Monday, October 5, 2009

Salsa-fy me

We are big fans of Tex-Mex around here (no self-respecting actual Mexican cook would call my 'Mexican' food, true, and so this summer, we planted 70 Roma tomato plants, and 30 something jalapenos (little lesson learned here--plant four times as many tomatoes, and the same amount of peppers, lol). We have eaten a large part of the salsa I have already made (in July and August), and so today, I am making more salsa. I am going to have to supplement with some pre-canned (ugh) tomatoes, since I need to rotate them out of the pantry stock anyway--best to use them in a way I know that they will be consumed...

Here's my salsa recipe (if anyone is interested)...I got this from the CD Kitchen website (I just did a websearch for salsa recipes, and this is the one that came up, that I had all of the ingredients for, on hand, at the time).

(This is set to make 8 qts--as I said, we go through A LOT of salsa)...

16 cups peeled, cored, and chopped fresh tomatoes
4 cups seeded and chopped fresh jalapeno peppers, or to taste
4 cups chopped onion
16 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 TBSP salt
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Pour hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/4-1/2 inch of headspace. Seal jars with two piece caps (lids and rings). Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

I have done a few things, out of general "oops, I don't have that!" desperation...substituted lemon juice for lime (used the concentrate. We don't have lemons here on a regular basis), used a fraction of the amount given for fresh cilantro, and replaced it with dried (because the dried is so much more concentrated, you wouldn't want to over-do it). I used the food processor to just grind up the peppers and onions together, saved time, saved my hands (ALWAYS wear gloves when dealing with hot peppers. And then still wash your hands. Mine were in agony for a full day after I made salsa the first time, because I neglected this advice). I scald my tomatoes in a big pot (usually the same one I am going to make the salsa in, actually), all at the same time. When they are all finished, I pour them into a large colander (this is actually one of the few things I use my more solid metal colander for, as opposed to my finer mesh strainers) in the sink. I scoop the tomatoes out in a big measuring cup, and run them through my hand operated food mill. Let me tell you, it is a time and hand saver. No hand peeling the tomatoes, I'm not worried about seeds (if seeds bother you, well, don't eat my salsa! LOL), so I don't bother with trying to de-seed the tomatoes after scalding...I just run them through my food mill, and the mill removes the skins while pressing the meat of the tomatoes through the plate. I use a spoon to remove the skins from the mill, so they get out of the way, and just keep going. I put the food mill over a mixing bowl, to catch the tomatoes once they are smushed (is that a word? Or is it just one of those words we use without thinking? Hm. Food for thought, there...). Then I measure them off, in my big 4cup pyrex measuring cup..this works out well, since the measurements required for the recipe scaled this way, are in 4 cup increments. Put them back into the pot, add the finely chopped peppers and onions and other ingredients, and stir. Seriously. It sounds a lot more complicated when I type this all out, but when you've made salsa all summer like I have, you've also tried to cut corners where/when you can. Plus it saves on the dishes, which is always a bonus in my book.

Here is the website address, so that if you need to scale this down (or up!) for you and your family, you can do so. That is one great thing about this website, the ability to scale a recipe to suit YOU and YOUR needs, rather than just having to do the math and hope that it is in proper proportion.
Definitely check it out, it will likely be worth your time, especially if you do once-a-month cooking, or simply need to cook in larger quantities!
recipe ID: 4113

In other news, we'll be having a delightful kielbasa, cabbage, and potato soup that I saw on an episode of Oklahoma Gardening program on KETA. It is a rainy, slightly cool fall day, perfect for a big hearty bowl of soup, and a slab of artisan bread with butter (a recipe I got from The Creamer Chronicles--I'll see if I can add a link to JoAnn's blog on my sideboard)...This will be a great way to use up the mashed potatoes I have in my fridge, as well as the 3/4s package of kielbasa, and 1/2 of a cabbage. Hopefully, it will taste as good in person as it looked on television. And maybe, just maybe, if we can get the schoolwork finished up promptly, we'll make some cookies too.

Hopefully, you all are having a beautiful fall day, where-ever you are (or, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, a beautiful early spring day!)...

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