The weather in Michigan this last week was pretty spectacular and we couldn’t resist taking advantage of it and enjoying a hike on Saturday in the late morning/early afternoon. Bonus: We stopped for fresh cider and doughnuts on the way there and were able to enjoy some of the early fall color on display too!
Our dog, Melody, is very familiar with certain words and makes it clear she understands (or at least is excited) when you say those certain words out loud…words like, “outside”, “treat”, and “squirrel”, for example. We’ve got 3 bird feeders at our home, which the squirrels, chipmunks, and birds all seem to enjoy and Melody delights in chasing off squirrels from our yard whenever she’s given the chance; it’s pretty great to watch – you can tell she’s really proud of herself and she’s having a great time doing it whenever she bolts off after one. And, working on a college campus, there is no shortage of bold squirrels to observe; some of which will even approach you and beg for food/pose for this photo. I like to imagine they all have names (most of which are “Henry” for some reason). Did you know the University of Michigan has a Squirrel Club?
This week really began to feel like fall, with the cooler temps; I welcomed my favorite season by lighting a fire in our fireplace and enjoying a hot cup of fresh apple cider. Today we made veggie chili – it’s been simmering on the stove all afternoon and will be perfect for dinner tonight. I picked up some lovely orange mums and these dahlias pictured below. And we got this great new (vintage) sofa, which you can see a bit of in the photo above; it’s a perfect match to our existing chairs and will be nice to have some extra, comfy seating in our front room. The light is so beautiful in the late afternoon in there…
Things I love:
- My husband (who makes me lattes).
- Roos Roast Lobster Butter Love in my lattes.
- Saturday mornings at home.
- Garden flowers.
- Pasta for dinner (with fresh-cut garden basil on top).
- My cutie pup (who looks extra cute here in her Texas Tech collar begging for crackers).
We enjoyed helping out at Afterhouse yesterday in Detroit (you can read more about Afterhouse here and here). Spent several hours of hard work for a good cause with some really great people; and, bonus, we got to hang out with the adorable Ezra too! We also met a very nice young lady who lives in the neighborhood and Ezra was really digging her beautiful braided hair – so cute! In the process of taking down some of an old wall, a paper was unearthed – Detroit Free Press dated August 24, 1946 that stated “One answer to Detroit’s housing shortage. City to get material for 10,000 homes.”
Just in case you didn’t read the last 3 posts, we have waaaaay too many peppers this year and don’t know what to do with them. From hot sauce to pickled jalapenos now we are giving a go at making a salsa for home canning.
- 23-24 roma (paste) tomatoes (roasted on the grill)
- 1+ tbsp olive oil of your choosing (the + is for coating the tomatoes)
- 1/2 purple onion, finely diced
- 8-10 serrano peppers, minced w/seeds in; adjust that for your heat tolerance
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp chipotle powder
- 1 tbsp ancho chile powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups of cilantro (before chopping)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
1. prep the tomatoes
Heat up a grill to medium/medium high heat. Coat the tomatoes in an olive oil of your choosing; I used a chipotle infused olive oil. Place tomatoes on grill then roast them until skins start to blacken in spots and tomatoes become a little bit soft. You don’t want them too soft as they’ll just turn to mush. Set aside to cool. Once cool cut the top of the cores out and place in a blender and puree.
2. make salsa
Heat a large sauce pan to medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and heat it up. Add the garlic, onion, and peppers to the pan. As they start to sweat add the cumin and chile powders, stir so that they are well coated. Add the tomatoes and vinegars and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for about 20 minutes. Add salt.
3. can that s*!t
Follow directions for your preferred method of canning. We used the water bath canning method, which we tried our best to follow Ball’s recommendations. Sanitize your jars and lids and keep warm while you prepare the food above (we used our dishwasher to sanitize and heat). Prepare a large pot for canning and bring that water to a boil. Once the salsa is ready add it to the jars, put lids on, and put them in water bath. Follow the recommendations of time for the jar size you are using and altitude you are cooking at. Once done, remove and set aside for 12-24 hours. Store in a cool place; we’re talking about temperature here not a fashionable location.
4. Is this a tested canning recipe?
No. It is based on many other tested recipes. From what I can tell is that the key to canning salsa is an addition of about 5% acid (vinegar or lemon juice) and making sure it is brought to a boil. There are lots of recipes published by university agriculture programs out there that break down how to calculate the addition of acid to your salsa. We will update this post months from now after we crack a jar open and consume it. If we don’t get sick, success. If we do get sick, yeah diarrhea!
Our jalapeno plant has been rocking it this summer (along with our serrano, bell pepper plants, and our habanero) and since I am a fan of a good pickled jalapeno – especially on some homemade nachos, yum! – we decided to make our own jar of them. I don’t know why we’ve never done this before as it was fairly easy. The hard part for me will be waiting long enough to let them properly pickle and pick up all those amazing flavors sitting in the jar before I put them in my belly! Here’s our recipe below…
~2 cups chopped jalapenos (round slices)
- ½ tsp mexican oregano
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ tsp cumin seed
- ¼ tsp coriander seed
- equal parts distilled white vinegar & water (about 3/4 cup each)
- 1 tbsp honey
- a little salt
Add seasoning into the bottom of a mason jar (preferably one that has been well sanitized). Add the jalapenos on top of the seasoning. Set aside. In a sauce pan add brine ingredients and heat until just before boiling. Pour brine over the top of the jalapenos into the mason jar. Let cool and refrigerate or can them.
What do you do when you have A LOT of serrano peppers from your garden? If you’re us, you take your first crack at making homemade hot sauce. And I think it was a smashing success too; peppery, hot, and packed with flavor and we picked the peppers right from our own backyard! Here’s our recipe below…
- 1/2 thinly sliced red onion
- 22 serrano peppers
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 cup water (1/2 for cooking, 1/2 for sauce)
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/2+ tsp of molasses
Sauté onions, peppers, and garlic, until they start getting soft and slightly caramelized. Add 1/2 cup of water, bring to a boil and simmer until little liquid is in the pan. Add red wine vinegar and molasses, set aside to cool. In food processor add pepper mixture and puree while adding vinegar and water until you get the texture you want. Salt to taste.
We scaled back what we planted in our garden this year (no lettuce or beans) and tried to make it a bit easier on ourselves by planting more flowers in lieu of veggies. We also dedicated an entire garden box to just peppers (red bell, green bell, and purple bell, jalapeño, serrano, and habanero); our peppers seem to be quite happy as I can’t remember ever getting so many (especially serrano) peppers off of one pepper plant from our garden before! Luckily, Ryan is pretty good at making salsa – so with our plethora of peppers and a bag full of farmer’s market tomatillos, he whipped up some darn good salsa verde the other night. Honestly, I probably could’ve eaten it with a spoon or just drank it from a cup…that’s how much I like it. Which now brings us to the point where we’re going to have to preserve these peppers in some way (Ryan is generally not a fan of pickled things) or take a crack at actually properly canning prepared food like salsa so that we can enjoy it throughout the year. To be continued…