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Friday, September 16, 2011

How to Be Awesome at Cooking: Ketchup!

Let's start by playing a game called Awesome/Not Awesome.

Awesome:  Getting to stay home, especially while I'm pregnant and not feeling well.  Also, especially since we moved at the end of the summer, and the house is still in boxes.

Not Awesome:  No paycheck.

Don't get be wrong, we have plenty of money to live on.  I am a teacher, at a private school no less, so it's not like I got much anyway, but it has meant a lot of adjusting.  Basically, the fun money is gone.

Awesome:  Going to Dragon*Con this year for the first time.  (Separate post about that later.)

Not Awesome:  Spending way more money than we should have at Dragon*Con.

Atlanta hotels ain't cheap!

Awesome:  Having plenty of food in the house, thanks to a housewarming shower and my mom making food for us to freeze and eat later.

Not Awesome:  Missing a few really important condiments/ingredients.

I'm trying to hold out on grocery shopping until next payday so that I can justify all the money we spent at Dragon*Con.

So that leads us to today's awesomeness.  I have corn dogs for Brian for lunch, but no ketchup.  And if there's one thing that boy likes, it's ketchup.  He would never complain about not having it, but he probably won't eat corn dogs without it. 

So I decided to make some.

Turns out, it's not very hard at all, and I already had all the ingredients.  Awesome!  I got the recipe from this website.  It's actually someone who lives in Morocco, so that explains why I guess they have to make their own ketchup.  Maybe it's not a local favorite.  Anyway, it's a good basic recipe.  No, I didn't start with tomatoes, although that would have been cool.  I started with tomato paste, but you can do it the hard way if you want.  I didn't feel like straining stuff.

Here are all the ingredients you will need:

2 cans (ea. approx. 140g or 6 oz.) tomato paste
2/3 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder (or 1 teaspoon finely grated onion with the juice)
1/8 teaspoon Allspice

Mix all of the ingredients together in a saucepan or pot.

Cover and simmer over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow the ketchup to cool before serving.

The ketchup will keep for one month or longer when stored in a covered container in the fridge.

I used the empty ketchup bottle we just finished.

I was running out of garlic powder, so I used a little garlic salt to finish the 1/2 teaspoon, and then just reduced my salt.  Also, I was worried because after I simmered it, I tasted it, and it was pretty spicy.  I had made a note to reduce the amount of cayenne pepper, but when we ate it after it cooled for a couple of hours, it wasn't spicy at all.  Guess it just needs time to......ketchup.  hehehe

The biggest thing I would change about the recipe is the simmering time.  I'm still getting used to my gas cooking range, but I had it set below medium, and it was cooking way too fast.  After ten minutes, it was at the point where I think I overcooked it slightly.  I would put it on low for ten minutes or less and see how it looks after that.

It tastes pretty good.  Like I said, I think I overcooked mine a little, so it's thicker than normal, but I like the taste.  We had burgers that night for dinner, and Brian loved it, so I think it's a go! 

Also, this site has a similar recipe but without the corn syrup, if you don't like that.

As for the price, well, the average price for a 32 oz. Heinz ketchup bottle at Wal-Mart is around $2.50, which is really not bad.  You can get a can of tomato paste for $.44, and you need two of those, plus the corn syrup and vinegar, which costs like, $.75-$1.00 for the amount you use, plus some spices you already have at home.  So all in all, you might save like, a dollar.  Not really a huge savings, but since I already had all the ingredients, I did end up saving money 'cause I didn't have to buy anything.  Mostly, I think the reason people make their own is for the "green" aspect.  You don't have all the dyes and chemicals.  Plus, if you had your own tomato plants, you wouldn't have to buy that, so that would be cheaper.

Oh, and the biggest advice I can give you?  Wear an apron from start to finish.  Seriously.  Maybe even wear like, a muumuu or something.  Or just be naked.  (No......I take that back.  It's hot, and it splatters.)  The point is, this is a messy recipe.

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