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Tomato-Fest Salsa

By August 11, 2014 building relationships with others, feeding ourselves, nurturing, pleasure, slowing down, summer, summer veggies

I spent all of last weekend at a cozy home in the woods with 70 pounds of tomatoes and a good friend. We made fresh tomato juice, canned tomatoes, made salsa, and had an all-around grand time together.

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I called this endeavor Tomato-fest. I posted many photos on Facebook and Instagram. I had people contact me to ask for recipes.

This has been a good year for tomatoes. I think that many folks with gardens this year have tomatoes coming out of their ears.  Here’s one of the recipes that I made during tomato-fest. Enjoy!

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Tomato-fest Garden Salsa

You can make this recipe for immediate enjoyment or you can process your jars of salsa in a water bath canner to preserve it. I have done both. This year I wanted to preserve this salsa so that I will have jars of garden fresh flavors around into the winter months. I prepared a batch 3x’s this recipe. If you have a large quantity of tomatoes, you can multiply this recipe easily. You could use any kind of tomatoes that you like. I had an abundance of roma’s.

Equipment you will need:

1 large mixing bowl

A cutting board

A sharp knife

Food processor

A large baking sheet

Aluminum foil or silpat non-stick baking mat

Ingredients for 2 quarts of salsa:

4 lbs of roma tomatoes (you can use any tomatoes that you have in abundance)

1 medium red onion

juice of 4 limes

1 bunch of cilantro

2 roasted Serrano peppers

1 fresh jalapeño

1 tablespoon of sea salt, plus more to taste

1/2 tablespoon of black pepper, plus more to taste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with a silpat baking sheet or aluminum foil.

Core the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in a large bowl. Once you have all of your tomatoes halved and cored, toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of sea salt and 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper. Allow the tomatoes to macerate with the salt and pepper for at least 5 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil to the tomatoes. Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil until the tomatoes are lightly covered with the olive oil.

Place the tomatoes on your lined baking sheets, skin side down. Pour any juice from the tomatoes onto the baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes in the over for 40 minutes. They should just be showing some charred color when you take them out.

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While the tomatoes are roasting: Peel a red onion and cut it in half and set aside. Pick the leaves from the bunch of cilantro and set aside. Juice the limes using a citrus juicer or by cutting them in half and squeezing the juice by hand. Set the lime juice aside.

imageFor the Serrano peppers: You could roast them in the over with the tomatoes. If you have a gas stove, you can roast them directly on the fire for a more full flavor. Either way works fine. If you go for the charring directly on the flame, you will have to place them an ice bath after you char them on the stove-top. Once the peppers are cooled, peel the outer layer of the skin off of the peppers. Your peppers are now ready to use. I processed the peppers with the seeds and all.

imageOnce you remove the tomatoes from the oven, pour them along with the juices to a large mixing bowl to cool.

Let the tomatoes cool for 20 minutes or until you can handle them easily. Once they have cooled, you will process the tomatoes in batches in the food processor. I pulsed them until just slightly chunky. I wanted to make sure that the salsa would be chunky enough to stay on a tortilla chip. This is definitely a measure of preference. How chunky or thin do you like your salsa?

imageOnce you have processed all of the tomatoes in the food processor, put them back into a large mixing bowl.

Place the onion in the bowl of the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the onion into the bowl with the tomatoes. Place the cilantro in the bowl of the food processor and add 1/2 cup of the lime juice. Pulse until the cilantro is finely chopped. Transfer the chopped cilantro into the bowl with the tomatoes.

imageAdd the peppers into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse them until finely chopped. Transfer the peppers into your bowl with the tomatoes.

Mix all of your added ingredients into the tomatoes. This will be when you will begin tasting for your preference. Keep in mind to add a little at a time. You can always keep adding. You cannot remove salt once you add it in.

imageYou can add more salt, pepper, lime juice, or even extra chiles to your salsa depending on your personal taste and preference.

I kept my salsa very basic. When I open one of the jars, I can always add more chiles to make it spicier if I want.

imageThis recipe will produce 2 quarts of salsa. If you will eat it quickly, refrigerate immediately. It will keep for a couple weeks.

I processed my salsa in a canner, so it will keep for several months. I placed the closed jars in a canning pot for 10 minutes. My goal in deciding to only process in the canner for 10 minute was to maintain the fresh taste of the cilantro and lime juice.

Lesson: With the busy lives that we lead, it can be challenging to make room in our schedules for concentrated time spent with our friends. Thankfully one of my best friends and I really enjoy being in the kitchen together. We rolled in a productive canning project into spending quality time together. We laughed, we danced, we sang, we ate well, and we worked until we could work no more for two days. The outcome was 30 quarts of preserved tomato goodness and an appreciation of the time that I had with my dear friend. Our tomato fest fed my heart and soul and nurtured our friendship. What creative ways do you carve out time for people in your life that is nurturing to self and the friendship?

 

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What Do I Do with a Mushy Cantaloupe?

By July 28, 2014 beverage junkie, creativity, having flexibility, practice, recipes, summer

There are few things more disappointing to me than picking a fruit that has an undesirable texture. Come on, you know what I am talking about. How many tomatoes, peaches, plums, apples, or melons have you sunk your teeth into with disappointment?

In the summer I can eat a cantaloupe a day. There’s nothing quite like that subtle musky, juicy, refreshing melon experience. What is hard to swallow is when I pick a melon with a mushy texture. Who’s with me here?

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As usual, I went to the Durham Farmers Market on Saturday morning. I have been buying three cantaloupes from Brinkley Farms each Saturday. I have to admit, for as long as I have been eating cantaloupes this summer, my run on really good one’s has been mind-blowing!

Today was the first time that I sliced open that wonderfully musky fragranced melon to discover a mushy texture. The flavor, on the other hand, was perfect. What was I going to do?

I grabbed my Vitamix blender and scooped out the flesh of the melon straight into the blender pitcher. Once I had all of the melon scooped out, I put the lid on the blender and turned it on low. In seconds I had a refreshing juice. That was an incredibly easy solution!

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One thing to note is that after it sits, this juice will thicken. I did not strain out any of the pulp. You can thin it by adding some coconut water until you get the consistency that you want.

Another option would be to transform the juice into a shrub. Click here to learn more about shrubs and shrub making. I haven’t tried that yet, but will check it out and get back to you. You could also make a soda with your juice by adding sparkling water to it. Play with the ratios to get the flavor and texture you like. It is better to add a little bit of soda at a time. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away after you mix with your juice.  Let me know how you like it!

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Lesson: When things don’t go quite the way we planned or even assumed that they would, we can feel disappointed or even frustrated. These feelings often show up when we have expectations of a particular outcome. Who doesn’t want  to eat a perfect melon?

I always do my best to come up with alternate options that will work just as well as the outcome that I had hoped for in the kitchen and in life. This cantaloupe juice is a good example of that. What do you do to have flexibility when things don’t turn out as you had hoped?

 

 

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