Fresh Summer Salsa

Fresh Summer Salsa

 

Our CSA is providing a bountiful supply of tomatoes, onions, and peppers. So many, in fact, that finding ways to use them has been a weekly challenge. Thankfully, shortly before Mom gave up housekeeping, she gave me this recipe for fresh summer salsa which uses oodles of the veggies taking over the kitchen.

It is a winner, as was proved at our recent Labor Day Family Reunion. The crowd chowed down a double batch of salsa and two bags of chips in less than an hour, and people begged for the recipe.

To keep you from begging, it’s posted here, along with a few tips. First, you can change the amounts of vegetables to suit your taste. (For example, I find 1 jalapeno per double batch is plenty.) Second, I chop the tomatoes first and put them in a strainer to drain out excess liquid while chopping everything else. Otherwise the salsa can be pretty runny. With those tips in mind, have at it!

Fresh Summer Salsa

2 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes        2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup onion, chopped fine                    ¼ cup green pepper, chopped
1  jalapeno pepper, chopped                 1 banana pepper, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped                        2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Put 2/3 cup of the vegetable mixture in the blender until it reaches the consistency you like. Put the blended vegetables back into the bowl and stir well. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

March Madness at our House

March Madness at our House

For most of the country, March Madness 2012 ended with last weekend’s championship game. For many Iowans, like my husband, the madness ended in the second round when the Iowa State Cyclones, the team that beat the reigning champs in the first round, lost to Kentucky in the second.

But for other Iowans, like me, the March madness continues, not on the basketball court, but in our flowerbeds. This year’s mild weather was mentioned in a previous post, and afterwards spring marched through March like mad. In fact, so unbeleivable was spring’s onslaught that on the last day of the month, I used my camera to make a record of the mad, mad, mad, mad spring of 2012. Crazy stuff, unheard of in Central Iowa. Stuff like

bleeding hearts blooming in March,

along with tulips,

and more tulips,

and violets.

Not to mention buds on the clematis

and the lilacs, too,

rhubarb almost ready to be picked,

and the roses in full leaf.

Only the wild plum tree blossoms, usually the first of the spring flowers to bloom, waited until their usual time to appear.

Surrounded by the many evidences of this mad spring, the plum tree nearly escaped my notice, until the fragrance of the blossoms wafted on the breeze and tickled my nose. A lovely March Madness I pray will rule at our house until the end of May.

October Garden – Recycled

October Garden – Recycled

After a chilly September, October’s weather has been lovely. Lovely enough to give me the jitters. October isn’t supposed to be this nice, right?

Wrong!

Take a look at this post from October 12, 2007. From the sounds of things, the weather was just as lovely. And from the sounds of things, I need to review a lesson learned four years ago: I can’t change the weather, but I can look for the beauty it holds.

October Garden – Recycled

The calendar says it’s October. And for the past few days, the chilly mornings have confirmed that truth. But every time I look at my garden, I check the calendar again. The cosmos just started blooming in September, and several more buds are waiting to open. The roses keep sending out new buds. One pink blossom tangles with a white mum, like wrestlers on the mat.

Strangest of all are my pepper plants. In August, with several sweet red peppers bending the branches low, they began blooming again. Within a week, new fruit was setting. I planned to pick them green since there wasn’t enough ripening weather left. But in last week’s warm spell, they began turning red. And even though the weather has cooled since then, the frosts have held off and the peppers get a little redder every day.

This long growing season should thrill me. Each fall I mourn the cooler days and longer nights. Instead, it’s making me uneasy because the natural order of the seasons has been disturbed. Plus, this longer growing season means I’m still watering plants and pulling weeds when I should be doing fall stuff like covering the rose bushes and picking up walnuts.

Just when I get ready to pick the peppers and pull up the plants, my personal method of getting the seasons in proper working order again, I come up against the truth. I can’t change the weather. I can only experience it and look for beauty in it. So this morning I grabbed my camera and took pictures of a rare October garden. And as I gratefully preserved its beauty, my heart found peace.

Killing Frost

Killing Frost

Tonight could be the night. The moon is full, the sky is clear and we could be in for a heavy frost. I know it’s time. In fact, our first killing frost is so late in coming I’m uneasy. Garrison Keillor often reminds Midwesterners that life should be hard. I’m sure he thinks this fall weather has been giddy for too long, that we’re due for disappointment and hardship.

I know it’s time for the flowers to die. I need to buck up and face winter like a mature woman. I need to look forward to cozy evenings sipping cocoa and nasty afternoons when smells of hot soup and warm cornbread fill the kitchen. I need to put together the menu for Thanksgiving so my sister and mom know what to bring. I need to make a Christmas to-do list and ask my daughter’s advice about decorating for the holidays.

But today all I can think about is how bare my flower garden will look when the killing frost arrives. So for today, I’ll mourn the passing of the flowers. And maybe tomorrow for supper, I’ll make some soup.