The Here and the Now

Though I have been pretty silent here again lately, I have not been completely absent from the blog world. For the past few couple weeks I have been working on launching a photo project with some friends back in Toledo.

I have been mulling over the idea of taking on a photo challenge for several years now. The idea first began to grow when a blog friend, Brooke, launched her “A Year of [Newly-Wedded] Mornings” project, chronicling her first year of marriage with a photo each morning. The photos were lovely, simple glimpses into the quiet moments at the beginning of her days. She shared that she was inspired by another blog started by two friends living on opposite coasts who shared a photo each morning (they later did an evening project as well and now are in the middle of a weekend project). I liked the idea of challenging myself to see and capture beauty every day, but I also loved the idea of using this as a tool to maintain and strengthen friendships over distance. When we moved over 700 miles away from most of our friends and family, the idea grew even more appealing. I wrestled with the limitations of my point-and-shoot camera at the time, though, and so set aside the idea for a while.

When I bought my new camera, though, I resurrected the idea and shared it with some good friends back in Toledo who, along with sharing a passion for community, creativity, and adoption, also love photography. Together we brainstormed ideas and put together the blog, deciding to focus on the beauty of each season. We’re three weeks into the project now and have finally worked out the formatting glitches.

And so, without further ado, I’d like to present….

(Click the picture to go to the blog)

Salsa

On Monday Kate from the Boiler Room invited me to help her can salsa with some of the tomatoes from their garden (they have some of the biggest tomatoes I’ve ever seen!). As we chopped and stirred and waited for water to boil, she shared a bit of her story and I shared a bit of mine, and we talked about gardening, preserving, cooking, sewing, and recycling, among other things. It was encouraging and refreshing.

And at the end of the afternoon, Kate sent me home with homemade salsa and an abundance of fresh vegetables from her garden (tomatoes, collards greens, kale, and basil). I felt so blessed in so many ways!

Here’s the recipe we used (from this site):

Salsa for Canning

Ingredients

8 Ripe tomatoes
1 ½ c. of chopped mild green Anaheim-type peppers
1 c. minced jalapeno pepper
2 ½ c. chopped yellow onions
6 cloves of garlic
2 ½ tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. of black pepper
2 Tbsp. of canning salt
12 oz. of tomato paste
15 oz. tomato sauce
1/3rd c. white vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1/4th cup fresh and chopped cilantro

Directions:

Finely grind the tomatoes, peppers, onion, and garlic in a food processor. Pour into a large pot and add the rest of the ingredients, except for the lime juice and cilantro. Mix well. Set over heat and boil for 10 minutes. Keep on stirring while it boils. After boiling, turn off the flame and remove the salsa from heat. Add the lime juice and cilantro. Pour this mixture into pint jars (one batch makes six pints, if I remember correctly). Place the canning lids and rings on the jars again and process the jars in boiling hot water for around 15 minutes (usually, a big aluminum pot is used to place these jars for the hot water bath. The boiling hot water must cover at least 1 inch from the bottom of the jars). Ensure that the leads of the jars are tightly closed. Store the salsa cans in a cool and dry place. Once you open the lid of the jar, you must refrigerate the jar. It is also advisable to use the salsa within one year. Before opening the jar, make sure the lid of the jar is not bulging. After opening, check for foam, mold or some unusual odor. Sometimes, this happens, if the salsa is not cooked properly or something goes wrong with the recipe.

Friendship and Food

Last night I went to a girls night with some of the women from our Tuesday night prayer gathering, plus a couple women I hadn’t met before. Natalie had set out games, nail polish, and supplies for facial, but we ended up just talking all evening. At one point we talked about friendship and how hard it is sometimes to establish friendships in a new place (several of us recently moved to Kansas City). And we decided that it’s good to gather with just women like that sometimes. Yes indeed.

Anyways, here’s the recipe for the bean dip I brought (really easy and really tasty — a good combination):

Spicy Bean Dip with Yogurt

Ingredients:

1 can of beans (I used black eyed peas)
5 cloves of garlic
1/4 c. plain yogurt
3 tsp. lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. cilantro (I used dried, because that’s what I had, but I’m sure fresh would be even better)
1 tsp. hot sauce

Directions:

Blend beans and garlic in the food processor until finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve with pitas, chips, or crackers (I put it on woven wheat crackers).