Sunday, August 18, 2013

That's Enough 'Sketti {Homemade Salsa}

It's August. That means we have tomatoes that need pickin' every day.  It takes me about 10 minutes to dig through all the vines to make sure I didn't miss any hidden fruit, but other than that, the only work this month in the garden requires is figuring out how to actually consume all this tasty goodness.  The first few tomatoes of the summer are savored; those picked in the midst of bounty build up in a huge pile until I start giving them away because there is only so much red sauce a family can consume, only so many salads we can enjoy.

Mr. Stripey slicing tomatoes

Last year, I froze about six months worth of tomato sauce.  This year, I vowed to try something new.  So I ventured into a world of mystery, a rarely trodden path, the previously unknown glory of...salsa. I know, you're shocked, worried, and confused about this.  WHY WOULD I MAKE SUCH A THING AS SALSA, which is only good on just about everything, including chips, Americanized Mexican cuisine, breakfast quiche, and almost anything else you can think of (although chocolate pie might be an exception)?

Eat me, they called.
 Ryan had tried some homemade salsa at his mother's house this past spring, so we asked for the recipe.  We made a few changes.  So you don't sue me or hold me responsible for some problem: Make changes at your own risk. If you're doing this for shelf-stable canning, process this recipe appropriately (with enough acid, for instance).  Botulism is dangerous and real, so everything should be immaculate and carefully handled.

Okay, that said, we didn't make this for canning.  I figured we'd eat a hell of a whole lot of it and freeze some, too.  If freezing changes the texture for the worse, we can always throw the sauce into soup or chili or something.

We calculated that it cost us $5 to make ten cups or so of salsa. A bargain for deliciousness!

I'm sure there's a great way to photograph salsa, but this'll have to do.
Wonderful Salsa
8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped, and drained (peeling optional. I didn't do this)
2.5 cups chopped onions
1.5 cups green peppers
1 cup chopped jalapeno
6 chopped garlic cloves
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup sugar
1/3 c vinegar 
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 12oz can tomato paste
Cilantro (optional)
Juice of 1 lime (optional)
Salt to taste

1. Mix all the ingredients in the pot (wait on the salt, cilantro, and lime juice if you like).  Bring to a slow boil and cook for 20 minutes.

2. Season to taste. This is where I added the salt, cilantro, and lime juice until I was happy.  You can stop here if you like chunky salsa.

3. Let the salsa cool a little and then puree in the blender.  Be careful if it's hot--it could make a serious mess!  I put a towel over the lid of the blender and held it down.

4. Eat it. Share it.  Enjoy it.  Refrigerate leftovers. I'm freezing some, too.

The recipe reminds me very much of restaurant salsa--fresh tasting, but heavier and, to me, more flavorful than raw salsa.  Tastes a lot like Ponak's (the home of the glorious Sonoran Taco and the best margarita ever made), which is one of my favorites.

Next year, I might try drying tomatoes or making tomato leather or poaching them in oil!  But that's a bit too adventurous for 2013. Salsa'll do.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August This and That

Summer is over.  The vacation part, at least.

German Johnson Heirloom.
 The tomatoes have arrived in droves, with all their colorful variations.

Katie has started kindergarten.

The kitchen cabinets are about 60% finished.

Our experimental tomato patch is hugging the makeshift tower.

And the late bloomers are finally getting started on their fruit.

We still have loads of beer left over from our neighborhood happy hour. Stop by and enjoy one with us (although they're not on ice anymore).

We're finishing the cabinetry in the next week.  It's been a slow process, but the results have been satisfying.

The weather's been cool, unlike any other August in my memory. How's the end of summer treating you?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Kitchen, again.

We've been painting the kitchen cabinets for two weeks.  No, it hasn't been non-stop painting.  We're doing it in parts, mainly because we don't have the space to pull all the cabinet doors off at once.  If you think that's the wrong way to do it, well, I've never liked your haircut. Ever. So there.

We've been eating dinner in our cramped dining well as on the living room ottoman.  I miss my kitchen table.

The tall piece is finished: painted and waxed.  We'll hopefully finish this set of white doors in the next couple of days.  Then maybe we'll get to the rest of it, if we haven't died of exhaustion first.  And what'll we do about that weird space above the cabinetry? Don't ask. I have no clue.  Maybe some fake greenery and some roosters? No?  Too out there and never done?  I'm up for suggestions.

By the way, we had a great time at our neighborhood happy hour.  Even met a few folks we'd never seen before.  We also might have tried to flag down people driving by, but for some reason, they wouldn't stop.  I also shouted that it was drankin' time and invited anyone who could hear me...called over the guy walking his dog (but he had volleyball practice to get to??  Who the hell plays volleyball in Kansas City?)...tried to send Ryan down the street with a couple of beers to recruit the folks moving in...Anyway, my neighborhood of Neighborville apparently has some folks who don't like being neighborly, but the twenty or so people who came were worth meeting and drinking with, and I'm so glad they took a chance on the weirdo Kiefers.  Hopefully we can do it again. Next time, with jugglers, contortionists, elephants, and that guy who sang "Pants on the Ground".

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