Sunday, October 24, 2021

Salsa Saturday

| September 5, 2021 12:00 AM

Last weekend I indulged myself by sleeping in as long as I felt like, following a week or more of hosting a houseful of company.

It had rained all day the day before, leaving Saturday morning with a thick blanket of clouds. That’s all I needed to decide that conditions were ideal for making salsa, picturing cool breezes wafting in the kitchen window as my big pot of salsa simmered on the stove.

I also had pushed pause on recreating since I was waiting for a wound to heal after almost losing my balance on my bike, skidding on some gravel. Instead, my chainring chewed bits of flesh off my calf, making it look like I’d gotten a chainring tattoo. I cleaned the numerous chainring-to-calf contact points quite thoroughly, and am happy to say when I called my neighbor, a nurse, the next day to ask if she could take a look at it (she came over with bandages, tape and triple antibiotic ointment) she told me it looked like I did a nice job cleaning it up — although you really can’t clean the grease off completely. I’m curious to see what it shapes up to look like once it’s entirely mended.

So, the first mission I had Saturday morning was to make the annual salsa supply run. As many of us know, the Hatch pepper season is short in Northwest Montana. Once they arrive in the stores, you’re best for grabbing them quickly. After a quick bite, I filled my to-go mug with coffee and headed out to buy Romas at the Columbia Falls produce market, then to the grocery where I found some Hatch peppers, a pittance of only two poblanos and zero tomatillos. Crosstown south to Kalispell I zipped — practically a field trip for me these days — where I was able to successfully secure the balance of those most essential poblanos, more Hatches and other produce.

Once home, I quickly fired up the old charcoal grill, then tossed the peppers on it. It must be called salsa because making it at home is like a dance. My iPod was turning out a good mix of music while I was swinging out of the patio doors checking on and turning the blackening peppers, then swinging back in the kitchen to roast the tomatillos and garlic in the oven and dice everything else, all while sipping a tall glass of iced tea with fresh lemon.

I was firing on all cylinders and almost everything was running like a well-oiled, one-woman machine … until I burned the garlic. No time for regrets. I made the executive decision that this year’s salsa batch would instead be made with fresh garlic, of which I had plenty of homegrown already harvested, with more still to come.

The hours (and I mean eight) flew by. Of course they did. They were fueled by a highly motivated chef with a penchant for roasted peppers and a favorite, familiar recipe.

By the time I’d put the salsa on to simmer, my margarita glass had chilled to frosty perfection. I ran a slice of lime over the rim of the glass, dipped it in salt and mixed one up on ice, then headed out to the front porch where I could put my feet up, enjoy the sunny evening, and toast to yet another batch of darn good salsa.

Community editor Carol Marino may be reached at 406-758-4440 or