Tuesday, October 12, 2010


One of the many things that I love about Dave is his seemingly endless patience for all of my obsessions. Of late, these fixations have revolved around food (Eating less meat, eating local, eating bread made in the bread machine I got for Christmas. You get the idea.) So when I announced at dinner a few months ago that I was thinking about trying to can some of the tomatoes, and was going to buy a canning kit and jars for this purpose, Dave said, "Ok." But this nonchalant answer was delivered with a look of complete resignation and not an ounce of surprise. His mouth said, "Ok," but his look said, "I can't believe it has taken this long for my wife to get into yet another foodie trend." He is sweet, and perceptive.

It turns out, however, that canning is the perfect cooking application for Dave because, unlike me, he is a very precise cook. His mother's mantra is, "If you can read, you can cook." And Dave takes this to heart; he chooses a recipe and he follows it to the letter. The notable exceptions to this rule are his chili, pulled pork and hamburger stroganoff -- three of his cooking masterpieces.

Canning, though, lends itself to Dave's natural tendency to follow directions. And in case you didn't know, canning is cooking on the edge. Because, while eminently satisfying to preserve a whole box of tomatoes in a few jars, canning turns this project into a daring kitchen feat. Measure incorrectly, fail to maintain the proper PH, compromise your seals, improperly sterilize the jars, and you will have a big bunch of botulism on your hands instead of the "taste of summer" you were hoping for.

Needless to say, a cook like me, needs a man like Dave in the kitchen when there is canning going on.

I am proud to say that Dave happily did his own share of the preserving last weekend making a yummy looking salsa. (God knows there were plenty of tomatoes to use in this project.) I cannot wait to try it this winter.

Here is the recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving:
-In large, non-reactive pot combine:
  • 7cups chopped, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 8 chopped jalapeno peppers - the more seeded and de-pithed, the less hot they will be
  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 can tomato paste (5.5 oz.)
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 finely chopped cilantro -- loosely packed
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
-Bring to a boil over medium heat, stir frequently, until thickened. This should take about 30 min depending on your stove. 
-Prepare jars and lids (See Ball website for directions.)
-Ladle hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process 8 oz or pint jars for 20 minutes in water canner. Let cool and check seals before storing in a cool, dark place.

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