Thursday, October 30, 2008

End of the Garden Salsa

I brought in the last of the peppers and tomatoes last week before the heavy frost could permeate through the protective old bedsheets I strew over my plants every fall. Since then I've been busy drying, freezing, pickling and making other foods with the last of the garden.
I must note, the vegetable garden was abundant this year as usual, but our tomatoes and peppers didn't ripen as usual. I believe these fruits require warm summer nights to ripen, and this year our nights were cooler than normal.

Every year is different, and this year we needed recipes featuring green tomatoes and/or under ripe peppers.
I froze diced peppers and whole Roma tomatoes in bags, froze tomato sauce in cartons, dehydrated red paprika peppers for grinding to paprika, red and green poblanos for grinding, and smoked green poblanos to dry for ancho powder.
On the recipe side, I came up with sweet spiced pickled green cherry tomatoes, green tomato vegetarian mincemeat, and green tomato salsa.
All I have left of fresh peppers left are a few beautifully ripe Giant Marconis for the grill, and a half a bag of Fooled You jalapenos for whatever.

Here is my recipe for Green Tomato Salsa that I adapted (quite a bit) from an old Pacific Northwest Extension bulletin. You can make it as hot as you like it by adjusting the peppers. I won't add the canning directions here because I quit canning years ago, and the recipe is not exactly what the Extension did, so the acidity might be different. It's a joy to be able to make something so good from nearly all my own garden. The onions were from the market, but I just imagine if I could only grow my own limes and black pepper...

Green Tomato Salsa

6 cups chopped green tomatoes
4 cups chopped (seeded) green poblano peppers
1/2 cup finely chopped jalapeno peppers
4 cups chopped white onions
6-8 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
a handful cilantro leaves, stems removed
a handful of chopped parsley leaves, stems removed
3 Tbsp crumbled dried oregano leaves
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 cup bottled lime juice
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or so. Cool and ladle into storage containers.
Refrigerate and use, or freeze.
Makes 6-8 pints.

Options: Tomatillos can be substituted for green tomatoes. Lemon juice for lime juice.
Also, commercial salsa is sweeter, usually sugar is in the list of ingredients. I added some sugar/vinegar syrup I had leftover from pickling, which worked well for sweetening for a dipping salsa.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Seize the Day

I finally found a copy to share of the Monsanto Song that I mentioned so long ago. The lyrics must be out there too for a sing along. It begins "Those polar bears, now, Who really cares, now..."
Enjoy(?) :

I'm on this email list serve that sends a newsletter called Toxic Times, and every time I read an issue I get more and more disappointed in my g-g-generation, in my fellow Americans, and in The System. This Herbie, Garden-y blog was originally supposed to reflect the happy happy side of my character, and accordingly, I usually stick to reports on pollution and politics on my cranky blog.
That's why I haven't been around here for a while, not that y'all missed me. But crankiness aside, hasn't this been the longest, dirtiest, most depressing political silly season you've ever survived?
Where was I, oh yes - I'm posting this copy of the latest email newsletter from MNCEH in hopes that more moderate people, the kind who like a happy garden-y read will think about what we are doing here.

Enough is enough.


Toxic Times
A weekly recap of the top stories on toxics in Michigan and beyond
From the Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health

News Highlights from October 19 - 26, 2008

Download the following information as a pdf by visiting:


Lead-poisoning rates high among kids in Kalamazoo Co.
Kalamazoo Gazette, Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lead poisoning, which can result from paint dust stirred up by renovation or remodeling projects, can impair a child's development and at high levels may cause death. Kalamazoo is one of 13 communities identified by the Michigan Department of Community Health as having high rates of childhood lead poisoning.

Food allergies climb in American kids, study says
Detroit Free Press, Thursday, October 22, 2008

Food allergies in American children seem to be on the rise, now affecting about 3 million kids, according to the first federal study of the problem. But experts said that might be because parents are more aware and quicker to have their kids checked out by a doctor.

Residents take up fight over cancer
The Detroit News, Wednesday, October 22, 2008

State asked for health study of industrial area believed to have elevated number of cases. Not more than 10 inches tall, three wooden crosses spray-painted white jut out of the front yard of Martha Allain's 11th Street home.

TEXAS TOWNSHIP CHEMICAL BARRELS Cleanup could finish in December
Kalamazoo Gazette, Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should finish cleanup of dangerous chemicals from property at 10135 West O Ave. in early to mid-December, officials said at a public meeting Tuesday.


EPA weakens new lead rule after White House objects
Detroit Free Press, Thursday, October 23, 2008

After the White House intervened, the Environmental Protection Agency last week weakened a rule on airborne lead standards at the last minute so that fewer known polluters would have their emissions monitored.
The White House Office of Management and Budget objected to the way the EPA would have some facilities, such as lead-emitting battery recycling plants, monitored.

Toys containing banned plastics still on market
Wall Street Journal, Thursday, October 23, 2008

Starting February 10, 2009, children’s toys and childcare products containing three types of phthalates will be banned and those containing a different three phthalates will be placed on a temporary ban. Manufacturers of such products are attempting to liquidate their stock before the ban takes effect, and consumer advocacy groups are complaining that the law has effectively offered a grace period to sell the products rather than requiring their disposal.

Fire retardant costumes pose Halloween danger
NBC, Friday, October 24, 2008

The fire safety label, which was once viewed as a safety seal of approval on Halloween costumes, is now triggering concern as parents weigh the benefits against the potential health risks caused by PBDE used on the costumes.

Dentists back sealants, despite concerns
New York Times, Monday, October 20, 2008

The chemical is bisphenol-A, or BPA, which is widely used in the making of the hard, clear plastic called polycarbonate, and is also found in the linings of food and soft-drink cans. Most human exposure to the chemical clearly comes from the food supply. But traces have also been found in dental sealants. Despite the concerns, the American Dental Association remains strongly in favor of the sealants.

Critics slam chemical report
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Friday, October 24, 2008

Scientists, lawmakers, and advocacy groups criticized a government report stating that bisphenol-A is safe. Scientists have noted serious flaws in the study, and lawmakers have requested a ban on bisphenol-A. Much of the criticism intensified when it was discovered that the plastics industry was responsible for much of the FDA report.

Lead, smoke exposure in kids linked to ADHD
Cincinnati Enquirer, Monday, October 20, 2008
Eliminating childhood exposure to lead and tobacco smoke could cut the incidence of ADHD in the U.S. by more than a third, according to new research from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Individually, each substance increases a child's risk of developing attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, but children exposed to both environmental toxins are more than eight times more likely to develop ADHD than children who weren't exposed to either substance, the study found.


U.S. company challenges Quebec pesticide ban
Toronto Star, Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Opponents are charging that a U.S. company's challenge of a ban on the weed killer 2,4-D in Quebec is undemocratic and based on misconceptions of its safety. Dow Chemical, who produces the herbicide, has filed a $2 million dollar suit against the federal government because of the ban.

Toxic toys, jewelry recalled
Toronto Star, Friday, October 24, 2008

Health Canada has ordered thousands of toys and children's costume jewelry items off store shelves after a Star investigation found they contained dangerously high levels of lead.

Articles were researched and compiled by Grant DeJongh, MNCEH Intern.
Subscribe to Toxic Times – send an email to
with SUBSCRIBE TOXIC TIMES in the subject line.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

facing facts

Open Letter to the President-Elect by Michael Pollan: Farmer in Chief
By Michael Pollan

New York Times, October 10, 2008
Straight to the Source

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food.
Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration - the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact - so easy to overlook these past few years - that the health of a nation's food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.

Finish reading here