Counting On Spam

Got borders and boundaries? As hard as I’ve worked to instill these necessary behavioral guardrails, every so often I will be made aware that my practice of  “waiting in the cupboard” has resurfaced. If this is one of your challenges as well, simply picture the blue can and remember: you’re NOBODY’S spam. Sometimes we just need a reminder. This post re-run is mine. 

Like the late Rodney Dangerfield, Spam does not get any respect. As far as you may be concerned, it lives its life there in a can in your cupboard, just waiting for the day when you’re craving some sort of meat in your sandwich only to find nary a speck in your household. So you open your cupboard and spy its shiny blue container, welcoming you with open arms. “I won’t let you down. I’ve just been waiting to come alive by allowing you to fry me up, slather me with mustard and throw me down between two slices of bread, where you will then consume the very essence of my being, wash me down with a glass of milk and not acknowledge me again until you get another craving that leads you back to my shiny blue container.” And you see, Spam is cool with that. That’s the thing about Spam- it’s just too damn easy. But that’s okay because it’s Spam.

People, on the other hand, regardless of how they may appear to you, are not. They are complex individuals, ideally changing gradually and metamorphosing into more unabbreviated versions of themselves over time. Unlike Spam, you can not leave them to sit indefinitely in their shiny can expecting them to be there waiting for you to seek them out during your next moment of desolation, when a craving for something with substance, something to take the edge off your inner emptiness leads you back to the familiar comfort they so freely offer. Spam will do that. People should not. Not because they can’t be counted on, not because they’re not loyal, and certainly not because they are unfeeling or lacking in love, but simply because they require more for themselves. Sometimes it just takes them a while to own it.

Put it all together and: SALSA!

I love salsa! Homemade salsa rates right up there for me like chili does because it satisfies on so many levels. I have been known to put salsa on everything from my eggs to a dish of cottage cheese, sometimes grossing others out in the process. Fortunately, I am not a person offended by disgust over my often random food combinations (um, didn’t everyone have a grilled cheese w/ strawberry jam phase? no? hmm…) When tomato season arrives and you can get a bushel of tomatoes at a good price, salsa is something I like to make a very large batch of and can to enjoy later (believe me–we go through tons and I have this habit of giving lots of it away because I have this other habit of thinking everyone else should love everything I love…I’m working on that, okay?) This recipe is a small batch with a few pounds of tomatoes. I doubt it will last us a few days!

L.A.'s Simple Salsa

L.A.’s SALSA

3 pounds fresh tomatoes(peeled and chopped) I used Romas

2 green peppers

1 small sweet onion

2 jalapeno peppers

2 serrano peppers

3 cloves garlic

2 TBS white sugar

1  1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 TBS. black pepper

about 2 or 3 TBS. tomato paste

at least 2 TBS. fresh chopped cilantro (a MUST in this!!)

Chop all veggies to desired consistency, add remaining ingredients and simmer at least 15 minutes. Refrigerate any leftovers.

*when working with hot peppers, ALWAYS wear gloves. They burn your skin. Take my word for it. I tell you this because I am one of those people who for some reason never thinks they will be affected by things the way everyone else is and I would always think, “well, I’m sure they might burn some people, but I’m not sensitive-skinned so I doubt that would happen to me.” It did. They do. And to really embarrass myself I will further admit that even though I know they will burn me because they have burned me in the past, I still would never get around to getting on those gloves. Imagine that: something burned me. Something continued to burn me and yet I couldn’t seem to take measures to prevent myself from continuing to be burned. But one day I finally decided to put on some gloves because I realized that if they’d burned me in the past they would burn me again and I’m tired of getting burned.  I must be growing up…

If you are unfamiliar with peeling tomatoes, this is how I do it: drop tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes and then plunge them into ice water. The edges will then look peel-y. Peel them the rest of the way, dice them up a bit and throw them into a heavy sauce pan. Using a potato masher, keep mashing at them until they are the consistency that you like. If you like big chunks, don’t go too long. If you like yours pretty finely chopped (like me) keep mashing til you get it that way.

Put all your veggies in your food processor or handy chopper and chop them to the consistency you like. Again, if you like larger chunks, I would recommend doing them by hand. I don’t like large chunks in mine so the processor works great for this. Stir them into your tomatoes and cook on low flame.

Next comes your cilantro. YUM!

Pull the leaves off stalk and chop finely. Add your cilantro and tomato paste to your mixture on stove. Simmer for at least 15 minutes, but longer if you desire.  *for leftover tomato paste: drop by spoonfuls on a cookie tray lined with wax paper. When frozen, store in Ziploc bag. The next time you need a tablespoon or two of tomato paste in your salsa or sauce recipe, they are handy in the freezer. Voila!*

After your salsa is done simmering, it is ready to be cooled and enjoyed. This particular recipe packs a pretty healthy punch. It didn’t leave my lips throbbing, but it did make my nose run. I like spicy! If you don’t like yours as spicy, use milder levels of peppers. Play around with the recipe and find out what works for you.  Store any leftovers in the fridge. Let’s see: fresh salsa, heated tortilla chips… just grab your cold beverage of choice and I do believe you may have just served yourself up a slice of heaven!