Salsa Verde: a Taste of Mexico

Salsa Verde: Awesome

This year I tried growing tomatillos for the first time. To be honest, I wouldn’t have considered growing them at all but my brother and his wife have become fond of salsa verde and were determined to make their own. Well, I simply couldn’t resist the challenge of growing tomatillos as well and trying to make my own salsa verde.

It turns out that tomatillos are easy to grow. They’ve been harvested in Aztec culture since 600 BC and are a staple of Latin American cuisine.

I started mine from seed six weeks before the last expected frost and transplanted them outdoors in mid-May. I had no idea that they would grow to be three feet tall and equally wide, crowding out my tomatoes in the process. Ironically they provided great cover for the tender tomatoes last week during a nasty hail storm.

Tomatillos require a minimum of two plants for fertilization, and each plant will produce dozens of husk-covered fruit. Mine were ready for harvest at the end of August, the fruit having split the drying husks and outgrown their confines. The key is to pick them when they have reached their maximum size but before they have yellowed. About 10% of mine were picked too late, but I wasn’t concerned as I have an over abundance of fruit.

The tomatillo is a member of the nightshade family and related to the cape gooseberry. Its a distant relative of the tomato with which we are more familiar and often referred to as a “Mexican tomato”.

Salsa verde, or green salsa, is widely used in Mexico as a condiment as well as an ingredient in numerous traditional foods.

After much research I have come up with my own recipe for salsa verde, a combination of all the “good” parts of the many recipes I read online.

Here goes:

Salsa Verde

Husk and wash 3 lbs of tomatillos. Slice in half and remove the stem end, then place sliced side down on a sheet of parchment paper covering a cookie sheet. Select 2 medium onions and quarter one of them for roasting. Remove stems and seed four Serrano peppers, then slice them in half lengthwise. Peel a head of garlic. Place half the peppers and half the garlic on the roasting sheet along with the onion and tomatillos.

Roast (425F) for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, finely chop the other onion, the remaining peppers and garlic. Place these in your stock pot – they will give the salsa a bit more “chunkiness”.

Once the tomatillos have finished roasting, purée them along with the roasted onions peppers and garlic in a food processor. Make sure not to have any big chunks or large pieces of peel. Place the purée in the stock pot.

Now add 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup vinegar, 2 tsp pickling salt, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, and 1 tsp ground cumin. Heat the mixture and simmer for a few minutes.

This is now ready to use, or can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks. I decided to can mine and process in a hot water bath. I added 1/2 tbsp of lime juice to the bottom of each 125 ml jar before adding the salsa. Yield: 6 x 125ml jars.

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Refrigerator Pickles: Yum

Refrigerator Pickles 2012

Heck, why haven’t I made these before? Well, I guess the answer is obvious – I’ve never had enough cucumbers to spare. But this year has been fabulous for my cucs and I’ve been able to eat them fresh every day and still have plenty for a batch of pickles.

Here’s my recipe (adapted from myrecipes.com)

Refrigerator Pickles

2 lbs cucumbers, sliced thin (I use my mandolin)
2 medium onions, sliced thin (about 2 cups)
3 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used dried Serrano peppers from last year, finely chopped)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8-10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Layer the cucumbers and onions in a large bowl. Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil on the stove and simmer for one minute. Pour the liquid over the cucs; don’t worry if not all are submersed – they will be in a few hours.

Place the bowl in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours before dividing the pickles and placing them in jars. These must be stored in the fridge, as they have not been processed. Don’t worry, they won’t last long.

Keep off the Grass!

Now My Downspout Extension is off the Grass

I wanted to lift my Downspout Extension off the lawn so that I could get rid of the dead grass it was creating. I didn’t want to spend any money to do so.

I took a regular coat hanger, bent it into a U shape and made myself a lifter for the flex-a-spout. I wish I had thought of it sooner 🙂

 

The Ultimate Ant Solution

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I’m not going to take credit for this, but I wish I could. I read about killing ants with Borax online and decided that it wasn’t any more costly than the various “ant killers” on the market, so I thought I’d give it a try.

It completely eliminated all of the anthills I treated. Completely. Gone.

The secret is to mix Borax and white sugar in a one to one ratio and sprinkle it on the anthills. Yup, that’s it. A few days after the first treatment I repeated it. One week later I had no ants, no anthills, no ant destruction.

I assume the ants greedily take up both the sugar and the Borax (also known as sodium borate decahydrate; sodium pyroborate; birax; sodium tetraborate decahydrate; sodium biborate or Na2B4O7 • 10H2O) and take it into the anthill where it works its magic. I’m going to call it magic because I like to think they all just fell asleep.