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Salsa Time!

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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.

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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.

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.


According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.


In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.


Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.


This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.


Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.


This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.


This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.


If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”


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