Oh. My. Goodness!! It is September already! Where on earth did the summer go? Seems like only yesterday we were wishing it would start, and now we are enjoying Labor Day weekend and looking forward to a new month, a new season, and beyond. This summer seemed to have gone by in a blink, but like you, we sure crammed a lot into it. I spent most of my time working (summer IS a prime season for caterers), but I did manage to squeeze some fun into those few short weeks. We spent time with our boys and soon-to-be daughter in-law, and enjoyed a few quiet moments as well. There was lots of yummy summer food…grilled burgers and steaks, corn on the cob and watermelon, of course, but like the season, our tastes are ready for a season change as well!
To me, fall means my crock pot will be back in use frequently. Soups, stews, and melt in your mouth tender meats will grace my dinner table, thanks to that wonderful slow cooker. Game-day chili makes Friday nights a breeze, and a big Sunday roast can leave me with leftovers to create several quick dinners for the upcoming week. If you haven’t tried using crock-pot liners (available in the “plastic wrap aisle” of most supermarkets), put them on your shopping list today! While slow cooking creates a fabulous flavor, it can also create a stuck-on mess in your pot! These liners are wonderful; simply put one in the pot before filling it, and follow your recipe. They are heat safe and make clean-up a breeze. Of the many treats I like to make in my crock pot, one of my very favorites is my Mom’s homemade chili sauce (it is one of those multi-purpose recipe starters…you can turn it into lots of different dishes). As anyone who has cooked sauce knows, clean-up can be a chore, but crock bags are a saving grace! Now is the time of year I get into high gear with my crock pot and “cook once, eat twice” way of planning meals. A change in season doesn’t mean a let-down in our crazy schedules, just how we dress for the occasion, so planning ahead and using convenience products can make our lives just a little easier!
I received my first crock pot as a gift at one of my bridal showers, more than 25 years ago, and used it- literally -to its’ death. I have replaced and upgraded a few times since then. It is an appliance I don’t want to live without! And speaking of that long ago shower makes me think that I could use another. Bridal shower, that is! As we start thinking about my older son’s wedding, I have decided that I want to get married again. No worries, I don’t want to change husbands (I’ve finally gotten this one broken in!), I just need new stuff and having a shower would help! I’m just sayin’…
Homemade Chili Sauce
- 4 quarts tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 2 c onions, diced
- 1 c red bell pepper, diced
- 1 c green bell pepper, diced
- 1 Jalapeno pepper, diced fine
- 3 T salt
- ½ c sugar
- 1 T mustard seed
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1 t allspice
- 2 ½ C white vinegar
Combine the vegetables, salt and sugar in a large pot and cook over low heat until the mixture begins to thicken. This can also be done in a large crock pot or roaster; simply cook uncovered on high (or at 300* if using a roaster with a temperature dial). Add vinegar and spices and cook until mixture becomes a thick sauce. This may take up to several hours. When sauce has cooked down to desired thickness, pour it into clean, hot canning jars. Seal tightly and allow to come to room temperature on a non-drafty counter.
You will hear a “pop” sound as jars seal tightly!
Store in a dark cool cupboard.
To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.