Monday, February 15, 2010

better than snow shoveling

The wind is howling and the temperature has dropped. Yes, I am in Florida on a winter break, hahaha! I am not complaining. We are guests in my mother-in-laws beautiful home overlooking Sarasota Bay. I can see pelicans and herons soaring past the large plate glass window looking for their breakfast in wind whipped water. Peace and tranquility abounds.
A windy walk on the beach. The air temperatures barely brushed the low 50s.

For me the big event of the trip is a visit to the Saturday farmer's market. I have to say that Sarasota is a little loose in their definition of farmer's market. It is really more of an outdoor produce market. Much of what is sold comes from as far as California. I am not sure that the concept of local produce has been grasped here. As a shopper you have to pay attention to what each vendor is selling and ask where it comes from. I even came across the ubiquitous garlic from China. Seriously.

The sights and sounds of beautiful fruit and vegetables managed to sooth my cranky soul and I sent the kids forth to gather the ingredients for tomato salsa, a task they readily complied with as this is one of their most favorite treats. I taught them this recipe years ago and it has become a fun group project with the big payoff, typical of kitchen activities, that we get to eat our efforts!

Which brings me to this video of chef Jamie Oliver talking about the state of our collective eating habits in this country. The video was brought to my attention in a post from blogger, cook book writer and famed Long Island City dinner party hostess Zora O'Neill. Thank you, Zora.
Oliver is blunt in his assesment, to say the least. AND I have always found him to be way too fond of his own pretty face which he plasters on everything that passes through his hands. None-the-less, his message is a good one and stimulates plenty of thought. Teaching our children to cook is a very worthy endeavor and I have to admit that for all my home cooking, my kids could learn a few more lessons by the stove. I compiled a list of foods they knew how to cook by themselves at a young age and I see they certainly could survive on it, perhaps not thrive. So my mission is to encourage us all to teach our survive and thrive skills to those we love.

French Toast
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Pasta with cheese and peas
Tuna salad sandwich
Scrambled eggs
Green Salad
Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce

Ok, lets get back to salsa- fun and easy to make, it turns any occassion into a party. We are talking basically a big wet salad made from fresh ingredients. Even vegetable haters love it. Show the kids how to make this and they will party for life!

After you finish this life lesson you may want to relax and sip some wine while nibbling on whatever salsa the kids leave in the bowl, which probably won't be much. Amanda, does any wine pairing come to mind for Tomato Salsa?

Tomato Salsa
1 large tomato finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
3 Tbs. cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lime
Place all ingredients in a bowl and allow to marinate for 15 minutes before serving.

Love this post, Deb! Let me first say that I can only hope that by age 10 my children are eating tuna salad, guacamole and peas. Not in their repertoire as of yet, at ages 6 and 4. But as my husband and I love all things food, I am praying my children will follow suit. I feel fortunate that I am married to a culinary graduate, and it would be a wonderful pleasure should my kids inherit his culinary talents! Currently, my kids can fix their own breakfast as long as it's candy and is within their reach. (Even if it's not within their reach, they will go to great lengths to get it). Yesterday morning, I tried to "sleep in" a little. At 9:15 am I went downstairs to find my son, chocolate lollipop in hand (and on face), and my daughter holding a box of gumdrops in one hand and 3 tootsie roll pops in the other. Yes, I do have to start working on their culinary skills.

Well, this recipe is making me crave salsa and chips! I usually take the easy way out and purchase "home-made" salsa from Whole Foods, or Kings. I think it's time I made my own. But to answer Deb's question - yes! A wine pairing absolutely comes to mind! When I think of salsa, I immediately think of a crisp, lively, refreshing white. While this is the sort of wine I'd be more apt to drink in the warmer weather, I can't think of anything I'd enjoy more with this fresh, bright salsa.

Albarino would be my first choice for this recipe. This white varietal is grown primarily in Galicia, in northwest Spain. The Rias Baixas DO is particularly known for producing a significant amount of this grape. Albarinos typically are very aromatic, and light, with ripe fruit flavors of apple, citrus fruit and peach. The wines are crisp with lively, bright acidity.

Bodegas Martin Codax is known for making wonderful Albarinos. The 2008 Burgans Albarino from Bodegas Martin Codax is one of my favorite everyday white wines. (when purchasing an Albarino, always be sure to get one from a recent vintage - the wines do not age well.  Younger is better). The Burgans is fruity and complex with great balance - and a great value at $12.99.

I am having a "mom's night out" at my home on March 19th, to welcome Spring. I have been thinking of the menu. Now I have one more recipe to add! Thanks, Deb!


  1. I was in South Beach Miami a few years ago and encountered the same thing - an outdoor farmers market with some produced shipped in from out of state. Bizarre! Biding my time until June and July for fresh tomatoes here...


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