Monday, August 2, 2010

Bread, salsa, and concussions

Aack! It's been too long since I posted. I have done a little in the kitchen, but after making so many desserts while Eric and Nutmeg were gone, I realized I needed to hold off on more sweets for a while. It's continued to be hot, well, at least for Maine (our two weeks of summer have passed and now it's only hot for part of the day to be honest), so I haven't felt like turning on the oven much. Plus, last Wed, Eric got a concussion and it's barely gotten better so I have been a lot busier than usual with Nutmeg, the animals, and everything else around the house.

I did bake bread, but those photos seem rather repetitive after a while. However, the last two times, I let Netmeg make something with a small piece of dough. Since I use a rather wet dough, this hasn't worked out too well (it gets stuck all over her hands) so I've "helped" her make a figure: both times, she's made Sweetie (her kitten). This last time, I remembered to take a picture. See the tail, legs, eye (slightly darker brown bit towards the right) and ear (tiny point on the right above the eye)? She got to actually eat this one. The first one she was eating downstairs, we got an idea and everyone headed upstairs...and about 15 minutes later I remembered it had been left in easy reach of the dogs. Sure enough, it was gone. (And maybe Emma had bread dough stuck in her teeth and that's why she was hacking and licking a bunch?)

It's finally time for some non-cooking adventures in the kitchen: the farmer's market finally has something other than plants and a very few salad items. (My delight at the early opening of the market here was short-lived. Almost no one had rhubarb, there was no asparagus at all, and only a couple folks had salad fixings in June. Mostly they sold plants.) It's time for TOMATOES! And that means salsa time in the Johnson house. We did this a little in Oshkosh, but something clicked last August and we made salsa a few times a week, buying a ton of tomatoes, peppers, and hot peppers every single week. And there weren't many tomatoes in Maine last year due to the extremely wet season combined with the late blight. So we're hoping to have salsa even more often this year.

I used to follow recipes, except that didn't really work since we didn't have the right ingredients. So I finally realized the basic formula and now I just make sure to use the right things and taste for a few (salt and lime juice) and just put in all the tomatoes and peppers we want. Sometimes, I also make a corn and black bean (with my homegrown dried Cherokee Trail of Tears beans) salsa.

  • tomatoes, chopped into whatever size you like (it does work best if you take out the seeds and pulp; be sure to put these innards in the discard pile, not your salsa bowl or it will still be really wet. Yeah, I wasn't paying attention.)
  • sweet peppers (lovely to use a variety of colors although red and orange ones will blend in with the tomatoes. Unless you use a variety of tomato colors, too)
  • onions, chopped (green, scallions, or regular; the smaller the pieces, the more the onion taste and chance of tearing up while chopping)
  • garlic (I usually use the garlic press, but could also be chopped)
  • lime or lemon juice (I really like lime juice and this is the only thing I use it in)
  • cilantro if at all possible. Mine didn't grow well this year, so I hope the herb lady sells it by the bunch. It's okay without it, but lovely with it
  • salt to taste (often, this is what is missing when the salsa tastes a bit bland)
  • hot peppers to taste (Nutmeg and I prefer none while Eric likes his salsa really hot. In the picture, his bowl is to the right, adding them in after the whole batch is mixed together)
  • other veggies as desired. I've never done anything other than beans and corn, but you can put a lot of different things in salsa if you like! I might grate some carrots next time, as Nutmeg stopped eating them (except from our garden, which has only about 12 and they are radish sized).
The flavors are best if you make ahead, but also tastes great freshly made. I tend to use more lime juice when it won't be sitting.

I'm looking forward to trying a salsa with pineapple sage. Eric's favorite salsa has some pineapple in it, so why not?

We all love salsa and every ingredient is good for you and hardly has any calories at all. So why not eat as much as you want? We do buy tortilla chips to go with it, but I actually think the fresh salsa tastes fine without any accompaniment. It's rather like a cold, uncooked veggie soup in a way (especially if you don't take out the tomato pulp).

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