Fresh salsa in November; the garden makes me feel lucky

Even though it's November, we're still getting cherry tomatoes.

We had a short burst of warm weather on one of my days off this week, and I was able to spend some time in the garden. I cleared out some flowers in one of the flower beds so we can move chives and oregano into that area, making more space in the main garden for garlic. Then I picked jalapeno peppers and tomatoes.

We still have a lot of green tomatoes on the vine, a side effect of our decision to grow San Marzanos. They make great sauce, but they ripen slowly, and for the past two years, I’ve found myself wondering which we’ll get first: tomatoes or frost. I think next year I am going to switch to another variety.

As I was clearing space, it suddenly hit me: I had everything I needed for salsa fresca, or rather, chunky salsa that’s not cooked.

Here’s how I make it: Chop half an onion. Seed and chop a jalapeno pepper or two. Chop a couple of tomatoes. Chop some cilantro. Mix it all in a bowl. Stir in the juice of one lime.

I had onions, tomatoes, peppers and cilantro from our garden _ a rarity given that our cilantro usually comes early and our tomatoes late. But this year, I planted a late round of cilantro in our hoop house and it’s just starting to peak. A lot of the San Marzanos are still green, and they’ll never ripen on the vine because it’s getting colder. But we had enough red ones for salsa.

The only element we hadn’t grown was lime, and I had a few of those already sitting on my kitchen counter.

It occurred to me that it was a rare luxury to have everything I needed for salsa at once, and in November, fresh from our garden.

The garden often makes me feel lucky. We have so much food and so much good food, and G. and I spend relatively little money on it. I mean, we pay in labor, and we put in hours and hours of labor. But I still feel like we’re lucky in a world in which three times the population of the U.S. is starving and many families, even in the U.S., can’t afford three meals a day, let alone three healthy meals a day.

The garden is a blessing, and I wish we could share it more. G. and I were talking about this last night after watching a video of a speech by the founder of Kitchen Gardeners International. We’d like to do something to get more people to garden or expand their gardens or … something.

I taught a friend to can this week and that felt good. We’re thinking maybe we can get a group of gardeners together to swap seeds or swap produce and share information. Or maybe we can do some cooking sessions focusing on a particular vegetable. We haven’t figured it out yet, and of course, time is always in short supply. But we’d like to find a way to share the happiness the garden has brought us.

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