Chana Dal Tadka


You really can’t get much more frugal than lentils.

They pack a punch for nutrition and are insanely cheap per bag. Put them in soup, eat them as dal, use them like beans.

I have a confession though: as much as I love the humble lentil I haven’t made them in -years-. I have a bag of yellow ones, and every time I cooked them for the recommended length of time, they were still hard. So I put them in a jar and put them in the cupboard. I would glare at them every so often. That would be the full amount of use they would get-move the jar around, glare.

I found this recipe on Pinterest. It’s simple-lentils, onions, garlic, curry spices, a little bit of salt. But the kicker is that it calls for twice the amount of cooking time-which assures me that it’s not me or my lentils, it’s the stuff that I’ve been reading.

So my hack on this recipe, though I do fully encourage you to go read and use the original:

I put 1 cup lentils in a pot with about four cups water. Placed on medium heat.

I added about two tablespoons rogan josh powder because Mid will only eat lentils with a heavy flavor profile. Use whatever curry powder you have in the house, or mix yours fresh. Add a little salt.

Cook for about 40 minutes, and while cooking the lentils fry some garlic and onions. Stir into the lentils.

Holly wants to add chicken when she tries it. I think that adding another protein source would be lovely, but this is crisis cooking in our house-two days before payday and my s.w.agbucks gift cards haven’t come in yet, so no money for meat right now. Lentils are solid enough you probably wouldn’t need meat (or mead, either, since that’s what I wrote first).

Original recipe-Chana Dal Tadka on NY Food Journal

Zesty Zucchini Relish

zesty zucchini relish

A lot of the canning recipes that I post on this blog are actually a sort of digital diary for me. I have a notebook that I use-and then lose and then refind and lose again. It’s just easier to post them on here.

I’ve been on a relish kick lately. Summer dinners around here are often hot dogs, burgers, or pasta salads where I just stir tuna and relish into the bowl. It gets a lot hotter and a lot nastier in Buffalo than a lot of people give the city credit for, and I don’t like to spend a lot of time cooking when it’s like that.

…We’ll ignore the hours of canning that I do in weather like that.

The summer squash and zucchinis are starting to show up, and show up cheaply. They’re $.99 a tray and less than a dollar a piece at the farmer’s markets. They’ll just get cheaper from here on out.

I used the Zesty Zucchini Relish recipe from Ball (the small batch version from the book that comes with the discovery kit). I made very few changes, so I won’t post the recipe.

I used dried horseradish because I already had it, I skipped the salt soak and added a little to the brine instead, used a zucchini, a yellow squash, a cucumber, and an onion, halved the sugar and used apple cider vinegar. I used dried chilis instead of fresh.

I let it cook down too much (note to self: it takes a lot less time to get a canner up to speed when you start with hot water. Start with hot water.) and the brine cooked down too much. I topped off the jars with plain apple cider vinegar.

Golden Hot Sauce


Hot sauce and I have a running love affair. I am dreaming of all sorts of sauce this summer.


No joke, this recipe hit me in my sleep. I was taking a nap and then bam, I have to go make hot sauce.

I used a bag of pre-shredded carrots, because I had them. I don’t normally buy my carrots pre-sliced or pre-shredded but Tops had them marked down to move them and they were cheaper that way.


You don’t have to throw the mash out. You can stir in a little extra vinegar until it’s as thin as you would like and serve it as a really chunky sauce.

Make sure you wear gloves for the entire process.

Golden Hot Sauce

3 cups apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

10 oz shredded or chopped carrots

6 (or more) superhot peppers


1/2 tablespoon pickling spice

1/2 tablespoon ground tumeric

1/2 tablespoon ground mustard

Bring all to a boil, boil until everything is very soft.

Allow to cool to room temperature. Blend until smooth.

Using a fine mesh sieve or a strainer lined with paper, drain off the fluid. Discard or dehydrate solids; refrigerate the sauce.

Tomato Butter, Version 2

tomato butter version 2

We have one farmer’s market within a ten minute drive that I do enjoy greatly but don’t get to with any frequency (because it requires Mid-or someone- to take me). But going does make me really happy, and it has the best prices for the area outside of Aldis or the discount grocers.

I have to keep reminding myself that while we’re still off of harvest season for much of anything other than garlic scapes, a lot of the growers around here have greenhouses and we’re getting rapidly closer to full growing season. So there’s starting to be stuff in the market that’s labeled with ‘local’ or ‘grown in x y or z’.

I picked up some tomatoes the last trip, and make a batch of rotel style crushed tomatoes that went through my canner. I am, however, interested in getting my tomato butter recipe perfected-I liked the first batch and the aching sweetness cut down a little with some time (or the rest of the flavors melded enough to balance it). After running my first batch of tomatoes in the canner I decided to work on my butter instead of canning more crushed or freezing them.

I used more traditional tomato herbs instead of ketchup herbs, and cut the sugar in half. I also threw in some molasses to get a richer taste with a lower sugar hit. I also used lemon juice for a more assertive acid cut. I used a teaspoon each cayenne, thyme, and rosemary, a little fresh (like, five leaves or so) oregano, and a quarter cup of sugar. I used maybe two tablespoons each lemon juice and molasses-not blackstrap, just normal.

My only concern for this batch is that it never really turned into butter, it just cooked down to what looked like really thick tomato sauce. It did hold its shape, however. And it really, really smelled like tomato sauce. This might be the wrong flavor profile for tomato butter.

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Rotel Type Tomatoes


My sister’s wedding is tomorrow (today? The 19th). I’ve been stress cooking up a storm, to the point where I’ve been getting moody on the days where I need to run errands instead of spending some time in the kitchen. I know I need to get other things done, but I really need my happy bubble of not thinking about anything.

I’ve said it a few times this season that I’ve been trying to get a base of staples built up-Mid eats dilly beans like they’re going extinct and I’m comfort eating applesauce. I do however get bored with canning the same projects over and over. Halfway to salsa and useful in chili, I decided to go with rotel style tomatoes instead of crushed for this batch.

I added a little salt, a little cayenne, and a little garlic just to add some flavor. I don’t necessarily like the flavor of jalapenos, but Target had them and I didn’t want to stop at the grocery store just for another type of pepper. A tablespoon of salt is a fair amount of salt, and I don’t normally salt my food at all, but this recipe is written for a full quart of product and a tablespoon across two pint jars isn’t terrible, plus it’ll help combat the acid a little. I will probably cut back on the next batch, though.

The recipe itself is simple, and I used the version in Food in Jars. I’m not sure if she has a variation on her blog, but I do recommend getting a hold of the book if possible.



Crushed Tomatoes

canning crushed tomatoes final

I’m not sure I’ve talked about how to actually can just straight up tomatoes.

Maybe I have, but it’s been a couple of summers since I’ve done any serious tomato canning so I’ll recover the same ground in case that I haven’t.

I have started to can the majority of my tomatoes as crushed style. I like the slightly chunky bits for salsa base, and I like the way they work in stews and soups. You could also open the jars and continue to cook them down for tomato butter if you wanted.


Home canned tomatoes tend to run more acidic tasting than the store bought. People like to can tomatoes at home to avoid the added sugars-but the added sugars are what is helping to mask that bite. Once you open your tomatoes, stir in a little bit of sugar. Dishes that are heavy in other flavors, like chilies or taco soup, may not need it but try adding a little honey or sugar to tomato sauce or salsa to cover up some of that citric acid taste.

Crushed Tomatoes

Citric acid

Tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped-skin them if you prefer, but leave the seeds in

Pint jars

Optional: salt and dried herbs

Prep a boiling water bath. I like to fill it with as many half pints or pints as I can fit in, since tomatoes are so watery output is can be all over the place. But generally speaking think a pound a pint.

In a large heavy bottomed pot, add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally and allow to cook down. Add your salt or herbs if using.

When the tomatoes have gotten as thick as you would like, add 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid to each jar and fill with tomatoes. Remove bubbles.

Process 35-40 minutes for pints.

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Using Sauce Bases [The Legend of IronFish]



When I get good and stressed, my mantra is ‘I am Iron Man’. Sorry, Marvel, no copyright infringement intended.

My spirit animal this summer is a catfish. When worlds collide…I become IronFish. I am so in IronFish mode right now it’s not funny. Sure, why not just spontaneously start canning everything that I can fit into a canning jar and run through a water bath? Do I even -like- mulling spices? How should I know?

Crisis cooking mode in full swing, I made tomato sauce out of last spring’s sauce base. This isn’t a recipe so much as a method-but this is HK and we’re used to my ‘this isn’t an actual recipe, per se’ method of cooking.

I took a pint of sauce base, and added it to a pot with one of the cans of ‘tomato sauce’. Not the stuff that comes in glass jars, they come in half sized cans and cost less than $.50. The product is closer to really thin ketchup. This isn’t a pivotal step but I had one in the fridge. I threw in a swipe of tomato paste and a couple of tablespoons of Italian seasoning.

I let everything cook down on medium low for about an hour or until the texture of bottled tomato sauce. I tasted it to make sure that it needed neither sugar or acid-it really shouldn’t need a hit of acid since the tomatoes had to be canned with it.

IronFish swimming my way out.