Fresh Tomato Salsa

There’s nothing like some nice hot days and a timely shower or two to make a gardener happy. Especially those who grow tomatoes because that’s what make them large and juicy.

homemadesalsaWhile several people I know says their tomato crop is disappointing this summer, the same can’t be said for mine. I’ve had loads of tomatoes from my 20 or so plants thus far. And we’ve had a couple of meals that featured BLTs (bacon, lettuce and tomato) sandwiches as well as putting up more almost two dozen pints of whole tomatoes for use once the weather turns colder and fresh tomatoes no longer are an option.

But there’s another tomato dish that Therese and I been sampling to our hearts content. It’s homemade salsa. The recipe I use is from Mary Urbanski, assistant director of residential dining services at UND. It’s very easy to make as well as being mighty tasty. And the nicest thing about it is that it can be on the table in less than a half hour, although it’s much better if it’s allowed to sit for several hours.

Fresh Tomato Salsa
1 pound, 13 ounces tomatoes, diced, 2¼ ounces green onions, sliced
5½ ounces red onions, diced
2¼ ounces jalapeno peppers, diced (see note)
1¾ teaspoons fresh cilantro, diced
1¾ teaspoons fresh garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons and 1¼ teaspoons
Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
2½ cups tomato juice
2 tablespoons and 1¼ teaspoons lemon juice
Place all prepared vegetables in large bowl. Stir to incorporate. Add garlic, seasoning salt, tomato juice and lemon juice to mixture.
Mix thoroughly.
Note: Wear gloves when handling jalapenos, and do not touch face with hands.
Salsa is best when refrigerated 24 hours to blend flavors.

Peach Cobber

It’s hard to beat peaches from Colorado. Especially if they are from Palisade, which is located on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. In fact, some of the best peaches in the U.S. are grown in Palisade.

peaches1Therese and I were the recipient this week of a box of peaches from Palisade, courtesy of my brother, Kevin, and his wife, Lynn, who live in Grand Junction, Colo., which is just down the road from Palisade. It didn’t take me long to sample one of the 40 peaches in the box from Alida’s, which arrived Thursday. It was juicy and a little tart, just the way I like my peaches.

Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to having Colorado peaches. A local church group each August has peaches trucked to Grand Forks from Colorado for sale. Last year, however, only the first batch of peaches was from Colorado. The rest were from the state of Washington.

While the Washington peaches worked just fine for canning in a light sugar sauce, they weren’t as tasty as the one we’d been getting from Colorado. I mentioned this to my brother when he was back in Crookston for the all-school reunion in June, and he said he and Lynn would send us a box later in the summer from Colorado. Of course, I said that would be great.

So far, we’ve canned 9 pints of peaches and Therese has made a peach cobbler, the recipe for which follows. And that still left us with about a dozen of the soft and juicy morsels to eat all by themselves.

Peaches are a great food for anyone looking to eat healthy. They are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, as well as being high in vitamins A and C, dietary fiber, niacin and potassium.

Peach Cobbler
1¾ cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, chilled and in pieces
½ cup sugar
¾ cup cream
6 cups peaches
Sugar, for sweetening fruit
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir with a fork to blend. Put the pieces of chilled butter into the flour mixture and rub quickly with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the sugar and lightly blend. Using a fork, slowly stir in the cream until roughly mixed. Gather the dough into a shaggy mass and knead 5 or 6 times. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a rectangular or oval baking dish (a 9-by-13-inch or 13-inch oval of at least 3-quart capacity). Sweeten the peaches to taste and put in the prepared pan. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, to the size of the top of the baking dish. Place on top of the fruit mixture. Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes, until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out clean.

Spicy Dill Pickles

Not all dill pickle lovers are alike. Some like theirs on a burger or sandwich. Others like to cut them up into small pieces and put them in salad spreads such as those that contain tuna or chicken. And finally, there are those who like them all by themselves.

myhotpicklesI fall into the third category. In fact, I can sit down and with a quart of homemade dills and almost polish them off in one sitting. And that’s why we can anywhere from 40 to 75 quarts each summer from cukes that come from our garden We’ve already got about 10 quarts on the pantry shelf so far this year. Our first batch was made July 23, which is a record for the earliest date at our house.

No matter how you like your dill pickles, one thing is for sure. They’re hard to beat. And when it comes to dill pickles, hotter is better in my book. That’s why each summer about half of the dills we put up contain a hot pepper or two.

Following is a recipe for spicy dills that I’ve come to really enjoy, and I think you will, too.

Spicy Dill Pickles
About 100  medium-sized to small cucumbers
1 quart apple cider vinegar (5 percent acidity)
2 quarts water
½ cup canning/pickling salt
½ cup sugar
16 cloves garlic
8 grape leaves
16 hot peppers
Wash cucumbers and rinse well. Wash dill and soak in pickling salt water (this removes bugs) and shake well.
Put dill and a grape leaf in bottom of quart jars with garlic clove. Pack jars with cucumbers. Add ¾ to 1 teaspoon mustard seed and ½ teaspoon turmeric powder. Top with another garlic clove and more dill. Finally add a hot pepper or two. Cover with boiling liquid (vinegar, water, salt and sugar solution), leaving ¼-inch head-space.
Seal with preboiled lids and bands. Put jars (covered) in boiling water bath for 20 minutes. (Start timing as soon as you put in last quart jar.)
Yield: 8 quarts.