Salsa: Canning or Fresh

Mama's SalsaThe farmers market deal on tomatoes this week was my excuse to make salsa and get back to preserving.

This recipe is good fresh (uncooked) or canned. If you preserve your salsa — or any vegetables — they can sit in the pantry for up to a year! That is good taste and good financial sense. Cost per jar of salsa — about 90 cents.

Spring and summer crops are already starting to arrive at the market so it’s time to get your Mason Jars and canning equipment out!  I buy canning jars in packs of 12 for value.

Mama’s Not Too Spicy Salsa
Cuisine: Latin
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-5 pints
Good fresh (just prepped and tossed) or canned (cooked)
Ingredients
  • 6 pounds of tomatoes (about 15 regular sized tomatoes)
  • 4 green bell peppers (chopped)
  • 1 large sweet onion (Vidalia, Persian, Strawberry Field)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (remove the seeds based on your heat tolerance)
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar per pint jar
Instructions
  1. Blanche the tomatoes for 30-40 seconds in hot water. Remove them from the boiling pot and plunge into a sink filled with ice water to stop the cooking. Remove their skins and chop into smaller pieces. (about 1 inch).
  2. Chop onion and peppers into 1/2 inch pieces
  3. Addl all ingredients except the sugar in a large pan and stir gently to combine. (If you want to serve your salsa “fresh” stop processing here and put this version into a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro and store in a Mason jar for up to a week.)
  4. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce until thickened and about 1/2 the quantity in the pan.
  5. Before filling your canning jars make sure the lids and jars are sterilized. Run them through your dishwasher or sterilize them in hot water and allow them to cool to the touch.
  6. Put a teaspoon of sugar into the bottom of every pint-sized jar.
  7. Pour the hot salsa into the jars leaving 1/2″ space at the top (you’ll need this for the canning seal)
  8. Put the lids on the jars and seal to finger tight then turn back 3/4″
  9. Place the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove and let them cool on the counter. You will hear the seals set as the salsa cools. Test every seal to make sure it has completely sealed by pressing gently on the top lid.
  10. Store in the pantry for up to a year.
  11. When you go to serve these beauties add a tablespoon or fresh cilantro and/or a squeeze of lime or lemon to add a freshly made taste.

 

 

The nourishing and warming aspects of oatmeal

oatmealOatmeal — that breakfast staple of our grandparents — reigns supreme in your breakfast recipe repertoire.  But it can also become one of your family’s favorite mealtime side dishes with just a little imagination.

This week the entire US is experiencing a blast of truly cold weather with many states not even getting above zero.  This is a very good week to warm up the kids and family with gourmet oatmeal breakfasts.

My family has battled the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s for over a year.   My Mom was diagnosed three years ago with the disease.  Surely by now, everyone knows the disease affects memory loss, but unless you’ve witnessed the decline of a loved one you probably don’t realize that the disease is accompanied by a loss of taste, anorexia and an inability to eat and digest a lot of food types.  However, oatmeal has remained one food that Mom would eat and we were able to add all kinds of supplements and flavors to keep her strong.

Oatmeal is a power food — high in fiber, calcium, and potassium — with a low glycemic index.  It is known to reduce blood pressure and help maintain heart health.   Oatmeal is rich in nutrients and phenols that provide antioxidants and it is naturally anti-inflammatory.

Best of all, oatmeal — rolled oats or steel-cut oats — are neutral in flavor and provide whole grain benefits while accepting a variety of flavor additives.  They are also budget-friendly and available in every American grocery store.

Here are just a few ideas to amp up your oatmeal and expand your whole grain culinary taste.

Breakfast Oats

Oatmeal and your favorite fruits!  Oatmeal pairs well with almost any fruit for a perfect breakfast cereal. After cooking your oats, mix in blueberries, honey, and cinnamon: Or mix apples and maple syrup, or pears and pecans with this great grain.  Add any dried fruit and your favorite seeds or nuts to change out the routine like apricots and toasted pumpkin seeds or cranberries and pistachios.

  • tropical_oatsPut a tropical twist on your oatmeal by adding yogurt and pineapple, mango and coconut to your bowl. Yummy!
  • Chocolate oatmeal — absolutely yes.  Add a drizzle of melted semi-sweet chocolate and 1/2 a banana to your morning oatmeal for a dessert-style breakfast that’s still pretty healthy. For a healthier version at 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa, 2 teaspoons of raw honey and a banana to 1/2 cup of uncooked oats and 1/2 cup of coconut milk.  Refrigerate overnight.
  • Oatmeal pancakes put a new healthy twist on a family favorite weekend breakfast.  Oatmeal pancakes keep the family from getting hungry all morning and they taste great with any traditional pancake toppings.
  • Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
  • Granola
  • Parfaits

Oatmeal Side Dishes.

  • Steel-cut Oat Risotto.  Replace the arborio rice with steel cut oats in the preparation and mix in mushrooms, asparagus and Parmesan cheese for healthy side dish option.
  • Roasted tomato and basil oatmeal is a fabulous side dish for any lean protein meal.
  • Roasted vegetable oatmeal creates a filling base for eggs for a lighter evening meal.

Refrigerator Oats are ready when you are.

Use simple canning jars that can be reused for this healthy breakfast treat.

Basic refrigerator oats are made by adding 1/2 cup of rolled oats (Use old-fashioned rolled oats for the texture.  If you use quick cooking oats you’ll end up with a pasty, gummy texture.) to 1 cup of milk (soy, almond, coconut, or even plain old 2% or whole milk) in a jar or container.  Top with fruits, nuts, spices, and sweeteners.  Refrigerate overnight, and in the morning it magically has become a hearty and flavorful breakfast porridge.

Here you are only limited by your own imagination.  My favorite recipes are:

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal, 2 teaspoons Chia seeds, 1 cup milk, 1 diced apple, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of honey.  Cover, shake and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning top with a drizzle of homemade caramel or chocolate sauce.
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal, 2 teaspoons Chia seeds, 1 cup coconut milk (remove the cream at the top of the can), 2 rings of pineapple cut in chunks, 1/4 cup of blueberries (frozen or fresh), 1 tablespoon blanched almonds, 1 tablespoon of honey.  Top with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and toasted coconut.
  • For picky eaters – mix 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 2 teaspoons of Chia seeds, 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1/2 a small banana, 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter, and 1 cup of milk.   It will taste like desert to them, but you’ll know it’s packed with good things.

 

 

 

 

 

Earth-Friendly Chef: the Kitchen Compost Crock

Ceramic Kitchen Compost CrockWant to lessen your carbon footprint or do something right for the environment?  Try composting!

Composting really is just recycling for food!  It can be tricky, but really isn’t hard to do when you have the proper tools and little knowledge, and the right kitchen compost crock icon.  The benefits can be enormous.

I got into composting as a way to strengthen the immune systems of my sego palms.  I had read that coffee grounds helped deter the white scale that infects these plants.  It works!  From collecting my coffee grounds in this kitchen compost crock iconit was just a matter of time before I wanted to expand my composting efforts.

I compost all vegetable scraps and spoiled fruits and vegetable.  Every other day I move the biodegradable bag from the kitchen compost crock icon and deposit it in my worm composting box outside.  The benefits have been multiplied by knowing I’m doing something good for my garden and not letting my “compost gold” rot at the landfill.

The coffee grounds go straight to a rain barrel where they soak with rain water to create a caffine-based insecticide that kills mealy bugs, scale, aphids, whiteflies, spider mites.

In the compost bin I college all vegetable stems, peels and leaves which I mix with shredded paper (the Sunday paper and office scraps).  I spend 10 minutes every week to turn (mix) the contents and this yields several pounds of usable compost soil during growing season.

In my small garden I grow heirloom tomatoes and peppers.  I also have an extensive fresh herb garden in hanging baskets.  Even this small effort saves me $300-$500 each year.  My sego plants, they look great thanks for the coffee recipe that protects them from cyad scale!

More than 30% of all the garbage in landfills is made up of food waste from residential communities. All those food scrapes in plastic bags will never compost properly.  Instead they create pounds of ethylene gas that actually damages the environment, ozone and adds to the global warming influence.

Composting is good for your budget, your garden and your soul!  These are just the measurable benefits:

  • Lowering your carbon foot print
  • Enriching your garden soils
  • Building the immunity of your plants and shrubs with nature’s nutrients
  • Saving money on industrial fertilizers and pest control
  • More bountiful harvests in your own garden and more beautiful blooms and shrubs

Purchase your kitchen compost crock via our Gift Guide.