I have done so much this past week that I amaze even myself. However, it is taking its toll. I am so tired that I fell asleep sitting up waiting in the doctor’s office for Maria and Xander. I keep falling asleep waiting for David from seminary (an early morning religious class…I usually walk, but haven’t lately because my hip joint is out of place).
I fall asleep waiting for classes to start, during a TV program, etc. I am just worn out.
But, boy I am way ahead of where I usually am at Christmas time. All the decorations are up. Almost all the shopping is done…I only have two more gifts to buy.
Maria, Xander, Elizabeth, and I went shopping on Monday. Ross met up with us and we got a lot done and had a good time. The week before, Maria went with me and we did some shopping, too. I had received an I-Pad from the doctor’s office that did my Lasik surgery as a promo.
Originally, I planned to keep it for myself, and then I decided I would give it to Ary, my daughter-in-law for Christmas. She is on the Internet looking for crafts and has a blog and so on so I thought I would give it to her. Then I thought about Maria, but we already have helped them quite a bit.
Then I thought about Tony…but to give such an expensive gift to just one child and not have such nice gifts for the others. Finally, I went to Best Buy and they exchanged it for store credit. I had to explain to the store manager (it wasn’t opened, but had a series of numbers written on it). He was very gracious when he found out what I wanted to do; to turn one gift into several gifts as I have nine children, two–in-laws, and three grandchildren.
Once I had the store credit I called Maria and we went shopping…fun. I think all over we did well and people are going to be happy. Not a spectacular year, but a good one. Plus it was fun having Maria to help play Santa Claus.
She and the girls have also wrapped all the presents this year. I did not have to wrap a single one.
I also found a couple of the presents online and one of them was only $39 online, whereas it was $180 if I had bought it in the specialty shop. When it came in the mail, Maria and I opened it to see if it really was as nice since it had been so cheap…and it was! We were ecstatic and a certain individual is going to be especially happy on Christmas as I already told them there was no way I could buy something so expensive.
Friday, I cleaned the freezers and pulled out all the frozen stuff from the gardens. When it is summer, as we pick tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeños, and so forth, we cut it all up and put it into freezer bags. Then when it is cold in the winter…like right now…I pull it all out to can it.
This has been a really good way to can food. If you can in the summer, you only heat up an already hot kitchen. In the winter, it actually feels nice to heat up the kitchen. I also like that you’re not doing all the work at one time.
Picking, washing, and cutting up the stuff is enough work in itself. Adding the canning is just too much.
In this picture, you can see the three tubs that I have all the garden stuff in to defrost. There wasn’t as much this year as we are in the middle of a drought. (Yes, we still are in the middle of an extreme drought… whole lakes and ponds have dried up and the land is brown, dead, and cracking in places…it is really sad).
Then I take the tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapeños and run them through the food processor. Also I drain off any extra liquids (this saves me from having to cook the salsa as long).
Then I put all the processed foods in my huge cooker. This year I had to add #5 cans of tomato sauce as we had many more peppers from the garden than tomatoes. Tomato plants do not bloom when it is too hot and without the blossoms…no fruit.
I then added granulated garlic and dehydrated onion (I used to use fresh onion and garlic, but what a horrible task it is to cut and peel and run garlic and onion through a food processor. Your eyes water, your nose runs, your hands and eyes burn. Major yuk. The dehydrated onion is also cheaper and it hydrates as you cook the salsa.)
I also add cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, then stir it, taste it, and add whatever I think is missing for flavor.
When I do such a large batch, I do not measure exactly. I am just “guess-timating”, but it always tastes good. I just look at the recipe and try to keep the proportions the same.
This picture is the salsa all ready. I do not cook it long as it will cook as it is canned.
I then put it in the jars and get it ready for processing. You can go to this link on my website to learn more about canning.
In this picture, you can see three jars of turkey broth that I had left over. I made a Spanish Turkey for our church Christmas social and put the leftover broth in these jars. Once it is sealed and canned, the food can last for several years. Broth can be used in so many foods, so it is really nice to have canned and in your pantry.
I also had some black bean salsa that was in the freezer. I took it out with the garden stuff and canned it as well. I figure I can use it in a pot of beans or heat it up as a warmed up salsa or use it on top of enchiladas…hummm…I’ll find a use for it.
I spent the rest of the day canning. I had both canners going and processed food until late.
The one on the left is my canner and the pot on the right is full of the salsa. I waited for years to find and finally be able to buy such a nice. large pot.
The next picture shows both canners going and filling the jars with salsa.
Tammy's Salsa Recipe
2 6 ounce cans of tomato paste or a 24 ounce can/jar of tomato sauce (I have done both and try to buy a cheap generic that is veryplain...no basil flavoring, etc. that will change the flavor of the salsa)
22 tomatoes chopped ( I have used a #5 can of diced tomatoes...run through a food processor...unless you want it really chunky...same with the bell peppers)
5 large onions chopped (or again through the processor or just use 1 cup of dehydrated onion)
7-10 Jalepenos seeded and chopped (again...I run these through the food processor and have used canned ones...run through the processor)
2 Bell Peppers seeded and chopped
6 cloves of garlic (I use 2-3 Tablespoons of granulated garlic)
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of salt
1 cup of apple cider vinegar (DO NOT use white vinegar...yucky flavor for salsa...believe me...it does matter)
If you want your salsa chunky, chop up everything. If you want it like the restaurants, run it through a food processor. If you want it smooth, do it in a blender. It is a personal choice.
Boil it for 5-10 minutes stirring everything together to make sure all blended well and tatstes good. Add more blended jalepeno if you want it hotter. Sometimes, I have even added Tobasco sauce or green chili sauce to make a batch HOT. Do what you like.
If you want it very mild, only start with 4 jalepenos and see what you think. You can always add more later. But you do have to add some or it will taste really bland. The jalepeno is not just for HOT it is also for flavor.
Process for 25 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.
(What is not mentioned in some canning instructions is that venting time (ten minutes after the water boils in your pressure canner) plus getting your canner up to pressure (another ten to fifteen minutes) plus letting the pressure go down (another 15 minutes or more) brings your real processing time to 45 minutes or more.)
Also, I do not use the hot water bath to can anymore as many of today's variety of tomatoes are low acid which means they can go bad after a few years in the jars and you have to throw awy the whole batch.
Just be safe and pressure can everything. It is faster and safer! What is there not to like?
The next day was Sunday, and I wasn’t planning on having anyone over, but then felt prompted to invite a family. The thing is they came home with us and my kitchen was a big mess. The two canners were still out and the counters were full of all the jars of food.
But “Many hands make light work”, is very true. I put people to work unscrewing the metal rims (which are not needed once the lid is sealed). Then I washed the jars and people took the jars to the pantry.
I teased them and told them that was the only reason I had them over…to help me.
As I hadn’t planned for company, I didn’t have any food ready, but I did have a large metal bowl full of Pupusa Mixture in the freezer.
I had made this during the week so that I would have it ready for when the whole family is together for Christmas. As soon as I realized we had company calling, I texted David and told him to put the metal bowl in the bathtub with super-hot water.
It actually worked. I would flip it, scrape off some defrosted mix, send the stuff back to the tub, and use the mixture to make Pupusas. We did that four different times to have enough Pupusas.
We also opened a salsa to eat with the meal and I had some black beans that we heated up, too.
I had made beans earlier (again to have at Christmas) and had frozen most of them, but had saved some for us.
Again, as always…good food, good company, a wonderful day. The afternoon went by too fast and I headed off to choir practice.
Xander was sick during the week, but is better now. It is always sad and difficult to see a baby sick.
I need to tell you what I made for dinner yesterday. Many years ago, people would make “Saturday Soup” which consisted of all the leftovers from the week put together to make soup. Well it was Tuesday, but I made “Saturday soup yesterday and it came out great.
I put the leftover bean soup in a large pot (this soup had ham in it), then added the leftover chicken legs, rice, and mashed potatoes from the fridge. Then I added the leftover hamburger gravy I had.
Well, then to give it more oomph, I added two cans of corn, 1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies, one package of Sazon Goya Annatto flavoring and some salt, pepper, and garlic.
The Rebeca wanted it to be, “A, B, C,” soup. So I added one package of ABC pasta.
Oh my goodness, it came out soooo good. I have done this in the past and had to give the invention to the chickens, however, this time, it came out delicious.
You would think the three meats (chicken, ham, and hamburger) would not go together, but they did and yum. Of course, beans, rice, and corn go together. The tomatoes and chilies made it more Spanish and the mashed potatoes thickened it and made it smooth and yummy.
I finish my computer class this week. This has been the best class ever (I know…I know.. I say that about every class...) but seriously, they have been an absolutely perfect class. Fito and I also have some GED class this semester and it has been the same; good students, respectful, friendly…they want to learn…they can cook! We have had one dinner and have one planned for tomorrow. Food always enhances learning…my belief).
I also took one day last week and CLEANED. And I mean cleaned. The children worked like crazy. We dusted, de-cluttered drawers and closets, and so on. I even caulked two windows shut. Both were damaged in the tornado and have never worked well since- letting in outside air. Neither has to be opened so I cleaned them really well and then simply caulked them shut with clear caulk.
I should have done that a year ago. What a difference. Now you cannot feel any draft. I still have more things that need caulking and we have a couple of places where I need to replace the weather stripping. Home maintenance never ends does it? Oh well. The price for having a home and one I will gladly pay.
The outside Christmas lights are up and we have a beautiful lighted manger scene. Each time I come home and see where I live, I am overwhelmed that I am so fortunate.
I thought that perhaps I would have such a place in heaven, but never expected it here on earth.
I will enjoy it for as long as it lasts. May each one of you be blessed with a home. One filled with friends, family, love, good food, and happiness. May you be blessed with warmth, peace, happiness, and prosperity.
Thank you for your comments about my blog, for your prayers and thoughts. May you be blessed with the righteous desires of your hearts, is my prayer for you and all your loved ones.