Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Basics" and "Staples"

The adult session of Stake Conference was last night, and a few comments really stood out to me.

You know, we've all heard we need to pray, read the scriptures, go to church, Family Home Evening, Temple attendance.   And I've heard them referred to as "the basics."  We all know that we need to be in the habit of doing those things to get by spiritually.   But to refer to them as "staples" brings renewed significance to me.

Staple:  something one relies on because it is a basic necessity for them.  Not only are those things a basic, they are a necessity. 

In the same talk, she also talked about different "levels of spirituality."  She explained that we start doing things because we want to be obedient, but at some point, we do them because we've learned to love the Lord.  I guess I think obedience equals basic and staple equals Love the Lord.  When you really get to that point, you HAVE to obey because you just can't not.  You feel too strongly not to.

How inspiring...  Now I just need to keep on practicing to get it exactly right...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tina's Grandma's Salsa

I spent my entire morning looking for this:

Above is a copy of the recipe for the best canned salsa you will ever eat in your entire life.  No really, in your ENTIRE life!

This exact copy holds sentimental value for me.  The first time I canned salsa, I was at a good friend's house, Tina.  We were sitting at her kitchen table, wondering what in the world to do with the ten (in total) bushels of tomato we'd ordered to do well, something with.  We just didn't really plan on what that "something" would be.  We were trying to be good "doers" and be prepared for you know, whatever - we would have tomatoes.

Somewhere in Tina's memory was her Grandma's wonderful canned salsa that used veggies from her garden.  (Tina remembered that everyone raved about it and she loved it too.)  So, one phone to her grandma and a quick trip to the grocery store later and we had everything needed to make up a batch of her Grandma's salsa recipe. 

I've canned this recipe over the years with different friends and made new memories every time.  This copy now has sentimental value.

I was a stress case when I couldn't find it.  I literally pulled out all of the stops going through piles and piles of recipes.  I was sure I put it, you know, in a "safe" place.  Of course I couldn't find it in ANY of my "safe places"  I finally called one of the people  I made this salsa with and as luck would have it, it 's my neighbor.

She reminded me that I submitted the recipe for a canning cookbook a few years ago (hooray).  But, BONUS, she had an original copy of the recipe that my friend wrote down years ago.  So here it is, now, documented on my blog for safekeeping.  I'll never have to go on the hunt for this salsa recipe again.

And now you can all make your own FABULOUS canned salsa.  (And maybe some memories with friends and family...)

Here is the recipe in nice, typewritten print:

Tina's Grandma's Salsa  (Makes about seven pints.)

About 30 medium tomatoes

Place in a pot and heat until the skin starts to break, then plunge into icy water to stop the cooking. 
Peel and core the tomatoes, put in a large pot.  (Very large).

6 long green chili  (For a yummy "smoky" taste to your salsa, roast your chili first.  Read directions listed on my blog.)
3 bell peppers
2 peeled onion
For Heat (Optional):
6 jalapenos  (You can add these or not, it's to taste.)
1 or 2 habaneras  (The hottest pepper on the planet.  I never add this but I may someday.... )

Cut up all of the ingredients.  Boil tomato and veggies together and stir until onions are transparent.  Pour mixture into blender and blend for about 30 seconds until ingredients are combined.  You can process them for longer if you like your salsa less "chunky."  Wash your cooking pot, pour blender mixture back in then add 5 tbsp. salt and 1/2 C vinegar.  Boil for 10 to 15 minutes.

Follow instructions for getting jars/lids ready to can.  Fill jars and process in hot water bath for 55 minutes.  (Processing time starts after the water is at a full boil.)

Now you're ready to enjoy the most fabulous, delicious canned salsa I've ever had...  and I am a pro!  (Insert smiley face here...)

How to Roast Green Chli

Green chilis are usually called anaheim or hatch chili.  They are long and green, like the color of a green pepper but long like a huge jalepeno.  Roasting them really brings out all of their very best flavor.

How to roast green chili:

First I have a story to explain it. One of my dear friends that lives out here had just moved into her neighborhood and didn't know very many people. Early one morning she went out her front door and saw a brown paper bag. In that brown bag was a very suspicious looking pile. She thought, "who hates us so much that they would put this in front of our house!" She was sad about it for a few hours until she got a phone call from a gal in the ward who said, "hey, did you get that bag of fresh green chili we roasted for you this morning?"

Enough said.

That's how your green chili should look after you've roasted it properly. You can use a grill, gas stove, or iron skillet. You just want the chili blackened all over. Place in a brown paper bag for about fifteen minutes. The skins should come right off, leaving you with just little black bits of flavor. MMMM I can almost smell the chili now.   Pull the seeds out also, (unless you love spice), there is definitely lots of heat in the seeds.

You can use green chili in roast for green chili burros, scrambled eggs, quiche, tamale, chicken, just about anything!  You can also pack it into zip lock baggies and freeze it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Corn Soup

Here is my story today.

I wanted to use the fresh produce that is in my fridge, and I didn't want my veggies served the traditional way.  I've been craving Navajo Fry Bread so I had to think of a way to eat them that goes with bread. 

It is not NEARLY as warm as it normally is here.  For example, the high today was 95 degrees.  I know that sounds pretty hot to most of my family that reads here, but in all our years in Arizona, I can never ever remember when it wasn't over 100 degrees on June 1st.  (Really, never ever!) So it seemed like it wouldn't be too awfully weird to make soup.  Like, I almost made a cold corn salad and I am sure that I will someday but for today, soup just sounded good.

Derek said it was his favorite soup I've ever made, so I want to write it down here before I forget what I did.

Summer Corn Soup

4 ears of corn
2 small sweet vidalia onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
6 cups water
3 tbsp. powder chicken bouillion
one can Hunts tomato with oregano and basil
3/4 pound cream cheese, softened
garlic salt
one tbsp. butter/2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh basil (about 8 fresh leaves)
roux of corn starch and water to thicken

First, cut the kernels off four ears of corn. 
Then, in a dutch oven warm up the olive oil and butter, then add in cut corn, onion and green pepper.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute until softened, then add chopped garlic cloves.  Stir until you can smell the garlic. 
Add in water, make sure you get any carmelized veggies bits off the bottom of the pan.
*Tangent here... if I had an immersion blender, I would've saved myself a LOAD of trouble during the next step...
Pour tomatoes and about four cups of your soup mixture into the food processor in case you don't have an immersion blender either, blend.
Add back into your soup pot.   If you like your soup smooth, you can process the entire pot in batches- it's up to you.
Add softened cream cheese and stir until melted into soup, season with garlic salt.
I like thicker soup, so I added a small slurry of corn starch and water to thicken.  (Sorry, no measurement here....  you can make it as thick as you would like.)
Simmer for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally
Finally, chiffonade the basil and stir into your soup.  The basil really makes it.
(Preferably from your fresh basil plant on your front porch.  I've discovered there is no reason every person shouldn't have one.  I kill almost everything I grow, but the basil is beautiful.  I don't have an immersion blender, but I have fresh basil!)


PS.  Tyler and Michael are at Scout Camp this week, I really miss them!  My house is much quieter...