Observe and Wonder
“Eyes Open” first came to mind when trying to decide on a name for this blog, but others have already used that title, as well as “Open Eyes” and “Looking Around.” I suppose it’s not possible to come up with a title that has not already been used, so for now I’ll just stick with “Observe and Wonder”.
April 26, 2021 Salsa
Anyone who has gone with me to a Mexican restaurant has observed that I fill up on salsa before the meal ever comes. That’s how much I love salsa.
What does the word “salsa” mean to you? I’ve heard of peach and mango salsa and similar variations, but I’ve never tried them. Subconsciously, it seems to me like they shouldn’t even be legal. If they’re not made with tomatoes, can they really be called “salsa”? Obviously, the answer is yes, but I have not evolved enough to try them. I like salsa that’s hot, but not too hot; it definitely needs to have a “bite”. In my book, a good basic salsa needs tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, and, most importantly, cilantro.
I’ve observed that there are so many products out there, it’s bewildering to try to pick one from the store shelves. I can tolerate Pace® Picante Sauce, and I’m pretty fond of Herdez® Salsa Casera Medium, but only after I’ve puréed it since I don’t care for chunky salsa. I remember trying a XOCHiTL salsa that I loved but have not been able to find since that one time. I’ve tried various brands and soon regretted that I had wasted my money on them, even though I felt virtuous in helping to support little-known family businesses like Drew’s Organics. This is not to criticize Drew’s Organics; the one product I tried just didn’t appeal to my taste.
Making salsa at home has always seemed daunting. Years ago, at San Jacinto College, one of my adult ESL (English as a Second Language) students taught me how she made it. Her method involved boiling fresh tomatoes and removing the skins before blending with serrano peppers, cilantro, and onion. Hers was delicious, but I never thought my attempt quite measured up. Some recipes, especially in restaurants, require roasting instead of boiling, but my efforts at roasting tomatoes have not gone too well either.
I don’t mind reading, researching, and organizing. In a three-ring binder on my kitchen shelf, I have at least nine salsa recipes I have been intending to try, including Roasted Red Salsa, Salsa Cruda, Grilled Jalapeño and Tomato Salsa, Knock Your Socks Off Salsa, Healthy Gourmet Salsa, and Pick ‘Em Up and Dust ‘Em Off Smoked Salsa. Some of these have a ton of ingredients (up to 19), including things I never knew existed. Since I am not fond of recipes that take a lot of time, I think I’ll forego the hunt for the exotic ingredients and also try to avoid any recipe that requires more than three of the following: combining, husking, rinsing, quartering, chopping, adding, placing, soaking, draining, stemming, seeding, peeling, smoking, drizzling, folding, smashing, baking, roasting, blending, grilling, or heating. In short, I’d rather spend two hours writing about salsa than actually making it.
This morning I had the now obviously fortuitous circumstance of not having any salsa for my omelet. While the omelet was still in the pan, I hurriedly opened a can of diced tomatoes and dumped the whole thing in the blender along with a bunch of cilantro, about a quarter of an onion, and a serrano pepper that had been in my freezer since I grew serranos two years ago. I quickly pulsed the blender a few times to chop it all into a purée. The whole process took less than a minute, and I was very pleased with the result. Best of all, I had plenty left over to store for later use.
I wonder now why I often make things more complicated than necessary. I don’t need 19 ingredients and 10 steps to make a delicious “anything”. It’s just not worth the trouble. Is it wrong to keep things simple?
I wonder what got into me that I would trust my inspiration when normally I like to do things “by the book”. Whatever it was, I’m glad for it because now I know what to do to make a salsa that I can enjoy with my omelets or chips and can only hope that those who dine with me will be equally pleased.
April 22, 2021: The Sky
I went out the back door around noon just to check my mini vegetable garden but lingered a few minutes to soak up some sunshine and enjoy the fragrance of blooms I cannot yet identify. At first, I just sat on the steps but soon realized I wanted to be out longer than I first intended and would be more comfortable in a chair. I walked around to the front porch to get a folding chair so I could set it up in the grass. Sitting on the back steps had partially blocked the sun’s rays, so I felt moving away from the house would give me a bigger dose of vitamin D.
It was warm because the sun was shining brightly, but it wasn’t uncomfortably hot. Blue sky. Green grass. Lush foliage. Lizards scampering. Birds singing. A gentle breeze. Lovely. I closed my eyes and prayed. I realized how much more peaceful I felt when I wasn’t sitting in front of my computer.
But then I looked up and saw the tell-tale trails of planes that had apparently just passed by. There were streaks scattered here and there, and that disturbed me even though there wasn’t a lot of crisscrossing. I kept watching these trails, and just like many times before, they spread out across the sky rapidly. Blue sky was eaten up by grayness, and the sun’s warmth and light were gradually blocked. The birds stopped singing. A strange chill was in the air. Soon the entire sky was gray, and I could look straight up at the sun, which was barely visible behind the blanket of “clouds”.
Since I study the sky quite often when I see these “trails,” the rapid transformation wasn’t surprising. The grayness did not move in from north, south, east, or west. The grayness fell from above—from those trails left behind by aircraft. The chill went straight to my bones, which I found intolerable due to my arthritis. My puny little vegetable garden was missing out on the sunshine it needed to thrive and potentially supplement my food supply. The vitamin D that God wanted to give me was snatched away. Knowing that what is up must come down, I wondered what particles were falling on me and the other living things around me. Were they dangerous? Would they hurt my garden? How would those particles affect the climate? Were they from a Bill Gates project? I wondered who gave the aircraft permission to fly over me and pollute my air. I wondered who knew what was in the “trails.” I wondered who was paying for it and if the pilots actually knew what they were doing. I wondered how much it cost and who was profiting. I wondered who was going to expose it and who had the power to stop it.
That’s what I observed.
That’s what I wondered.
This is going on not only in Texas, but in Wyoming and everywhere else.