In my last Bountiful Basket I got the Mexican add-on. It was full of peppers…cayenne, jalapeno, green bell and Anaheim. It also had onions,garlic, tomatillos, lemons, limes and avocado. It was a mystery box that screamed salsas to me.
I made three different fresh salsas.
One red tomato salsa. I used tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro, green pepper, some jalapeno (first roasted in the oven to take the hot edge off) and a slice of cayenne. I had some ground ancho chili and added some of that for depth of flavor to complement all that freshness.
One fruit salsa with mango, I make my fruit salsa heavy on the fruit. Unfortunately the peaches were not ripe enough to be sweet so it was exclusively mango. I pureed some of of the three peppers with some onion and cilantro. I chopped mango, some red bell pepper, some of the roasted jalapeno, and onion. I mixed the chopped mix with the puree and then pulled the secret ingredient out of my cupboard….chipotle powder. I think fruit salsas need something to balance out all that sweet fruit and one of my favorites is chipolte. The smoke and heat is the perfect balance to that sweet of a mango.
The third salsa classic salsa verde. I am not sure of another way to fix tomatillos, but it was perfect with the pepper I had received. I added some onion and cilantro and it was ready to serve.
My avocado was not ripe when I made all my salsas. The day we were finishing up our salsas, the avocado was ready to be mashed and made into guacamole. I had been a good week of eating in our house.
Our last Bountiful Basket included two eggplants. Normally I make one of my favorites baba ghanoush, a Turkish dip. Two eggplants challenged me to expand my horizons. I am not opposed to eggplant, but I have had many eggplant Parmesan dishes that I have not liked. For this reason I have shied against making it. Today I decided to be open to the possibility I might like eggplant Parmesan if it wasn’t restaurant fare.
Friday is a meatless meal day for our household and it seemed like a great day to see if I would like a home-made version. It turned out great and both my husband I agreed it turned out much better than we had believed possible. It is a keeper and we will make it again. It just goes to show what happens when you are open to the possibilities. Anything can happen.
Here is my method:
I sliced garlic and put it in a large skillet and cooked it until I infused my olive oil. I removed the garlic slices.
Peel and slice an eggplant. Beat a couple of eggs with a little milk. Dip the sliced eggplant in the egg mixture and dredge it in a seasoned flour. Place in breaded eggplant skillet with the oil. Brown on both sides.
In a bowl while cooking the eggplant, mix a can of diced tomatoes, can of tomato sauce (the can should be the same size as the can of tomatoes) and a generous bunch of diced basil.
Put some of the tomato mixture in a square glass pan, top with a layer of cooked eggplant. Put a 1/4 thick slice of mozzarella on each slice eggplant, then top with freshly grated Parmesan and more of the tomato sauce. Repeat until you have used all the eggplant slices.
Today was Bountiful Basket day again and I still had half a case of tomatoes left. A case of tomatoes is a lot for a family of two. This morning found my husband and I preparing tomatoes for the freezer before we headed in to town to get our next batch of produce. All of this reminded me of my mom who was the preservation queen. What this means is she could figure out a way to put anything by for use to feed our family in the winter. We were like the Salvation Army of food; nothing was ever turned away or wasted. She made grape juice one year when some one gave her a couple of bushels of concord grapes. My family had a recipe for canned carp, that tasted very much like salmon. Carp were the fish, that the local fishermen did not want and our family could get them for the price of gas to the commercial fisherman’s dock. The year our freezer failed, my mom was pulling things out and reprocessing them in fruit jars to prevent a loss. We had a preference for our veggies frozen but that year they were all canned.
I used to can, dehydrate, and freeze quite a bit. I had learned from the best. I had gotten away from it since moving to Montana ten years ago. Produce here stinks to put it mildly. I must admit I was a little intimidated by the alterations that you need to make for the decreased of pressure at this altitude. I got rid of my old pressure canner. It was ages old from a rummage sale when I got it and I could not get weight adjustments that I would need for here. It seemed like the right thing to do.
I do have a “Food Saver”, though I call it a “Seal-a-Meal” (that dates me). We bought it to use when we butchered our chickens. Today we learned how to use it to save our tomatoes. I made two batches of a crock-pot marinara sauce, fire roasted salsa, and prepared cooked tomatoes. All of these I put by using my vacuum pack system. I must say when I am done, it doesn’t have the same impact of looking at all those pints of tomatoes all lined up in crystal clear Ball jars. I can say that it was much quicker. It also allowed me to put up small batches as needed without hauling all my canning stuff out and then processing for the extended length of time required. I am not sure that I save much if any money, as these Food Saver bags are not inexpensive or really reusable like fruit jars. I do know that we are going enjoy knowing our chili and spaghetti meals are made with tomatoes that are not full of salt, and extra’s that we don’t want or need.
This co-op system may have me rethinking about pulling out my dehydrater and if I need to replace my canner. Stay tuned.