Salsa leaves lots of room for creativity

Sometimes in preparing food, I get a little self-conscious. I'm afraid I'm not doing it right. But overall, cooking isn't something that's right or wrong. As long as you're pleased with the results and they're edible, not all is lost. I love to make fresh salsa, although I know mine is way off from the variety made in Latin American countries - or even served in Americanized Mexican restaurants, which usually has a lot of thin liquid, is spicy and is less chunky. However, I've come to look at salsa as I do soups. No two batches are the same. I add different ingredients in different quantities each time I make it.

I recently made a batch similar to our sister Jen's recipe - with sweet corn, black beans, kidney beans, fresh and seasoned canned tomatoes, green peppers, onion, lime juice, spices. It was really good and my neighbor, who is from Mexico and married to a Puerto Rican, raved about it and has since made it several times for her family. She calls it bean salad rather than salsa. Serve it up with some lime-flavored chips and it is delicious.

Another salsa I make that is very refreshing is pictured below. I use all fresh veggies from our garden or my father-in-laws. Lots of tomatoes, cucumbers and cilantro and whatever else is in the garden. Sometimes I use different kinds of peppers, chives, onions. I also use several varieties of tomatoes. We get most of our tomato plants from the Burpees catalog. I add some olive oil and spices - garlic salt or celery salt and sometimes some oregano or basil., which sometimes gives it more of a bruchetta topping taste. I also have to add that I'm a MILD salsa kind of gal, so no jalapenos in my salsas.

And as much as I love fresh salsa, I always keep some jarred salsa on hand because when you throw it in a crock pot with some chicken, it is INCREDIBLE. It makes the meat so moist and gives it a little flavor. Last year I bought some fruit salsas at a farm stand in Michigan. The apricot salsa chicken is amazing!