Strawberry Salsa (FINALLY)

I’ve been off schedule from the moment I woke this morning…but that’s not a bad thing, but my most awesome mojo I was working with yesterday doesn’t seem to be with me today.  But we’re plowing through towards salsa, nonetheless!

So back to the point…Strawberry Salsa.   When I tell people about it, I’m often faced with looks of confusing and bewilderment–how on earth could tomatoes, strawberries, jalapeno, and green onions be good together?  You just have to trust me on this one–it works, and after folks get over the first tentative bites it won’t be on your picnic table for long.  Two words:  Crowd. Pleaser.

It’s one of our favorite treats this time of year, and a recipe that we were given from our Sister in Law.  Over the years I’ve tweaked it some to fit our tastes, and for today’s purposes I tweaked it some for preserving purposes.  You see, what binds the whole thing together is Balsamic Vinegar and olive oil.  And while balsamic is a super yummy vinegar, but not a vinegar you can use for preserving.

I could insert a really long, boring, and nerdy paragraph here about acidity concentrations, how vinegar is processed, etc etc, but I’ll spare you.  Bottom line, especially if you’re a first time canner, the first vinegar of choice for preserving is White Vinegar, and can only be substituted with Apple Cider Vinegar because they share the same amount of acidity.  Mess with the acidity, and you are messing around with botulism and his nasty cousin Food Poisoning.

So today’s canning took a recipe that was meant to be served fresh, and made it so that we can enjoy it come February when summer time seems light years away.  I did that by reducing the balsamic from 12 TBS a batch to about 8 TBS, and replaced the remainder with about 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup lemon juice (to help brighten the flavors).  I also added about 1 tsp of peppercorns per can because I just think it looks so darn pretty, and I really wanted to make sure when we crack these guys open the flavor is full, bright, and still has bite to it.

It certainly is sitting pretty on our counter right now, and I got to utilize one of my favorite kitchen tricks–using a grapefruit spoon to scoop out the pith and seeds of the jalapeno.

So happy Friday, everyone, and here’s to happy canning!

Deal of the Week

One of my pet peeves is when things you need are really expensive.  Like medication, or nice lotion, or the good dog food.  I especially feel this way about sunscreen–you need it, but the good stuff is just so expensive.  So I was thrilled with all the couponing blogs I follow blew up the news about great deal at CVS this week–buy two Neutrogena sunscreens and get $10 in extra bucks back.  PLUS, there were two sites that you could print $2 off coupons. (https://www.neutrogena.com/sp/specialoffer.do and http://coupons.redplum.com/RedPlumWidget/Offers_Narrow_Local_National.aspx?HostName=MySavings&SubHostId=CD827)

So for $20 (I always do two transactions so I don’t loose track of the extra bucks) we came out with two sunscreens, more eye drops, two Sure deodorants, Diet Pepsi, and a pack of Skittles.  Not to  shabby, folks!

Deal of the Week

Part of my Dog-Mom Day celebration today included strolling through the Kroger in the posh area of town–one of my favorite things to do, and something I rarely get the chance to do.  We turned down the cereal aisle and I saw that the Better Oats oatmeal was on sale 10 for $10.

And then it hit me–I had a $1 off coupon.  FREE OATMEAL!

The deal on pasta is continuing into this week, but if you enjoy oatmeal and have a Kroger near you, here’s the link to get your own coupon.

Cutting Back: Part Two

In an effort to scale back this year, I’m trying to be more conscious about scaling back our grocery lists in a big way.  I’ve always shopped sales and used coupons, but I’m determined not to be an extreme couponer, but be better about stacking the two.

“But GAL, this has nothing to do with your garden!”

Well, yea, I know–you would be correct on that one.  But I’m looking at couponing and sale surfing to be more in line with the concept of being a master chatelaine, or master of my pantry.  And if my pantry is stocked, then I’ll be better equipped to concoct delicious goodness this summer.

Best deal of this week?  Kroger has Rozoni Whole Wheat or Smart Taste Pasta on sale for 99 cents, but if you buy ten or more boxes they reduce it down to 49 cents per box.  This is an awesome sale on it’s own, BUT there are two sites offering $1 off two boxes of pasta (http://ronzoni.newworldpasta.com/pasta_coupon.cfm and http://www.itpaystoeatpasta.com/coupons.cfm?cameFromHome=1).  In my attempt to stock our pantry and waning pasta supply, I brought home twenty boxes of pasta, and am seriously considering sending JGL back for more.  It’s the beautiful thing about pasta–it doesn’t go bad!

Happy Sale Snatching!

Making my lists, checking them twice

I’m curled up in the La-Z-Boy with a fire going in the fireplace, and football on the TV.  There is still a whole lot of winter left, and I for one will be doing a snow dance on Tuesday.  Bring it, Snowpocalypse!  I am ready for you.

Tigress in a Pickle’s post about chatelaine got me thinking about my pantry and how that small place in my basement makes me brave when it comes to facing a thing like the Snowpocalypse.  Keeping it and the freezer stocked has always been like a game for me.  And as I was chatting about with Grampa today, there is nothing in the world than cracking open a can of tomatoes or peaches this time of year when everything feels bland and bleak.

It feels like we didn’t get as much canned and processed from our gardening efforts this past year.  We have a few cans of tomatoes from our own garden, pickles from our prolific cucumbers, a pound of peas I’m hoarding in our freezer, and one last quart of frozen blueberries.  While my pantry isn’t lacking in soups, stocks and pasta, I do wish I had more of my own “goods.”

So in order to fix this, I’m doing what I do best–make a list.  We’ll be tackling a list of what end products we want to see in our pantry, and what we need to grow in order to get there.  I’m hoping this more purposeful planning will let us maximize our growing space.

Here’s the list as it stands today, and recommendations and requests are always welcomed!

  • crushed tomatoes
  • bread and butter pickles
  • Salsa
  • tomato paste
  • strawberry jam
  • canned peaches
  • frozen peas
  • frozen zucchini puree (for breads)
  • frozen beans
  • frozen winter squash
  • frozen carrots