Original image

Salsa Time!

Original image

In August, it's hard to find time to sit down and research some fascinating subject for you because I'm knee deep in tomatoes. Everyday I head to the garden with a five-gallon bucket and fill it up. Sometimes twice a day. I also grow peppers, so that means it's salsa time! Cue the music!

The original recipe I got from the county extension service says to use:

2 pounds chile peppers
5 pounds tomatoes
1 pound onions
1 cup vinegar
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Twelve years later, that's not at all how I do it. For one thing, I don't have a scale. Also, I figure any recipe that yields "six to eight pints" is a waste of time when I have bushels of tomatoes to process. Watch me make salsa, after the jump.


Preparing the peppers is the most dangerous part of the process. First, roast them to loosen the skins. I use enough peppers to fill a large cookie sheet, a very old one kept just for this purpose. If you burn a jalapeno, you won't want to use that cookie sheet for anything else. Cut a slit in each pepper to prevent it from exploding (not a pretty sight).


Bake at a high temperature until the skins are seriously blistered. You might want to open the windows during this process. Then put on the gloves. Do not omit the gloves. Roasted peppers are juicy, and should be treated like toxic waste. A male friend once cut up some of my peppers of a much milder variety. Afterward, he washed his hands and then used the bathroom in the style men do. He was in agony for days.


Cut the stem end off each pepper and open along the slit. The skin should peel off easily (if you roasted them long enough).


Scrape out the seeds and inner membranes. Do not scratch your nose. After you've cleaned each pepper, cut what's left into small bits. Refrigerate until use. Wash all utensils and dishes. Wash your gloves well before you take them off if you are going to use them again. Then wash your hands and use lotion. I'm serious.


To peel tomatoes, dip them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds to heat the skin, then put them in cold water to stop the process. The skin should then slip off easily.


I normally peel enough tomatoes to fill my turkey roasting pan. It takes me about a second to peel a tomato, but it takes forever to peel enough tomatoes... and the entire time, the theme song from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes runs through my head.


Then I chop and drain excess water from the tomatoes, sometimes overnight, which leaves two pots of pure tomato meat. Chop 3 or 4 big onions, and a bunch of cilantro.  I use cilantro in one batch, then garlic (also home grown) in the next batch. Using both is just flavor overkill. I code the finished product so I'll know which kind I'm opening. Combine all ingredients, dividing them as best you can between two pots. I use a cup of vinegar, a palmful of salt, and a spoon or so of ground pepper for each pot. Heat and simmer for five minutes.


At that point, the salsa is done, and the kitchen is covered in tomato juice. During the cooking process, I heat as much water as I can to can the salsa in the canner. I fill the jars halfway from one pot, and the rest from the other, so it doesn't matter if the proportions were a little different. Always use a recommended safe canning method.


My grandma, who had a large family, used to can vegetables in half-gallon jars in a #2 washtub over a fire outside. It was the only way to do massive home canning before air conditioning. And birth control.

432Finished Salsa.jpg

The finished product: 16 pints of weapons grade salsa! Three or four more batches like this, and I'll have a year's supply plus Christmas gifts for everyone. There was also a half-cup or so left for sampling. The kids declared it good. But what's this? While I made salsa, somehow the back room became filled with tomatoes again! When I get all the dishes washed, I'll start on tomato sauce. This will go on for about six weeks.

Original image
Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
Original image
Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]


More from mental floss studios