The subtle changing of the seasons brings on a mad dash of figuring out how to stay on top of the marvelous bounty that our little garden provides… We pack a punch in a small space, for sure!
Our yard and our climate seem particularly suited for tomatoes and peppers, and we have had continued success with these plants over the years. Squash seems to do well for awhile before being attacked by the beetles, and we also have had a decent crop of okra, cucumbers, eggplants, and lots of herbs. Fortunately, we escaped the tomato blight that caused so much damage… funny thing is that it affected some of our neighbors down the street, but our tomatoes are healthy and abundant (so far). We plant a number of varieties of tomatoes with pretty much one thing in mind: making Kris’s amazing salsa recipe. This year, we had two varieties of heirloom tomatoes, as well as several crops of romas to rely on for the first batch of the salsa.
We spent last weekend in the kitchen, canning three batches of veggies: the aforementioned salsa, spicy dill pickles (and regular ones too), and some pickled peppers (Habaneros and jalapenos). As you can see, we like the spicy foods and use these canned goods throughout the winter for all sorts of our favorite recipes like jambalaya, curries, various soups, black bean burgers, etc. No wasting the veggies here!
Three Christmases ago, I saw an ad in some magazine at the doctor’s office about “Great Gifts for the Man in Your Life” (Real Simple or Martha Stewart Living, I think…) The #1 gift intrigued me, and I thought that it would be something interesting and unique for the man in my life who likes to spend (nearly) the same amount of time in the kitchen that I do… so, I bought Kris the Cameron Cookware Stainless Steel Stovetop Smoker. Little did I know, at the time, that this would be one of the best purchases for our culinary exploits! I also picked up the indoor smoker cookbook, Smokin’, which has a total of TWO vegetable recipes, but it does have a lot of good ideas… The smoker is traditionally thought of for meats, but we have enjoyed so many smoked vegetables over the years. Who said vegans can’t be smokin’ too?
All that to say, that the smoker is an integral part of the salsa preparation.
All varieties of tomatoes and jalapenos from the garden – loaded into the smoker with hickory wood chips. It takes about twenty or thirty minutes to get the right flavor. This step is SO worth it.
For years, we used store-bought chipotles, but once we got the smoker, we made our own!
… Cilantro + Onions + Garlic + mix of spices and vinegar …
I would share a recipe if I had one, but this is all living in Kris’s head. He has perfected this over the years. We do a whole little taste test each year and discuss whether it needs more or less of certain ingredients. Perhaps I can get him to write it out one day soon. This year’s batch seems to be one of the best so far – the tomatoes were not too watery and they had a delicious flavor.
Long winter with summery fresh food!
5 pints of salsa
4 pints pickled peppers
3 qt dill pickles
It was quite a productive and rewarding day. …and there are already more tomatoes ripening on the vine. A second batch (maybe even a third) is quite possible.
With fall right around the corner, I am already thinking about more harvesting and more preserves… apple butter? some more peach jam? … gosh, I love this season…