Archive for the ‘salsa’ Tag

08-20-2016 Journal – Another Salsa Day!   Leave a comment

If you follow this blog you already know I love all forms of salsa and make many versions of my own.  One of my favorites has always been Roasted Corn & Black Bean made with varying degrees of heat.  I love getting feedback on what I make especially from my son-in-law who loves salsa.

I made a batch a few months back and for the first time he made a request for the next batch.  He said it was delicious and hot but it needed more corn and more beans.  Many people feel that putting beans in a salsa is just wrong. It may be wrong but I do it anyway because it tastes so damn good. Yesterday was once again salsa day with many more beans and a lot more roasted corn.

I first collect the canning lids and rims and the jars and heat them up in a hot water bath.

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If you decide to try this be sure to wear a thick pair of kitchen gloves to save yourself a lot of pain from the hot peppers. Plain latex gloves are too thin unless you double them up.  Add your ingredients into the pot and cook for approximately 15 minutes and then it’s time to fill the jars and return them to the water bath.

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Looks good and tastes even better.

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After a nice boiling hot bath for fifteen minutes they’re removed from the pot and allowed to cool for a few hours.   I always recommend waiting at  least a week or two before eating. It’s been my experience that over time the salsa gets a little hotter and a little thicker.  Then it’s corn chips (Yellow) all around the table for a sensational Mexican pig-out.  Top it off with everyone’s favorite beer or wine and you’re good to go.

MY MOUTH’S WATERING AND BURNING AT THE SAME TIME

I LOVE IT!

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07-25-2016 Journal – Summer Gardening!   Leave a comment

We’re in the heat of the summer and the garden is flourishing.  Even though the amount of rain has been a little less than expected the nightly watering is paying off.  We don’t water too much each day, just enough to keep the plants from wilting.  It seems to be paying off big-time.

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The sunflowers are already 4 feet tall.

As you can see the garden looks healthy and green.  Even the pepper plants I was so worried about a few weeks ago have recovered and are producing what appears to be a record number of peppers.  These hot days and night are exactly what they needed.

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These jalapenos will help make some delicious salsa.

My better-half has already made a number of loaves of zucchini bread and I’m anticipating a lot more in our future.  The zucchini plants as of this morning have an additional fifteen zucchini’s ready for use in breads and stir-fry’s.

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This big fat one will be on the dinner table tonight.

If the rest of the summer goes as planned we’ll be celebrating one of the best gardens in recent years.  In another week or so I’ll get really serious about drying and storing many of the herbs we’ve grown.  We should easily be able to have enough on-hand for the entire winter and then some.

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It’s time for me to get to work in the garden for an hour or so.  Even with fabric laid down to eliminate weeds they still manage to grow in every little crack and crevice.  It’s annoying but they must be removed as quickly as possible because they steal a lot of the nutrients needed by the vegetables and herbs.

WE JUST CAN’T ALLOW THAT

 

06-03-2016 Journal – More Garden Time!   Leave a comment

Now that the weather has taken a warmer turn I can really start enjoying my Spring and Summer. I love digging in the dirt but even that gets a little old after a few weeks. We been having warm nights and even warmer days and the plants in the garden are really taking off.  I’m even amazed at how fast the plants seem to grow here in Maine at this time of the year. I think the plants know they can’t waste any time in this short Maine growing season.

Here are a few photos I took over the last couple of days at plants that were only inches tall ten days ago. Granted I planted seedlings and not just seeds but even with that being said the amount of growth has been amazing.

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‘These chives began blooming in May.’

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Look at this oregano plant. Ten days ago it was an inch high and now it’s growing out of control.  I’ll have more oregano than I’ll know what to do with when I’m ready to make my first batch of pasta sauce.

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I’m also seeing some really healthy growth with the pepper plants. I planted more hot peppers this year than ever before and from the initial start it looks like it’s going to be a great summer for them. Currently I have seven types of hot peppers planted. There are Jalapeños, Ghost’s, Cayenne’s, Serrano’s, Kung Pow’s, Anaheim’s, and even a few Thai chilies. I certainly look forward to using a mixture of those peppers in the preparation of my chili and a few batches of salsa later in the summer. To be sure they’ll be plenty of heat to go around. 

This rhubarb plant broke through the ground in mid-May and it’s now over five feet high and going strong.  More rhubarb jam and pies are in my immediate future.

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The last one I can show you may be the biggest hit of the year for the neighborhood.  This catnip plant barely survived the winter but in three weeks it’s grown to be almost two and half feet tall.  The neighborhood cats haven’t discovered it yet but OMG when they do the fun will really begin.

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If all of these plants keep growing at this rate it will a gardening year to remember.  Lots of sunshine, water, and TLC make all of the difference.  Now back to the deck for a delicious hot pepper margarita, chips, and salsa. 

LIFE IS GOOD

05-28-2016 Journal – Salsa, Salsa, Salsa!   Leave a comment

Now that the garden has been planted I have extra time on my hands for other things. I noticed a few days ago that we seem to be running out of our homemade salsa.  We both love salsa so much and eat on average a quart every two weeks or so. My better-half insists on putting it on and in everything she eats so running out is not an option.  I’ve had a newly developed recipe that I’ve been waiting to make and this is the week to do it.  This recipe is called ‘Six Pepper Bean Salsa’. 

It even sounds hot and trust me it really is.  I’ve gathered together jalapeños, habaneros, Serrano’s, Thai chili, black pepper, and finally Ghost peppers. Add black beans and chili beans and a host of other ingredients and there you have it.  I even managed to harvest some early chives from my garden as well. During the summer months we always try to have at least one item from the garden in every meal.  So let’s get started.

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‘Slice & Dice with rubber gloves.’

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I usually wear very think rubber gloves when messing with hot peppers. I tried the normal latex gloves but they weren’t getting the job done.  Thick rubber from then on assures me of no more burning body parts. Then I gather the necessary jars, lids, and pots and boil them thoroughly.

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Everything must be boiled to keep things as sanitary as possible. That’ll keep contaminated jars from becoming a problem later on.  Next I begin the cooking process and the adding of a little heat.

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‘Dried habanero and chili peppers.’

Finally the salsa is ready for canning. I know canning seems complicated but it really isn’t.  The process is simple and easily managed. The more often you do it the easier it becomes.

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And here’s the finished product.  Thirteen quarts of really delicious salsa that is also hot enough to get anyone’s attention.

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EASY PEASY

01-07-2016 Journal–2016’s First Salsa Day!   Leave a comment

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What do you do when you’re bored?  Everyone seems to have a few ways of dealing with boredom and so do I.  When I’m bored it’s usually being bored with the people around me and occasionally with life in general.  Over the years I’ve  had a very low tolerance for boring people up until the time I finally became one.

It’s only January seventh and I’m already going a little crazy being stuck in the house for most of the day.  I read a quotation once upon a time and it’s stuck with me over the years.  I’m not sure who the author of the quote was but I still find it pertinent all these years later. “Everyone is a bore to someone. That is unimportant. The thing to avoid is being a bore to oneself.”

Help Me!  I beginning to find myself really effing boring.  I plan every year to have a sufficient number of chores and projects to help me through these long winter months.  My biggest problem this year is I’m not the least bit motivated to do anything. The situation started becoming a real problem this week which forced me into taking immediate action yesterday.

The one thing that always helps me to get my mind right is to cook something. I made a quick trip to the supermarket and picked up all of the necessary ingredients and spent one evening watching Netflix and dicing jalapeno peppers, Serrano peppers, and habanero peppers. Then dicing piles of red and white onions, sweet bell peppers, parsley, and cilantro.  Yesterday was to be the first Salsa Day for 2016.

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‘First prepare the jars and lids.’

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I started by adding all of the ingredients together and allowing them to cook slowly. Then the hard work began as I seasoned and tasted, seasoned and tasted, and using a variety of hot peppers set the level of heat I was looking for.  I wanted this batch to be as hot as possible but not so hot that people couldn’t eat it.  It took a while but I was pleased with the results.

I also love the flavor of beans and use some combinations of them in many dishes. Since the salsa I was making is Roasted Corn & Black Bean I needed a way to add bean flavor without having the salsa look like a three-bean salad. I took three varieties of beans and pureed them into a heavy slurry. I slowly poured the slurry into the pot and hoped for the best. I also hoped that slurry would thicken the consistency of the salsa as it cooked.  I really didn’t want to use tomato paste because the flavor is almost too strong. 

After all was said and done here is the result.  Thirteen quarts of Roasted Corn & Black Bean salsa that’s hot enough to make your head sweat and bring tears to your eyes.  Just the way I like it.

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My boredom disappeared almost immediately and one thing is for certain. The flavor of this salsa is as far away from boring as you can get.

Bring on the chips it’s time to eat.

10-11-2015 Journal–Winter Prep Continues!   Leave a comment

The weather has finally turned and Fall is here. The nights are consistently in the low forties requiring that we permanently turn on the heat for the Winter. Over the last two weeks I’ve been slowly bringing out my winter clothing and packing away the sandals, shorts, and beachwear.  I actually look forward to Fall and the cooler temperatures even though the snow comes along with it.

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‘Any good soup requires fresh veggies.’

As the garden and yard work are coming to an end it’s time to look over my Winter inventories.  I’ve picked up a good supply of books and other reading material over the last two months which should carry me well into 2016. Add to that the Kindle books I intend to purchase and I’m good to go.

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Everything that could be harvested from the garden has been canned, frozen, and dried.  The garden will be officially over in three more days and I can put it out of my mind for a few months. My last cooking chore for Winter preparation was the making of a batch of my chicken and rice soup. This recipe I picked up from an old Korean women in 1968 and it’s remained one of my all-time favorites ever since.

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‘Looks bad, tastes wonderful.’

It’s not terribly difficult to make and each batch is usually good for ten to twenty large bowls that can be frozen and used for months without any ill effects.  Basically you take a large whole chicken and drop it into a gallon of salted water, bring it to a boil, cover it, and cook it until the chicken falls completely apart.  Add your favorite spices and herbs as well to really get the flavor of the meat to a high level and cook it for a few additional minutes.

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‘Even better than pulled pork.’

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Fish out all the bones and cartilage, remove the chicken and shred it, and immediately return it in the pot.  Add onions, carrots, leeks, or any other veggies you desire.  Last but not least add two cups of either rice or barley.  I prefer the barley flavor but as a compromise with my better-half this batch will contain rice.

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‘The final product.’

This is comfort food of the first order and is always good for what ails ya. With all of the soups, chili, salsas, and breads stored away we can now sit back and enjoy the Winter (except for the snow of course).

09-29-2015 Journal– “Hola, Como estas"   Leave a comment

As you can see I’m feeling a bit Mexican today.  Living in Maine has it’s advantages and I’ve listed them many times before.  Unfortunately for those of us who love Mexican food the restaurants in Maine have always left us unsatisfied. Most of the current restaurants that claim to serve Mexican food insist on Americanizing it by cutting back on the heat.  The result is a food that’s pretty to look at but has no zing. You know it’s a bad thing when you’re required to sneak in with a bottle of hot sauce to get the heat to a proper Mexican level.

We’ve been visiting on a semi-regular basis a restaurant that’s only been around a couple of years.  The food has gotten progressively better as time has gone on which makes us very happy.  I’ve eaten good old down home Mexican food in small restaurants along the border in Texas and this place could be one of them.

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Yesterday we wanted to enjoy a beautiful Fall day and while we were out we stopped at Casa Fiesta for lunch.  I was jonesing for some hot Mexican food and that’s exactly what we got.  First they delivered the always delicious nachos and salsa while we waited for our meal.  I consider myself a salsa aficionado and make three or four versions of my own on a regular basis.  This was without a doubt the best restaurant salsa I’ve had in many years. Super hot and super flavorful. 

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We went through two baskets of nachos and two bowls of salsa. I could have eaten even more but I was forced to stop so I had room for the entre. I wanted a red wine with the meal and they offered a nice selection. I settled on a delicious Agua De Piedra from Argentina.  It was smooth and sweet and was perfect for the meal.  I’m not going to bore you with a lot of information that the wine snobs love so much like finish, color, oakiness, and all of that nonsense.  I like wine and make a lot of my own.  For me there are only three types of wine; Good, Bad, and So-S0. All of that other stuff has no meaning for me. If it tastes good . . . buy it. If it tastes Bad or So-So . . . don’t buy it. Easy peasy.

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The meal arrived at the perfect time and was delicious. I feasted on mushroom quesadillas while my better-half had a steak fajita taco salad.  Does this look good or what?

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I was full of excellent food and wine and my head was sweating like I had hoped it would be.  What more could I ask for. We left for home fat, dumb, and extremely happy.

Just so you know my burning mouth stayed with me all the way home. Perfect!

07-07-205 Journal–Moving on to Summer!   Leave a comment

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‘Don’t look at this image, it might be against the law here in Maine.’

With the holiday weekend coming to an end summer has officially been declared here in Maine.  Even with that being said we still sat on the deck over the weekend in hoodies and sweatpants because it was a wee bit nippy. So it’s onward and upward to the many summer activities soon to come.

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‘Hot Bread & Butter Pickles’

We had a stay-at-home Fourth of July this year which we both found rather enjoyable. We relaxed on the deck until dark and then decided to be outlaws and lawbreakers.  For decades it was against the law in Maine to own or use fireworks. Two years ago the ban was lifted and fireworks stores sprung up overnight and everyone happily thought their future holidays could be celebrated with a little noise. Oh how wrong we were.

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‘Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Rhubarb, and Triple Berry Jams’

It’s impossible for politicians, local or otherwise,  to keep their collective noses out of everyone’s business for more than a heartbeat.  The town politicos then began to play their silly little games by passing local ordnance to ban the use of fireworks once again. It’s just like a bunch of political morons on a power trip to pass another law that can’t be enforced.

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‘Smoking Hot Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salsa’

As dark ascended on the neighborhood the law breaking began in earnest.  It sounded like the first night of D-Day at Omaha Beach in Normandy.  Every neighbor was trying to out do the others and being the weak minded idiots that we are, we joined right in. Sparklers, Zippers, Rockets, Roman Candles . . . you name it and we had it.  All of that noise and law breaking going on and not one police car was ever seen.  They were probably sitting at home in their driveway while their kids set off their own fireworks.  It was a lot of fun, no injuries or deaths reported, and the cleanup the next day was only about twenty minutes.

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‘Honey & Maple Mead’

The remainder of the weekend we were kept very busy.  B & B pickles were made and canned, an assortment of jams were made and canned, and I finished my first batch of salsa for 2015. It yielded thirteen and a half quarts of a salsa that’ll make your head sweat.

We are definitely on a roll for 2015.

08-14-2014 Journal Entry–Wet Weather & Hot Salsa!   Leave a comment

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Now that the rain has finally stopped I might be able to get out the house for a few hours. The last week minus two days has been pretty damn wet.  Last night at 2am I took a peek out the rear window and surprise surprise, there was three feet of water in the back yard.  The runoff from the surrounding hills became so heavy there was nowhere else for it to go. Fortunately the yard drains very quickly and once the rain stopped the flood disappeared. 

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‘The Beginning’

With all the rain keeping us inside I decided to take care of another cooking chore while I had the chance. I spent a good part of the day yesterday making salsa.  My normal salsa recipe makes 10 quarts or 20 pints but I decided to increase it by fifty percent. I purchased the necessary ingredients, returned home and got to work.  It took longer for me to dice the peppers, onions, and tomatoes than it did to complete the entire batch.  Three hours later the kitchen looked like a tomato bomb had exploded but the end result was well worth the effort. I finished the batch with 13 quarts and 8 pints of some killer Roasted Corn & Black Bean salsa.

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I changed the recipe a bit and added more habaneros, less jalapeños, and a healthy heaping tablespoon of cayenne pepper.  I call this batch my Commando salsa. As your eating it,  it slowly creeps up behind you when your not paying attention and blows the top of your head off.  It has an immediate hit of habanero to jolt you a little and then the jalapeños lessen the burn somewhat.  Just when the heat is subsiding from those jalapeño’s the cayenne kicks in at the  back of your throat and nails you hard.  With that mixture of peppers the more you eat the hotter it gets but man it’s a wonderful pain.

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‘The End Result’

As of this morning it’s been canned, labeled and placed on the shelf. There should be more than enough to keep us salsa happy for this entire winter. I’ve worked my winter cooking list down to just two remaining items.  I need to make a huge batch of chili and some hot pickle relish. Once those are complete I’ll pretty much be done with the garden for this year.  I should be able to start removing some plants and begin the cleanup in two or three weeks. 

Fall is fast approaching and I can’t wait. 

08-06-2014 Journal Entry–Fall in Maine!   Leave a comment

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‘This is From a Nearby Neighbors Farm’

I’ve been enjoying my downtime since the departure of my better-half for her trip to Ocean City.  The downside to her leaving is the fact that I’ve been stuck with some of her watering chores.  She has at least a hundred plants surrounding the house, on the deck, and even in the house.  I find having three plants six feet high in the living room very interesting.  It’s like living in a jungle and that jungle needs watering all too often.  God help me if these plants aren’t all healthy and happy upon her return.  There could be bloodshed.

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My second chore involved the babysitting of her daughters dogs.  I need to drop in at their house everyday around noon to let the little buggers out for a pee break and a romp around the yard.  I really don’t mind it all that much because I actually like most pets more than I like most people.

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‘Good Eating’

Once her chores have been handled I can then move on to my list.  Fortunately my list is flexible and if I choose not to complete anything on it no one would give a damn anyway. My list includes the garden that is continuing to produce ridiculous amounts of veggies.  I’ve been trying to keep ahead of it by canning a few things each week but I’m quickly falling behind.  Here’s a list of what we’ve canned so far and believe me I’m ready to call it a day anytime.

10 – pints of hot mustard dill pickles
  6 – pints of pickled zucchini
12 – pints of pickled jalapeños
  1 – quart of pickled veggie mix
  6 – pints of pickled veggie mix
10 – pints of hot B&B pickles

I still need to make two large batches of salsa and a huge batch of chili.  The salsa will be canned to the tune of twenty quarts or forty pints. The chili will be frozen in twelve one quart containers and that should give us enough for most of the winter.

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‘This is Kick Your Ass Chili’

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‘This is Double Kick Your Ass Salsa’

Once the better-half returns from her final trip of the summer we’ll get down to some serious work for a few weeks.  It’ll be a huge relief to get the garden processed and into storage.  If the results so far are any indication, we’ll surpass any expectations we had for a garden as small as ours. I’ve already started planning for next summer with the addition of a small greenhouse and an irrigation system that will use  our water more efficiently.  That will allow us to grow a few additional items in a more controlled atmosphere with less bug problems and better water control. 

Back to the fun.