What is Steff-stainability?

Living sustainably, my way. It's thinking about what you are putting into your body and how it affects you. But it's also indulging in a brownie cheesecake every now and then. It's making your body look the way you want it to and being proud of it. But it's not spending half of the day working out. It's about making small changes in your life to benefit the great earth on which we live. But it's also running your A/C in the summer and driving your car. It's about setting goals and living up to them. It's trying to make the world a better place. And as I am ever-learning and ever-changing, so is this definition.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Homemade tomato sauce

For the past few weeks, I have been experimenting with homemade tomato sauce. I'm talking about the tomato sauce in a can from, say, Hunt's or X Grocery Store brand. I've been trying to buy as little as possible from the grocery store since we have such an abundance of food at the farmers markets here, and it's still tomato season out in California! So far I've made 3 dinners with tomato sauce as the base: my own spaghetti sauce recipe (which I'll share sometime in the future!), stuffed zucchini, and last night I made homemade chili. They have all come out amazing! Using the fresh tomatoes as opposed to the canned tomato sauce really adds that extra flavor. Here's the method I've found that best makes a substitute for canned tomato sauce.

Peeling and De-Seeding the Tomatoes
For every 15 oz can of tomato sauce + 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes, use 6 large fresh tomatoes. Boil a large pot of water and have a bowl of ice water standing by. Once the water is boiling, place the tomatoes in for a minute or two until you see the skin starting to peel off. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes and dump them in the ice water. Let them cool for about a minute, then peel the skins off with your fingers. Cut off the tops of the tomatoes so you can see the seed chambers inside. Over a garbage can, squeeze the tomato so the seeds drip out. You can also use your fingers to scoop out the seeds as best you can.

Crushing and flavoring the tomatoes
Cut each tomato in half and place in a large bowl. Using a potato masher, crush the tomatoes. I also use my fingers (they are all covered in tomato goop at this point anyway) to crush them and then go to the masher. Mash until you have a good ratio of sauce to tomato chunks. Add salt, I'd say about two tsp.
Side note: One really cool thing about homemade tomato sauce is that you get to control the salt content. It will still taste great no matter how much salt you put in!
Keep mashing the tomatoes so that the salt dissolves and the consistency is thick but not too chunky. And there you go! Homemade tomato sauce.

It is a little labor intensive. Set aside about 20 minutes to make the sauce. Or, you can make a whole bunch at once and can it or freeze it. I'm going to experiment with canning soon, so I can make sure to have plenty of sauce to last us through the winter!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Forgive me, Mother Earth, for I have sinned...

...it has been almost 2 months since my last entry.

BUT I'M BACK! Most (if not all) of you who read this are my Fb friends, so you know that I've been busy moving to Oceanside, touring Italy, visiting family, and settling into our new home! It has been a crazy two months and I'm so happy to finally be living in one spot for a long time.

So, where to start? Ah, yes.

Italy was AMAZING! I'll spare you the play-by-play and talk about the most important (and relevant) details - the FOOD. The food was to die for. Unlike in the US, all of the reputable restaurants use local and seasonal ingredients (very often from their own garden), making the simplest things taste so fresh. One night, in Rome, I ordered a pasta with sauce that was literally just crushed stewed tomatoes with a little salt and pepper. INCREDIBLE. We also visited Cinque Terre (pronounced chinkway terray, meaning five lands), which are five little beach towns painted on the side of a cliff, connected by hiking trails. This place has the best seafood I have ever had in my life. Think, resort town with the touch of grandma's cooking. So much care goes into every dish; fishing boats are going in and out of the harbor all day, and hiking around the towns you can see gardens growing fresh tomatoes, basil, squash, grapes, and many more. In fact, Cinque Terre is where pesto was invented, so of course I ordered pesto over homemade gnocchi, and I almost died it was so good. It made me wonder why people even bother with the crap that they serve in restaurants here.

Another cool, steffstainble thing about Italy was their toilets. Ok seriously, hear me out. On many of the toilets there are two flush buttons; one releases a small amount of water and the other releases more (comparable to a normal toilet in America). So, um, if you need a smaller flush, you push the little button. And, let's say, it might take a bigger flush, you push the big button. How cool is that?

Anyway, Italy was incredible, but I'm so happy to be back in America, which truly is the greatest country on earth. We are loving the San Diego area. In fact, there is a farmers market somewhere in the county EVERY DAY here! I'm loving it! We've been able to buy grass-fed beef from a local farm, locally-made snacks, and even homemade vegan cheesecake on top of the normal fruits and veggies you normally find at a farmers market. It's been amazing.

I have lots of new recipes to share with you, along with many other thoughts about sustainability and fitness. Welcome back to Steffstainability!