Sunday, July 18, 2010

Salsa Recipe

It's about that time.... Time to make the first batch of SALSA this year. And this year I get to eat it! Last year, I had all these awesome tomatoes that were transformed into yummy salsa. I spent quite a few hours making it. I burned my hands on the peppers because I forgot to get rubber gloves every time I went to the store. I chopped and chopped, boiled, chopped some more, stirred, poured... and then STARED at the salsa... SO wanting to eat it but realizing that Claire would literally revolt if I did. Considering the fact that it would be unfair to my newborn to indulge, I tasted just one bite per batch, and that was it. Well, this year will not be the same! I will likely eat it by the jar-full! Okay, that's extreme. That would also be punishment of a different kind. The point is that I'm excited about this batch of salsa. I think the tomatoes are perfectly ripe, and it's going to be AWESOME!

For those of you who'd like to try to make it also, it's actually fairly easy. I started with the "Chunky Salsa" recipe from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book and adapted it as I saw fit. It makes about 5 or 6 pints of salsa.

Here's what you need:

  • 7 pounds ripe tomatoes (20 medium--or any grouping that comes to the equivalent). Some folks say Romas are the way to go. I found last year that it didn't matter what kind of tomatoes they were as long as they were homegrown and ripe from the garden.
  • 10 fresh Anaheim or poblano chile peppers, seeded and chopped (abt. 3 cups) I use Anaheim peppers, mostly green with hints of red. I only seed about half of them... partly because I don't want to take the time and partly because the seeds help add spice and flavor, so I don't want to throw them out.
  • 3 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped. I only seed about half of these peppers as well. If you like your salsa extra-spicy, you can substitute serrano peppers for jalapenos.
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped. I did actually seed this well, because it was easy and fast.
  • 1 cup chopped white or yellow onions (1 large)
  • 2 cups chopped green onions (the whole onion except the tips and end of the bulb)--I found that the green onions from my garden were really lots better than the onions from the store
  • 1/2 cup snipped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 of a 6 oz. can (1/3 cup) tomato paste [I use organic tomato paste]
  • 5 garlic cloves (minced)--I went for fairly large cloves, so if you have only small ones, add more than 5
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Rubber gloves for chopping those peppers... they really will burn your skin off

Now here's what you do:

  • Seed, core, and coarsely chop tomatoes. I actually wasn't too concerned about the seeding part. I did get the tough core out, and I scraped away the seeds that were easy to reach, but I didn't have time to worry about all of them, and it worked out just fine. You'll have about 14 cups of tomatoes.
  • Place tomatoes in a large colander. Let drain 30 minutes.
  • Dump drained tomatoes into a large heavy stainless-steel stock pot or cast iron kettle. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered about 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add all peppers, onions, cilantro, vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Return mixture to boiling. Then reduce heat.
  • Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Can or freeze as necessary... if you have any that lasts that long! FYI--This salsa does not last as long in the refrigerator as store-bought salsa... because there are no preservatives.

Now, what are YOUR favorite recipes for garden-fresh tomatoes?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"My Hope and Treasure Lies Above"

This summer, I am finishing up the 1st grade portion of the Veritas Press Phonics Museum with Ladan. I have learned and been challenged a good deal as he reads the included books aloud to me. Many of the stories are brief accounts of true historical events. The most recent book he read was a biography of Anne Bradstreet, a Puritan poet.

Anne was well-educated. She married in England at the age of 16 and moved to New England with her husband, Simon Bradstreet. They had eight children. Her husband was a governor and traveled a lot as a result. Anne's life was challenging. She worked hard. She encountered many trials. Through it all, she maintained a strong faith in an unchanging, faithful, just, and GOOD God. Her poems reveal her heart as she experienced life and a very real relationship with God. I've been captivated by her writing the last several days. One poem was written in the wake of the complete burning of their house. Keep in mind as you read it that they did not have insurance as we do today. They had to start completely over.

Verses upon the Burning of our House
by Anne Bradstreet

In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow near I did not look,
I waken'd was with thund'ring noise
And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.
That fearful sound of "fire" and "fire,"
Let no man know is my Desire.
I starting up, the light did spy,
And to my God my heart did cry
To straighten me in my Distress
And not to leave me succourless.
Then coming out, behold a space
The flame consume my dwelling place.
And when I could no longer look,
I blest his grace that gave and took,
That laid my goods now in the dust.
Yea, so it was, and so 'twas just.
It was his own; it was not mine.
Far be it that I should repine,
He might of all justly bereft
But yet sufficient for us left.
When by the Ruins oft I past
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast
And here and there the places spy
Where oft I sate and long did lie.
Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest,
There lay that store I counted best,
My pleasant things in ashes lie
And them behold no more shall I.
Under the roof no guest shall sit,
Nor at thy Table eat a bit.
No pleasant talk shall 'ere be told
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Candle 'ere shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom's voice ere heard shall bee.
In silence ever shalt thou lie.
Adieu, Adieu, All's Vanity.
Then straight I 'gin my heart to chide:
And did thy wealth on earth abide,
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust,
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the sky
That dunghill mists away may fly.
Thou hast a house on high erect
Fram'd by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished
Stands permanent, though this be fled.
It's purchased and paid for too
By him who hath enough to do.
A price so vast as is unknown,
Yet by his gift is made thine own.
There's wealth enough; I need no more.
Farewell, my pelf; farewell, my store.
The world no longer let me love;
My hope and Treasure lies above.

This stuff is RICH! I'm reading this on the heels of several weeks of meditating on the truth that my home is not here on earth. It's good to work toward the goal of being a good and godly homemaker, and it's good to hope that we and others will consider our home to feel like "home". But it's all too easy to begin to count on the treasures of this world and to desire comfort here on earth to the point where disappointment comes up when those things fall short, when things are uncomfortable, when things are in process, or when things change. Scripture is an excellent reminder of where I need to place my hope, but sometimes there is something very real and very helpful about "experiencing" these truths with another person who is learning them as well... even if that person lived 400 years ago. So, for what it's worth, may these words serve as encouragement to you as well.

The truths that encouraged Anne have not changed. She served the same God that I serve today. It matters that we know who God is. It matters that we believe Him. It changes our lives, our responses, the way we think, who we are. And hopefully, by His grace, His work in our lives will impact the lives of others.

Additionally, things like this paint just a small picture of what it is like to worship the ONE TRUE GOD with the church universal. I cannot fathom what it will be like to join in praise with all believers in Christ when we are raised up together in heaven. This is definitely a foreshadowing of things to come... and I can tell it's going to be FANTASTIC! Beyond expression.

For more info on Anne Bradstreet, including more of her poetry, please see "The Flesh and the Spirit" is definitely worth reading and contemplating if you only have time for one.