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Giving away 'bland' salsa

Dec. 8, 2008

by Lynda Jensen

This thanksgiving, my extended family visited our home for the first time in several years. I usually gleefully report that we go elsewhere to freeload off of the generosity of others, but this time the joke was on me (a little bit).

Actually, I was thrilled with the idea of hosting my family until I realized that I had to cook and clean. A lot.

But it was worth it. Nevertheless, I’m talking about cleaning 1,000-year-old dust, here. Well, actually, it was dust that has probably been here since we bought the house, about 11 years.

It gets pretty bad when you’re dusting with industrial-strength something, and you think to yourself, “Wow! I didn’t know this was light green!” when you’re cleaning a sconce.

I cleaned dozens of things on the walls and dusted cobwebs that seemed to be everywhere . . . yes, a few spiders are homeless today because of me.

Then there was the bird. Of course, I’ve heard horror stories about cooking frozen turkeys. So I called mom and quizzed her on what kind of time it took to make it and other details. She finally said “Oh, let me do it!” She brought two turkeys (currently, we are finishing up leftovers, and they are totally awesome). We had five kinds of pies left, too.

Then the guests arrived. We had a great time and I gave away plenty of homemade salsa. I canned about 100 pints of salsa this fall from a recipe that I “stole” from Shirley Skalberg of Dassel. She is an excellent cook.

Salsa is about four bucks a jar now, and I can’t stand the notion of paying good money so my son can eat it like he’s part of a chain gang on a day pass.

Our family has tender tongues and we can barely tolerate anything hot (except my hubby). We can hardly handle even one jalapeno.

To this end, I made five different kinds of this salsa, but the one that attracted the most attention was the “Louisiana Hot” variety – so named after our new pastor from Louisiana, Pastor Billy Wallace (Dassel Church of Christ).

Between him and my younger sister – who previously called my salsa BLAND! (the brat) – I had to retaliate by making a super hot salsa that truly showed my contempt for human life. Therefore, I happily gave away about eight pints of Louisiana Hot.

While making this stuff, I had to wear gloves, since making contact with these types of peppers is actually equivalent to a chemical burn.

“This is not an attempt on your life,” I told my family.

Louisiana Hot was made with about eight different peppers – serrano, anaheim, something ghost white, a green curly evil-looking pepper, jalapenos, and three different kinds of sweet peppers, along with a double dose of garlic and other things.

The tomatoes and green peppers were picked fresh and canned the same day. The basil, cilantro and garlic were bought fresh from Dan & Becky’s Market in Cokato.

Either way, my version of hot didn’t appear to shock them, since the normal reaction was the following, as they bit into a chip with it, “Oh! Mmm! (polite smile) – this is good . . . (pause) but I wouldn’t call it the ‘hottest’ thing I ever ate.”

Here is a copy of the normal recipe (not the Louisiana Hot).

Stolen Salsa Recipe (Medium)
(borrowed from Shirley Skalberg of Dassel)

1 gallon of tomatoes, peeled and brought to a boil.
2 large cans of tomato paste
4 or 5 chopped green peppers
3 or 4 chopped jalapenos
2 to 3 chopped onions
1 cup white vinegar or 1/2 lime juice and cider vinegar
fresh garlic (to taste)
salt and pepper
1 tbs. fresh basil
1 tbs. cilantro

Bring it all to a boil and then simmer for one to one-and-a-half hours. Can jars as usual. If you don’t want chunky salsa, scale back the tomato paste to one large can, not two. If you want to make hot, then add more hot peppers, etc. Also, Shirley’s recipe calls for two tablespoons of sugar, which I don’t use.

I can salsa by using the boiling water method, that is, using a large canning kettle with boiling water and immersing the jars for about 20 minutes.

Quote to remember

“Here, then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.”

– R. C. Sproul