Just a few weeks ago, I opened my mailbox and found an envelope addressed to me. It turned out to be a check. The Upper Room magazine was kind enough to publish a meditation I had written. The check they sent was the first I have ever received for my writing. I was paid $30.00, hardly sufficient to quit my day job (as if I wanted to), but enough to be thrilling.
I thought hard about what to do with the money. Even though it wasn’t much, its purpose needed to be something special. I finally decided that a trip to the State Farmer’s Market was in order. My earnings would go toward buying some fruit and veggies and for my summer project: salsa.
Each year, I try at least one new project; a new recipe or category thereof, a new cooking or preserving method. Often my “project” will wind up with a ribbon around it, given away as a Christmas present. Last year, I canned chutney, sweet and sour sauce, and relish from an enormous recipe. The year before that was my cheese marathon. While early Christmas preparation is a benefit, the point is doing something outside the familiar, stretching the boundaries.
So this year, the project is salsa. I am a huge fan of the stuff personally and I hope to give it away. Also, since canning was a project from last year, I can make a lot and store it. My canning “Bible” is the book, So Easy To Preserve, offered by the Cooperative Extension of The University of Georgia. It has taken me step by step through the canning process, even helped me with tips on freezing and drying foods. It has lots of canning recipes, including salsas. When I saw a tomato salsa that required 16 to 18 pint jars, I knew I had found my target.
The process of making the salsa was a humorous one to say the least. It deserves a post of its own and in a few days you will have it. Just know that as I type these words, seventeen jars of salsa sit on my shelf. They are not labeled yet (and heaven knows when I’ll get around to it), but in a few months they will be on their way to good homes.
I like to plan these Christmas gifts early. I can enjoy ahead of time the pleasure that is both given and received. Like singing Christmas carols in July, making gifts takes the edge off the heat. People are rarely unhappy with the presents that are edible, and it is truly a gift to feed people.
We live in a cycle of giving and receiving. We receive from the world around us - probably much more than we know or could be grateful for – and we are recipients of God’s gift of grace which we will never deserve. But the greatest gift of all, the best ever, is the gift of giving; the gift of preparing jars of yummy food to give in celebration of the birth of our Lord, to know that people will be nourished and reminded of the goodness of our God. May we enjoy such gifts every day of the year.
The meditation I wrote for the Upper Room will be printed in the November/December edition, on December 11, 2012. I am deeply grateful for The Upper Room Magazine for their wonderful ministry and for their willingness to print my work.
Here is a recipe from the Bass Family and Friends Cookbook that will be coming into season soon!
Apple Crisp (or Pear Crisp)
6 lg. Granny Smith apples ½ c. orange juice
1 c. sugar ½ t. cinnamon
¾ c. flour ¼ t. salt
6 T. butter
Slice apples thin. Place in greased 11x7 pan. Pour orange juice over apples. Combine ½ c. sugar and cinnamon and spread over apples. Combine flour, ½ c. sugar and butter; mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake at 350o 45-60 minutes.
Same as above except:
Cook pears until tender with sugar and water. Drain. Then continue as above. – Ann Bass