31 August 2008

bringin' home the bronze

i didn't watch much of the olympics this time. i never do. but this year, i had an excuse. i was perfecting my salsa recipe. when we canned our first batch of salsa, i thought i might enter it in the annual salsa contest at the farmer's market (sponsored by our local co-op). just for fun. i'd never really made salsa before, other than a spontaneous pico de gallo now and then. so i had no idea how mine would compare. it was tasty, but nothing special. but i picked up a packet at the co-op anyway. when i read the instructions i discovered that home canning was not allowed. all salsas had to be prepared the day they were turned in for judging. so, i had to make a new batch. i was disappointed in our first effort, and the green salsa we made next, because no matter how many hot chiles we put in, the salsa still ranked a medium in terms of heat. our fingers were burning for days from handling chiles such as serranos and "the little worm," from our neighbor jack's garden, and cayennes from curtis at the farmer's market. the kitchen was filled with eye scorching steam, but the finished salsa was still medium.

i became determined to make a salsa with some serious heat this time. so, i got a pint basket of scotch bonnets, similar to habaneros, and two green ones from the chile woman's stall labeled "the hottest," plus a bunch of long yellow ones knows as "hot wax" and one "mr. purple" from our garden. i put them into the food processor, seeds and all, and chopped them finely. i added them towards the end of the cooking, along with the cilantro and fresh garlic. THIS salsa had some fire to it. it still had a nice flavor though--it didn't completely burn and numb the taste buds. i named it "bee in yr bonnet," due to the overwhelming number of scotch bonnet chiles, and the two squirts of honey. i transcribed the recipe, filled the provided containers, and took it down to bloomingfoods. the rest we canned later that night.

the salsa contest includes three categories: cooked, tomato based, raw, tomato based and specialty (non-tomato based). i was in the cooked, tomato based group. there were around 20 other entries. on the day of the contest, at the farmer's market, they had samples of all the entries for tasting, while supplies lasted. there were some yummy salsas. i couldn't really tell how mine ranked. it seemed rather simple compared to most, but one of the hottest. when they were announcing the winners, i was shocked to hear my name called for third place in the cooked salsas! i seriously did not expect to place, i did it for the fun of participating in a community, food related, event. carl was so proud of me and it really made my day. the prize was a gift bag of various items donated from local businesses, including a book called the farmer's market book, published last year, all about bloomington's beloved saturday market. it's a book i've wanted, but probably would not have shelled out the cash for. the perfect prize.

you can see my recipe, and the other winners here


chuck said...

good work, cake! your salsa will pull all of the heavy metals out of the body, ensuring a delicious detox, no doubt.

MEP said...

Congratulations! You are seriously inspiring me with your canning, salsa-making, and overall community spirit.

bethany said...

youre totally awesome! congratulations