Come in, look around. Let me know what you think! Comments are always welcome and encouraged.

Monday, August 15, 2011

mango magma

This picture doesn't really show how pretty it is.
I have no photography skills.
A few weeks ago I got my creative juices flowing and created (all by myself..for real) a recipe for a chunky, spicy mango salsa I have lovingly named "Mango Magma". Its great as a glaze for meats like pork chops and chicken and also great on a buttered biscuit. Its great on a blue corn tortilla chip and I bet it would be great in tofu stir-fry. In fact, I imagine it would be great on anything, its that, well, great.

I kind of just starting chopping and stirring and did my best to keep track of the amounts of all the ingredients as I was going but I cannot absolutely promise you that yours will turn out exactly the same as mine did. I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. Hard to believe I know... For me, the recipe made 3, 1/2 pint jars with a bit left over to enjoy immediately.


Ingredients (to the best of my memory):
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced to 1/2" or so
Juice of one lime (no seeds)
2/3 cup sugar
*4 tbs white vinegar (cider vinegar would be fine too)
2 jalapenos chopped (with or without seeds depending how hot you want it)
1/4 cup red bell pepper chopped
1, 1/2 tsp salt
1 c water

In a stainless steel pan add the diced mangoes, water, sugar and chiles and bring to boil. Your mangoes will soften and begin to form a thick sauce.  Let the mixture boil gently for about 10 minutes so that it thickens and becomes jam-like. You don't have to be precise here. You don't have to worry about the salsa "setting up", so you can cook it until it forms the consistency that you want. Add the lime juice and vinegar and salt and simmer lightly for another 5 minutes and remove from heat, remembering to turn off the burner. :) 

If you plan to process your "magma" in canning jars you will need about three, 1/2 pint jars with rings and lids and sterilize them before hand just as you would for other canning projects. Ladle the hot salsa into hot jars leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rim clean and center hot lids on jars. Screw on the rings and adjust until fit is tight but not forced. Process the closed jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (longer for higher altitudes). Then remove the jars and cool completely before handling. Check the lids for seals after 24 hours. Lid should not pop up and down when center is pressed. If you plan to use up the salsa within a few weeks you can skip this step and just store it in the fridge in a tightly closed container, which will be good for a couple weeks.

You can play with the recipe just as I did. A little red onion would be a great addition but I didn't have any at the time.

*If you are going to add any other ingredients like a little red onion, increase the amount of vinegar to 1/4 cup or so. The USDA suggests that when adding non-acidic foods to canning recipes you must also increase the accidity level in order help prevent spoilage in home canned food. Always err on the side of food safety. If the seal is popped, or it looks, smells, or tastes even a tiny bit "off", chuck it.

So what is your favorite kind of salsa? Are you a traditional tomato salsa person or do you like things funky?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

the notebook

yes, those are my feet. This photo is of bad quality
because my cat chewed through my iphone cord.
I had to get very creative in order to get this photo
on here. Thanks Kitty Cat.
You have good weeks and you have bad ones. I will be filing this one in the "bad" cabinet. There were a handful of not-so-great things that occurred this week (arguments with family members, grandma's 2x broken leg, not-so-great work news, loss of one of my beehives to probable colony collapse disorder, etc.,) but rather than dwell on those, I would like to recap all of the good things I accomplished this week.

Overall I am pretty happy with the garden. despite all of the sun gold tomatoes that I planted disappearing, I do have some really nice black cherry tomatoes that taste good. In my desperate attempt to hold onto summer for as long as possible, I decided to slow roast two pints in the oven with garlic, basil and olive oil and bag them up for the freezer. I tasted one and it was delicious. Then I tasted another, and another. Boy those tomatoes shrunk in the oven. Doesn't look like I have two pints worth now, but come January, I can pull out a bag and toss them into some soup or pasta and be reminded of summer and that the sun really does exist.

So far I have picked 5 beautiful eggplants. Some went into curry, some will be dehydrated for later. I also threw lots of hot peppers and Anaheim chiles into the dehydrator. I'd love to make a batch of jalapeno jelly but I always have the best intentions.....

The apricots I got from Traverse City went into 6, 1/4 pint jars of apricot butter. It was my first time making that and I am pretty happy with the result.

Greg and I bottled up 31 pounds of honey one of our healthy hives. It might be wishful thinking but I am hoping that is less than half of the harvest we expect to get this season.

Despite being really excited about something that was supposed to happen for me at work, and then finding out its really not great after all, I did get to do something cool. I attended a workshop that taught us how to use interior design samples in craft projects. I made a notebook out of wallpaper scraps and fabric scraps. I also got to loot a warehouse full of said samples. The the backseat of my rogue is full of unique fabric. Once I learn how to sew, I might open an etsy shop and sell handbags made from reclaimed window curtains. Best intentions......

 IDK. I plan on filling my reclaimed wallpaper notebook with all the goals I really wish to fulfill in the short and long term. First for the short term- I want to go to Australia in the year of my 30th birthday (2012=soon). First for the long term- I want to figure out how to be my own boss or just retire early and move to some tropical country where the cost of living is cheap. Its hard to get yourself out of a rut. I've been more than a little displeased with certain areas of my life lately and maybe writing down my goals and mapping out how to obtain them will help me cope. Maybe I need a big change, maybe I just need a therapist.

If you could retire early and move anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

summer won't slip away from me this time....

I got a wonderful but brief visit from Greg last week. We went to Traverse City for a mini-vacation. Its a really beautiful place. It was my first time there but Greg's aunt and uncle have a home there and we were fortunate that they invited us to visit during the Traverse City Film Festival. The Michael Moore one.
We caught a few documentaries and spent the rest of our time there soaking in the scenery. I don't know how many hours we spent sitting on the beach just relaxing. It was wonderful. I think we both needed the R&R. I can't wait to go back.
I wasn't aware of this but northwest Michigan is famous for their cherries. We came home with sweet and sour cherries as well as the best apricots I've ever eaten. The sours are in the freezer, the sweets were cooked down and canned and the apricots are awaiting a delicious fate that will be shared in a later post. Below are just a few pictures of the amazing scenery.

Sleeping Bear Dunes. We were too scared to go all the way down. There weren't any helicopters available to lift us back up.

Greg and his Aunt Kit strolling along a trail at the park

Still Sleeping Bear and still beautiful

Greg's Aunt Kit again showing us the view

I really love this picture. It only captures just a tiny bit of all the fun we had. Sitting next to Greg is his uncle Ron, showing off his bag of dog poop.  Love responsible pet owners :)


"secret beach"