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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Peach Salsa

My home is at a high altitude but in a river bottom, where freezing air settles, so my peach tree has born only twice in its seven year life. This was one of those summers and we've relished this gift from Mother Nature. Our peach season has come and gone (well, there are a few peaches still in the fridge). I've bottled peach halves, jam, peach BBQ sauce, conserve, and this salsa which has proven to be my favorite method for preserving the fruit. Even if you don't want to can it, this is tasty enough you could divide the recipe and keep the salsa in the fridge for a week, if it lasts that long.


Peach Salsa

Adapted from: Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-round by Marisa McClellan
Yield: The author claims the yield is 4 pints but I've made this three times and produced no more than 3 pints. 

6 cups peeled, pitted, and chopped peaches (about 4 pounds)
1 1/2 c distilled white vinegar
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 chopped onions (1 large onion) (red is very pretty, but not necessary)
1 c chopped red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
3 jalapeno peppers, minced (I'm a wimp and used 1- 1 1/2)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teas salt
1 teas ground cumin
1/4 teas cayenne pepper, you can leave out (which I do) or increase depending on heat tolerance

Prepare a boiling water bath and pint jars. When you start cooking the salsa, you can start bringing the water to a boil. Have your jars in the water so they will be hot when you ladle the salsa into them. Place the lids in a small saucepan and when closer to topping the jars, cover with boiling water.

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. I like to mix the vinegar and the sugar together first and then add the peaches, stirring with additions. This kept the peaches from discoloring while I continue chopping. Bring all to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. The author allows it to simmer about 10 minutes but in high altitude that is too short a time for the juices to reduce. She instructs to simmer until the salsa no longer looks watery. Taste and adjust with additional jalapeno or vinegar, if needed.

Ladle the hot salsa into the jars, and leave 1/2-inch headspace. With a damp paper towel, wipe the rim and place the lids and rings on the jars. Tighten but only with your finger tips. Process for 15 minutes at sea level, add additional minutes for higher altitudes:

1,001-3,000 ft--5 additional minutes
3,001-6,000 ft--10 additional minutes
6,001-8,000 ft--15 additional minutes
8,001-10,000 ft--20 additional minutes

When finished, turn off the heat, remove the lid and allow jars to rest for 5 minutes to cool off slightly. Remove the jars and allow to sit for 24 hours before labeling and storing. Remember to test the seals and if any jar didn't seal keep the salsa in the refrigerator before use.

This is great for use as a fruit salsa but the author recommends it as a simmer sauce for chicken legs and thighs.


If you want this to be hotter, increase the cayenne, not the jalapeno. The canning recipe is balanced and safe as it stands. If you change ingredients you shouldn't process the salsa in bottles but refrigerate.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil

Well, hello!

Turns out that my little guy arrived shortly after my last post, a week before we expected him based on my previous deliveries. My summer has been a whirlwind as we have all adjusted to the addition of boy number four. Despite some difficult days and weeks, he is now sleeping through the night (hurray!!) and is a super pleasant baby for most of the day.

Most of my cooking is still survival-mode, feed-the-family cooking, but I'm starting to do a few more things, especially with all the fresh, amazing produce available here this time of year. Maybe I can manage this pasta soon. I discovered it last summer, and it's a lovely way to use fresh corn. As you can see, it was popular with a least one little!


Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil

Source: New York Times
Serves 4

12 oz dry orecchiette or farfalle
1 T olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 bunch scallions (about 8), trimmed and thinly sliced with the whites and greens separate
2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels removed (2 c kernels)
1/2 teas ground black pepper
3 T unsalted butter
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese, more to taste
1/3 c torn basil or mint, more for garnish
1/4 teas red pepper flakes, or to taste
fresh lemon juice, as needed

Cook pasta in salted water, until almost al dente but not quite. Reserve 1 c pasta water. (I have made this recipe twice and have forgotten to save the pasta water every time. I'm sure it will taste better with it!)

Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Cook scallion whites with a pinch of salt until soft, just a couple of minutes. Add 1/4 c water and all but 1/4 c corn. Simmer for several minutes until corn is almost tender. Add 1/4 teas salt and 1/4 teas pepper. Place mixture in a blender and puree until smooth. Add water if you need it to get a "thick but pourable texture."

Place the same pan over high heat. Melt the butter, then add the remaining 1/4 c corn. Cook for 2 minutes, until corn is tender. Add corn puree from the blender and cook for 30 seconds.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add pasta and 1/4 c pasta water. Mix everything together to coat the pasta. Cook for one minute. Add more water if needed--my experience was that it needed quite a bit more water. I poured the water into the blender first to get every last bit of corn puree out, too.

Stir in 1/4 c scallion greens, cheese, herbs, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teas each of salt and pepper. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice. Garnish with scallions, herbs, olive oil, and pepper.