Fresh garden salsa (that you can enjoy in February).

Weighing tomatoes before making fresh garden salsa (canned!)

I got a new kitchen scale, dudes.

This is exciting for me. It took a long time to find one that was what I wanted. I didn’t want digital. I wanted an old-school analog one- vintage styled. Jay and I really wanted an actual vintage one, but we were worried about the calibration of a true vintage scale. We didn’t want to buy one then find out it needed to be overhauled. So then we got some gift cards for Williams-Sonoma (for either our wedding or a late-housewarming gift) and we found this one by Salter for Williams-Sonoma. SCORE!

So we ordered it and it came and it’s lovely. Just what I had in mind. Vintage look, but brand new.

Weighing tomatoes for some fresh garden salsa.

And I’ve got lots of tomatoes, all fresh from my backyard. Yep, the garden is still kickin’! Indigo Apples, Cosmonaut Volkov’s, Globe’s, Amish Paste’s and Super Sweet 100’s. They’ve all gotta be used, and one can only eat so many fresh. Or in a salad. So… naturally, everything I make preserve with tomatoes; i.e. tomato jam or sauce or salsa, I need to weigh them first. Conveniently.

And that leads me to our recipe today:

Canned fresh garden salsa- enjoy your garden in the middle of the winter!

I looooooove salsa. Oh man. I could eat salsa all day, every day. Green, red, I don’t care. Hot salsa, medium salsa, salsa with black beans and corn. I love it all. The only ones I will not eat are peach salsas or mango salsas. I’m a purist, see. Tomatoes & peppers only for me. With loads of cilantro. LOADS. I love it tossed into a fresh salad topped with tortilla strips, shredded cheese and sometimes grilled chicken. I also love it on chips, with guacamole. And who doesn’t love it on burritos?

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Banana yogurt chocolate chip muffins for back-to-school.

Banana yogurt chocolate chip muffins from!

OMG guys. I said it. I said “Back-To-School.” Ugh. I don’t have kids, but I do remember how much this week SUCKED HARDCORE. I mean, sure, new supplies are always super exciting and awesome. It was always great to open the notebook to the first clean, fresh, paper-smelling page and write the date with a brand new ballpoint pen.

But that wears off super quick. So does waking up early to catch a bus.

But… there’s always lunchtime! And if you’re lucky, mom packed you a cool lunch with awesome snackage. Like these muffins, in these adorbs little baking cups.

Banana yogurt chocolate chip muffins.

Packed with fresh banana, vanilla yogurt and chocolate chips, PLUS an added boost of banana flavor thanks to some banana extract, these muffins will totes help you get through the second half of the day. Annnnnnd, if you use these little cups, you can actually fit more muffinage in the lunch box, cause they’re a teensy bit smaller more petite than your average baking cup.

They’re way cuter, too.

Banana yogurt chocolate chip muffins.


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Oven roasted tomato deliciousness.

Oven roasted tomatoes with basil, oregano & garlic

Happy September, everyone. Wow, can you believe it’s September already? Where did the time go? Summer really flew by. I’ve had a pretty stressful summer- and I didn’t get to the beach once. Also, my cat of 13 years, Arwyn, had to be put to sleep a few days ago, so this summer has been officially marked as shit. She might have lived with my mom and become my “mother’s” cat, but she was my baby. I see Halloween stuff and back-to-school things in stores and I wanna cry, and I LOVE Halloween. How did the summer go by so fast… and why? It’s still a zillion degrees out, I’m not fully ready to plunge into 100% fall treats yet. Besides- IT’S NOT EVEN LABOR DAY. LEMME KEEP MY TOMATOES AND MY SHORTS AND MY SANDALS AND MY ICED TEA, PLZ. KTHX.

Oh, tomatoes. Tomatoes, you beautiful summer-long-into-September-and-maybe-October delectable morsels of life.

Fresh tomatoes!

I know we just spoke about tomatoes a few days ago, but come on. LOOK AT THESE THINGS. How do you not want to take pictures of them and eat them and cuddle them?

Okay, maybe not that.

In case you’re not a regular reader, we’ve been growing tomatoes in our raised garden beds. I had container gardens for years, and last summer we upgraded to raised beds that Jay built. This year we expanded them, and grew 5 varieties of tomatoes: Indigo Apple, Globe, Amish Paste, Cosmonaut Volkov and Supersweet 100. We also grew three kinds of basil (Cinnamon, Purple Ruffles and regular ol’ Genovese) and two types of oregano (regular and “hot & spicy”).

Tomatoes ready to be oven roasted!

I love tomato season. Unf.

So, I had a few tomatoes that fell off the vine before they were ripe, and I decided to pick a vine of Supersweet 100’s and toss ’em all together in the oven. Of course, what are tomatoes without garlic, basil and oregano?

So I washed and dried the shermaters, cut up the Indigo Apple’s to a smaller size, and grabbed some hot & spicy oregano, a bunch of basil leaves and some regular oregano. I added those to the ‘maters. It already smelled like heaven. Or a pizzeria. Same thing.

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The simplest, freshest, easiest tomato sauce you’ll ever make.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Simple, fresh and easy summer tomato sauce. Adapted from a recipe by Marcella Hazan.

When it’s like, 200 degrees out, you do not want to be making something that takes hours over a hot stove. Nuh-uh. It’s too much. Even if you have the A/C crankin’ you still don’t want to be standing stirring something, sweating.

Wow, alliteration! My 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Clarey would be proud.

Anyway, I’ve been making this sauce for a couple of years now. Mainly in the summertime, but I’ve been known to make it in a double batch on a cold day. It’s my go-to simple sauce recipe because of a few reasons: 1) it’s easy, 2) it tastes delicious, 3) it’s quick to make and 4) it’s EXCELLENT on both pasta and homemade pizza. And it’s also amazing on crusty bread with a thick slice of fresh mozzarella. Yum.

All you need (plus salt and sugar) to make the best, freshest tasting tomato sauce ever.

And best of all? There are 4 main ingredients, shown above, and two minor ingredients (sugar & salt). That’s just 6 ingredients in all. And in 20 minutes, you’ve got a delicious sauce, ready to eat. Also, it can be made with peeled whole canned tomatoes as well, if you prefer a chunkier sauce. Just crush ’em in the pot with your hands before adding the other ingredients.

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Ushering in autumn with spiced nectarine jam.

Spiced nectarine jam.

Whoa. All you bloggers- not to mention store owners- are really kicking in the fall stuff quick, huh? I’m sorry guys- I can’t do it. It’s still hot and while I love fall… I mean, I really LOVE fall… I just can’t do Halloween stuff or hardcore fall recipes in late August, or even the beginning of September. Gross. I’m still eating grilled hot dogs and fresh corn and hanging out in my backyard! I have plenty of time to make apple (and the ever beloved pumpkin) themed desserts and treats. There will be more than enough of that in October. And November. But for now, no. It’s still summer for God’s sake!

But what I can do is make a summery (or end of summer…y) fruit into a fall-appropriate jam. Because it is coming, and when it does won’t it be nice to have a few jars of summer mixed with a little fall? That’s how we have this jam; spiced nectarine. Spiced with vanilla bean, star anise and cinnamon. And actually a little bit of nutmeg, cardamom, powdered honey and ginger, too, because I used a “sweet blend” spice mix I bought from a local spicery at a fair last summer.

It’s basically a way to start to acknowledge fall without going crazy for apples (yet).


These nectarines are the last of what’s left from my most recent shipment of Washington State Fruit. My “Canbassadorship” is coming to and end for this year, and I wanted to make a jam that was easy and didn’t require something like purple basil that not everyone has.

Feel free to substitute your own favorite spices. I know star anise can be polarizing, like licorice. Use cardamom instead. Or ginger. Or nutmeg. Or just add in a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice! That way you get a little bit of everything.

I wouldn’t omit the vanilla bean, though. Not only does it smell heavenly, but it adds those little flecks to the jam that look pretty cool.

Spiced nectarine jam with vanilla bean, cinnamon and star anise.

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Hop Pickles, take two!

Black Swallowtail caterpillar hanging out on the dill in my garden.

Ohhhh, summer. The sun is beating down on you relentlessly. Where the caterpillars are crawling all over the dill waiting to grow into butterflies, the heat is stifling… and the humidity makes you want to kill babies.

Maybe its not that bad. But it is pretty bad.

However on the upside the gardens are overflowing with vegetables, the flowers have never looked prettier, and it’s PICKLE TIME.

Cucumber garden harvest- prepped for making hop pickles.

I had a bunch of pickling cucumbers to harvest, of course I had to grab my dill heads and use them before those Black Swallowtail caterpillars ate ’em all! So yeah. It’s pickle time. Better yet… it’s HOP PICKLE TIME.

Yes. Hop pickles. Remember those? I made them about 3 years ago for the first time after learning about Brooklyn Brine’s Hop Pickles. The Brooklyn Brine variety is made with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA & some Cascade hop oil. Mine are made with straight up beer- this time, a Pilsner.

Hop pickles made with Coney Island Brewing Co. Mermaid Pilsner.

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Bringin’ the summer heat with Ring Of Fire peach jam.

Peaches and "Ring of Fire" peppers.

Today’s recipe is a mishmosh of using up a little of what my garden has to offer and using the gorgeous seasonal stone fruits sent to me from the Washington State Fruit Commission (because I am a “Canbassador” for them). This is the time of year I start thinking about what needs to be cut back & dried before the end of summer starts to kick in, and what needs to be used fresh now. Plus I have more peppers than I can count! Add that to the massive amount of stunningly perfect peaches and nectarines I received, and you’ve got this.

And it burns, burns, burns, burns.. that ring of fire… that ring of fireYou all know Johnny Cash is one of my favorite artists of all time, right? You should. Him and June (and that whole era of music, really) are absolutely some of my favorites. I could watch Walk The Line a million times, as well as the documentary about their performance at Folsom, and basically love every song- save for the extreme preachy gospel stuff- that he/they have done.

Peaches & peppers.

So it stands to reason I’d grow a hot pepper named after one of his and June’s most popular songs (she wrote it, you know): the Ring Of Fire pepper.

And of course when I got those gorgeous yellow peaches, I was thinking of what to do with them. So I thought, hey, that peach & pepper salsa was a mighty big hit. Why not incorporate a hot pepper into some peach preserves? Sure it’s been done before- but I never did it. I decided to not wait until the peppers got red because of two reasons: 1) I didn’t want the peaches to get too soft while I waited and 2) then they’d be pretty freakin’ hot; about 20,000- 50,000 Scoville Heat Units. Here’s what they look like red:

Ring of Fire cayennes!

To put that heat in perspective, a habanero has about 100,000 – 300,000 SHU and a jalapeno has about between 2,500 – 10,000 SHU. So while this Cayenne variety isn’t crazy hot, when red it has a pretty good amount of heat. I used it while green, so it was still a little spicy and a bit hot- but not too bad. A pleasant heat. Just a little hotter than your average jalapeño.

Ring Of Fire peach + pepper jam. #Canbassador

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