good seal...Place a pencil across the lid and clip...if there is no gap...the seal has failed.....they were all concaved...so a good seal was achieved for all of these ones.

After all this work, and attending the gardening course for January....along with other weekend events....Sunday night was the perfect night to test out this base......So tea involved the following:

  • 2 smaller jars of the tomato base
  • 3 sliced up chorizo and quickly fried to release the spicy flavour
  • half a packet of pasta....boiled on the stove
  • a big spoonful of crushed fresh garlic...from the fridge 
Combined together to make a really delicious meal.....perfect way to end the weekend...
and yes! the tomato base is perfect!


  1. I love the way you sneak in (I mean incorporate) all the extra veggies in your sauce. It sounds excellent.

    brenda from ar

  2. Your sauce looks great. I made some up over the weekend also, but put mine in the freezer as I don't have a pressure canner, I have never thought of putting them in the oven to get them up to temperature.

  3. Hi - discovered your blog a few weeks ago and have been a regular visitor. I have already started on my lemon/vinegar cleaner. Thanks for the inspiration

    Just checking - how long (approx) for the tomtoes in the slow cooker? and how hot was the oven?

  4. WELL DONE! :) Such a lot of work, but SO worth it. We are in the middle of winter here, so now is the time for reaping the rewards of all the hard work we did in summer. I LOVE pulling a jar of home canned tomato sauce off the pantry shelf to make a quick, nutritious meal that tastes so much better than it would with store bought sauce. Good job, Narelle!

  5. Narelle, when you say you put them in the oven, did you just put them in the oven by themselves or in a bath? I noticed recently large boxes of tomatoes for about the same price and if they're still there when I can do it, I'd been considering this.

  6. Hi Narelle, thanks so much for this great tutorial and especially the hint to use silverbeet stems, I will be trying this very soon, have lots of toms. Great work, Margaret

  7. I have just given your blog the Liebster Blog award because I love it.

  8. So productive! I am the same way about trying to use every bit and not wash nutrients down the drain. For me, the "last stop" for something like the twice-milled pulp is my Poultry Palace, where all manner of vegetable matter is magically turned into eggs :)

  9. That base looks so wonderful !! Thank you very much for sharing !!
    Have a wonderful day.

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