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I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  It's a well-oiled machine!  Efficiency is my middle name! 

I enjoy making someone laugh a lot more than I enjoy making someone dinner.  Maybe here I can manage to do both.


Some Like It Hot, Some Would Rather Dance

Last summer my friend Rebecca made some salsa for dinner. Four families were on vacation together, and what is a vacation without homemade salsa?! Actually, this salsa was so good that I now believe what is a Wednesday without homemade salsa?! 

I made this same salsa last Friday when we had company over. I began the process around 4:30; our guests were arriving at...well, at that point I didn't know when they were arriving, because we never set up a time. 

TIP: When you have company over, make sure you tell them when you would like for them to show up! It helps them know when they ought to leave their house, and it helps you know just how much time you have to clean up your house and deck like a mad person and get dinner ready. 

As I was making the salsa, I remembered how easy it was to put together, and how completely, unbelievably delicious it was. 

Now. I am a lazy person. Especially when it comes to cooking. I hate making meals that require a ton of prepping (chopping veggies or meat [especially raw meat!], sauteing a ton of vegetables, cooking rice ahead of time and sticking it in the fridge) (I know! I'm such a dope.) and rarely make interesting dishes. Partly because my family is (read: I am) boring when it comes to eating. However! Even though I am very lazy, I will make this salsa again and again, because it is THAT GOOD. And it is relatively fast, which is what I was getting at three paragraphs ago. I started it late in the day, but it was totally ready by the time our guests came a-knockin'.

We finished eating the salsa in record time. It could have been twenty-five minutes (there was a lot of salsa, so...that would have been impressive) but one of the grown-ups had the sense to know that sometimes even when you don't want to, it's wise to stop. I'm pretty sure it wasn't me; I have a vivid recollection of that feeling of,"Oops. That was the one chip too many."

Since we polished off the salsa so quickly (it was gone by the following night), I decided to make it again. (I plan on serving it with Taco Salad good!) And this time, I took pictures. Oh, you'll be so glad!

First, I set my oven to broil. Mine only has one setting, so I can't help you out with whether or not it was high or low. 

This brings me to a point that I have been anxious to make. There are several things that you will find which set me apart from typical food bloggers. I mean, things that take food blogging to a whole new level. The first is the incredible accuracy of the information that you can count on finding here. 

I put my veggies on a broiler-safe baking sheet; two medium tomatoes, one onion sliced in half, two jalapenos, and two good-sized chunks of garlic.

I broiled the veggies for about eight minutes, turning once. (The actual recipe says to turn frequently, but remember? I'm lazy.)

Note: One onion half and one tomato got very darkened so I took that part off before I took the above picture. They weren't very pretty. Some might like all that charred business. I prefer a little less char.

I let the vegetables cool for a few minutes while I got some other ingredients ready. I rinsed off some cilantro,

and chopped it up.

There is an art to chopping herbs. I am not skilled in it.

Ah. The second thing that sets me apart from food bloggers (I started writing "good bloggers," which would likely apply as well) is they never show you their scraps. But they could probably make them look pretty. You will notice that I removed the top, hard, core-y part of the tomatoes. I can't stomach putting the entire tomato into the food processor. But! When Rebecca made this salsa (and I watched her do it), she dropped both tomatoes into the processor in their entirety. And I pretty much drank her salsa. So...I'm consistent, if nothing else.

I also removed all of the seeds and membranes from the jalapenos, but I suppose if you like more heat, you can leave some of that intact.

I put the veggies into the food processor,

and turned it on a moderately low speed for a bit. (Again with the accuracy! Eyeball it.)

Before it was all the way...blended? Pureed? I added the juice from one lime.

TIP: Before cutting the lime, roll it firmly on the cutting board, which makes it much easier to squeeze the juice out. My mom taught me that! Thanks, Mom!

I squeezed the mess out of the halves, straight into the processor.

Your salsa will look very liquidy, but that's okay! 

Next, I made a very bold move. 

I got out my Mediterranean Sea Salt crystals and my Parsley Flakes. Then I realized that I should actually get the Peppercorns instead of the Parsley Flakes, and switched them out. After that, I took an excellent photo of the proper spices. This brings me to the third point which sets me apart from food bloggers: stellar photos of the food which is being prepared. I won't say which one of us has the stellar photos; I'll let you guess.

Here is where things got crazy. You see, I don't have a decent grinder for either salt or pepper. I realized this when I made the salsa last weekend, so I improvised. Even though I am supremely lazy in the kitchen, I took it upon myself to pound out my own salt and pepper. (See? Consistent!) A mortar and pestle would work well, I'm sure. A plastic baggie and a meat tenderizer are equally effective. (Note: The baggie will probably get small holes in it. Even if you use the flat side of the tenderizer. Take care.)

For some reason unbeknownst to me, this method did not work as well this time as it did last time. Maybe because we were having guests and the Lord was helping me out with the smashing? At any rate, I was running late and had to get the kids to church for Bible study, so...I just quit hammering and tossed some of the salt and pepper mix into the pureed veggies. (Again, I eyeballed it. I didn't add all of what I smashed.) 

Then I gave the food processor another whirl or two to mix in the lime juice, salt, and pepper. (I was hoping that the spices would get more chopped. I'm pretty sure that they didn't.) (Someone is going to be upset with me later when they get giant peppercorns in his bites [or her bites].) Next I poured the salsa into a large bowl in order to put it in the fridge. As I was pouring, I took out the blade and set it on the counter. Then it fell on the floor. 

Have I mentioned disaster? Yes? I'm glad that's clear. I am happy to report that no toes were harmed in the making of this salsa. It is recommended that small children (or other adults for that matter) stay out of my kitchen at all times, but especially when sharp objects are in use. Or in my reach.

Who knew salsa was so exciting? When things settled down, I added the cilantro to the bowl of salsa and stirred it in, gently. I hear you need to be gentle with cilantro. 

This was tasty, but I wish I had food-processed the mixture a little more on a higher speed for a minute before dumping it out. I like very finely chopped veggies in my salsa, rather than chunky. That is the beauty of this salsa, though! You can make it to your own specifications.

I can't wait to eat this with dinner tomorrow! If you make this yourself, let me know how you like it!


Start Prepared

A well-stocked kitchen includes many things, and you can usually find a great list in the front of a cookbook, like Joy of Cooking or Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  You'll need pots and pans, all manner of utensils, bakeware, funnels, measurers, gadgets (oh, there are the gadgets!), cutting boards, a knife for veggies, a knife for meat, a knife for slicing, a knife for chopping, a knife for deboning (unless you are me and you plan NEVER to debone a thing EVER in your life EVER), a knife for...well, there is a knife for just about anything.  You want to make sure and have a roaster, a crock-pot, several saute pans, strainers and cheesecloth, and so much more!  And then there is the pantry.

Don't forget the basics like flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda (and please don't mix up the two) (don't ask me why, but I think it would cause a bad scene) (or maybe just flat bread or cake or muffins), vegetable oil, vanilla, butter, milk and eggs.

All of this is very important, you see.  Avoiding scenes like this...

could be very easy if you are like a good Boy Scout and remember to "Be Prepared"!  I think even girls can benefit from this wise motto. 

Here are two lessons for the day:

1.  Check for all ingredients before starting the steps to your recipe.  Mashed bananas are just not appetizing hanging around in your fridge while they wait for some eggs.  You will end up throwing them away, which is what you were trying to avoid doing by making the banana bread in the first place.

2.  Don't save the mashed bananas.  You know you won't use them. 


The lessons.  There will be many.  I am here to share the vast wealth of knowledge I have acquired in my thirteen years of food preparation.  And my excellent food photography skills.  You just wait!

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