The following “Chew This!” column originally appeared in “The Courier-Times” and / or “The Shelbyville News”. Check their websites for further information and dates.
Dianna Hamilton’s Homemade Salsa
My Grandma Barbra and I used to talk about trying to find the perfect salsa recipe. We tried for years to duplicate the salsa we loved at our favorite local Mexican restaurants but just could not find the right flavor combinations. My Aunt Rosemary was the closest in trying to help us on our journey by finding, what we thought was a homemade salsa, only to find it was Meijer brand! We laughed and laughed about that for years afterwards. I know that everyone makes their salsa differently and I know that the heat factor is depending on several factors, including hot sauce and how many jalapeno ribs and seeds you leave in the overall product but there is still something in most homemade salsas that my Grandma Barbra and I just could not figure out. We made all types of salsa over the years too, not just tomato based. We made peach salsa, blueberry salsa, pineapple salsa and even manga salsa. Nothing was enjoyed though as much as the regular and familiar flavors of the traditional tomato-based salsa.
Skip ahead several years and let me introduce Dianna Hamilton. She is a dear friend to Brooke McCrobie, my brother’s new fiancé, and her family. She is one of the sweetest people you could ever hope to meet! We quickly became Facebook friends and have chatted on and off ever since. I even recently made her a pan of my famous homemade cinnamon rolls and to return the favor, she sent me a jar of her homemade salsa. I was so excited to try it and let me tell you, it was some of the best salsa I have ever tasted! You could tell the freshness of the ingredients and the love that was used when cooking and canning it. Fabulous! If she would sell this stuff, I bet she would have a line a mile long of people wanting to buy it. Me included! After she so graciously gave me the recipe, I found something that Grandma Barbra and I never thought about adding to salsa, even after all our research! Tomato paste, for thickness and richness, lime juice, how we missed that I will never know and cumin! I know, I know, you may be thinking, how did they not think of those ingredients? Well, sometimes when you are too close to the problem, much like life, you do not really see the whole entire picture. Which is exactly what happened to Grandma Barbra and I with the salsa recipe. Please save this, try it and enjoy! Shoutout and special thanks to Dianna Hamilton for providing the salsa and recipe and for being so excited to allow me to share it with all of my readers. Thanks Dianna!
This is a wonderful and easy recipe that is not only versatile but a crowd pleaser as well!
8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
2 ½ cups chopped onion
1 ½ cups chopped green pepper
3-5 chopped jalapenos
6 cloves garlic, mined
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/8 cup canning salt or Kosher salt
1/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup vinegar, or ½ cup lime juice and ½ cup vinegar
16 oz tomato sauce
16 oz tomato paste
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
Mix all ingredients and bring to a boil. Let boil for 10 minutes.
Fill pint jars, leaving ½-inch head space. Wipe under rims of jars and place on lids, tight.
Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.
This recipe makes 7 pints.
Ask and Answer: I have been getting questions about some of my favorite kitchen gadgets, so I thought I would share a few of them here with you. First, my Kitchen Aid stand mixer is essential in my kitchen for both sweet and savory recipes. I also love my convection oven because it truly doubles your oven space without taking up too much room to emitting too much heat into your kitchen. I also love my wooden spoons, cast iron cookware and set of really good knives. To round off my list, I love my stainless-steel bar that takes kitchen odors off your hands, my collection of pie birds that are not only pretty but useful, my purple Ball jars that are filled with Kosher salt, sanding sugar and vanilla sugar as well as my lemon baller.