Are Weekends For Rest?

Shock of all shocks, K did not complete the coldframe yesterday. 🙂  At this point, I will be grateful if it gets done before the first frost, and am not holding my breath since that could be any day. I know how it is with my husband. 🙂 Oh well, at least we’ll have it for the Spring next year.

Farmers market was pretty good yesterday, but the one day I decide to buy a new basil plant, the herb people don’t come!  I bought a hydroponically grown basil plant instead, and am planning to try to make pesto again later this week, but hopefully the herb vendor will be back next week because I want to buy another one to plant over the winter in a pot.  The one I’ve had for the last 2 years is on its way out.

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  • 1/2 gallon apple cider from Maynard Farms
  • 1/2 gallon of reduced-fat milk and 1 quart of cream from Battenkill Creamery
  • 1 basil plant from Shushan Valley Hydro Farm
  • 1 dozen eggs from Coopers Ark Farm
  • 8 oz. feta cheese from Heamour Farm
  • 1 quart tomatoes (only 2 pictured here), 2 green peppers and 1 acorn squash (hidden beneath the basil plant) from Barber Farm
  • 1lb ground beef from Sweet Tree farm
  • 1 apple turnover from Our Daily bread

The feta cheese was very wet this week, so it was on “sale” for $2 – when normally it’s double that! She said it didn’t drain properly or something, but we took it to make pizza with this week.

And, speaking of Coopers Ark Farm (above), we pre-ordered our turkey this week from them!  This is going to be the first time we will ever have a local turkey for Thanksgiving and I’m so excited!  We are hosting Thanksgiving this year, and ideally, hubby and I would love to serve an all-local meal.  But our families will insist on bringing things and we know those things won’t be local, so it probably isn’t going to happen.  But at the very least our turkey will be!  We put in an order for 16-20lbs yesterday but then changed it to even smaller (max of 16lbs) because we’re not sure how many people we’re going to have over.  It could be anywhere from 4 to 13! Two of my family members are nurses and don’t know if they will be working that day, and that would then count their significant others out too.  Then, we’re pretty far away from everyone so logistics have to be worked out.

At the very least though, we’re planning on the turkey, acorn squash, pumpkin and apple pies, all being made with local ingredients.  The hubby has recently found a venison farm near here that we want to check out too.

I have to say, I often get frustrated with where I live because I grew up downstate close to NYC, so often times I feel stuck in the middle of nowhere.  But on the other hand, I absolutely love the amount and variety of farms and locavorism community that cannot be found downstate – at least not on as big a scale.

After the market, while hubby worked on the coldframe, I whipped up some salsa.  I bought more tomatoes this week to make some more canned salsa, because I enjoyed the jar we cracked open this past week and we only made 3 jars a couple months ago – not nearly enough to get us through till next year!  But I felt like some fresh salsa, so I took 2 tomatoes from the quart I bought, a bit of green pepper, 2 jalapeños from our deck pots, 1 red chili pepper from the garden, and two of my onions (hanging downstairs in the closet on my onion braids), and tons of cilantro.  A little lime juice and we were set.

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Man, let me tell you, these were the freshest ingredients ever, made from veggies that were literally picked the day before or even the day of.  And my onions, man, I love them.  They are so crisp, so potent, I am so excited about growing them again next year. 🙂

This weekend I also FINALLY made cherry jam, thus bringing to an end our jamming efforts for the season.  I used two cups more cherries than the recipe called for and it still only brought me the amount of cherry jam I was supposed to get for two cups less.  Gosh darn it.  And again, all the berries were so full of water this year, the jam is more syrupy than jam-like.  Still, it’s delicious.  And here is our pantry shelf full of jam.  Yes, we have 25 1/2 pints of jam, and one 1/4 pint.  Ridiculous. If we don’t give this away for Christmas, I’m not sure we need to make any jam next year.

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Not to mention we have 4 opened jars of jam in the fridge already (the leftovers each time we made jam that didn’t fill up a full jar, so we just stuck it in the fridge).

In the pic, we have:

  • blackberry
  • blueberry
  • raspberry
  • cherry
  • strawberry

Craziness.

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Jalapeño Salsa

salsa

Not that kind of salsa!

I love cilantro.  If I’m ever on a game show with any of you and you are asked what my favorite herb is, don’t hesitate to scream out, “SHE’S A CILANTRO ADDICT!”

Did you know?

It was the Incas who originally invented salsa.  That delicious combination of tomatoes, hot peppers and spices can also be traced back to the Aztecs and Mayans as well.  Those peoples loved chilies in their chocolate, so I wonder how hot their salsa was?  Knowledge of salsa spread north and …east (?) after the Spaniards first met the lovely tomato after conquering Mexico in 1521.  Originally they used salsa as a condiment on foods like turkey, venison, lobster and fish, (personally, I think each of those need separate condiments!) but as we all know today, it’s gone far beyond that.

So, yesterday…

…was my first attempt ever at making my own salsa, let alone making salsa to be canned.  The addition of cider vinegar aids in the canning process, and actually doesn’t taste half bad, although I’m not sure fresh salsa usually has vinegar in it.

The skin split so nicely

Easy to peel

Canning salsa takes a lot longer than canning blueberries – just for the prep work alone.  Peeling and seeding tomatoes, then seeding and chopping jalapeños, chopping onions, and mincing garlic, cilantro and oregano took a long time.  I had never actually peeled a tomato in my life before! It was kinda fun.  I put some water onto boil and, after carving a shallow ‘X’ on the bottom of each tomato (K  says what we think is the bottom of a tomato is actually the top, but whatever, Mr. Italiano!) dropped  the tomatoes one by one into the boiling water for about 30 seconds.  The skin split and started peeling away, and after I took it out of the hot water and ran it under cold, came off fairly easily in my hands.

My homegrown tomatoes didn't amount to much after seeding

My homegrown tomatoes didn't amount to much after seeding

Next came the seeding, where I basically cut each tomato into quarters and stripped the seeds into a little bowl.  Man, it felt like half the tomato disappeared this way (and certainly my favorite parts!) What I had left made its way into a big bowl that I later cut into chunky pieces to be combined with the rest of ingredients.

And what were those ingredients?

To make 3 pints of salsa:

  • 3 cups chopped, seeded, peeled, cored tomatoes
  • 3 cups chopped jalapeño peppers (we ended up using only two)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro (I may or may not have used twice as much)
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt (I kept it to 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 teaspon cumin
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
Boiling down the salsa

Boiling down the salsa

The thing is, I started with about 6 cups of tomatoes but only ended up with 2.5 pints of salsa.  Everything is really full of water this year (the blueberries, too, had a ton).  And therefore, it cooks down and doesn’t leave you with much. Still, beyond the chopping, it’s pretty easy to can – just bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes, ladle into hot jars, and process in a boiling water canner for 15 min.  When it’s done, yummy salsa!  Or at least, I assume.  We only have 2.5 pints so I don’t want to open one up yet and leave only 1.5 pints left! 🙂  But when I tasted it in the pot, it was great.

Homemade canned salsa

Homemade canned salsa