By Joy Johnson, Master Gardener
It’s February in Minnesota and nothing is growing in our gardens right now. If you’re anything like me, back in September you had a bumper crop of tomatoes. I freeze a lot of tomatoes for use in soups, stews, chili and minestrone during the winter months. I also make a lot of tomato juice and freeze that too.
To make tomato juice in the fall, wash core and thickly slice your fresh tomatoes. Put them in a large pot and cook them over medium heat, stirring occasionally until they are completely soft and falling apart. Then put the contents of the pot through a hand food mill. That easily separates the skins and seeds from the pulp and juice. I add one teaspoon of salt to each quart of juice. Then I fill quart sized freezer baggies, lay them flat on a cookie sheet and put them into the freezer. Once they are frozen you can remove the cookie sheet and stack the frozen baggies.
Here is a simple recipe for a delicious tomato soup. It really hits the spot on a cold winter day and pairs wonderfully with a grilled cheese sandwich. Because it’s red, it makes a fun Valentine’s Day lunch addition.
Cream of Tomato Soup
- 2 T. butter
- 2 T. onion, chopped
- 3 T. Flour
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- Dash of garlic salt, basil, oregano, thyme
Remove from heat. Gradually stir in:
- 2 c. tomato juice
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute.
Stir hot tomato mixture into cold milk: It is VERY IMPORTANT to pour the hot tomato mixture into the cold milk, if you pour the cold milk into the hot tomato mixture it will curdle.
- 2 c. cold milk
Heat almost to boiling and serve.
Another recipe for Valentine’s Day that the kids can help with are scones. They are easy to make. You can add craisins, raisins, dried blueberries, dried cherries or dried cranberries. (A little grated orange rind is great with the cranberries.)
- 2 ½ cups flour (you can use part whole wheat)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 T. baking powder
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 6 T. butter
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk (you can use cows, almond, rice or reconstituted powdered milk)
- ¾ cup cranberries, cherries or blueberries, dried
Top with 2 tsp. milk and 1 tsp. sugar before baking
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir. With a pastry blender or fork cut in butter until mixture represents course crumbs. Mix eggs with fork in a bowl and then add ½ cup of milk and blend. Pour egg and milk mixture into flour mixture and toss with a fork until mixture holds together. Stir in cranberries or your choice of berries.
Form dough into a ball and gently knead on a lightly floured board five times. Roll dough gently in to ¾ inch thickness and use a large heart-shaped cookie cutter or a knife to cut 8-10 heart shapes. Before baking, brush each heart with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes until lightly brown.