Salsa is one of those things that so easily spices up those dreary February days when it feels like summer will never, ever come.
Last summer I canned a batch of tomato salsa and a batch of peach salsa. We loved the flavor of both before canning but after canning? Ho hum.
I have to tell you though, by February when we cracked open the jars we were dancing with joy. I’m not sure if the flavors improved after melding for a few months, or if we just had one of those camping experiences where you taste canned beans and wieners and proclaim them to be the most delicious food on the face of the earth, clearly because of the situation and not the substance.
I can tell you that I’m taking no chances this year. I’m canning lots of salsa. I’ll skip the peach salsa but the tomato salsa I will make several batches of. Use the best quality apple cider vinegar you can get your hands on – preferably Rockridge Cider which you can get at any fall Seattle farmer’s market.
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes about 12 – half pint jars
- 10 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes (I use my Roma mill to do all that work for me.)
- 3 cups chopped, seeded green bell or sweet peppers
- 3 cups chopped onions
- 3 cups chopped, seeded hot peppers or a mix of mild and hot
- 1 1/4 cups Rockridge Cider Apple Cider Vinegar
- 15 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 6 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro and/or shizo
- 6 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 2 – 3 teaspoons ground cumin
Sterlize jars by placing in the canner pot with a few inches of water and steaming for 10 minutes. Place metal lids in warm water for 5 minutes to soften the seal. Keep the jars in the pot until you are ready for them.
In a large, stainless steel or porcelain stockpot combine everything and bring it to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and stir until slightly reduced and the vegetables begin to soften.
Carefully ladle the hot salsa into hot jars up to 1/2 inch of headspace. It’s nice to have a ruler handy to measure the headspace since too much of it can leave you open to food spoilage and too little can compromise your seal. Remove any air bubbles in the jar by gently tapping it on the counter. If bubbles remain use a clean knife to dislodge them. Wipe the rims clean then place the lid on the jar and screw the band on tightly.
Place the jars in your canner, filling with water to an inch above the top of the tallest jar. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes at a rolling boil. Remove the canner from the burner and let the jars rest in the water bath 5 minutes before removing. Always lift the jars straight up when removing. Cool them on the counter overnight or during the day then check for seals once they have cooled and store in a cool, dry place.
6 jalapeno peppers from Tonnamaker Farms
1 gallon peeled, seeded tomatoes
4 bell peppers from Billy’s
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup canning salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 cup Rockridge Orchard apple cider vinegar
To peel tomatoes follow these directions then slice them in half and clean out the seeds, or if you use a Roma Mill like the one in this post you just need to run the tomatoes through the hopper and they magically come out without peels and seeds. How cool is that?
Chop all the ingredients, combine them with the peeled and seeded tomatoes and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Use an Immersion Blender, food processor or blender to create a nice sauce-like texture. Fill half pint canning jars and process in a water bath for 15 minutes.
In the days before Garden Burgers, bean burgers were increasingly popular and a nice change of pace from eating a meat burger. Since MorningStar came out with their soy-based burgers, however, bean burgers have all but disappeared.
With some inspiration from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks I was able to come up with a recipe that reminds me of the black bean burgers I used to eat before Morningstar displaced them.
These are a fast, frugal weeknight dinner that can even be made up and par-fried then frozen, although they come together so quickly from frozen, pre-cooked beans I don’t know why you would bother unless you were planning to take them camping.
You can add up to one cup of seasonal vegetables to these. The only caveat is if you have a veggie that is hard (like carrots) or contains a large amount of water (like mushrooms or zucchini) you would want to chop and saute them before adding to this recipe.
Black Bean Burgers
2 1/2 cups of cooked black beans
1 cup bread crumbs
4 backyard eggs
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 small chopped onion or 1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
In a food processor combine all ingredients and puree until the mixture is well combined.
Form into burgers whatever size you prefer and pan fry in a covered, oiled heavy skillet for 5-10 minutes per side depending on your burger size.
These can be served on buns but my favorite way to eat them (since there is already bread in the burger) is plated with peach salsa and a sprout or garden salad.
This snack is brilliant on so many fronts – crispy without being fried, loaded with protein and good for you fiber, frugal, simple to make and as easy to customize as potato chips. Kids love them and can even prepare them themselves.
I buy my garbanzo beans from Azure Standard but PCC has recently undertaken a massive labeling effort and you can now find country of origin on the bulk bin items. While they aren’t local, you at least know they are grown in the US.
I cook up large pots of all kinds of beans then freeze them so they are always ready for whatever cooking adventure I can dream up. It’s incredibly frugal to make things like bean burgers, chili or bean dip and by having a steady supply of cooked beans in the freezer I’m not tempted to buy BPA lined cans of them. Their creaminess pairs well with winter greens too.
Crispy Garbanzo Bean Snacks
About 1 pound of well-drained cooked garbanzo beans
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sea salt
seasonings of your choice. Think of potato chip flavors – chili powder, Thai spices, garlic and onion powder.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl combine garbanzo beans with olive oil, salt and seasonings. Spread them onto a jelly roll sheet with sides and roast them for about an hour until they are crispy. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 1 week.
While my kids still talk about bunny crackers they are just as easily silenced with these homemade cheese crackers. Light and crispy crackers can be tricky to make since they need to be rolled as thinly as possible and the butter tends to make them sticky.
Rather than trying to roll out and cut dough into shapes I find it’s much simpler to roll butter cracker dough into a log then refrigerate and slice into rounds. Alternately you can put pressure on four sides of the log and get squares, or three sides of the log and get triangles. The minimal amount of dough handling in this recipe also allows you to substitute milk for some of the butter which makes these more frugal.
Buttery Cheese Crackers
1 cup grated sharp, dry cheddar of other flavor cheese (I used Beecher’s)
2/3 cup wheat pastry or spelt flour
1/3 cup masa harina or cornmeal
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch paprika
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1 tablespoon chunks
3 – 4 tablespoons of milk
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a food processor combine cheese, flour, cornmeal, spices and salt. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles course meal. Add the milk, pulsing just until the dough begins to come together but is still scrappy.
Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper and form it into a log. Refrigerate until firm and then slice as thinly as possible. If the dough crumbles when you try to slice it try making thicker slices and then flatten them slightly with the bottom of a glass once they are sliced.
Place the sliced crackers on parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheets and bake 10-14 minutes until beginning to brown and crisp. Once the crackers cool if you find they didn’t crisp enough simply bake them again for a few minutes. This gives you one extra chance to eat them still warm from the oven.
If you are up for the challenge you can roll this dough out on a floured surface and cut into diamonds or use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes but using this log technique allows the kids to help (by rolling the log and slicing or flattening with the glass.) One other benefit of rolling the cracker dough into logs is that you can store them ready to slice and bake in the refrigerator or freezer. These make a brilliant, fuss-free offering for unexpected guests.