Who is not blue today, thinking about the events of a decade ago. I know I was in a funk most of the morning. I rattled around the house, waiting for Silent Bob and Rich to come home. They are due late this evening, so I've made a beef stew. I will worry all day whether they'll have problems coming over the border, what with all the speculation on an intended terrorist attack on the anniversay of 9/11. This morning's church service was heavy on the 9/11 mourning, the TV is all about Ground Zero memorial services, the Internet has been heavy on the images of that day and peoples' memories. I find the whole thing so very sad ... I have my own memories of that day. They're seared firmly - like a brand. I suppose it's good to remember and honor the loss of so many and the valor of those who rushed to aid in the chaos of that day, but oh! it brings up such hurt. So, my one nod to the day began this morning with a prayer and listening to John Adams' beautiful music - 'On the Transmigration of Souls'. That is enough, I think.
What I've needed was a 'pick-me-up' and it arrived mid-afternoon with a ring of the back door bell and barking dogs. Jenna, my dear young neighbor, came for a visit with a bag of her cherry tomatoes. She was so proud to tell me that she grew them herself in her little garden! Just looking at her sweet grin was impetus enough to invite her in and suggest that we 'do something with them right a way'! So Jenna helped me prepare them for roasting ...
We sliced the little cherries and she sprinkled the salt and pepper and oregano and basil. A drizzle of olive oil and into the oven. Choosing a pretty platter and cutting fresh basil for the garnish was easy. Jenna did a great job of arranging the little tomatoes when they came from the oven. Later in the evening those tomatoes were used to make an easy bruschetta for the returning road warriors ... and it was tasty bruschetta, indeed!
The tomato work didn't stop there, though! While Jenna and I chatted about the dogs and her impending date with a friend to 'get her second ear piercing' and her hatred of raking the grass after her Dad mows, we seeded a couple pounds of plum tomatoes to make a canned salsa. I used little fire-roasted hot peppers that Jenna and her mother gifted me earlier in the week. Jenna helped again get the ingredients together and into the pot and then she was off to her trip to the mall for some pretty new earrings.
While she was gone, I finished simmering and canning the salsa, so that when she arrived home I could gift her a jar of salsa, right out of the hot water bath. Thanks, Jenna for cheering me up on a sad day! Here's the tomato salsa recipe ... it is a sweet salsa with a big spicy heat! Enjoy!
Honey and Lemon Tomato Salsa
2 lbs. seeded plum tomatoes, diced
1 large onion, small dice
½ large sweet green pepper, small dice
4 fire-roasted hot peppers (I used jalapenos), skins, seeds, and veins intact, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tbsp. dried cilantro (or 2 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro)
1½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 heaping tbsp. orange-scented honey
⅓ c. sweetened lemonade
4 heaping tbsp. tomato paste
1 c. white vinegar
Making the Salsa:
1. Prep all the vegetables and toss them in a deep sauce pan.
2. Add the spices and other ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a slow bubble over medium heat and then, simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Sterilze 8 - 8 oz. canning jars and the rings and lids.
4. Fill the sterile jars with the hot salsa, wipe the rims of the jars and screw the rings and lids into place ... firmly.
5. Place in a boiling hot water bath for 10 minutes. Be sure the tops of the jars are covered by at least 2 inches of boiling bater.
6. Remove the jars, wipe and check the tightness of the rings and let the salsa cool on a counter top. Listen for the 'ping' of a safe seal. If the lid doesn't seal, refrigerate the cooled salsa and use within a couple weeks.