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Springtime flavors start cropping up

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Posted: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:18 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By M. Clare Haefner

Cooking with Clare

Daylight saving time begins Sunday, which means the official start of spring is right around the corner.

Of course, the weather in Central Texas already reminds me of spring – with thunderstorms popping up with little warning Monday followed by a warm, sunny day Tuesday to dry out all the standing water in yards and roadways.

The wet and warmer weather makes me think about the return of fresh foods and starting my summer garden.

It's about time to plant tomatoes, summer squash, bell peppers and herbs in anticipation of making one of my favorite dishes – spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce.

While the payoff is still a few months away, I always look forward to the return of spring as a chance to prepare to eat homegrown foods, which always provide better flavor than canned, frozen or store-bought items.

First, I'll prepare the soil in my backyard.

Then, I'll purchase and plant the tiny plants, water, fertilize, weed and put up netting to keep bugs, birds and my two cats at bay.

But it's worth the work, because once the plants have grown, I know I'll enjoy reaping the rewards of my labor when I sit down to eat.

Of course, if you're not up to the challenge of growing the ingredients yourself, you can always visit a farmers market to find the same flavorful, fresh ingredients.

Homemade marinara sauce

Ingredients

6 large tomatoes, diced

2 cups water

3 medium bell peppers, seeded and diced

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced (or ½ teaspoon dried)

1 cup zucchini, chopped

1 cup yellow squash, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In large pot, combine tomatoes and water and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium low, add other ingredients and simmer about 20 to 25 minutes, until peppers, squash and onions are tender.

Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Serve warm over a steaming bowl of your favorite pasta.

Makes eight, 1-cup servings.

Note: Leftover sauce can be stored in the refrigerator up to one week or frozen for up to three months.

Sauce can also be canned and stored up to one year, following canning procedures to ensure a proper seal on the jar.

City Editor Clare Haefner enjoys cooking for family and friends. She can be reached at chaefner@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7551.

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