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.

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Pantry challenge – week 6

Ooops. An entire week went by and I didn’t record anything. I’ve also slipped up in the spending realm.

Not that I’ve over spent.

Oddly enough, both the kids summer community ed classes were canceled at the last minute so I requested the money be refunded to my card, which left us with a surplus. Then, I looked up how to fix the headlight in my car and discovered that it was super simple and saved me $50.

What do I do with this savings?

This is why we never have money, all the extra is twiddled away. I’ve purchased more in groceries than I budgeted for. We found a great deal on craigslist for a dishwasher and microwave so we went and picked them up. The husband needed a new tractor part, so we made a payment on that.

I need to work on finding a good balance between spontaneous spending and budgeting. A way to have extra but not overspend.

Anyone else have this trouble?

Pantry challenge – week 5

In May we spent $185.89 on groceries. We spent $110.62 on farm supply out of our standard budget. These line items are much lower than previous months – wahoo! The husband sold a piece of farm equipment, so he had income to install more fencing for our goats/sheep and fix my tiller. Another win. Money for the farm gets tracked in the business account only.

Because of my tax refund and careful planning, we were able to catch up on the electric, make payments on a few medical bills, and make the last payment on debt 2 of 5. We even managed to give each family member a paycheck.

Not quite a zero spending month, but I actually felt better about our money than I have in quite some time. I am currently working through this months planning so that I can keep on top of everything even better than last month.

Monday: Salad

Tuesday: At the grocery I felt the desperate need for cheese, tortillas, more lunch meat and chips. While rearranging my basement pantry I found a few jars of salsa. So for dinner we had tacos! So very good.

Wednesday: Tacos again by request. Used the leftover meat and some rice found in the fridge.

We had our budget summit meeting. The general verdict of the panel (husband and kids) is that the pantry challenge is going well. But that pizza, ice cream, and ramen were missed. We discussed where the money was going and the kids were nervous about seeing $2.62 left in our pre-spending budget at the end. I explained zero dollar budgeting (every dollar gets spent on paper first before you spend it for real). Then adjusted a few line items based on reminders from the husband. In the end $0 remains. I am so relieved that my new take home pay still fits into our budget so well.

Thursday: Fend for yourself leftovers. I had some meat and cheese. Our microwave died last night. I’m bummed that I cannot easily melt the cheese on my tortillas or chips. We spent the evening in the garden. The kids are in the Junior Master Gardener program so we went to the community garden first to finish planting, then home to plant our gourd rows.

Gardening is about trying new things, hoping, dreaming. This year we are planting in new areas for our gourds. The husband loves the idea of building our own pumpkin patch that people can come to in the fall.

Friday: Pizza and ice cream

Saturday: Company over, the husband’s mom came and we had her birthday celebration. Hot dogs and hamburger macaroni, dq cake, salad, bread for dinner. Then crackers, meat, and cheese for supper.

Pantry Challenge – Week 4

We went to Ruby’s Pantry in Isanti this past Saturday. We came home with 2 laundry baskets worth of groceries. It was out of this that we made Monday dinner for my parents who are in town from Missouri.

Monday Dinner: Chicken breasts, garlic mashed potatoes, and asparagus (I need to remember to visit the patch more often I lost 2 stalks to seed already.)

Tuesday Dinner: On the fly: kids had after school and 2 hours of ballet. So we grabbed chips and cheese. Then once we were home again I think the kids grabbed sandwiches or doughnuts.

Wednesday Dinner: leftovers. There is a stink in my kitchen that I cannot figure out. I pulled everything out of the fridge and had everyone pick what they wanted to eat. I made a soup out of leftover broth, homemade tomato sauce, and rice. Super yummy. Hubby had leftover sloppy joes.

I had to run to the store because girl child’s class was having a summer birthday celebration and she needed to bring something. I grabbed her Laffy Taffy and at the husband’s request picked up lunch meat and cheese for sandwiches. While browsing the deli section I came to a realization. My children have never had bologna. Why? Because my husband does not like it. Saving grocery money was my priority so I purchased Oscar Meyer brand bologna, cotto salami, white turkey, and chopped ham. Yup, I feed my kids junk sometimes, simply because it is cheaper per ounce. My family will eat just as much or more of the slightly better and more expensive brands or types.

Thursday Dinner: Not sure what they ate. I worked late and ran to junior master gardeners, then rearranged chicks all evening. I had an freeze pop before bed.

Friday Dinner: DQ ice cream (end of school year tradition) and pizza

Saturday morning girl child and I went to Matthew 25 put on by Spirit River. Not as much good stuff as I would have liked. A lot of fruit that had to be processed immediately. I always hope for tons of tomatoes and other vegetables. Instead of yogurt there were brats.

Saturday Dinner: Brats + zucchini fritters

Sunday Dinner: Sorry, don’t really recall. We built a fire and slept outside in the tent. Gorgeous evening.

Monday Dinner: Salad

Sunday and Monday I processed through quite a bit of fruit. Made a small batch of strawberry jam, blackberry jam, froze some strawberries and cherries. Made raspberry and strawberry lemonade ice cubes, and mango ice cubes. Cut up melon, zucchini. Made lemon and orange juice. Banana and zucchini muffins. Raspberry/lemon cupcakes. Super summer stockpile!

Pantry Challenge – Week 3

Monday dinner: BBQ pork on rye bread.

I acknowledge that our meals are not always the most balanced, but this is only dinner, and often other meals fill in our dietary requirements, plus I do not always list everything we are eating.

We had a family meeting this past weekend to discuss how paychecks work and how we were going to handle the lower paychecks I am receiving. We talked about hourly versus salaried positions. We talked about the daily life of a mortgage and bills.

The kids voted for staying hourly, and they said they wanted to make $10 per hour, or if it is salaried they wanted $100 per month. I had to tell them this amount was not something I could honor. Husband said if we switched them to $10 per hour we would need to charge them room and board. I have read of people doing this, slowly giving their kids more power over money, and showing them how to manage it more completely.

Most of this discussion stemmed from the kids wanting a more regular paycheck.

Yes, we give the kids paychecks, not an allowance. They have chores they have to do just because they are part of the family. But then we have what we call working days. On these days the kids are paid for how many hours they work. It is generally weekend cleaning or farm and garden work. We keep track of hours worked and try to pay them once per month, however lately we have misplaced time sheets and put of paying for months, and some months they get more than one paycheck.

It was an interesting discussion, and I like the idea of slowly giving over more money for them to manage. Occasionally with his paycheck boy child will buy us all dinner and girl child will buy an item of clothing she needs. He is naturally better with his money, but I think she is learning. I need to remember to get the money to them in smaller bills so that they are more able to easily assign savings, giving, and spending.

So in this time of transition, while we rework our budget and fix our debts, we will keep their paychecks small and hopefully, slowly, we will all be better at managing our money.

Tuesday dinner: Quinoa and asparagus (from the wild patch in the neighbor’s field)

Went to the grocery so the kids could pick up some snacks with their paychecks, and I bought the essentials: peanut butter, coffee, and popping corn.

Wednesday: potatoes and taco seasoned meat

Thursday: Rice and bbq pork

Friday: Foccacia and maranara

Saturday: Salad and egg sandwiches

Sunday: Popcorn and frozen strawberries

Pantry Challenge – Week 2

Monday dinner: leftover roast chicken, random grabs – Monday evening we have ballet, so often we grab something to munch on our way out the door, I provided the roast chicken, but everything else was up for grabs.

Monday was hard. I spoke with Turbo Tax and Bank of America. Found out I really do owe $1000 to the IRS for money that was juggled during our Home Affordable refinance in 2013. I didn’t notice the line item on my 1098 in 2014. So frustrating, first I get a credit card paid off, and now I have another debt to add. And after much discussion with the kids we decided we are not taking the summer ballet class. I spoke with the ballet director and had to say no to summer ballet, no to boy child helping in hip-hop class this summer, and no to helping the set and design for the mini-ballet event this month. I have a very hard time saying no. Especially when I really want to stay involved in ballet and the usual involved moms are also not helping.

Tuesday dinner: Tomato soup, potato salad, pickles, chicken cookies

Wednesday dinner: Breakfast links, farro grain, and asparagus

Thursday dinner: Pork roast and garlic bread (made by the husband while I was at meetings)

Friday dinner: Whole wheat focaccia, bacon, and red sauce

Saturday dinner: Corn bread and bbq chicken

Sunday dinner: Baked fish and onion buns

2 weeks complete and we have not needed any groceries. I think I will need to pick up a few staples this week. What do I consider to be a staple? Peanut butter, flour, coffee.

 

Pantry challenge – week 1

Well we survived the first week of no spending. We did need to buy shoes for the hubby and the boy child. I also picked up some split peas to make soup from the leftover ham in the fridge. So not completely spend-free, but much better than other months.

Almost immediately after making the decision to not shop I felt an urge to go shopping. The thoughts in my head were about what I wished I could buy, even if it wasn’t a need. I wanted to go buy more pasta. I wanted to pick up fruit bushes. I wanted to buy bleach. Then there is the problem of 9 & 11 year old kids. We had gotten into the habit of grabbing snacks at the Dollar General or buying fresh fruit or vegetables at the grocery or string cheese for lunches. We have plenty of food in the house, but not the “right” food for our silly desires.

Monday dinner: pasta and asparagus
Tuesday dinner: split pea soup
Wednesday dinner: fiesta pasta
Thursday dinner: sloppy Joes on garlic bread
Friday dinner: pizza
Saturday dinner: roast chicken
Sunday dinner: chili made by boy child, Jelly roll made by girl child

I’m really uncertain if this is the actual dinner list, funny how fast it leaves my brain.

Here’s on to another week.

Goal: I need to plan better so that I know what I plan to cook each night and can pull items out of the freezer or pantry.