When we bought our house a few years ago one of the things we liked most was a fairly large garden patch in the backyard. "Won't this be a great place to teach the kids about self-sufficiency?," I said. Ok, so they don't help as much as I'd like, but they are young and they do help a little--mostly harvesting cuz that's the fun part. Three years later we are growing things besides weeds. This weekend I bottled 2 batches of salsa (so about 14- 16 oz. bottles). Anyone who knew me before I got married can stop laughing now! The "domestic goddess" has visited our house several times over the past 11 1/2 years and I am fairly capable of cooking a meal that doesn't kill anyone... now.
The salsa turned out great--a little mild, but if I add my bottled jalapenos from last year's garden, it's perfect. I have some children who don't like to breathe fire like I do, so we kick the heat down a notch for them. It was a little work, and I discovered why experts tell you to wear gloves when seeding peppers--lost a good pair of contacts this morning because I chose not to follow their advice. Anyhow I figured if we are growing peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, carrots, squashes and onions, I ought to know what to do with them. I use this great recipe below about twice a month to use our garden veggies fresh. Even if you don't have a garden, the produce in the markets will make for a delightful meal.
1 lb hamburger, cooked and drained
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs of celery
1/2 c. chopped green beans
1 tomato, chopped
2 med. potatoes, diced and peeled
1/2 sm. zucchini, chopped (optional)
1 c. onion chopped (or 1 Tbsp. onion flake)
1 lg. 32 oz. can tomato sauce
4 beef bullion cubes, crushed
4 cups of water
1/2 c. barley
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Tbsp. chili powder
You can either layer the veggies, with carrots and potatoes on bottom, then the rest of the ingredients on top and cook it on low 8-10 hours in the crockpot; or cook it for 45 min - 1 hr. on the stove. You can use regular barley and add it at the beginning of the cooking process or quick barley and add it 10 min. before stew is done. This dish is great for leftovers, which I normally hate, or you can freeze it and thaw it for later. Cook once, eat twice. AWESOME!