One thing we've had lots of fun doing while we've been living in the States is having a small garden. 'Garden' in the American sense of the word, what us Brits would call a 'veggie patch'.
While none of us profess to have very green fingers or thumbs (depends which side of the pond you live on as to which digits you use apparently!), we thought we'd give it a go. There is only a small strip in our back yard that we could actually cultivate but from the first summer we lived in the States, we cleared it and experimented. It's been so much fun for all members of the family too.
We've only planted four or five things each year but have enjoyed small crops of peas, carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, basil, peppers, carrots, spinach and onions. A packet of seeds costs nothing, which has meant we've managed to save a little on the grocery bills too, last Autumn we didn't have to buy carrots til Christmas time!! Below was this years first crop of peppers ... and there are plenty more ready and waiting to be picked, perfect for our crock-pot stuffed pepper recipe.
We have been enjoying the home grown food and also eating less pre-packaged stuff filled with preservatives. I'm sorry to say it but in the States, food we've bought has lasted a ridiculously long time after opening ... unhealthily, preservative filled, lengths of time!
Knowing that some simple things will be less easy to come by once we're in Tanzania, I've been perfecting a few basic recipes for us to enjoy, like a homemade tomato sauce I found in a book from the library, which is a much better, fresher and yummier alternative to any pasta sauces we've found here. It's great with pasta, as a dipping sauce for our pizza homemade pizza rolls, or as a base for other sauces (in lasagne's or bolognese's) and freezes really well. You can alter the taste and make it sweeter by caramelising the onions a little at the start if you have the time but you can also use the 'chuck-it-all-in' method in too!
1 large carrot
2 ribs celery
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup/120ml extra virgin olive oil
2x 28oz/794g cans diced tomatos
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar (if necessary)
1. Chop the carrot, celery, onion and garlic
2. Heat the oil and add the chopped veggies til soft
3. Add tomatoes, salt and sugar (to taste)
4. Bring to the boil and simmer for ??? ... it depends how long I have!
5. Let it cool, then blend in batches
6. Mix it altogether and re-heat/freeze as required