The best thing I ever did for my cooking

was to stop following most recipes. Mind you, I’ve been cooking since the 1960s, so I had a lot of time to be a pretty lousy to fair cook before I just gave up following– rather than referring to– most recipes. The exceptions for this are of course baking and canning, where the recipes are formulas. But for most food, these days I wing it.

I made chili verde about three weeks ago. I’d never made it before. I thought about it, looked it up online, went downstairs and just made chili verde. I love the stuff and I’d always been too intimidated to try it — Not anymore!

One goal this summer is to continue that trend: I love salsa verde, and it’s hard to find around here.  I want to make enough that I can freeze or can enough for  winter.

My favorite brand is only available at the co-op, and it’s $6+ a jar!!!! I might, once in a while buy a sauce that was $6+, but not a staple.  I can’t eat a lot of tomatoes, red salsa is still in my pantry, but I rarely cook with it anymore,  green salsa is the obvious substitute.

I’ve got 2 large cans of tomatillos in the pantry for this,  I’d really prefer fresh and organic, but the price could get up to $6 a bottle again real fast. The obvious answer is to grow my own. Fine — when I have a recipe that works, not before. One market around here (1 hour plus away) carries tomatillos regularly, I just haven’t gotten myself over there. The ethnic market probably has them too, but they’re an hour plus away as well, in the opposite direction. I haven’t gone to the farmer’s markets yet.

What I really want is a few pounds, 2 or 3? so I can experiment. Buzz the tomatillos and add onion, salt, etc. until I get a flavor I like. THEN I can make salsa.

My usual canning book is The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Topp & Howard. There’s a green salsa recipe in it (page 187), I can use as a baseline. Yay! The recipe calls for 1/4lb tomatillos, about 7, green chilis, garlic, sweet red pepper, onion, carrot, apple juice, cider vinegar, pickling salt, CUMIN, dried oregano, and sugar.

According to my notes, most of the ingredients will be at their peak,  Aug – Sept or Oct – Nov, with October being the best month. So October is when I should make salsa for winter — that works, and I can perfect the recipe in the meantime.

The chili verde was easier. I just dumped a jar of salsa verde in the pot instead of all the seasoning and tomatillos, etc.

Ah well, nothing ventured . . . .

What do you do in this situation? Do you DIY? Find a cheaper source? Do without?

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