Alisa Murray’s Award winning column | July 2016 |Living the Sweet Life : Lazy days of Summertime!

IMG_9071July is possible the laziest month of the entire year and for great reason. It’s the only month that none of us has to really do anything…except of course work. Children are out for the summer and unlike June where it’s a scramble to finish strong with their classes or August where we are gathering new school supplies and checking to see how many inches they grew over the summer out of their clothes, July seems just really perfect for family time.

July is my favorite time to have family cook outs and invite friends over for an impromptu gathering. It’s well known that I love to cook, I always prepare plenty so that when suppertime rolls around I am ready for one of my friends or the children’s to drop in and join us! Some of my recipes have become their favorites and they will text me and specifically ask for me to make this or that. Probably the most popular during the summer months are my smoked salmon (where people actually go buy the fish and bring it to me to prepare!), cucumber salad, Dorito casserole, and pulled pork BBQ with slaw.

The garden this year has gone wild…and I mean that literally. Featured on the cover this month, both Fernando and Ron were surprised at just how much “good stuff” I was able to grow beside the pool and amongst the rose bushes! It’s a garden that my ancestors, who were farmers would surely roll their eyes about but it serves the purpose… so it can’t be that bad! Its LOL
There’s every herb you’d ever need and I can not tell you how much better things taste if you’d use fresh herbs. It’s like night and day. I also have various peppers, squash,lettuce,beets, carrots,cabbage,spinach,eggplant,cucumbers,corn,blackberries,strawberries,and tomatoes. I have become the expert salsa maker and each week I make a fresh batch for almost every meal. The leftover salsa gets dumped into my bean soup that I make every Sunday.

Quite a few of my friends read my column and when we started talking about this upcoming July edition they asked me to share a recipe… some of which I’d like to keep secret so they still drop by! I think the salsa recipe is so versatile and can be used for everything so here’s mine and I’ll tell you in advance I measure nothing. I cook like I shoot..from my heart and guts and when I get that “feeling” then I know it’s right. I remember Nana cooking and it was exactly the same…a pinch of this and a dollop of that… you’d have to watch her to understand that terminology but that’s part of it..isn’t it? The making of great things that bring back childhood is mot always measured…it happens organically and from our souls!

Here’s you a little salsa that will always treat you right whether on a chip, in a soup or used to brine a turkey overnight!
Auntie A’s Famous and Versatile Salsa
6 large tomatoes
6 medium tomatillos
4 Bell peppers GREEN
1 very large purple onion
1 jalapeno pepper
Handful of Cilantro
1/3 cup of minced garlic
Handful of salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar
Avocado oil

Boil all of this until soft. Transfer to blender and puree everything being careful not to use too much of the liquid so your salsa ends up the right consistency. Pour into Mason Jars and place in refrigerator once the jar is cool to touch.

This summer I am going to try for the first time to learn to can things. I remember Nana and Granny doing this but it seems hard…I hope not! I have more tomatoes that I know what I’m going to do with and since I can not imagine starting a salsa company, it seems like the only solution to my problem! Wish me luck!
Have a wonderful month of slowing down…sipping tea and playing with your children and friends!
Take Care of YOU!

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I hate to throw anything good away… so here’s what to do with that extra liquids from your salsa! Go back to the garden and pick a handful of basil and oregano fresh. Add that to the leftover liquid from the salsa and add back to it four more large tomatoes. Add more water and boil again until the newly added veggies and herbs are soft. Once they are soft, take all of that and puree with all the liquids in the pan and now you have homemade Tomato Basil Soup! Topped with fishily grated parmesan cheese and a swirl of fresh heavy cream and there’s another meal with zero leftovers from your garden!

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