Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Another item I won't be buying

I can add one more thing to the ever-growing list of items I won’t be purchasing at the grocery store.  And that is salsa in a jar.

We had some company over last week and one of them had recently made a trip up to Chicago.  And he brought back Tom Tom Tamales!!!  (Thanks Les!)
If you've been to Chicago and never had one, well, you’re missed out.  Now don’t get me wrong - homemade tamales in their corn husk wrappers are to die for.  But if you’re from Chicago, you’ll probably eatne more than your share of the Tom Tom’s.   Really good.  Or it could be that they were cheap, readily available at the corner hot dog stand and were delicious when one was pretty much inebriated because you really didn’t need a utensil to eat it (although they are still good without alcohol coursing through your bloodstream).
So, back to the salsa thing.
In order to be able to eat the above mentioned tamales, some of the gang insisted (more like demanded) that salsa be smothering said tamale.  Well, it was like 9 pm and we didn’t have any salsa on hand, nor was I going to run to the local gas station / mini-mart to buy an 8 oz. jar of off-brand salsa for $3.99.
But I did have several cans of diced tomatoes in the pantry.  So I gathered salsa-sounding ingredients (green peppers, onions & various spices) and got out my handy-dandy little food chopper (which I purchased for making baby-food when Rhiannon was younger) and went to it.
Basically, I put half a can of diced tomatoes in the blender along with some garlic salt, cilantro, green pepper, onion, black pepper and a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes.  Pushed the blender button just two or three times to chop / mix everything.  Dumped the blender contents into a larger bowl, added the remainder of the diced tomatoes (not blender-ized) and a little squirt of lime juice and mixed it again with a spoon.
And I magically had Salsa!
Obviously, it would have been ten times better if I had made it with fresh tomatoes & herbs, but as my tomato garden is pretty much dead and for whatever reason I failed to plant a single herb this spring (what the heak was I thinking???), canned tomatoes and dried herbs did well enough.
So what other convenience items are there in my pantry that I can do without? 
Key word being “convenience”.  Yes, I know that there are just some times when you don’t even have the ten minutes to make salsa.  Or just don’t want to.  That’s fine.  But when you do have time, there is no reason to spend $3.99 on a jar or canned salsa when you can use a can of tomatoes from your pantry (you DO have a well-stocked pantry, don’t you??) and spices from your cupboard.


  1. Every time you can eliminate your need for one of those grocery store items, its such a great feeling, isn't it? Way to be awesome!

  2. Hummus. We eat a LOT of hummus here...it is our *go-to* snack. Hummus and some pita bread or a tortilla and you have a great, healthful snack.I stopped buying it a couple of years ago because the price in the store was WAY too high. I started making it myself. It is sooo much better home made!

  3. I've tried hummus before, and didn't quite care for it, but maybe because it was store bought. I thought it was too dry, but maybe that's just how it is. Mind sharing your recipe & I'll try it again?

  4. Sometimes it's moments like these with friends that it pretty much doesn't matter what you're making, it's gonna be good. I often throw together salsa like you did if I've run out. Better yet, make some up and can your own. I have a recipe on my blog if you're interested. Happy Dipping!


  5. Yup, my husband loves these things. Me...ick. I love the real tamales. Never bet against me on how many I could eat. ;)

  6. Rose, gonna check that out, thanks!

    APG, I know, I know, it's soooooo fake-spanish-food, but what can I say?? :)

  7. Carolyn-Renee:
    Super Easy Hummus Recipe--
    1 can Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas)
    2 tablespoons Tahini (sesame seed paste) OR 1 tablespoon Sesame Seed Oil
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1 to 2 cloves garlic (optional)
    pinch of salt

    Drain can of beans (save the liquid!), dump the beans in a blender and add the rest of the ingredients. Start on a medium speed and add a couple tablespoons of the bean liquid as it is blending. Taste every once in a while to see if the texture is smooth enough for you. I usually hit the puree button on my blender. Refrigerate for a bit to chill it and always refrigerate leftover hummus! If serving for a party, *fancy it up* by serving in a pretty bowl and sprinkling some toasted sesame seeds on top or some minced parsley on top or shaking a little paprika on top.
    Tahini is pricey, but I have found that using the sesame seed oil gives the same flavor profile PLUS you don't get that *mealy* texture that some folks don't like. Get the Toasted Sesame Seed Oil if you can...richer flavor.
    Now, I always add in a clove of garlic while it is blending as my family likes that. Other *add-ins* I use:
    Roasted red bell peppers
    Marinated artichoke hearts--well drained
    Sun Dried Tomatoes or one fresh tomato-seeded and chopped

    We eat it with pita bread, pita chips, on tortillas, with corn chips, on bread. Like I said, it is a mainstay here!

  8. Nothing better than homemade salsa!