Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Harvesting the Bounty: Our CSA Recipes Part 2, Joy of Cooking's Gazpacho with Colorado Yellow Tomatoes

Last week I shared last year's salsa recipe, but we're still getting tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers and you can't just make salsa! Last year was our first year in the CSA, and every time we got a new bounty, I went online and searched recipes by ingredients. But we had extra single ingredients too... and made pickles out of the extra long italian cukes, parboiled and froze okra, green beans, and diced potatoes, and made pesto out of all that arugula.

But next to salsa, our second favorite recipe that uses everything is the Gazpacho. It brings me back to summers in Chicago growing up. I can't take claim for the recipe (although as always, a little altered!), but the fresh CSA vegetables, uncooked and melded in flavor, speak for themselves! So much so that a local chef tasted our first batch with yellow tomatoes and said it was the best he'd ever had. Palisaide Colorado, Grown With Love, baby! Thanks Cameron Place!

Joy of Cooking's Gazpacho with Colorado Yellow Tomatoes
Gazpacho is better served the day it's made but if preparing it for the following day, use half the jalepeno as the heat increases in time.

Finely chop but do not puree, in a food processor or blender:
1 med. cucumber, peeled
1 med. green bell pepper
Remove to large bowl, then chop:
1 small onion
1/3 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
Remove to the bowl. Add and chop:
2 1/2 lbs. ripe yellow tomatoes, peeled, seeded
Remove to the bowl. Add to bowl:
1 cp tomato juice
1/4 cp red wine vinegar
3 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh jalepeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh taragon, minced
1 tsp fresh basil, minced
Stir well, refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve in chilled bowls. Makes about 4 cups.

Garnish with chopped yellow tomatoes, red pepper and basil.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Harvesting the Bounty: Our CSA Recipes Part 1, Chinacat Salsa

It's that time of year.... The CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) club we're in has peaked! Last week we brought home a truckload of tomatoes and peppers peppers peppers! and so it's SALSA time again!

Last year was my first canning/jarring experience. It was grand. Despite learning a valuable lesson about shielding my eyes, nose, and nails from those spicy peppers, and burning myself once or twice on that steam from the boiling jars, I had a very successful yield of about twenty jars of salsa that became our family Christmas presents! I sampled several recipes in order to use all our vegetables, and chopped my heart out.... this is what we came up with:

Chinacat Salsa**
12 cups* cored, chopped tomatoes [i use some yellow tomatoes to sweeten it up]
*(or about 14-15 medium toms)
2 12 ounce cans organic tomato paste
3 cups (or 4medium) chopped onions
2 cups lemon juice (or 8medium lemons squeezed)
8-10 jalepenos, seeded, finely chopped
4-6 long green or red chiles, seeded, chopped
1 Tbs salt
1Tbs sugar
1 Tbs cumin
2 Tbs red pepper flakes (or leave the seeds of 2 peppers)
3 Tbs oregano
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp black pepper

Combine all** in large saucepan, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot into jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Apply lids and boil in water canner or double boiler for 15min at 0-1000 ft alt., 20 min at 1001-6000 ft, and 25 minutes above 6,000. Yields about 8 pint jars.

**I split this recipe in two and make one milder and one hotter, and have even burnt the bottom and scraped it in for a mesquite flavor. So mix it up!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

DIY After-Sun lotion

One thing I love about summer is the after-sun lotion we make ourselves. It's very refreshing, super easy to make, and it works like a charm. If I do burn (but since I've been using Avalon Organics sunblock I haven't) and I use our after-sun lotion, the redness is gone by midnight.

The key ingredient is Lavender. So splurge. Buy a big bottle from a distributor if you can afford it, because you'll use most of the standard 5-8 ml bottle on this recipe alone, and it's so good for so many other things! But first and foremost Lavender is a proven cure-all for burns; 1st through 3rd degree burns improve and clear up within hours, cutting overall healing time in fractions.

Second on importance is a clean base. I use Desert Organics Lavender lotion because it's free of parabens, sulfates, and other fragrances, but you can use a plain lotion too so long as it's clean and all-natural.

Third, aloe. My father always used aloe when we were in Florida during my childhood, I remember him peeling vividly and getting rid of the peel with aloe. After that I always bought aloe for burns, but by itself aloe won't lift the burn, just heal your skin.

Last we add other essential oils that help with burns, cooling, and soothing sore skin: peppermint for cooling, rosemary for tightening, chamomile for dryness, and lemongrass for toning and antiseptic as well as that fresh summer scent!

The official recipe: 8 oz bottle
3 oz lavender lotion
3 oz aloe gel
.5 oz vitamin E oil (can substitute avocado oil)
10-15 drops lavender (plus 5-10 more if using plain lotion)
5 drops of chamomile and lemongrass each
3 drops of peppermint and rosemary each

My favorite store-bought version for those of you with little or no time to DIY, visit Little Moon Essential Oils and look for "Lift Off Lotion," keeping in mind that DIY is always way cheaper.