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Turkey Creek Lane · Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Garden Tomatoes & Basil, Homemade Meatballs…How to Peel Tomatoes & DH’s Gardening Secret

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Garden Tomatoes & Basil, Homemade Meatballs…How to Peel Tomatoes & DH’s Gardening Secret

Tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden have become part of our kitchen decor.

Horse manure!

DH brags about the power of his horse manure compost as if he invented it and got a nobel prize for the invention. “George Washington swore the secret to good farming was horse manure,” says DH.

“You just wait,” he said last summer, “George Washington knew his stuff, you’ll see.”

We added dried manure to our compost pile of grass clippings and shredded leaves last fall. This spring DH tilled it into our garden. Then we used more grass clippings and shredded leaves for mulch on top.

I was hoping the mulch would prevent unwanted plants from popping up, resulting in a no till, weedless garden. That didn’t happen. We had weeds. But, DH was so right about horse manure producing garden miracles. Our one cucumber plant has produced 60 cucumbers…so far.

Our onions shortly before they were pulled up and cured.

The first watermelons we found. There are at least 15 on that plant now.

An 11 pound zuchini that came from a volunteer plant on our compost pile. We didn’t find it until it had grown to this size.

A basket full of Yukon Gold potatoes. I had no idea potatoes could be so good.

Browning the meatballs and simmering the tomato basil sauce.

Dinner tonight featured home grown tomatoes and basil.


Soak in milk, water or stock;

1 slice of bread, 1 inch thick


2 eggs

Add eggs to:

1 1/2 lb. ground meat/I used ribeye

Saute until golden brown:

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Add to the meat. Wring the liquid from the bread. Add the bread to the meat and then add:

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/2 chopped clove garlic

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. oregano/I’ve used Italian Herbs

Mix and form into balls. Brown lightly in:

2 tablespoons butter

 Cover your frying pan and simmer on low until the meatballs for 1/2 or until the meatballs are firm and no longer pink in the middle.

Cooking down the sauce.

6 peeled, seeded and cut up tomatoes
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
 garlic, minced to taste or pinch of garlic powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons fresh basil (more or less to taste)

In a large skillet or saucepan combine the tomatoes,  tomato
sauce, garlic, sugar and basil. (Other herbs may be added. I really like basil and prefer just that with tomatoes.) Stir all together and simmer over low heat until thickened. More sugar and a tablespoon of butter may be added if the sauce is too acidic. Flour (1 to 2 tablespoons) may be added if you prefer a thicker sauce. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

Homemade spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes and basil over meatballs & spaghetti. It was sooooooo good!


Put the tomatoes, a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 – 45 seconds is usually enough)



Plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water.



This makes the skins slide right off of the tomatoes!  If you leave the skins in, they become tough and chewy in the sauce…not very pleasant.





After you have peeled the skins off the tomatoes, cut the tomatoes in half. 

Now you need to remove the seeds and excess water. Wash your hands then squeeze each tomato and use your finger or a spoon to scoop and shake out most of the seeds. You don’t need to get fanatical about it; removing just most will do.


Toss the squeezed tomatoes into a colander or drainer, while you work on others. This helps more of the water to drain off. You’ll end up with a thicker spaghetti sauce in less cooking time!

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  1. reutersramblings’s avatar

    Those tomatoes look huge and yummy. For some reason we cannot get potatoes, watermelon and green peppers to grow very well in our garden. I have heard about the horse manuer. We might have to try that next year. Our tomatoes are just starting to get red. We to will be making sauces with them as well as salsa. Thanks for the skinning tip. I remember last year, hubby having a tough time with that. He did not have fun peeling. Maybe this will help out.


  2. jolynna’s avatar

    Hi reutersrambling,

    I cannot recommend old horse manure enough. Also, it is unbelievably easy peeling tomatoes once they’ve been in boiling water and had the ice water dunk. The skin is off in seconds.

    From what I read at your site, you are having a pretty good harvest yourself!

    If we could just figure out a way to really eliminate those weeds!


  3. over50now’s avatar

    The photos from your garden look amazing. Not a bit of blight or signs of pests on a single one.

    My veggie garden hasn’t faired quite so well but I am picking some yummy tomatoes.


  4. mumsflowers’s avatar

    (giggles) We both may have had spaghetti last night — but yours sounds much better than my family recipe: Prego Out Of The Jar!


  5. imagineannie’s avatar

    Jolynna, although our lone tomato-in-a-pot (we live in a bing house on a small lot, so no real veggie garden) is just beginning to produce tiny green specimens, the farmer’s market is bursting with tomatoes. I will be making your sauce – do you think I can freeze it? As for the meatballs, OH YUM. Thanks, as always, for inspiring pictures and recipes.


  6. Kim’s avatar

    Wow! I wish I’d seen this post yesterday! I could have used the tips on peeling tomatoes. I didn’t leave mine in the boiling water long enough (Joy of Cooking says only 15 seconds) and had to put them all back in… Also, very impressive zucchini!

    Hey, thanks for visiting my blog! I’ll certainly be back to yours! Great recipes!!!


  7. jolynna’s avatar

    Thanks over50now and mumsflowers for visiting and your kind words,

    Hi over50now,

    Our first two gardens about all DH and I got were tomatoes with maybe a couple of cucumbers and a couple of peppers. We started planning for this garden last summer with the help of a lot of back issues of Mother Earth News. However, it is great having yummy tomatoes!!!


    We do Prego, too sometimes! LOL


  8. merrimerri’s avatar

    Lovely pics …that recipe looks yummy too!
    Our vegetable garden has been disappointing this year as it has been both colder and wetter than normal here.
    Our tomatoes are JUST starting to be ripe(about three weeks later than usual)
    Still our leeks are thriving, and THEY are great to add to any stew or spaghetti or soup..


  9. jolynna’s avatar

    Hi Imagineannie,

    Thanks for your nice coments.

    I made extra sauce and froze it. I froze the leftover meatballs separately thinking I might try to make a minestroni type soup with them later.

    I like my spaghetti sauce with basil, but you can use other herbs, too. My stepmother in law puts a tablespoon of butter in hers. But, I like the taste of the tomatoes and basil without a whole lot of extras. If you make it, let me know how it turns out.


  10. jolynna’s avatar

    Hi Kim,

    Thank you for visiting and for your comments.

    Next time you peel, leave the tomatoes in the water until the skin starts to split…it doesn’t take long. Then it comes right off when you put it in the ice water.

    Your blog was fun. I wanted to encourage you to pursue your dream of a life in the country and self sufficiency.

    DH and I are adding to our farm slowly, one project at a time. But, we are having a great time along the way. It’s a good way to live.


  11. jolynna’s avatar

    Hi Merrimerri,

    Thank you so much for your kind words!

    I didn’t grow leeks. But I love leek and potato soup, which I haven’t had for years. I bet they are good in stew and spaghetti!


  12. barngoddess’s avatar

    your husband obviously KNOWS his stuff too!

    I am going to try this next year on my plants, they didnt do too well this year 🙁

    your veggies look sooooooooooo good!


  13. Simply Marvelous’s avatar

    Fantastic dinner ! In fact, with your recipes, I see no reason keep my three large shelves of cook books. I can just check here to see what’s cooking.

    Question for DH:
    Planted our tomatos in wonderful horse manure. The plants nearly grew over the roof of the barn, However, we got maybe three small tomatoes from those luxurious plants. Can I blame the horses?


  14. jolynna’s avatar

    Hi barngoddess,

    I have become a believer in the power of horse manure, too. The difference between this year and those previous, I never would have imagined.

    Simply Marvelous,

    DH wants to know your sun situation.

    I have another expert I want to ask, my mother. It seems I remember her talking about not using regular miracle gro on tomatoes because it results in a lot of plant and hardly any tomatoes because regular miracle gro is too rich or something. You are supposed to use tomato miracle gro.

    Our horse manure was spread out and rained on and dried in the sun for a period of time before it was scooped up and added to the leaves and dried clippings.

    I have not studied composting and horse manure as DH has. But, I was wondering if my mother’s miracle gro theory of too much of the wrong kind of nutrient resulting in lots of plant instead of produce might also apply to your tomato situation. My mother is the long time gardener, so I will consult with her and see if she thinks there could be a parallel.


  15. Deb Rountree’s avatar

    I like you blog! Thanks for leaving me some messages! Nice story of your life!


  16. Simply Marvelous’s avatar

    Hi Jollynna

    Reply to DH about sun:
    The “tomato” place is full sun pretty much all day. Is that good or bad? Never get mold, but don’t get tomatoes, either. 🙂

    I think perhaps your mother is right … too much of a good thing. The plants were just spectacular and were obviously very happy. Will try again with a less potent mix. Thanks!

    By the way, discovered something not terribly scientific, but interesting about composting around here.

    When feeding the horses alfalfa, it took awhile, of course, before the compost looked beautiful.

    When feeding them “orchard grass” the manure didn’t break down at all. We could have started a “golf ball” company.

    However, now the horses are on Timothy and within a few weeks, their manure is soft and rich. The trees and flowers are thriving.

    I’m sure DH knows all this, but it was new to this “farm” girl.

    Just for the record, I don’t know what Timothy hay costs around the country, but in So.Cal we pay $25 for a 90# bale. Pampers babies we have!


  17. paperseedblog’s avatar

    Do you think your tomato sauce recipe could then be frozen for later use? We’re planning on spending the day processing them from our garden and I’d like to try, but was curious about your opinion.


  18. jolynna’s avatar


    I made a lot of sauce last time and froze some. I froze my meatballs separately because I wanted to use part of them in a sundried tomato pizza with mushroom and mozzarella recipe.

    Anyway, the answer to your question is yes, this can be frozen.



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