Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Too Many Tomatoes September 10, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:57 pm
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Lately there has been a growing problem in the Hein household. Too many tomatoes! Our garden is delivering a new tomato every day. In addition to our spectacular crop, my parents’ tomato garden  is producing at least 3 tomatoes every day. Combined, that’s a lot of tomatoes. So many that I’ve started pawning them out to friends, neighbors and co-workers!

Fresh Tomatoes

This weekend I carved out two hours dedicated to using up at least two pounds of tomatoes. How? Homemade marinara sauce. I found a recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook that I was able to modify to use up the majority of my tomatoes.

Here is my modified recipe:

  • 2- 2 ½ lbs of whole fresh tomatoes (instead of 2 14.5 herbed diced tomatoes) 
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoon pre-chopped garlic (instead of 8 gloves chopped garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (instead of 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (new addition since I like parsley)
  • 2 teaspoon pepper (one more teaspoon that the original recipe because we like pepper)
  • ½ teaspoon salt

First dice up your onion, then your tomatoes. This way your chopping board doesn’t get full of tomato juice. I unfortunately, did tomatoes first and had to do a little cleaning before I was able to cut the onion.

Dicing Up Tomatoes


You want the whole tomato so don’t get rid of the seeds or the “guts”. Place diced tomatoes in a large pot. Add in the diced onion and remaining ingredients. Heat to a boiling and then reduce to low. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Let cool before placing in storage containers to refrigerate or freeze.

The Final Product!

The Final Product!

The result? I’m well stocked for pasta sauce. Now I just have to figure what else to make in bulk with the remaining tomatoes! Any recommendations?


Garden Update July 30, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 8:33 pm
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We’re almost coming to a close with summer. How did it go by so fast? August 1st is already this Friday! One way that I’ve been able to tell summer is coming to a close is all the growth in our garden.

In the south garden: we’ve reaped two jalapenos and there are more coming. The peppers did pretty well in their new location of our yard. The six plants have grown and are looking great! We hope to get at least another 6-8 peppers by the mid September. One obstacle in the new spot was the mulberry tree. It definitely blocked the sun and layered the ground with mulberries.



What I’m looking forward to the most from this garden area are the tomatoes. We lost three plants due to decapitation from Porter’s lead. But the other five plants are thriving. Within the next few weeks we should have about 3-4 tomatoes ready to eat and hopefully more throughout the end of August and September. The only question is who will get to them first – Matt or myself!



The last plant in the south garden is my basil plant. I cannot believe it’s almost as tall as the tomato plants! I’m wondering if there is a way I can transplant it to a pot to bring it in for the winter. Any gardeners out there with ideas on transplanting herbs? Suggestions are most welcome.



The west side garden is dismal. Due to a tree branch that punctured our gutter, I didn’t foresee an oncoming direct deluge of water into the garden. Needless to say there is a bit of a divot in the garden from all the water from the spring rains. Unfortunately, I lost the majority of the cucumber seeds and green bean seeds I planted there. But low and behold, I noticed about a month ago that it appears that a few green beans and cucumbers might actually make it. I’m thrilled that we might actually have a few. And yes, we fixed the gutter to the best of our ability for now so the plants have a chance.

Green bean!

Green bean!

It will be interesting to see what all we’ll end up with from our gardens by the end of the season. It’s been a good year, definitely better than the drought of last year. At least none of my plants died….well at least by my hand. Paws on the other hand….


Growing A Garden June 13, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 9:22 pm
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As a child, I grew up helping my mom with our family garden. Each spring we would pick out different vegetables to plant. We always had the usual staples: tomatoes, radishes, carrots, lettuce, pumpkins, raspberries and strawberries. I have so many great memories of spending time in the side yard with both of my parents. I never had a problem getting my hands dirty and helping my mom dig neat rows for the vegetables. And of course I would volunteer to help water the plants with my dad…but sometimes I think we watered each other more than the plants.

Over the last three years since Kelly and I have been in the apartment, we’ve basically kept to potted flowers. Last year we tried our hands on one tomato plant. I think we got one tomato from the plant and the alley squirrel took the rest! We haven’t had time to go get our flowers/plants for this year due to Kel’s surgery and me being a little busy. We’re holding out for some excellent end of season sales. 🙂

So until Kelly and I go shopping for our plants, I did receive an opportunity to expand from pots. Matt offered a strip of already open dirt for planting in his backyard. And of course I took him up on his offer. When Jill was in town a few weeks ago, she helped me pick out a few herbs and vegetables at the Oak Park farmer’s market. I ended up getting three tomato plants (two “beefeaters” and one roma), one yellow pepper plant, oregano, basil, chives and french thyme.

I was a little worried about the plants because I didn’t have the chance to get them in the ground right away. I think the oregano died, but amazingly the rest of the plants are doing great since they’ve been officially grounded. It’s amazing how they can bounce back with a little water, some fertilizer and a lot of love.

The mini garden

I’m really looking forward to how the garden does this summer and fall. Keep your eye out for posts on the first tomato and pepper from the garden. I might also do a few recipe posts using ingredients from the garden or even from the CSA. Stay tuned!


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