Welcome to my kitchen! Sit right down and join me for something yummy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Suzi Treats

Well, I've been grinding my own wheat and baking for my family for about 5 years now, but I've never made anything for our dog.  Today I changed that.  I've been wanting to try my hand at making dog treats for a while, and finally did it.  I found a dog bone shaped cookie cutter at a local store, and I must say they turned out really cute.  The real test though came when I fed one to Suzi.  After her first bite she started drooling!  She finished it within 20 seconds and then came to me looking for more.  I think it was a success!

 Here they are ready for the oven.

 Here's the dough after I cut them out.

Here's the finished product!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Making Salsa!

I’ve had several people ask me about canning salsa, so I thought it would be easier to put this in a blog post.  We LOVE salsa and have been canning it for at least 18 or 19 years!  Our recipe has evolved through the years and so has our process, but most salsa recipes have the same basic ingredients….tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, hot peppers (we use jalapenos), and garlic.  THEN it becomes a personal preference kind of thing.  We like cilantro…a lot of people don’t.  If you don’t like it, don’t add it.  J  The other thing that makes it kind of difficult to give people a recipe for salsa, is that not everyone is going to make a huge batch each time like we do.  So it’s difficult to give exact measurements since I don’t know how many tomatoes you have in front of you!  I don’t know how many pounds of tomatoes I use or the number of cups of chopped peppers.  I’ll do my best to give you my recipe, but really you’ll just need to use it as a guideline and then adjust it to the amount you are making and your personal tastes. So, here’s my basic recipe:

I start out with about 10 to 15 quarts of tomatoes, peeled and chopped, which for me is half a stock pot (15 quarts would be about 2/3rds full).

add to tomatoes:

6 medium green peppers, chopped
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, finely diced (this is a very mild salsa...add more jalapenos for  more spice or use hotter peppers)
3 cans (6 oz) tomato paste (or more if salsa is not thick enough)
1 cup vinegar (white or apple cider)
4 tbsp garlic (I usually use the already minced garlic)
1 tbsp black pepper
1/4 cup hot sauce (we like Frank's Hot Sauce)
3 medium onions, chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp salt
4 tbsp oregano (I use dried unless I have fresh on hand)
3 tbsp cilantro (ditto above)

Peel tomatoes first. The way I do this is to put a big pot of water on the stove (pot should be half to two-thirds full of water) and bring to a low boil. Have a scrap bowl handy for tomato skins and a large bowl about half full of ice water (don't add ice until you are ready to put in your hot tomatoes). Cut off stems and bad spots and then put tomatoes in boiling water. Keep in water for about 5 minutes or until you start to see the skin crack on the tomatoes. Using a slotted spoon or ladle, transfer tomatoes to ice water. Let sit in ice water until they are cool enough to handle. Then you can remove the skins and put your tomatoes in your stock pot. If I don't have enough tomatoes to can, I put the peeled tomatoes in the refrigerator until more tomatoes come in from the garden.

When you are ready to can the salsa, add the rest of the ingredients to your diced (or crushed) tomatoes. Let the ingredients simmer and cook down a bit. Now comes the fun part. After the salsa simmers a little while, get out a bowl and tortilla chips and try it! Then adjust the salsa to suit your taste buds! When you acquire the taste and consistency you want, you are ready to can!

I can mine in a pressure canner, although in years past I did can in a boiling water bath.  If you have a pressure canner, follow your manufacturer's instructions on canning tomatoes. I can mine for 15 minutes with 5 pounds of pressure.  If you have any questions about this process you can ask me.

After the 15 minutes is up, I turn off the burner and set the timer for 45 minutes. That is long enough for the canner to depressurize and cool down enough for me to remove the lid. The contents are still extremely hot though, so be careful when removing the lid and removing the jars. I set my hot jars on a double layer of kitchen towels on my counter for about 24 hours. After the 24 hours are up, I remove the rings and label my jars.  One of the reasons I remove my rings is because I will need then for more canning; however, the other reason is because I have had instances where I have removed the ring and the lid came off.  I wouldn't want an improperly sealed jar to be on my shelf and spoil!  If any of your jars don't seal, just stick them in your refrigerator and use in the next few weeks.

If you don't want to can your salsa, another option is to use basically the same ingredients as above, except you don't cook anything. Dice your tomatoes, drain most of the juice and then add the rest of your ingredients. It's a very fresh, good salsa!