December 8 – Meet Mr. SWAK

If I seemed a bit more stressed than usual the week following Thanksgiving, it was because I threw a big surprise party for Keith’s 50th birthday. I was so stressed out.  Do you know how hard it is to surprise that man?

I devised an elaborate cover story involving a fake school movie night, complete with a phony flyer I from Mason’s school.  Yes, I can be quite devious.  Fortunately I was able to get him to cooperate with my phony plan and no one blew the surprise.  Even Mason was able to keep the secret!

The party was a huge success and nearly everyone invited was able to attend.  Keith was totally surprised and had a great time at his party.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet Mr. SWAK yet, I have to admit that I have a pretty awesome fella.  When he isn’t busy helping with one of my hair-brained schemes, fixing something at the store, etc. you can find him at his business.  You see, we are both entrepreneurs.

My guy owns our local NAPA store, and you won’t find anyone more knowledgable about parts. Parts for cars, trucks, tractors, lawn mowers, you name it.  His motto is “I can fix anything from the break of day to a broken heart”, that is usually followed by an eye roll on my part.  That is just one of his many cheesy sayings.

Keith is also an incredible gardener.  My thumb is brown, so we make a good team. He grows, I cook. His passion is heirloom tomatoes. And when he has a good yield during the summer, that means Keith will be making his incredible salsa.

The key to fabulous fresh salsa is heirloom tomatoes.  The weirder and uglier looking the better. I read an article recently about why tomatoes today have no flavor, and they have discovered that breeding perfectly red and beautiful tomatoes has killed their flavor.  And heirloom varieties of tomatoes are about the only ones left that haven’t been altered.

Every spring he goes to the farmer’s market and gets starter plants.  His favorites are Brandywine and Cherokee Purple.

Salsa is one of those things you tend to make without an exact recipe, but I managed to pin him down long enough to share his recipe with you.

Keith’s Fabulous Salsa

  • 6 very ripe heirloom tomatoes (the riper, the better!)
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • 2-4 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 teaspoons salt
  • pinch of dried oregano leaves (optional)
  • 1 bunch of green onions (optional)
  • Cut tomatoes into large hunks, then process in a food processor or blender until desired consistency.  Keith always makes it smooth and without big chunks because that’s how I like it, but you can make yours chunkier if you prefer.
  • Finely chop the serrano peppers.  Omit the seeds if you want mild salsa, but it isn’t a overly hot salsa if you include the seeds.
  • Finely chop the cilantro and garlic
  • If you want onions, finely chop the tender white and green parts.  If serving within the first day of making the salsa, Keith will include them in the salsa.  If he makes a big batch to enjoy for several days he’ll omit the onions.  As the salsa is stored in the refrigerator, the onions become more potent and can overpower the taste of the salsa.
  • Combine peppers, cilantro, garlic and onions (if using) with tomatoes.  Add olive oil, salt, and a pinch of dried oregano leaves.  Sometimes he puts oregano in the salsa, sometimes he doesn’t.  Depends on his mood.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste.  Tomatoes love salt, so you may wish to add more depending on your preference.

I’ve been seeing heirloom tomatoes popping up at the grocery stores every now and then, so maybe I won’t have to wait until summer for more salsa.

If you like Keith’s salsa, but lack the motivation to make it yourself I recommend getting salsa to go from Iguana Grill in OKC.  They have good chips too.  This is Keith’s favorite salsa, rather than his own of course!

No sewing for me tonight.  I’ve been busy getting pie crusts and fillings together for tomorrow’s Pie Party.  I’ll be preparing Peach, Almond Frangipane, Pecan and Pumpkin mini pies.  Party starts at 1 so come and eat pie with us.  We’ll be open until 8 for the Victorian Walk, with nalbinding and spinning demonstrations starting at 4. Come see us!

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