I have children. Sometimes those children enjoy consistency in their meals. We are all, I think, familiar with beans – red or not – on Mondays, and I suspect most of you have heard of “taco Tuesdays.”
In our home that means a very specific thing. It means hard-shell tacos with ground beef, cheese and sour cream, as well as a packaged cilantro-lime rice. I am a food snob, but I even I can enjoy a hard-shell taco with the right ingredients. The rice, on the other hand, is an abomination.
But I was a picky eater as a kid myself, and I am glad that my youngest daughter eats anything as she is a tiny thing. I grin and bear it when she prefers Kraft macaroni and cheese over the baked version I make from my grandmother’s recipe. I do not flinch when she wants frozen “hot pockets,” and I buy her Chef Boyardee ravioli instead of making it by hand.
Because she shows signs – earlier than I did – of developing a palate. She likes a poached egg in her instant ramen; she insists on a pinch of ground, toasted cumin in her canned black beans and she has learned to cook eggs three different ways.
So, this Tuesday I made a quick salsa with some chiles and herbs from my garden, a picadillo (without raisins, which are anathema to my wife), guacamole and the aforementioned boxed rice abomination much earlier than usual because on most days I pick my youngest daughter up at school.
My wife did that today and on their way home my youngest texted me to ask if I would start water boiling for pasta. “TACO TUESDAY” was my response, and then I received a plethora of texts most of which involved “emojis” with hands clasped in prayer or “smiley faces” with tears along with “pleeeaaasse!”
We ate tacos.
In other news, I received a press release recently about a new salsa: Sam’s Famous Salsa. I will quote it here in bits and pieces.
Good morning, Robert – I hope you’re having a great week and I hope you’re getting hungry. Get ready to sink your teeth into your newest craveable obsession, Sam’s Famous Salsa. A true authentic Hispanic salsa with a modern twist, Chef Sam Derr was taught his family’s salsa recipe that dates back well over 100 years ago. The recipe originated from the Tarahumara Indian tribe with heavy Hispanic, Latino and Native American flavors that were picked up as his family traveled north several generations ago.
This is not the sort of thing I’d normally share with you, but the what caught my eye is the following:
Sam’s Famous Salsa delivers mouth smacking flavors via fresh produce and a state-of-the-art cold pasteurization process called HPP which allows for a natural 4-month shelf life. Other salsas on the market are mostly heat pasteurized and cooked at 145 degrees. This causes the product to lose its fresh taste and then the need for shelf-life extenders, flavorings or fillers. Not Sam’s! There is no vinegar, xantham gum, or stabilizers added and the low sodium content is beneficial to all. Non-GMO and Gluten-free certified, Sam’s Famous Salsa is natural, hearty, crisp and down right addictive.
I have no idea what this salsa tastes like and I think it’s probably not a good idea to describe anything as “addictive” these days, but if they can pasteurize stuff at low temperatures then I don’t care.
There are some things that have to be made just before you eat them. Pesto, for example, is a wonderful thing that you can buy in shelf-stable jars at the supermarket but you’re making a terrible mistake if you do.
Ask yourself this, “do I need pesto?” If the answer is “yes,” then make pesto. Make it in a blender or a mortar and pestle or whatever, but if you need pesto and you buy it from a jar you found on a shelf then you didn’t really need pesto in the fist place because what you’ve bought may be called “pesto,” but it’s just about like using dried basil in place of fresh.
Fresh pico de gallo is another of these things. You can buy it in jars or cans but why would you? The basic recipe is tomato, onion, peppers (hot or mild), cilantro or other herbs and lime. You can make it with a knife or you can make it in a food processor and either way it’s five minutes well-spent.
If you want to make salsa that you can have six months after you made it, you can can it, but you will not have the same thing when you open that jar because you’ve heated the ingredients to the point that all of the fresh, herbal flavors have been lost. It’s “salsa” for sure and it may be delicious but it’s not the same thing. So if the aforementioned Sam has discovered a way to avoid poisoning people without pasteurizing salsa, all credit is due.
I have not tasted Sam’s salsa and to be honest I’m not all that interested in it. I’m much more interested in the technique, because it could be useful in any number of applications where freshness is key.
I’ll be surprised if there’s a way to effectively pasteurize even acidic foods like salsa without hitting a temperature that kills the freshness of the ingredients, but I’d love to be proven wrong. By all means please share your preferences for jarred salsa, because I have my own and there’s nothing wrong with it. But if I could get something in a shelf-stable form that comes close to what I can do at home? Boy howdy kids, that’d be something.