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Peaches And Tomatoes And Cucumbers, Oh My

This weekend, Hungry Times Two was minus one, as Scott hightailed it to Charlottesville, Va. for a father-son trip. (I was a little, no - make that super - jealous as that's one of the weekend trip destinations on my list).

As per ritual when it's just me in the house to cook for, I scaled it down a bit, with the usual stir fry for one that did not turn out well at all on Friday (rice undercooked; zucchini and eggplant overdone and in a salty sauce I didn't care for). What to do? Trash the meal for a snack of homemade popcorn, of course.

*An aside: Since my introduction to kernels popped in a big pot with a lid, aided by a little salt (or Old Bay, or cayenne, or whatever seasonings you'd like) and olive oil, I haven't bought any microwave popcorn and have no inclination to do so. Why eat greasy crap imitation butter flavor when you can make real popcorn for pennies? And my tree-huggin' self loves that there's less packaging.*

Saturday, with hopes for finding salsa ingredients for canning, I visited both the Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant Farmers Markets with friend Shelby. I scored some "seconds"/nearly overripe and kinda funky heirloom tomatoes for $1.99 per pound at one vendor, which beat the $5/lb. price at a vendor at the same market. When you need five pounds of tomatoes, that can add up, so I was thrilled to find a deal.

It was less of a deal the next day when I took the tomatoes out of a canvas tote bag to wash them and they were starting to decompose. I managed to save about 80 percent of them, but it was a shame to toss some unfortunates out. In my first solo attempt at canning a tomato product - hat tip to friend Candice for being the first to show me the way - I made the salsa recipe in Steve Dowdney's book "Putting Up."

Avoiding the searing pain that is handling jalapenos, I smartly used my Pampered Chef chopper to do all that dangerous work, and it deftly handled the onion and garlic mincing as well.

Upon first taste, the recipe turned out way spicier than I would like but I think I'll be opening a jar soon to see how the whole canning shebang went. There's still a teensy-tiny terror in my mind that I am going to poison someone with my canning efforts. I think I feel that way more with non-fruit based items, for some reason.

After I wrapped the canning up, I started on dinner for my returning husband and a friend coming over. Granita time! I've wanted to make this for forever and all the ingredients were present, so I modified it a bit, halving the blueberries called for and subbing fresh peaches instead. The process was kind of interesting - I cursed up a storm while trying to "fork" the icy mixture in a baking pan - icy clumps would come loose and splatter all over the floor and fridge. Finally I realized a regular fork wouldn't work and I used a large wooden one I have instead.

The end result was pretty great - Blueberry Ginger Peach slush/sorbet. The ginger gave it a great spicy kick! My friend Amy says it could be made without the sugar since the fruit has natural sweetness, so that's up to you if take this on. I recommend it for a cooling summer dessert, for sure.

For dinner, I made a BLT salad with an avocado dressing- basic but good. The first course was pretty spectacular, I have to say. It tasted like summer and coolness and herb-y yumminess in every bite - cucumber feta salsa from my new-to-me thrift store find, the 2003 Cooking Light cookbook.

OMG to the nth degree, y'all. This stuff is like crack in a bowl. Feta, mint, crisp cucumber, onion, dill, lemon - yeah, it's damn good, and not ordinary at all. Get you some.

After our company left, I was exhausted. I realized I'd spent all my afternoon in the kitchen. And I was completely happy about it! A day of good cooking is a day well spent, if I do say so myself.


  1. Sounds EXCELLENT! I guess some of those 'maters didn't like being carried around for a few hours after already being tossed aside to decompose.

    sounds like your efforts were a success!


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