Monday, August 23, 2010


This recipe makes a mild salsa which can be made spicier by the addition of more peppers, and thicker by the addition of more tomato paste. Depending on how finely you chop the ingredients, it can be more or less chunky. It uses Roma tomatoes because they are less juicy than other tomatoes and therefore the salsa needs less cooking time. This recipe is courtesy of Lori B.

1-2 gallon cooking pot
tongs, colander, or a plastic basket to fit in the above pot
3-gallon pot
food processor or knife and cutting board
rubber gloves
jars, lids, and rings (perhaps 24 - we didn't count)
pressure canner
long-handled mixing spoon
measuring cups and spoons
can opener
hot pads

28-32 cups of Roma tomatoes (about 16 pounds)
6 onions
5 cloves fresh garlic cloves
4 green peppers
1 cup jalapeño peppers
2 chili peppers
3 yellow banana peppers
1 relleno pepper (or buy the hottest pepper you can find)
3 bunches cilantro
3 large (12 oz.) cans tomato paste
5 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper, ground
4 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons brown sugar

The Process

Heat water to boiling in 1-2 gallon pot. While it's heating, wash the tomatoes, removing any bad spots.

When the water boils, blanche the tomatoes, a few at a time, by immersing them in the boiling water to the count of 20, then remove them from the boiling water. This blanching process helps the skins come off easily. (You can also leave the skins on if you like your salsa with skins.)

Peel the skins off the tomatoes.

Chop the tomatoes as finely or as coursely as you'd like your salsa to be using either a food processor or a knife and cutting board or any other chopping method you prefer.

Measure the chopped tomatoes as you finish each batch and put them in the large, 3-gallon pot.

--->It's very important that you wear gloves when cutting peppers to avoid the chemical burns caused by the peppers.<---
With rubber gloves on your hands, cut the peppers, remove all the seeds, and rinse the pepper pieces in cold water. Chop them and add to the pot with the tomatoes.

Peel the onions and garlic cloves. Chop and add them to the pot with the tomatoes and peppers.

Wash the cilantro, removing any discolored leaves and stems. Shake off water or pat dry with a towel , then chop. Add to pot with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic.

Add salt, pepper, vinegar, cumin, brown sugar, and tomato paste. Stir all ingredients together.

Simmer (cook on low) the ingredients in the pot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until reduced by 1/4, or until it's as thick as you'd like it.

When the salsa is almost finished simmering, wash the canning jars in hot, soapy water. Carefully examine the jars and if you find a crack or chip on a jar, do not use it for canning. Rinse jars in hot water and turn upside-down on a dish drainer or a clean dish towel.

At this time you should also wash the rings and lids. Soften the seals on the lids by placing in boiling water for about one minute or follow directions on the box for preparing the lids.

This is also a good time to begin boiling water in the bottom of pressure canner. There should be 2" of boiling water when you put the jars in.

Use a plastic canning funnel to fill the jars.

Fill the clean jars to 1" of the rim (1" lid space). Remove any salsa from around the rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth. Place lid on jar, then twist on the ring. Stop twisting when the ring gives resistance. You do not need to tighten further.

Gently place jars in the pressure canner. If your canner is tall enough, you can stack another layer of jars on top of the first layer.

Place lid on canner and tighten. Bring water to a boil and boil for 7 minutes. Steam will escape during this time and allow all the air to vent. At the end of 7 minutes, put the the weights (or, as some folks say, "a jiggler") to the top of the canner. Use 15# weights. Continue to boil until the weights start to jiggle, then begin to gradually lower the temperature, keeping it high enough to keep the weights jiggling.

Begin timing when the weights begin to jiggle. Process the jars on 15# of pressure for 20 minutes. Never leave a pressure canner unattended because it can explode.

At the end of the processing time, remove the jars from the canner and cool overnight on their lids. Clean the jars and store upright for use throughout the winter.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Preserve the Bounty from Your Garden. Make Salsa

We invite you to come to our next food storage meeting and learn how to make and preserve salsa.

The recipe we have will make (to the best of our calculations) approximately 24 pints of salsa. That's a lot of salsa and a lot of ingredients, which is why we are asking for contributions from your garden (or, if you are able) from the grocery store.

If you can bring any of the following vegetables, please leave a note in the comment section and tell us the quantity you can bring. Below is a list of the vegetables we still need.

for Wednesday night:
11# Roma tomatoes (They MUST be Roma!)
2 chili peppers
4 jalapeño peppers
2 banana peppers
1 yellow pepper

for Thursday morning:
2 green peppers
2 chili peppers

So come join us
on Wednesday night, August 18, at the stake center (where we usually meet)
on Thursday morning, August 19, at the Grove City building.

Please remember to bring a knife and cutting board, and two large zip-lock freezer bags.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Year in Review

The following dozen posts review the activities and classes we've held over the past 12 months. We hope you'll browse through them and give us feedback in the comments section. You can comment anonymously (though we hope you'll at least give us your first name and last initial) or if you have a google account, you can sign in and use that so we'll know who you are. You can also send us an email at westlandwelfare [at] gmail [dot] com (minus the spaces and using "@" and "." in place of the words).

Please don't be put off by the lack of photos. We hope to improve and may add photos to these posts or create separate posts with hotos for some of the activities from the past year.

Please give us your feedback so we can learn what will best help you with your food storage.

Thank you for your support over this past year. We sincerely appreciate it.

Bread and Samples in July 2009

Our efforts this month began with a Relief Society Enrichment Meeting devoted to food storage. The Relief Society board planned most of it and the food storage people contributed by helping with information and displays. An important part of the meeting was sampling foods sisters had made from their food storage. Displays included 3 month supply; water; grains; grinders; and varieties of storage methods.

Later in July we had two meetings in which different sisters showed bread-making techniques. Julie G. demonstrated using a Bosch mixer. Jill S. showed us how to make bread by hand, including heat-and-serve rolls. We learned how to make both flour and corn tortillas, and Janni O. demonstrated several storage methods for wheat.

Were these meetings helpful to you? Have you made bread? Did the enrichment meeting encourage you to make progress with your food storage?

Learning from Others in August 2009

This month we had a panel discussion on food storage - how to, when to, where to store, etc. We invited several ward members to be panelists. Few attended this meeting but those who did learned a lot from our more experienced and/or more successful food storing members.

For the second meeting of the month we prepared to discuss nutrition and menu planning. Only one sister attended so we had a small discussion.

If you attended either of these meetings, did you learn helpful information to put to use in your own food storage plan? What questions would you have asked if you didn't attend the meetings but wanted to?

Seasonings and Our Own Food Storage Resource Manual in September 2009

At our first meeting of the month we learned about organizing our food storage resources. Lois M. showed us her food storage binder, organized by category, which she uses as her own personal resource manual. Janni O. taught us how to make yogurt and yogurt cheese.

On September 16 & 17, Rebecca A. shared her knowledge of herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of foods, an especially helpful thing to know if we ever have to live on only our stored foods.

This month we put together a bulk order of herbs and spices at wholesale prices. Sisters ordered as little as 2 ounces or as much as a pound of dozens of different herbs and spices.

Did you organize your food storage information into a manual like Lois'? Has it been helpful? Did you try your hand at some new seasonings for your food? Did you place an order with the bulk herb/spice order? Did you like the herbs/spices you received?

Canning Apples in October 2009

Janni O. taught us how to can apples and applesauce at the first meeting of the month on October 1.

At the meeting on October 15, Mary A. taught us how to put our gardens “to bed” for the winter. Jim O. also shared his method of making compost.

Did you learn anything helpful at either of these meetings? Did you try your hand at canning apples? Did you start a compost pile? Did you put your garden safely to bed for the winter?

Bean Month in November 2009

We proclaimed November “Westland Ward Bean Month” and invited ward members to accept either of two challenges: 1) eat beans once a week for the month, or 2) try a new bean recipe every week. During the month we provided a price comparison chart for different kinds of beans from different stores; a nutrient profile for dried cooked beans; and a cooking chart for a variety of beans.

Because the class on November 5 was cancelled, our only meeting for the month, on November 17, was our Westland Ward Bean Fair. We opened the meeting with a bean bag toss in which everyone told something they knew (or didn’t know) about beans and/or a bean story, memory, or experience. Janni O. and our stake food storage specialist taught us about types of beans and how to store, pick, cook, and can beans. We had samples of a variety of beans for attendees to taste. We also invited ward members to bring a bean dish to share so we could try out different beans and recipes. Many contributed their recipes so that we could make them available to ward members. We had a judge who chose “the best” of several different varieties of foods made with beans and we awarded prizes. We also took orders and payments for a “Bean Run” to the storehouse, bringing back many pounds of beans, dividing them, and making them available for ward members. Looking back, we think this was probably the most successful meeting of the year.

On November 19th, the focus of our activity was “A Food Storage Christmas.” We made Christmas gifts from our food storage. Several sisters showed us how to make the gifts look beautiful for gift-giving.

Beans! Did you attend the Bean Fair? Did you learn anything new about beans? Did you accept either of the challenges for the month? Do you regularly cook with beans these days?

Our Heart's Desire in December 2009

Because December is such a busy month and many people are gone from the middle of the month on, we had only one meeting.

David C. taught a class to help us identify our “heart’s desire” - in any aspect of our lives - and how to achieve our heart’s desire. He taught based on a book by Robert Fritz, The Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life.

During December we also asked ward members to complete a (too long) food storage survey. We learned that all we need to know is what ward members are interested in learning about concerning food storage.

Did the presentation help you identify and achieve a heart's desire in your own life? Did the presentation give you a new way to succeed at something you want to do, be, or have?

Water Storage in January 2010

The meeting on January 21 and 22 focused on water storage. Br. P. explained the physiological needs for water and mentioned some of the side-effects of lack of water.

We learned about quantities, methods, and containers for water storage.

We also discussed water conservation plus a little about purifiers and filters.

We challenged ward members to have enough water stored for each member of their family by April General Conference so they can begin a regular rotation system every six months at conference time.

Did you accept the challenge to store water? Did this meeting encourage you to begin a water storage program, or continue and improve one you already had in place?

Learning about Gardening in February 2010

February was our first gardening month with both meetings focused on the topic. Our stake food storage specialist taught us about choosing and starting seeds; preparing the soil; deciding what and how much to plant; and container gardening. She encouraged us to buy our vegetable plants from a nursery (instead of a local discount store) and explained which plants not to buy. She also gave us a recipe for a natural bug repellant. Tom T. showed us how to make rain barrels.

What did you learn at these meetings that helped your garden grow? Did you learn anything new, try it, and had a successful outcome?

Evaluating, Organizing, and Rotating in March 2010

This month we focused on evaluating, organizing, and rotating our food storage.

Jill S. shared her method for deciding how much she needs to store for her short- and long-term food storage and included details about how her family plans menus.

Tina S. showed us a method she devised to keep track of her nearly-out-of-date foods so she can use them before they expire.

Laura C. shared her method of keeping track of her food storage and explained her method for meal planning.

Did you try out any of the food storage systems that were presented at these meetings? Did they inspire you to make a system of your own? Were these presentations helpful to you?

Gardening Again in April 2010

In April we learned more about planting summer vegetables and how to plant strawberry pots.

In many ways these meetings were so full of information that there's too much to write about.

Did you learn anything about gardening that helped your garden grow better this year? How IS your garden growing?

Lessons from May 2010

May 2010

In our first meeting in May Linda B. taught us how to dehydrate fruits and vegetables and showed us how to make beef jerky. Candace R. told us about seeds for sprouting and explained how to sprout them. We tasted the jerky and several kinds of sprouts.

The second meeting in May was devoted to mixes, both wet and dry. Janni O. showed us how to make bread dough that can be refrigerated for 2 weeks, Six Week Bran Muffins, and shared a recipe for a cornbread mix. Melanie E. shared a brownie mix. And Sherrida U. taught us how to make refrigerated flour tortilla dough so we can make fresh tortillas as often as we choose. Laura C. taught us how to adapt our own recipes to turn them into mixes.

Have you used any of the things you learned at these meetings? Did you try any of the mix recipes? What did you think?

What We Did in June 2010

June 2010

Patty O. taught us how to make strawberry jam, both canned and freezer jams. We tasted jams made with sugar, made with low sugar, and made with “splenda.” Some of us tried our hands at stirring, cooking, and filling jars.

We organized a “Storehouse Saturday” for the ward. About 8 members went to the storehouse together where they purchased and canned foods they wanted to add to their food storage.

At the last meeting in June we learned about canning meat and chicken from Brian S. It was great to have a man teach us about something that some folks think of as “women’s” work.

Did you participate in any of these activities? Did you learn something that you put to use in your own food storage at home? Were they a worthwhile use of your time?