Archive for May, 2011

Easy Salsa

I make many different types of salsa. Seriously. Salsa is pretty much my favorite thing to eat for a snack. You’re eating tomatoes, and whatever else you’ve put in it, so that can’t be too bad for you, right? 😉 So here it goes. No real chopping involved, and it’s fairly quick.
You’ll need:
Blender/Food Processor (either will work, if your blender is weak, use a food processor instead)
Sheet pan lined with tinfoil or a silpat (cookie sheet)
a container for your salsa

Ingredients:
Tomatoes
Garlic
your choice of chili
Serrano, jalapeno, whatever you like for heat, make it as spicy or mild as you like
cilantro
salt
cumin
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As for the tomatoes, if you get them at a farmer’s market or your backyard you will get truly vine ripened tomatoes and your salsa will be amazing. If you buy them from the store, they usually put unripened tomatoes into a container and fill it up with gas to turn the tomatoes red. That’s why they last so darn long. They’re not ripe to begin with. The better quality tomato you use, the yummier this will be.

To start, open up your oven and move a rack to the top position for broiling. Close that sucker up and turn your oven onto broil. If you have a high/low set it to high.
Cut your tomatoes in half and place them cut side down on your sheet pan. In my oven the broiler is the weakest near the door, so I place my garlic still in the paper and my chilis (cut in half, cut side down) near the door. This will make for more even charring.
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Pop these guys in the oven and don’t walk away. Depending on your oven, your charring process can take 3-7 min. If you go over, you’ll end up with little briquettes and a mess to clean up. It’s quick, you can get everything out while they’re in the oven if you haven’t already
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When the look a little charred pull them out and let them cool for a minute. Then take the garlic out of the paper and toss it in your blender. Then, I just pick up my tinfoil carefully and pour everything else into my blender. Once that’s done, I throw in a pinch of salt and about 1/2 tsp of cumin. Thrown in some cilantro, I throw in about a handfull, then cover and blend. If your tomatoes are still hot, you will have some expansion in the volume, so put a dishtowel over the lip and hold onto the top. We like salsa in bowls, not as a decoration for the kitchen walls. 🙂
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Once you’ve got it nicely blended, taste it. See if you need more heat, or salt. Once you have it adjusted, pour into a tupperware, or serving bowl. You can let it cool in the fridge or eat it just like it is, warm, with anything you like to use salsa for.

The true beauty of this recipe is that it’s so simple that you can add tons of things to it to change it up. Say you like it a little more smokey? Add a couple chipotles in. You can add all sorts of goodies to make it how you like.
Possible additions:
chipotles
onion
avacado
lemon
lime
replace the cilantro with basil and you’ve got easy pasta sauce!

Perfect for tacos!!
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Simple is Wonderful

So yesterday was a great day at the market. Seeing all the new vendors at Round Rock Farm 2 Market was just great. In particular there was a new vendor that interested me. Lala’s Lemonade sounded just too perfect. It’s been hot here in Texas for awhile now. I can make my own lemonade, but if I can get it at the market, and it’s about as pure and natural as it comes, why not try? So I bought a half gallon and brought it home. Sorry kids, this is mommy’s treat this week. (I might share, still don’t think I want to!)

Last night was tiring. Brought home everything from the market, putting kids to work, getting homework done, cleaning, feeding, bed time, crazy baby….just tiring. Now, I did get that lemonade, and hubby did pick up some tequilla…..oh yum!

Drunk Lemonade

8oz glass
1 shot your choice of tequilla
the rest lemonade
(you can add a shot if you’re daring)

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The tequilla we used was 1800 Select Silver Tequilla. Now, I’ve had Patrón, and while it is very good, this stuff we got is equally as smooth and WAY cheaper and every bit as fabulous.

So, I don’t think you could get a more perfect summery drink. Lemonade + tequilla = love in a glass. Especially when paired with beef tamales from Pleasant Hills Farm. Life is good!

Frugal Market Part 2

Switching over from shopping at the grocery store couponing to shopping at a farmers market can be a shock on the wallet. It was for us, but it was worth every cent. I think I was a pretty good couponer too. I could easily feed my family on just $32 a week with food to spare. Honestly, though…it wasn’t really food. There’s a reason why you can get that “food” for little to no money. Nutritionally, that’s all it’s worth. Yeah, yeah, it has the nice nutritional label on the side spouting all sorts of facts about how it has all the vitamins from A-Z. Well, that’s nice and all, but your body cannot absorb that “vitamin spray” that they put on the “food.” And if you have kids like mine, who are extremely sensitive to either sugar or processed foods, you just have to say no for their sake.

So if it’s more expensive and my kids aren’t sensitive, why should I bother? For one, the food tastes a million times better than from the grocery store. It’s picked at the height of freshness usually no more than a day before the market . The grocery store…well who knows when it was picked, but it most certainly wasn’t picked ripe. If they do that, the food would perish on the long long trips it has to take to even get to the store, let alone sit for a week or more before it’s purchased. Add to the fact that here in Texas we get many things shipped from California…well…that’s a lot of gas wasted when we can get it right here and support local farmers.

Not only does it taste better, but it’s better for you. The mineral and vitamin counts are MUCH higher. Take for example eggs that you can get at the market. Lovely, beautiful, farm fresh, ranged eggs. The difference between farm eggs and store bought?

• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

Source

That is just eggs. It really is amazing the difference in quality once you start researching.

So, on the the Farmer’s Market. There aren’t really any coupons at a Farmer’s Market, so how do you save? How can you make it work on a budget? How am I making this new, obviously higher cost shopping work? Simple. Make friends. Once you establish yourself as a regular at the market, the sellers start to recognize you. Be friendly, ask about their products. And the clincher: ask about buying in bulk. We got a steal of a deal on beautiful new potatoes because we asked. We got the onion tops because we asked. We got turnip greens, because we were being friendly and talking about food. I also like to buy things like beets when in season. Now, I’m not talking just beets, but beets with greens still attached. Then you get a salad and condiment all in one! 🙂 I have also noticed greens last WAY longer than store bought, and just everything looks plain healthier.

Not everything is more expensive. There are quite a few vegis that I’ve gotten that have actually been cheaper than, say, going to Whole Foods. You also get a better variety of foods and can truly shop seasonally. How many people have seen purple carrots at the store? We had those at our market this week.

Also, if you speak with the farmers, sometimes you can volunteer for food. Sometimes they need extra help on the farm doing all sorts of work. Anything from plowing, planting, weeding, or harvesting. There’s a local farm here that asks for volunteers every so often and you can get a half bushel of fresh produce for helping. They don’t always have openings, but it’s always worth it to ask. For those in Austin, Johnson’s Backyard Garden are currently looking for helpers.

For me, shopping at the farmer’s market has brought me closer to my food, and enjoyment of it. Nothing beats fresh, ripe vegis. And if you have kids, it’s amazing what happens. My 2nd oldest, who is three, is a marginally picky eater. After going to the farmer’s market and me letting him pick out the food, and having some farmers explain what it is to him, he can’t wait to try new things! How great is that!

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These are some of the beauties we got at the market this week. The most amazing cherry tomatoes you’ve ever eaten. Dead serious. It was a good thing I took a pic right when we got them, because they were gone by the time we finished walking around the market!

Frugal Market

I went to the Round Rock Farms to Market on Wednesday as usual and one of the farmers was cutting the tops off of onions and just selling the bottoms. The tops no longer looked good, and most people wouldn’t buy the onion if the tops looked wilted and brown, even though it wouldn’t matter.

Thankfully I know better. There was nothing wrong with those tops that a little adjustment couldn’t fix. Anything that I couldn’t save would be future compost, so why not try. SO I asked him for the tops. He looked at me like I was crazy, then got a little excited and thought it was cool I even wanted them. He ended up giving me all the tops he had, and even apologized he didn’t have more. Just gotta say, I LOVE Bush Farms. He just gave me the goodies for free. (I did buy a basket of the purple onions, yum!) Just awesome!

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So what to do with a bag of onion tops that looks like a hot mess?? Take a knife and start cleaning em up!!

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All I did was pull off the parts that looked wilted or brown, and cut off any tops that were getting that way. I ended up with a lovely pile of green onion tops! Perfect for salads, or, well, just about anything I’d use onions for!

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Now the leftover wilted parts, and smaller pieces I just don’t feel like cleaning up. Well, I make stock once a week, sometimes more. I don’t know about you, but I HATE using a whole onion. Seems like a waste to use something you’d eat normally in stock. I already have a bag in the freezer that I save all my cuttings from various vegetables, but there never seems to be enough onions. Well, Time to clean up the scraps! All I did was just take off the brown crispy parts and I ended up with a decent freezer bag full of future stock fodder.

It’s amazing what things happen when you start going to a farmer’s market and speaking with the people that produce your food. You end up getting diamonds in the rough, that others would cast off. Funny enough, this week I got the onion tops, and at another vendor I got another customer’s turnip greens because they don’t use them. Talk about a great day at the market!!