Oct 212014
 

You know what’s nice? Going to a wedding you didn’t have to plan and you can just kick back and relax and enjoy it. :) It’s so nice not having ANY wedding things to plan or obsess about or think about. Suddenly I have all this free time and it’s SO NICE. Life feels calm and relaxed and just…nice. You really don’t realize how much it takes over your life until you’re in the middle of it.

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Over the weekend my cousin Joey got married here in Portland. Him and his fiance, Cat, had moved to Denver a few years ago but the wedding was here. The wedding itself was at a church in Lake Oswego (I was happy it was a nice, sunny day after a week of rain! As a recent bride I know how stressful it is checking the weather forecast!). Check out their sweet ride!

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Then the reception was at a country club in West Linn. The wedding started at 2pm because the drive from the church to the reception was kind of a long one. The country club was gorgeous and nestled in between farms and ranches and rolling hills. It was beautiful countryside I’d never seen before.

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The reception was actually in the tent-looking building next to the club (left in the photo). It was a big space and there were a ton of tables but still room to move around and not feel crammed in there. I’m not sure how many guests were there, I’d guess 200? Definitely bigger than my wedding. It was a cool space. There was a dance floor in the middle, too.

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My aunt, the mother of the groom, used to own her own floral business and she did the flowers for the wedding. She did a great job. They were really beautiful. Some of them were dahlias, like my wedding. Awwwww. :)

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The best part about the wedding was that we were guests! And could have fun and socialize and actually talk to people we didn’t have much time with at our wedding last month. It was nice. Things were so chaotic at my wedding and I felt badly that I didn’t get more time with each guest. This was the perfect opportunity to see everyone. I even got to see one of my cousins, sister of the groom, that I hadn’t seen in several years.

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And there was a photo booth! Michael and I actually got to enjoy it, too. Unlike our wedding where I never actually got to use the photo booth, I used this one. So did my parents.

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So did Grandma. :) The diva. She loves those photobooths.

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They had a live band, a pretty talented guy who I’m guessing was a Dave Matthews Band cover band? They played a bunch of DMB and then other songs and there was a DJ, too, that would play music when the band took a break. It was a fun vibe and everyone was dancing up a storm.

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Dinner was buffet, chicken or steak with blue cheese, two different kinds of salad, broccolini, potatoes, bread and fruit. I got the steak and a few potatoes. The salad had candied walnuts, blue cheese and apples in it. The cake was vanilla with I think raspberry filling? I didn’t eat a ton and I only had 2 glasses of wine and one glass of champagne for the toast. I don’t think I did too much damage to my diet..I guess I’ll know in a few days when I do a check-in on the scale. My hope is that all the dancing burned off some of those calories!

It was a great wedding and Michael and I had a lot of fun catching up with people, talking about our honeymoon and kind of reliving the best parts of our own wedding. Everyone was so sweet and complimentary about our wedding and that made me happy—all the planning had been worth it.

It was so cute seeing the new couple so happy, too. Made me a bit sentimental. :) Awww weddings.

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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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