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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Making Red Oak House Marinara

Today I am commandeering the canner from Jim so that I can make the season's first batch of marinara at Red Oak House.

He grows a variety of tomatoes, including paste type, starting these from seed in the basement in the early spring.  As I've previously written, he has harvested more than a thousand tomatoes and cans many jars of his specialty, juice.  For marinara, he freezes the paste tomatoes, cutting off the tops and placing them in Ziploc bags.

Last night, he carried up the bags and placed them in the kitchen sink to thaw.  The skins slip off easily and I peel a total of 81 which will make a nice thick sauce.  While I work I listen to Prairie Public Radio and watch the world from my kitchen window.

Jim peels a couple of big heads of garlic and I chop and saute the garlic in about 2 cups of olive oil. The garlic is fresh, a gift from our friend Mike, who has a huge garden at his home near Gilby (our crop was paltry).

I roughly follow the recipe in Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, with my own variations.  Making the marinara at this time is ideal for several reasons, including that I have an ample supply of fresh basil and oregano from my garden.

After I have the tomatoes in the pots, I wash the bags and dry with one of the hand-embroidered dish towels that my Mother stitches for us.  I do this because we are thrifty and as environmentally conscious as possible.  The tomato skins get dumped into our compost pile.

While the sauce simmers, I wash the quart jars in hot, soapy water.  As the tomatoes "cook down", I mash with my old-fashioned masher.

To stir the sauce, I use my favorite spoon, the one that was my Mother's all of her years raising children.  It fits in my hand perfectly and is sturdy.  If that spoon could tell stories......

The smoke from the first in the western U.S. is so thick today in North Dakota it is as if it is foggy and the amber light, although beautiful, is unsettling.  In contrast to the smell of smoke outdoors, the aroma in my kitchen is divine.  This makes us both happy, and we savor the thought of how delicious the marinara will be when the winter snow is deep.

After several hours of simmering, I add the chopped herbs and my secret ingredient, and ladle the marina into the jars for processing, according to the Ball canning guide.

Five hours and six quarts down, along with half a quart fresh on pasta for supper tonight, with shrimp.  I tuck my apron away in the drawer, a good day's work done.


  1. All I have to say is Yummy!I can almost smell it as I look at the pictures.
    Love ya girl,