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3 salsas

So I bought a pineapple and a couple magoes with plans to experiment with possible salsas to make for the Cooking with Catladies dinner this coming weekend. I put it off for a bit, and then the fruit was perfectly ripe and making it clear that it would not wait for the 15th.

So here were my experimental salsas:

Pineapple/Grape Salsa
This one is designed to be light a fresh and perky, and it succeeded admirably.

Cut 2/3rds of a pineapple into 1cm dice. Slice seedless red grapes in half until the quantities of pinapple and grapes are equal.

Peel ginger and cut several paper thin slices against the grain. Then stack those slices and cut them into strips. Add to the fruit.

Slice the flesh off of 1 jalepeno pepper, and cut that into thin strips. Add to fruit.

Mix everything together and put into a jar.

Make a syrup of 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup rice vinegar. Reduce by 1/3 or until bored, whichever comes first.

Pour in enough to make the salsa wet, but not drippy – maybe halfway up a tightly-packed jar. Close the lid, and let sit overnight.

Pineapple Habanero
This one was meant to be just a bit too strong for my tastes, just in case someone particularly macho came by. Therefore, I didn’t make a lot of it. But also, it annoys me when very spicy food is only spicy, so I was trying to get a bit of layering to the flavor. The end result is delicious, but not hot enough at all.

Finely mince 1/3 of a pineapple

Cut the flesh off of 1 3 habanero peppers, and slice it as finely as possible.

In a mortar and pestle, crush together 2 clove heads, 6 allspice berries, and some nutmeg.

Stir all together.

Make a syrup of: the juice of 2 limes, 1 tsp buckwheat honey, 2 tsp brown sugar, and 1/4 cup white balsamic. Boil until it thickens a bit, and then pour sparingly over the salsa.

Let sit overnight. (Hoping this one might last a week)

Mango and Green Pepper SalsaOddly, this one ended up being the hottest of the lot, but that’ll depend on the next jalepeno I buy. I like the crisp texture of the green pepper here.

Dice a ripe mango as best you can, but it’s better for the mango to be ripe and sweet than to have a perfect dice

Cut the flesh off the seeds of the bell pepper in about 5 passes, and then cut those strips into narrow strips (so you end up with pieces about 2mm x 4cm) – this will make the width of the bite about the same, the pieces still large enough to be crunchy, and yet it will still fold into everything smoothly as salsa should.

Thinly slice 1/2 of a jalepeno all the way through. Then mince those slices and add them, including seeds.

Add the zest of 1 lime.

Stir all together, and pack it into a jar.

Pour white vinegar into the tightly-packed jar until it comes about halfway up the fruit. Let sit overnight.

Now to see if they can be replicated. *grin*

my weekend

My weekend was a little busy…

I went to play D&D with friends. Some canceled.

Instead, we went out to dinner. We passed by the Jazz in the Park, which we could have listened to if we had sat outside, but opted for the immediate seating available inside, instead. Food was a bit dubious – I had shrimp that had the texture of steak. Later, I ate my back up salad because it was the blueberry salad I’d been planning for a few days.

And then we watched Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, which I had never seen. I caught a whole bunch of references that had been tossed around at nerd camp.

I did not go to Salsa dancing, but I think I shall try to get there on the 22nd, if anyone would like to join me.

Got up and made the one reliable thing I have that’s good for a pot luck where I’ll have a few hours without refrigeration before serving: asian pickle (as taught to me by Meghan – thinly sliced onion, carrots, and cucumber, tossed together with some rice vinegar and sugar).

Went to exercise. I missed yoga but caught pilates.

Picked up [redacted], headed up to GeeksDoItBetter, and had an awesome papermaking workshop. I kept trying to make thinner paper, but it wasn’t as well behaved as the thicker ones. Others were disappointed, however, by how much thickness they lost as they drained the water from the pulp on the screen. Despite how new we were, our paper turned out as well as most amateur paper I have seen.

Dragged my ass out of bed at 9am and went to my parents’. Had sticky rice, mango, melon, and blackberried for breakfast.

I sewed a couple pamphlets my mother wants to attach to the (now) framed maps they accompany.

Took home some peaches and some tomatoes & hot peppers from my parents’ garden.

Came home. Unloaded.

Met up with [redacted] for Indian buffet (I ordered off the menu).

There was amazing weather. We were getting torrential rain, but in bands with beautiful sunny skies in between. Oddly, it was dry everytime I needed to walk somewhere (but the drive home from my parents’ was a bit treacherous).

While we were at dinner, we got a call telling us to look outside at the double rainbow. By the time we left, however, it was gone. But the sky was just amazing – clear and sunny with late evening’s dying rays lighting up the threatening green half of the sky in iridescent shades of gold. [redacted] rightly said that the tall buildings in the skyline all looked like mica.

Then we went to World Cafe Live to see Bitter:Sweet with and because they had raved about this group. And rightly so. I bought a CD. Go have a look – they have good music *and* awesome stylish performances. They’ll be in Boston tonight (sorry – short notice!) and DC tomorrow, but other than that most of you will probably miss this tour. They were talking about trying for another tour in April. Their soups are always good, so I had that. [redacted] had the eggplant fries, now that the knows that anything (even eggplant) is good if it is sliced thinly and fried – but, really, these are lovely – the eggplant is all mellow, like butter, inside a thick, crispy batter.

And it was so lovely by the time we left (clear and cool – for once in August), that I decided to walk home. A third of the way there, I was distracted by and sucked into a random dance party in the street. So I went in and danced until a little after midnight.

This morning was pretty amazing, too. I had quit the dancing early because I was worried that my thighs would be sore in the morning and that my knee would get swollen – but no ill effects at all.

We worked extra hard in pilates this morning, and I managed to do an exercise I hadn’t been able to do before (on of the ones where you roll your self up from a completely flat starting position).

And then I sat out on my porch enjoying the unusual cool weather and eating fruit. The property was getting its lawn mowed, too, so I ended up drinking water and attempting to chat with the guy mowing it while he took a break. We were doing really well with the smiling and nodding pleasantries, but he ended up saying he wished I spoke Spanish instead. But I did get him to talk a little bit about Guatemala and could understand his pidgin pretty well – just not so much with producing my own.

And then I went to work, and the world reverted to Monday.

Cowboy Chicken Fajitas w/ Mango Salsa, Ma Po Tofu variation, Pumpkin & Lentil Mulligatawny

I am so hungry. Every now and then – two or three times a year, I’ll be at a point where it feels like I can eat infinite quantities of food and still be hungry (or at least able to eat more). It’s a bit weird since just last week, I was getting full at the drop of a hat (or fork, as the case might have been), but I can roll with it.

I have fun food things going on.

I made an amazing dinner last night.

It started off with the acquisition of a mango.

So I looked through my spice rack (which is painfully small due to the amount of space int he apartment) and came up with one of the odd spice blends I have adopted due to my mother’s neglect. Cowboy Barbecue Rub. Who can resist that name? Its ingredients are: chile powder, garlic, onion, black pepper, cilantro, cumin, oregano, basil, cinnamon, clove, cayenne – and it always smells like it has dry mustard in it, but apparently it doesn’t.

So I pulled out one of the packages in my freezer with two chicken breasts and dumped a lot of the seasoning in there – and then left it to thaw/marinate in the fridge for a couple days.

Last night, I started off making a mango salsa by slicing purple onion very thinly, cooking it until caramelized, adding a little bit of the seasoning, and then adding the diced mango to the pan just briefly. Then I poured it into a container and added red wine vinegar (less than a teaspoon, I think) – popped that in the fridge.

Then I cooked the marinated chicken on slow heat because I was worried about the whole breasts cooking through – I put some aluminum foil loosely over the pan to keep some of the moisture in.

I assembled all the other ingredients I had to make the meal – red oak leaf lettuce, sharp cheddar cheese, tortillas, sour cream, and an avocado – and then I had an anguishing decision (and called both my mother and Meghan for advice): do I serve it as a plated meal, a quesadilla/fajita kinda of thing, or as a salad?

Oh, yeah – there was also a random sweet potato that I cut up and turned into french fries while I was making the meal.

Both my advisers agreed that it should be fajita night. Oh, man – great decision! MMmmmm!

There’s some salsa and a breast and a half of chicken left over, so I put them together to co-mingle until I turn them into another meal.


So tonight, I am thinking of putting together ground beef, mustard greens, and possibly an eggplant. To me, this says spicy chinese food. None of my chinese cookbooks agree with me. I think I just don’t have the right cookbook.

So plan is – clean as much of the greens as I can be bothered to do. Pickle them (cook briefly in boiling brown sugar and rice vinegar). Then brown and drain the beef. Add onion, garlic, and eggplant. Add some five spice powder. Perhaps mix some spicy stir fry sauce with some oyster sauce so that it doesn’t blow my head off. Add greens.

I have a feeling that this will taste more like an experiment than something good, but we’ll see.


When I start cooking tonight, I shall also be putting a pumpkin in to roast and lentils to soak because I’ll be setting up the soup that [redacted] suggested in the comments to the last entry. I don’t have lemongrass, but other than that, I’m good – limes are even on sale this week.

It sounds like I won’t actually be using a whole can of coconut milk (it’s just a small pumpkin) – so either the rest will go with the chicken and mango somehow (Oooooo) or I can make sweet coconut rice.

Okay, so I need to do a quick inventory of which perishables will not be used up in this clever plan.

1 zucchini
3 apples
2 (peeled!) sweet potatoes (yeah, so either I vastly underestimated the size of a cut up sweet potato or overestimated my capacity – basically I had three potatoes, so that’s how many I peeled) – they might end up wasted… or maybe I’ll make some random mashed potatoes.
probably some of the mustard greens will be left over
1/2 head red lettuce
scallions (can totally go in the chinese food)

1 cup beef stew
duck stock! (duh! So freeze half in the beef stew container once you empty it, and use the rest to make the pumpkin lentil soup)
lots of meat is on sale this week. I need none of it.

breadcrumbs – so these aren’t really perishable, but I have leftover bread I dried to turn into bread crumbs, but my container is all full.

2% milk
light cream
greek yogurt (which I bought without a plan because it was there!)
sour cream
cream cheese
italian seasoned cheddar (open!)