Sep 022014
 

Labor Day Weekend Recap:

Saturday

It started with a workout at the Warrior Room, Kettlebell Conditioning. Most of the class was newbies so the instructor, Ashley, spent most of the class doing basic instruction. The few of us that are old hats were kind of set free to do the workout on our own. I loved that so many people were new! That’s awesome. If you live in Portland and were considering checking out the kettle bell gym, I highly recommend it! I started going almost a year ago simply because I had a Groupon deal for it and wanted to get some instruction on my kettle bell form. Who knew that I’d end up loving the classes so much I’d keep going!

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The one thing I hated? The partner workout at the end. One person had to hold a plank position with one hand behind their back while the other person did 20 burpees, then we switched. It was brutal and I seriously thought I might black out! Here was the calorie burn:

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Then I spent several hours picking tomatoes and jalapenos and making salsa. That first batch I made about a month ago is almost gone! There is one jar left and Michael loves it. We had so many jalapenos it was beginning to be overwhelming so I made salsa–a double batch this time. This should last us for the winter. In a few weeks when the rest of the tomatoes have ripened I will make spaghetti sauce with them and can those.

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Talk about labor! It was hard work. This time Michael helped me with some of the prep, which was much appreciated. It made 9 jars. I didn’t seal one of them and put it in the fridge to eat soon but the rest of them sealed properly. I was happy about that. And there is definitely something satisfying about pulling vegetables from the garden and canning them!

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I bought a canning kit that came with a proper funnel, tongs and other utensils you need for canning and they worked great! It was a really gloomy, dark day and it rained pretty heavily for most of it, so spending the day inside was ideal. Later that afternoon, as if I had’t done enough already…I did some crafts for the wedding:

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Saturday was a busy one! It was easy doing the crafts, though, because I worked on it while we watched “Bad Words.” (Super cute movie.)

Sunday

My Sunday started with yoga and then:

For some reason in August I started thinking about the sweat lodge I did years ago. I wrote about many years ago in the beginning of this blog, you can read it here: My First Wake Up Call – The Sweatlodge. Anyways, so lately I just started thinking about it and for some reason I couldn’t shake the thought. It kept coming back to me — this urge. I looked around online to try and find a local sweat because I didn’t want to drive to Breitenbush again and I asked my friend Star if she’d go, too.

Star, who is half Navajo, had talked to the stonekeeper of the sweat and she approved so we made plans to go Sunday. First I went over to her place to make prayer ties. We breathed our silent prayers on a pinch of tobacco and then rolled it up into the red cloth and tied them to the tie.

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It was a nice, calming ritual and when we were done we drove out to Sherwood (i.e. the middle of nowhere) for the sweat. We got there and saw the skeleton of the sweat dome. That’s when we found out that it was on Saturday at 4 not Sunday at 2 like their website had stated. Needless to say, I was extremely frustrated and disappointed and Sunday was pretty much a wash. Not only that, there aren’t any other sweats that I could go to before the wedding. :(

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This was really important to me and the disappointment was crushing. It also made me really irritated that they clearly didn’t know what they were doing or what was on their website…and why didn’t the stonekeeper inform Star of the change of date and time when they chatted? So flakey. I was pretty mopey the rest of Sunday and that sucked.

Monday

I actually made it to another kettlebell class, different instructor and not my usual class but I made it! It was an easier class than it normally was. I probably should have gone up in weights–if it was that easy–but I didn’t. I didn’t want to be really sore this week.

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Workout done, we could get on with the last day of the long weekend!

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We grabbed sandwiches for lunch and headed back out to Kelley Pointe Park. It seemed like a fitting place to spend a sunny day and celebrating the end of summer. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be. We had a picnic lunch and then threw the ball for Bella in the grassy field area.

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After that we walked down to the sandy beach and set up a blanket. Bella was ready to play! She remembered the place and ran straight to the water and jumped in. She also made some dog friends and they splashed each other and played together. It was so cute to watch.

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She’s really funny because she hasn’t mastered the doggy paddle yet. She just kind of hops and jumps OVER the water instead of trying to swim. It’s hilarious to watch. I was hoping that her playing with the other two dogs she’d catch on and learn how to swim but not so much…Whatever, she was having fun and that’s all that matters.

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And what day at the beach would be complete if she didn’t roll around in the sand and get absolutely filthy? Yep, someone got a bath when we got home!

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Aug 252014
 

We got roma tomatoes this year in order to make salsa. It was a little early for tomatoes. I had about one bowl full of ripe tomatoes which came out to be almost 2 pounds (almost 5 cups, which the recipe called for. I was 1 cup off so I added one can of diced tomatoes to make it 5 cups). The jalapenos and anaheim peppers also came from our garden. I had a mixture of green and red jalapenos.

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I found this recipe online and it turned out to be very similar to the recipe in the canning cookbook that came with my kit. I had 6 new jars for canning. I followed the instructions and ended up filling 5 jars (and two of them weren’t as full as they could have been). It was weird that there was a discrepancy between the servings it created. But anyways, here is the recipe:

Zesty Salsa

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

From: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes/zesty-salsa

Ingredients

  • 5 cups chopped cored peeled tomatoes (about 13 medium)
  • 2-1/2 cups chopped seeded green bell peppers (about 2 large)
  • 2-1/2 cups chopped onions (about 3 to 4 medium)
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped seeded chili peppers, such as hot banana, Hungarian wax, serrano or jalapeño (about 7 medium)
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce, optional
  • 3 (16 oz) pint or 6 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Instructions

  1. PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
  2. COMBINE tomatoes, green peppers, onions, chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, cilantro, salt and hot pepper sauce, if using, in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  3. LADLE hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot salsa. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
  4. PROCESS both pint and half pint jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
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It was very time consuming but fun. I put on some music (which may or may not have been Miami Sound Machine and Cyndi Lauper) and got started. First I prepped the stuff I needed to chop. I diced the onion (using red and yellow), minced garlic and then got some latex gloves (smart! smart!) to dice up the jalapenos.

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Then came time to clean and prep the jars. I let them simmer to keep warm while I took care of the tomatoes. I had no idea it was so difficult to skin the tomatoes. I went to Google and found a video that showed some tricks and used one of them: add the tomatoes to almost boiling water, let them sit in the hot water for a minute or two then add them to a bowl of cold water. They were super easy to peel then.

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Once everything was chopped and ready, I put the mixture into another pot and cooked it for like 10-12 minutes or so, per the instructions.  It smelled so good! Our jalapenos are very spicy, so I bet the salsa is gonna be spicy…even so, I did add a small splash of Aardvark sauce to the mixture (it said you could add some hot sauce). I mixed it constantly while it cooked.

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I also added a little bit of this stuff:

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It’s a salsa mixture meant for canning. It basically has some spices (onion powder, garlic powder) and dehydrated green bell peppers. It smelled pretty good. I mixed it all in and once it was done cooking it was time to ladle the salsa into jars. This was the hard part, honestly. The jars were flaming hot, the openings were really small and too small for the ladle. I put on my oven mitts and that made it even harder to hold onto the jars. But despite that, I was able to get everything into the jars.

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I put the jars into the giant pot to seal. When I took them out after 20 minutes only one of the four was sealed properly. I was super bummed out and then a minute later, POP. The other three sealed. It was very weird! So they all sealed properly. I let them cool all evening and then into the pantry they went. One jar that I did not seal went into the fridge for later testing. :D I also made some more of those amazing pickled red onions I did and sealed them in the canning kit to have later this winter.

How was the salsa?

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It smelled amazing! I was excited to give it a go so Michael and I made nachos for dinner. Just simple nachos with Colby Jack cheese, black olives, and pickled jalapenos from the garden. Had some sour cream and my salsa on the side for dipping.

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The salsa was GREAT! It tasted so good and wasn’t too spicy, something I worried about using our jalapenos (which are exceptionally hot this year). Loved the salsa! It was definitely a success. Action shot:

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Yum! The salsa was great, or in the words of my future husband “that salsa was fucking awesome.” I am excited that it was a success and plan on making more. The one downside is that it is SO time consuming. It took me about 3 hours to do the whole process and only got 5 jars out of it. I think once the tomatoes are all ripe, I’ll do another batch of salsa and then focus on just canning the tomatoes whole to make sauces with later.

Do you have a favorite canning or salsa recipe to share?

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