Thursday, August 27, 2020

Indian Star Salsa - Pieces From The Past

August draws forth memories of canning and freezing produce... from the young age of 5 (50 years ago!  What???)... I recall my Aunt Clara teaching my Mom how to can peaches.  

Mom was pretty much a novice in the world of canning since her Mom wasn't much of a domestic goddess, but Mom was willing (maybe urged) to learn.  

I recall dragging a chair over to the counter to help with the preparation of the jars and the fruit - nibbling on the discarded peels of the peaches as they carefully cut the peaches in half and then dropped them into the canning kettle of simple syrup and then transferring them to the clean canning jars.  

I recall also that the remaining syrup and peelings were combined and cooked together and then strained to make peach jelly.  I watched my Dad strain and then squeeze every last bit of liquid from the "left-overs".  

Fast forward 16 years and you would find Dave and I canning homemade salsa on our first wedding anniversary.  It was before having our own garden so we purchased all the ingredients for the salsa from a local farm stand.  

This is a photo from more recent years...

It was after we moved to the Gromer Family farmhouse in 1987 that we planted a garden.  It was amazing!  It was good black dirt and water was never an issue.  The deer and rabbits though... Ugh!  We put up a small fence to keep out the rabbits and then caught the deer "red-handed" as he waltzed across the yard towards our garden and his glorious buffet.  

Dave snuck out and around the back of the house and laid in wait along the side of the garden in the tall weeds/vines/grass that grew along the chicken wire fence.  As the deer approached the garden he waited patiently... and then jumped up at the perfect moment of surprise yelling and waving his arms.  

The deer didn't quite know what to do!  It was like the cartoon characters jumping into the air, turning and running with their legs mid-air.  It literally scared the poop out of the deer!  LOL!  It was the last we saw of our frequent visitor and we started getting an abundance of green beans.  Funny thing... the deer never ate any of our chili peppers that we grew... Hmmmm.  

That garden kept us fed for 6+ months and the pantry shelves were filled with a variety of colors.  We had tomato sauce, salsa, and spaghetti sauce.  We would buy fruit when in season and make jams and jellies of various types.  We also had russet potatoes, zucchini squash, onions, peppers, green beans and probably more... but my mind is coming up with them.  It's been a few days since then. 🤷  

Since living in Colorado we have never had a garden.  The soil is full of clay, water is often restricted because of drought and the growing season is just too short... as is my patience.  I don't have the desire to do starts in the house and nurture them until it is time to transfer outside.  There is often a late freeze in May and and early one in September.  My Dad kept busy with his garden and he was always happy to share his excess.  Now I support one of the local farms.

The other day as I squared up HSTs for a miniature Indian Star block - block #11 of the Pieces From The Past Sew Along I thought that the trimmings looked like some salsa with mango or peach.  What do you think???

I've never added mango or salsa to our recipe, but the purchased salsas that I have had with them were tasty.

Here is our personal recipe that has been tweaked and perfected over the years...  Dave prefers that the salsa not be too watery so we add a large can of tomato paste just before placing in the jars... oh and we allow it to boil for much longer than 10 minutes.  Probably more like 30 to 45 minutes to allow the tomatoes and peppers start to break down.  And our weights are always generous... meaning 2 lbs of peppers is like 2+lbs., etc.

While we lived in Illinois I was often found to be making the salsa by myself and I utilized the food processor for all of the veggies.  I mean I had two small children and time was a precious commodity.  It seemed as though I was in the kitchen from July to September or October making salsa, blanching and freezing green beans, making jams, jellies and apple sauce and tomato sauce.  Time was of the essence!

After my Dad had bypass surgery in 1990 and retired shortly after that, my parents traveled to visit us for a week in August.  We took them to the family cottage in Illinois and let them experience  life on a lake.  Dad was not a fan of water... Mom enjoyed the time.  Neither were a fan of the humidity.  The second morning there they commented that the sheets on the bed were still damp from the previous night's steamy temps.  I think that they were amazed that THEY were not moldy from such conditions.  LOL!

Before returning to IL we stopped at an orchard and purchased a bushel of fresh peaches.  Upon our return to the farmhouse Dad started gathering up any and all canning jars that had been left behind in the basement.  He washed the jars, prepped the peaches and syrup and proceeded in canning fresh peaches.  I'm pretty sure Mom and I were in and out of the kitchen at various times, but for the most part he handled it.  Again, I had a pre-schooler and a toddler that kept me plenty busy, but I was always more than willing to run to the store for more lids or sugar.  Good memories. 💗  Canning and freezing of fruits and veggies is the closest he ever got to cooking. LOL!

After our move Dave volunteered to help with the salsa, but he wanted it chunky-style.  Ok... so, working together, he dices the tomatoes by hand and I pulse the onions and peppers with a few tomatoes in the food processor.  It has been a good compromise... and some quality time together.  And great results with the chunky salsa!

Just the other day I had picked up some roasted chilies and after dinner they needed to be peeled and de-stemmed.  We were both tired from a long, hot day but TOGETHER we got the job done and then went and collapsed.  Teamwork is best...


Here is my mini-block.  The finished size is 4-inches.  It's pretty darn cute!
It could make a really cute pin cushion... or???

I'm not sure what I am going to do with this little salsa star, but I am open to ideas for this block as well as some of the others that I have.

Leave a comment... I'd love to hear your suggestions!

PS... one last "chili" story.  We had an over-abundance of chilies from our garden one year.  Rather than let them go to waste, we chopped and dried them on cookie sheets at a low temp in the oven.  When dried, we then pulsed in the food processor to make chili flakes.  Despite scrubbing the cookie sheets well, the next batch of chocolate chip cookies were SpIcEy!  Lol!  Well... maybe the next several batches of cookies. 😉

Stay Piece-ful,

Melva Loves Scraps - Home of the Pieces From The Past Sew Along
that features vintage Kansas City Star quilt blocks!

Linking with:

Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Creative Compulsions at Bijou Bead Boutique
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework
Sunday Stash at QuiltPaintCreate
Patchwork & Quilts at The Quilting Patch
UFO Busting at Tish’s Wonderland
BOMs Away at What A Hoot Quilts
What I Made Monday at Pretty Piney
Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts


  1. I commend you, aside from freezer jams my canning skills are nil. Curious, where in Illinois did you live? Thank you for linking up to Put your foot down, I enjoyed your read.

  2. That salsa looks delicious! We sometimes get deer visitors here, but probably not as often as the neighbor's cows visit. lol. Not sure how they would react if we did what Dave did.

    I am curious about the chocolate chip cookies with the spicy flavor though. I bet it was good. I once tasted Mexican chocolate jalapeno candy and it was tasty. Also I used to go to a pizza buffet place where one of the workers liked to experiment. She once made a pizza with pineapples and jalapenos. It was delicious! Sweet + spicy hot is surprisingly yum.

  3. Enjoyed reading your post, especially the deer story! The salsa looks delicious and now I know how I can make spicy chocolate chip cookies LOL! The little salsa star is perfect and I may just have to make a Salsa Quilt with it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Wow, your canning memories bring back a LOT of memories for me, growing up on a farm. I think I had so much of it growing up, I have no desire to can or freeze anything! We had huge fields of EVERYTHING! Of course, daddy would take a lot of it to the farmer's market. The last year he farmed before his death, I was going into 12th grade. We had 40 acres of watermelons!! He almost killed my cousins and me that summer! It was literally 40 years before I would touch a piece of watermelon! And only an occasional bite or two since! Mama and I did make some tomato-vidalia onion relish one year from bought tomatoes and onions. I wish I could find that recipe again. It was soooo good on dried peas and beans!n Thanks for the memories, Melva!

  5. Yep!! those scraps look like peach salsa - and those happy tortilla chips they serve in restaurants!! I like your little block - you should make a garden quilt with it - much easier that making the starts and trying to grow in between the freezes! We also live in CO ( northern) and my husband gardens like crazy - this has been the year of the zucchini!!

  6. Melva, I so enjoyed this little window into your family through your gardening and canning memories. You described it all so vividly that now I feel like I can remember Dave leaping out of the bramble to startle the deer! Interestingly, that is exactly the tactic that was advised by a wildlife expert for "training" wild coyotes to stay away from your yard. She said that homeowners typically want the offending coyote to be shot or removed, but when you do that, another coyote moves in to take its place. But if you come at the coyote flailing your arms and shouting, you condition the coyote that humans are unpredictable and dangerous; best to stay away.

    Now, for your little block -- how do you feel about the colors? Do you have more of those fabrics, and/or more that would coordinate? Lately I'm feeling the love for samplers, either all blocks the same size or the more modern ones with all different size blocks. So you could make a few more just like this one and then wander around picking blocks from wherever and making them whatever size you want, and stick them all together into a sampler. Of course a pin cushion would be a heck of a lot faster, though. It could even become a little coaster; 4" is perfect for that.

  7. I use to can ages ago. Your salsa looks delicious! Nice block, too.

  8. Oh wow! The block is so tiny! Thanks so much for sharing with Creative Compulsions!


  9. Thank you for sharing such a lovely picture into your family as well as the recipe! Your block is lovely. Four inches? It would be a lovely pincushion for sure...or a coaster? I wonder how it would look framed and hanging in your kitchen as a great story starter? It's lovely and filled with happy memories! :)

  10. Curious what kind of peppers you use. I don't like spicy, so one year I made it with peaches, pineapple and banana peppers, plus the tomatoes and other things. It was delicious, I thought! Love your little salsa block! By the time my mother died and I lived with my aunt, she didn't can any more, but I grew up on the tales of canning and early in our marriage, my husband and I were presented with an abundance of black raspberries at a camp ground in New Jersey. We decided we had to take advantage of all that free fruit! We bought tons of jars and Sure-Jell at the local general store (I did mention FREE fruit, right? LOL How expensive that turned out to be!) and we made jam over the wood fire at the campground. So ... it tasted slightly smokey, but we thought it was the best thing ever! It started us on a marriage of making jam together. =) Good memories of strawberry and prickly pear jam and jelly!