Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where Were You, What Were You Doing?

It's one of life's sweet quirks that the Mexican flag is created when you make salsa.

I had basil and tomatoes from the garden, so on Tuesday night, after a Monday night spent knee-deep in apples, I made salsa and pesto and put it all into a hot water bath for canning.

The salsa is more of a 'pico de gallo', which is how I like it. It makes a great dip for tortilla chips, and it also acts chutney-like with baked chicken.

I wish I knew where the recipe I used came from. Miss Pippa sent me this adorable recipe binder, with these little beehive cards (LOVE) and I keep it next to the computer ~ when I'm not using it in the kitchen ~ and when I'm poking around, if I come across something I'd like to try, I write it onto a recipe card.

So I have this recipe for salsa, and no way to attribute it. :( But I ate some today at lunch (alas, with chicken and roasted veggies from the garden, instead of chips!) and it really tastes so great. So I'll share, with my modifications.

1. Dice all the tomatoes sitting on your counter (7-8 cups worth)
2. Peel a white onion and cut into wedges. Throw wedges into the food processor. Pulse a few times.
3. Mince a bulb of garlic.
4. Chop one jalapeno pepper, under cold running water. (The oil can burn your hands.) I prefer a very mild pico de gallo salsa; if you care for even middling-heat, you could easily triple this.
5. Juice of a lemon.
6. Chop up a bunch of cilantro (the size they had at the produce looked pretty standard, like what you'd get at a grocery store).

Combine all ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste.

If you're going to eat it now, put in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I made this much because I didn't want my tomatoes to go bad before we could eat them all (I worked for these!!) but I certainly wouldn't have done so much if I wasn't canning it; it would never get eaten before it went bad. This made a quart jar and 5 big-mouth pint jars. Adjust accordingly! I'd easily halve or quarter this recipe for a more modest portion.

And here I've added the salsa to the four pints of pesto and the six quarts of apple pie filling. We'll call this the "fall cupboard". Behind the closed door is the "summer cupboard", with homemade apple butter, blackberry jam, plum jam, and even one jar of raspberry jam, compliments of my friend, Monica.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Little House, am I right?

Edited to Add: *Please* check the comments section for how to preserve pesto! I wouldn't want anyone to get sick because I think my new cabinet is "cute"!!

I've got another few pounds of orange/green tomatoes turning right now on the counter. I'm thinking I'm set for salsa. I'll probably eat some, but I'll also make a couple quarts of spaghetti sauce. Then I'll pull in more tomatoes. I've never tried to ripen tomatoes like this before, so I'm trying to do it in stages, in case I'm doing something wrong. If the weather cooperates, I'll be finished with the garden by Halloween.

This week was typical Bay Area fall weather. Flash-flood worthy squalls on Monday, high sun with light breeze on Tuesday (perfect!), foggy Wednesday morning, then that burns off to balmy and mild for the rest of the day. Tomorrow? For all I know, hail. And another earthquake. We had a couple of those last week too. Not enough quake to get me to move from what I was doing, but a little something-something to keep us alert on the near-anniversary of the '89 Loma Prieta that left us stranded and blacked-out for days.

I just read on that link that the earthquake was 6.9 (I had 7.1 in my head?) and it lasted 10 - 15 seconds. Huh. Does everybody remember where they were/what they were doing when that quake hit? Because I have to say, I would have guessed it was over 30 seconds in duration! I mean, 30 seconds doesn't sound like very long, but when you're whole world becomes a rocking box, it's an eternity. And yet, here we are...where half of that is long enough to burn down a neighborhood, destroy a bridge, and flatten a freeway.

I was just trying to figure out what got me onto the Loma Prieta, and, oh right, the weather. As a native Californian, one of my pet peeves is that, whenever it gets "muggy" outside, somebody somewhere is going to turn to you and say, "Earthquake weather." Arrrgggghhhh. Shoot me!

Okay...where were you, what were you doing?


  1. We (my nephew Chuck, 9yrs then, and I) were in our right field, upper reserve seats at Candlestick Park for the Bay Area World Series. It took us about 4 hours to drive to my parent's house in Fremont. Unfortunately, the Giant's lost 4 games to 0. Ugh!! Moose

  2. I'm trying your recipe, I like the idea of using it fresh. What kind of tomatoes do you use. I've got buckets of roma's ripening in the basement.

  3. really water bath for pesto? how does that work? Um. not that I haven't tried just didn't go well. and you know botulism...

  4. Moose ~ are you kidding! That's historical! What would that normally take you, about 40 minutes? Ugh is right. Also? Chuckie is going to be 30? 30?!?

    Linda ~ Romas are *perfect*! They are my preferred tomato for just about everything, actually, but they are lovely for salsa. Buckets in the basement...hmmmm...this is my first stab at ripening inside. Something I should know?

    Brit ~ No!!! You're right! Well, anyway, I *think* you're right... I always freeze it. These are frozen too. I normally freeze them in ziplock baggies (I've heard of people using ice cube trays, but I've never used two tablespoons of pesto for anything...I'll take a cup, thanks!) but I had over-prepared the pint jars for the salsa and these were there, looking cute, so I used them. Then, I had the water bath going, and they were there, so I tossed them in. Then, I thought they looked so cute in the old-fashioned hoosier that I took the photo op, but once they cooled, they went right into the freezer like always.

    I don't know a lot about water bath canning; it's new to me. But my understanding in general is that the oil is too low-acidic for any home preservation techniques, and freezing is the only option. Now, might it work, if you were to include lemon juice or something in your recipe? Maybe, I have no idea! Freezing works for me, and I'll stick with it. But anybody would be wise to do their own research and figure out what works for them.

  5. I was leaving class at El Camino College in So Cal. And, the past couple of days I have been thinking..."this feels like earthquake weather". lol! Can't get the Cali out of my blood I guess.