Let’s make some salsa

The past two weeks have been filled with excitement for me! On the 28th, my daughter, her daughter-in-law and her two little boys came and got me so that I could spend some time with these great-grandsons that I had only seen a couple of times. On Sunday morning after I went to church, we headed to Galveston for me to stay for a couple of weeks. It was a fun time. These boys belong to my grandson and his wife and they were born in New Zealand. They are staying with my daughter while her son and his wife have gone back to New Zealand for his graduation ceremonies and some visiting while they are there.
The two little boys are three years old and twenty months old. They are totally priceless and pretty much kept me laughing. The oldest one is very vocal and has a truly great command of language; the smaller one is sometimes a ‘man of few words’. Meaning that if an emphatic “no” or “yes” will work, that is what he uses, when he’s finished eating, you get told “all done”. He does, however, talk in sentences and will ask you questions or tell you something. Both of them love being outdoors and we took our ‘bubble stuff’ with us and they were entertained for a very long time playing with bubbles. They love to ‘catch’ them!
They both love playtime and being read to. They sit quietly and listen and hopefully you are willing to read each book at least a half dozen times. We went to the library and checked out 22 books, and by five or so days later, we had to go back as the grown-ups were tired of the ones we had! They pick them out and bring them to you and then sit next to you on the bed, floor or chair while you read. They both love the “peek-a-boo” type books where you lift a flap and there is something under it, as well as the ones that make the sound of an animal or truck or something similar. They’re absolutely crazy about their little cars and build ramps indoors for them to travel on, have you draw roads on the sidewalk and run the cars in lines or singly between the lines…it goes on and on! And, last, but by no means least, they love their Lego blocks and build with them, or have you help them build!
Today (Saturday), I keep looking around for a little body to be standing next to me saying “will you play with me?” or “will you read to me?” and there’s no one there! Now, vacation time is over and I guess it’s time for back to work, back to meetings and trying to get something done here at my house!
The following article was in my files and since it is so timely at the present with gardens flourishing, I felt the information would be helpful.
Did you know that one of the most popular vegetables in the United States is actually a fruit? Categorized by botanists a fruit but eaten by consumers as a vegetable, tomatoes are appreciated for their combination of sweetness and acidity.
Any way you slice it, tomatoes are a delicious way to add nutrients to the diet. They are rich in vitamins A and C and are a good source of potassium. Tomatoes are also naturally low in sodium and contain no cholesterol.
Many people store tomatoes alongside other vegetables in their refrigerator’s crisper drawer, but that’s not the best place for them. Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature to maintain maximum flavor. Cool temperatures inside your refrigerator will stop the ripening process and begin to decrease the flavor and change the texture. Try storing your tomatoes in a decorative bowl on the counter, they will continue to ripen, so check them frequently.
Tomatoes and bananas help each other ripen quicker. Tomatoes and bananas emit a naturally occurring ripening gas called ethylene and when you store the two together they both ripen rapidly. If you need to ripen a tomato quickly, store it in a closed paper bag on the counter. The ethylene gas speeds up the ripening process when confined around the fruit in a closed bag.
Although tomatoes are native to Central and South America, they are now eaten throughout the world and are an ingredient in countless recipes. Many people consider tomatoes an essential part of their vegetable gardens are available at your local market year-round.
Of course, at this time of the year, it always helps to have a couple of friends with a garden, who are willing to share. In times past, at this time of the year, here in Yoakum, TX, tomatoes were picked green, taken to the tomato sheds, sorted, graded, wrapped, and packed into crates for shipment all over the United States. It was a very big business during the late 30s, the 40s and into the early 50s.
As I’ve driven around town and in the country here, the gardens are flourishing and it looks as if the tomatoes will be plentiful. Several years ago, I planted a patio tomato in a 5-gallon bucket and a cherry tomato type in one of the upside-down, hanging planters. Between the two of them I had all I could eat and they produced more than enough to pay for the plants to begin with! This year, I have one of the hanging planters, but haven’t had time to put the plant in as yet.
For more recipes and information on how to incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet, visit all recipes.com or just type “tomato recipes” into Google.
Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo is a fresh tomato salsa often served as a dip for tortilla chips but it’s also terrific spooned onto grilled fish, chicken or pork.
8 ripe plum tomatoes or Roma tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
2 jalapeños, minced*
½ cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of ½ a lime
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy. Serves – 8 – ½ cup of vegetables per serving.
* (note from me) Some folks have a reaction to the heat in peppers, so it might be a good idea to wear rubber gloves when handling them.
Ranchero Sauce
1 pound ripe tomatoes
3 serrano chilies or to taste
1 clove garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons cooking oil
½ cup white onion, finely chopped
½ to 1 teaspoon salt
Wash tomatoes and chilies and place on a metal pan lined with foil. Broil in oven, turning as they become blistered and brown, approximately 20 minutes. Place tomatoes, chilies and garlic in blender or food processor and blend until fairly smooth. Heat oil and fry onion, without browning, until translucent. Add blended ingredients and salt to skillet and cook for 5 minutes, until the sauce has reduced a little and is thickened. This sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. Serve as a dip for chips or with Huevos Rancheros.
The following recipe is similar to one that appeared in the Victoria paper shortly after my Mother moved to Yoakum. She and I tried it, liked it, and the rest is history. Since she didn’t care for much “heat”, we used less jalapeños and some of my family would eat it on crackers, it was so delicious.
Picante Sauce
6 quarts (about 12 pounds), peeled, chopped ripe tomatoes
4 cups chopped bell peppers (4 to 5 peppers)
4 cups chopped onions (3 or 4 depending on size)
1½ tablespoons chopped garlic (about 4 or 5 cloves)
2 to 6 jalapeño peppers (or more if desired), stems removed and peppers chopped
2 cups vinegar
¼ cup salt
½ cup sugar
Chop all vegetables and place in large pot with vinegar, salt and sugar. Cook 50 to 60 minutes until of desired thickness. Pour into hot, sterilized jars. Seal immediately. If using blender or food processor to chop, do not chop ingredients too fine. Yields 8 to 9 pints.
Here are a couple more recipes that I recently found while going through a cookbook that was published here in Yoakum in the late ‘80s to early ‘90s. This book is one that I bought at an estate sale and the history of Yoakum that is in it is awesome. When I bought the book and brought it home, I stayed up until nearly 1:00 a.m. reading it. Not only that, I loaned it to one of my Auxiliary friends, and even though she had lived here for years, she found stuff she had never heard of and said she stayed up half the night reading it! I’m an extremely lucky person, as I loaned the book out and it didn’t return and when I recently went to an estate sale, there was a copy of the book! It is out of print, and doesn’t seem to have a copyright date as a local group published it.
Fresh Tomato Casserole
6 medium fresh tomatoes, divided usage
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped green pepper
½ cup chopped onion
2 cups fresh corn, cut from cob
(frozen may be substituted)
3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
12 slice Swiss American cheese
bacon bits
½ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Peel and chop 5 tomatoes. Place in a sauce pan and add celery, green peppers and onion; cook for 15 minutes and stir in salt. Remove from heat; spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray and place half the mixture into the dish. Add half the corn and the egg slices’ cover with half the cheese; add remaining tomato mixture and corn, top with remaining cheese slices. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; slice the remaining tomato and place on top of baked casserole; garnish with bacon bits and parsley if desired. Allow to set for 10 minutes before serving.
Marinated Tomato Salad
The amount of vegetables to be used depends on how many you are serving.
Tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, cucumbers, celery, parsley or dill for garnish, salt, pepper, Blue Cheese dressing
Dice or slice all vegetables, layer into large bowl, pour dressing over the vegetables, making sure all are covered. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Salt and pepper to taste, garnish as desired, serve chilled.