Fiesta Salsa Recipe

It was 9:20 pm Saturday night and I was walking to the garden, again, aided by a head lamp, with scissors and a measuring cup.

Because I wanted to make salsa that morning. Here is how my Saturday actually went.

I had to hit the farmer’s market before I could start. I needed a few items that weren’t quite ready in my garden. I had tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini in the house that needed to be used soon but did not have peppers or garlic yet. I got up early, ran down to my jar supply, gathered a plethera of pints, realized that I only had 2 lids in my canning supply. I suppose I could pilfer the 5 new jelly jars with lids. I have to get more today, I need to get going on pickles too.

Only first I had to take girl child to the dentist at 7:30 am. Yes there is a dentist open, not just on weekends, but early morning weekends. We finished at the dentist, and visited two stores to pick up the perfect birthday gift for her BFF. Finally, we are at the farmer’s market. I had taken a photo of my recipe before I left the house, that way I could check that I had all the ingredients. Of course once we were there I only glanced at it, and remembered I needed garlic and hot peppers. Got them plus a few extras – like fresh made irish soda bread! So good toasted with butter slathered all over. Also good with honey. Mmmm.

We got home, and I started chopping tomatoes. I even took the time to squeeze out the seeds. This is a step I usually ignore because it seems like a waste, but then I realize later that the salsa is too liquidy, so I tried to follow the recipe. Except I only had 5.5 cups of tomatoes in the house. So off I traipse to the garden. You may be interested to know that our garden is at the opposite end of our property, away from our house by about 1/4 mile. I pick all the ripe tomatoes, promising my garden I will be back to pick the cucumbers and zucchinis, and maybe pull a few weeds, and see if there are any remaining peas, or beans. And yikes those turnips have to get processed today!

Back in the kitchen, I now have 7 cups of tomatoes, seeded, and chopped. I start on the next ingredient, 2 cups chopped, seeded, peeled cucumbers. This the is the main reason I chose this recipe. If you garden you know there are always too many zucchini, and the same can often apply to cucumbers, and tomatoes. I had searched the internet and found several recipes for zucchini in salsa, but none of them were canned, so I checked my blue book, and found the Fiesta Salsa. It contains cucumbers, which I discovered over the years of too many zucchini to deal with easily, could be substituted for cucumbers in most canning recipes. Bread and butter zucchini pickles are amazing by the way.

I seeded and chopped, but did not peel, 1 cup of cucumbers and 1 cup of zucchini. I didn’t want to chance the flavor too much, and I don’t believe in peeling cucumbers or zucchini. Such a waste, althought I’m sure there is a reason the recipe planner wanted me to peel them.

Next ingredent, hot peppers, several kinds, equalling 4 cups. I removed seeds, and threw them into the food processor. I’m a whimp when it comes to spice so I got a few medium hot peppers, and most mild hot peppers.

Then I was called away to help unload the animal feed from the truck. I realized in that moment that the feed shed really had to be cleaned, since I had officially evicted the chickens who had been calling it a coop for the last year. I emptied and cleaned, and organized and now it is a working feed shed only again. Although I think we will need to store firewood in it this winter.

Back in the kitchen, I realize I have only purchased 2 cups of peppers, so I topped it with 2 more cups of zucchini and cucumber. So much for me finally following a recipe.

Next ingredient, 1/4 cup minced cilantro. I don’t usually like the taste of cilantro, and usually substitute parsley from our patch, but I did not get a patch started this year, and guess what, I didn’t pick any up while at the farmers market.

Out I go to mention going into town to my hubby. He is getting ready to reattach the tiller to our garden tractor. So I stick around to help him out. Then go to check out the chickens in their new space, collect eggs from all around in their yard. Notice their water is low, fill it.

Get back inside, let the hubby know I have to go back to town. He lists some items he needs. I make a list, it includes cilantro, and majoram. Grab boy child and let girl child nap. Off we go.

I park in the lot near the co-op, and decide to run into the thrift store first. Boy child needs a few items for his Renaissance Festival costume. We look, probably linger too long, then head to the co-op. I pick up cilantro, and majoram. No sign of fresh parsley, I hope I still like it once the recipe is complete. Head off to fill hubby’s list.

Stop at 2 more thrift stores on the way. Find a vest that will be a perfect doublet. Get hubby’s items. Check the list again. All it good. Head home.

As we are pulling into the driveway. Hubby informs me we are going to work in the garden. He wants me to show him where he can till – there are some produce that is done or I have given up on. The letuce row that has bolted. The pea row that the wildlife consumed. The root row, where we pulled all the turnips.

We worked hard. Pulled giant weeds so the tiller could make it through. Pulled posts and string. Weeded around the peppers and tomatoes. Moved all the volunteer tomatoes from the rows we were tilling under. Replanted the tomatoes, picked the cucumbers and zucchinis.

Finally back at the house. We are all tired. I turn on the heat for the boiling water canner. We sit for a few episodes of Once Upon A Time. Send the kids off to bed.

Back to the kitchen. Start the dishwasher to sanitize my jars. Add ingredients to the pot, slowly, checking them off as I go.

7 cups chopped, seeded tomatoes
2 cups chopped, seeded cucumbers (zucchini)
2 cups chopped, seeded banana peppers
1 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup chopped jalapeno
1/2 cup chopped anaheim peppers

Shoot! I only needed 3 cups of hot peppers! I pull 1 cup of the zucchini/cucumber mix off the top, reach into fridge, open bag – nope that’s asparagus. GAH! And so I was walking to the garden at 9:20 pm to get chives, desperate to finish the salsa, because there is no room in the fridge to store anything overnight.

Back to the house with a cup of chives. I finish the recipe.
1/4 cup minced cilantro
3 cloves minced garlic
1 T dried marjoram (I couldn’t find fresh)
1 t salt
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 T lime juice

A little over an hour later I am finally done. I did run into a little trouble with the limes being scary old in the bottom drawer of the fridge, but I figured it out. 5 pints plus 1/2 cup were completed.

Salsa batch 1 complete. Sigh.

Advertisements

Lemon Essential Oil

I am new to essential oils, but not new to home remedies. I grew up with a mother who was a Mother Earth News type (love you mom!). We had huge gardens. We canned. We made jams. We froze the fruits and vegetables that didn’t get canned. We lived on 35 acres of woods with 12″ thick walls for insulation and a wood stove. We used lanolin as moisturizer and apple cider vinegar for tummy upset. Whole wheat flour and brown rice were staples in the grocery cart. I grew up in a wonderful world and I think I have been trying to recreate it in my own way ever since.

A good friend introduced me to essential oils. I was intrigued and skeptical at the same time. I liked that it was a natural product, that it was presented as something I could explore on my own, and that not every oil works the same for everyone. I waited for a special project to be paid and was able to get my starter kit. Then I started doing what I love to do – link-clicking, experimenting, and jumping all-in (I’m a distributor now). Since I have gotten the kit I have had to reorder lemon, peppermint, lavender, and frankincense. We use a lot of lemon around our house. Girl-child loves it with peppermint in her diffuser. Boy-child and I love it in our bubbly water and bread.

Now that you’ve got my history – I can get to the good stuff. Everything I have discovered so far about Lemon Essential Oil. This post is information I have gleaned from various sources, from fellow oilers, and through observation. I should also tell you that I am not a medical professional and results will vary. Essential Oils are designed to support your journey to health and wellness. I hope you find something helpful below.

fresh-lemon-drop-juice-isolated-white-35838806Lemons. I have loved lemons for a long time. A wedge of lemon in my tea or water – yes please! Lemonade fresh squeezed at the fair – absolutely! Lemon drop candy. Lemon bars, lemon cake, lemon cookies. Sigh. All this talk of lemony goodness – I must go bake – you’re on your own for this one.

(Cue elevator music)

Lemons are grown on an evergreen tree, Wikipedia told me so. The lemon (Citrus × limon*) is a species of small evergreen tree native to Asia. They grow to be about 20 feet tall and have pink/white flowers that smell amazing. The trees do have thorns. You can grow lemon trees in Minnesota, however, they must either be in a heated green house, or a planter that is brought in during the winter – they are not frost tolerant or suitable beyond zone 7. They prefer temperatures 55-70 degrees. When I was a kid we grew a lemon tree from seed – it was so cool to watch the rich green leaves sprout from its tiny branches. It did not live long enough to bear fruit, but was lovely. This summer I almost bought a citrus tree from the local greenhouse, but my ability to keep houseplants alive has only reached the level of succulents.

*It is important to pay attention to the species names of plants (Latin words giving official names to plants) of your essential oils. It gives a better idea of what is in the bottle and where it came from – and whether it will support what you want it to.

Lemon essential oil is cold pressed from the rind. It takes about 75 lemons to make one 15ml bottle of oil – that is a lot of lemonade leftover – send some my way please. The smell of lemon oil is intensely wonderful to me, citrusy, refreshing, reminiscent of baked goods (I better go check the oven).  Lemon oil is considered GRAS (generally regarded as safe for internal consumption – please note that not all oils are created equal, not all oils are pure, Young Living has a special label for oils that are considered by the FDA as GRAS). One of lemon’s most powerful tools is limonene.

This is a list I found of lemon oil’s chemical constituents. It contains terpenes specifically a-pinene, camphene, b-pinene, sabinene, myrcene, a-terpinene, alcohols specifically linalool, Oxides, b-bisabolene, more terpenes like limonene, trans-a-bergamotene, as well such as nerol and neral. Did that just hurt anyone else’s brain? I easily found the list of chemicals. I also easily found a description of those chemicals. What I didn’t find was a list that combined the two. Most of the time I found statements about 1 chemical and its benefits, but the rest were absent.

*It is important to pay attention to the chemical constituents (little-bitty pieces making up everything-we’ll talk about this later) of your essential oils. It gives a better idea of what is in the bottle – and whether it will do what you want it to.

In other words, lemon is good for immune support, cleaning, digestive support, and supporting mood. Its tasty, smells like summer, and happens to be inexpensive (you can buy a 15ml bottle retail for $15 at young living – or become a member and save 24%).

About immune support: I enjoy cups of tea with lemon and honey when I am sick, and I give it to my kids too. When you are first starting out with oils you really don’t want to ingest any more than 1 drop per day of a pure oil – young living has their vitality line specifically labeled for ingestion. I am a lightweight when it comes to oils so I am very careful to only have 1 drop at first, and even now most days I stick with only 1 drop with the occasional mixture of 2-3 drops if I feel I really need it. Diffusing lemon oil adds such a summer smell to my house that I forget the gray sky, and start to feel better. It is amazing how much scent memory can improve a bad day.

I’m looking forward to perfecting a homemade honey lemon candy to use as cough drops.

About cleaning: Have you ever stopped to look at home many cleaning products include lemon? While they may have synthesized it down to a synthetic chemical compound, the idea is still there that lemon is what we think of when we are cleaning. In our house we use what we call volcano cleaner. Vinegar and baking/washing soda! While I know the chemical reaction between the two can cancel out its individual cleaning power we still love to use it, it is these two products plus lemon that comprises most of the information out there for home cleaning. Do you use baking soda when scrubbing grungy surfaces – add a drop of lemon to help cut the grease and sticky stuff. Add it to a spray bottle with vinegar and water to clean counters, tables, and other smooth surfaces. Make wood polish with a few drops in olive oil. Give your homemade laundry a summer fresh scent with a few drops.
I read a warning not to use Lemon oil on granite or stone, as it may etch the surface.

About digestion: My favorite home remedy for tummy troubles is apple cider vinegar. Now it may seem counter intuitive to take an acid when your stomach feels acidy – but I have found (learned from mom) that for me it evens me out. I usually have a teaspoon to a tablespoon in warm water with a titch of honey. I have also found that a drop of lemon in my bubbly water helps immensely. A great relief after Friday pizza night! This is not for everyone. Some people find they crave the milk/yogurt solution to stomach upset – it’s all about knowing yourself.

About lifting your mood: Summer, bright first thing in the morning. In the diffuser to get everyone going. In the afternoon when your flagging because it has been a long day and there is still homework to do. A drop in my water helps me wake up, and keep going – especially during a workout.

I find essential oils to be about experimentation – but that is who I am. I am a creative experimenter with an obsessive pursuit of information and ideas to try.

I’d love to have you join me on my oily adventure by clicking here and becoming a member.

Here are a few more tips I read online about the uses of lemon:

  • Mix lemon essential oil, baking soda and coconut oil and rub on your teeth for 2 minutes
  • Add it to your soap as you wash your hands to help with grease or sticky residue
  • Great for removing sticker residue and pine sap
  • Add it to your homemade bug spray
  • Add a drop to your evening moisturizer to reduce the appearance of blemishes
  • Add it to your conditioner for an aromatic treat that smoothes and shines your hair
  • A drop or 2 of lemon oil on a cloth during your rinse cycle to get rid of the stink that happens when you forget about laundry in the washer (never happens in my house wink wink) or put that same cloth in your dryer for a wonderful smell of warm summer when you take it out
  • Lemon will help soften callouses
  • Use your home cleaning spray to clean stinky dinner dishes (like onion and garlic residue)
  • Use lemon oil to polish up leather furniture
  • Helps remove tarnish
    Because some citrus oils like Lemon can cause photosensitivity, avoid applying to exposed skin before spending time outside.

Diffuse or take internally with Peppermint and Lavender to assist with seasonal respiratory discomfort.

 

Making It From Scratch: Wool Dryer Balls II

I really, really, really want to make wool dryer balls – have you noticed that yet? I have heard from people that they would “totally buy them from me” if I could only figure them out. Motivation! There is a demand; I MUST fill the need.

Problem #1: I do not have roving.
Roving is wool in a pre-yarn state of existence. It occurs after raw wool has been gently cleaned and brushed. From what I can tell, the fibers all go in one direction and are magically joined into a beautiful rope-like structure which can then be spun into yarn. Discovery #1: there are also many other pre-yarn states like rolag which is usually what is made when hand carding. However, all the dryer ball instructions start with roving or worse – an old wool sweater.

Problem #2: I do not have carding brushes.
Carding brushes are the instruments used to straighten out the wool and make it soft, fluffy, and I assume, formable into roving or rolag. From what I have seen of them, they are 8″x4″ and come in a set of 2. I have seen them for sale, but have not yet had the funds to purchase them. Discovery #2: Roving is not made from hand carding brushes, it is made with a carding drum. Sigh.

And yet, I am determined to overcome these hurdles and make my own dryer balls by forming my wool into something closely resembling roving. It may be an imperfect union. But where there is a demand; I MUST fill the need. Here is what I did.

I pulled out a tuft of wool. By tuft I mean a clump loosely the size of a salt shaker. I carefully pulled out tiny yarn sized bits, then split those in half, letting the ends cling together so that I had a double length of wool that was soft and filmy. I added these bits to a flat line which I built up to be about 24 inches long by 2 inches wide and maybe 1/4″ thick with all wool generally pointed horizontally. I staggered the wooly bits so that they would overlap. Then I carefully rolled it like pigs in a blanket (or should I say lambs in a blanket) and ended with something slightly resembling roving – yippee. I carefully wrapped these roving-like pieces around a wad of wool. I built up my wool balls this way until they were almost the size of softballs. I was uncertain if this would work so I did not make them actually as big as softballs and as I progressed they were closer in size to baseballs. These were then stuffed into old nylons, and separated from each other by rubber bands.

With two rows of lumpy caterpillar looking things complete; I added them to the dirty laundry bags. I was desperate to give this a try, but our washing machine was on the fritz, which meant a trip to the laundry mat. Running to the laundry mat is always a complicated endeavor. First it must be timed just right in the day because of school and work scheduling as well as other errands to be paired with this trip into town. It also requires ransacking the entire house top to bottom for all possible dirty laundry. Then all the laundry is sorted by color (we do 3 batches, Black/Red colors, Blue/Green colors, and whites) and stuffed into feed bags. Farmers life note: feed bags make great laundry bags, trash bags, and sometimes snow sleds.

Once ready to wash, I put them in hot loads with the colors (no bleach please). Then dried them. Pulling them from the dryer and peeling back the stockings was so exciting. They now appear to be dryer balls, but the light color ones did not felt (the way wool compacts and hold tight as it is washed and agitated in hot water) as much as they should have. The dark brown ones firmed up nicely, but they are not even baseball sized, so clearly I must do more, and I wonder if I were to wash the light color ones again if they would firm up more. Maybe if I wash them enough, they would firm up completely and I could just keep adding layers until they reach the proper size like a big ol gobstopper of wooly goodness?

Whatever they are, I think they are so pretty. I brought one to work to keep on my desk and have been dropping cedar wood essential oil on it. It is a lovely thing to pick up randomly and toss in the air and that smell, so peaceful.

I feel I am one step closer to fulfilling my dream of being the go to gal for dryer balls. For where there is a demand; I MUST fill the need.

Check back to see the thrilling conclusion in part III – or is it?

 

Making It From Scratch: Wool Dryer Balls

It is 9:02 pm and I am staring at a blank website page. At the top of my screen there are no less than 20 tabs open and I just picked up my phone for one last search.

I am a link-clicker. I am an idea-sleuth.

There seems to be a gap in the knowledge pool (or my search engine is holding out on me). There are no truly from scratch ways to make dryer balls. Very important stuff – right?! All tutorials start with roving. I do not have roving. I have baa-baa black sheep 10 bags full of lovely lanolin-smelling raw wool.

I find myself in this situation more than I like. Yes you can find everything on the internet. Unfortunately the general public’s step one is not where I find myself: drowning in the passion of a new project with no idea how to reach the shore of completion.

When searching for something “from scratch”, I do not want to see the first ingredient is in a can, package, or otherwise made by someone else and do not get me started on bread flour or pastry flour.

My first idea was to stuff a bunch of wool in two socks, tie it in each, and send it through the washing machine. Once washed I just left the wool in the socks and let them merrily tumble through a month of dryer loads.

Until now, when I really want to have many dryer balls to share with friends. So I took off the sock (I am still uncertain where the second one is – perhaps it has joined the merry millions on the lost sock island).

Look it worked (almost), if you are unmotivated want to make your own dryer balls – just stuff a large handful of wool in a sock, then wash and dry it.

If, however, you are looking for a way to impress your friends with your wool-bally prowess, you will want to read my follow-up post! Which will be the result of at least 40 more internet tabs as I attempt to discover the secret first step.