400 Pounds

“One doesn’t merely fall into the sport of cooking salsa. It is an art. It is a finely tuned process. It is a high stakes game in which the winner takes all and the losers…Well, the losers gets burnt. And in this game of tomatoes and jalapenos- I am goddamn salsa royalty.” -Lindsay Brown

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Preliminary Efforts 101- Space, time and foresight are required in order to create a quality product.

There I was looking smack dab down a row of 96 flourishing plants that needed to be harvested before nightfall. The Frosts were coming and when it came to those guys who knows what the damages could be. So we got to picking. Me and my partner that is.

That's her on the right. Good looking lady for a partner in crime I'd say.
That’s her on the right. Good looking lady for a partner in crime I’d say.

It was her place that we grew the goods. Her soil. Her water. Her plot. My plants though. When I started the 100 and some plants back in the early spring I didn’t think they would all take off.

But it must have been my year (or maybe just the opposite) because every g-darn seed I put in dirt sprouted and ended up producing 30 plus tomatoes. I kept those buggers at my place for as long as I could but that kind of heat takes a toll on a guy. Every day they would grow more and more and more…and more. And more. Soon the small space I had allotted was overgrown with Toms. I needed to find a new location. And fast.

This is how Partner and I came into business together.

We hauled all 100 and some plants out to her farm in one trip. There they would be safe from the grubby fingers of the notorious Clammy-Hand Kid Clan.

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These were 2 youngsters who roamed my side of town. They were known for their devastating effects on anything delicate. A single stroke from the Clammy-Hand Kid Clan and anything treasurable to you would end up being nothing but a pile of stinking rubble. It was too dangerous at my house. I could not provide enough protection for the plants. They had to go.

The transportation of the product was touchy. The roads still had a thin layer of ice on them and the cargo was precious.

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However between the two of us, we finished the job. I realized then that this ‘ol broad might just be a good partner to have after all. She had the know-how and I had the brawns. I could already tell- we were going to make an invincible team.

Growing 101- To produce produce to full capacity, water is a key ingredient.

The sun beat down hot for those 3 months. It was all we could do to keep the plants from shriveling up into nothingness from the extreme heat provided by the season. The air was dry and little to no rain was provided from the heavens. Just another test, it seemed, from the big Salsa Maker in the sky.

It was one particular day that I made my rounds over to our makeshift plot that I saw something that will heinously engrave into my mind’s eye forevermore.

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My plants, my once beautiful plants looked as though they had been smooched by the kiss of death. Every jagged green leaf as far as the eye could see was withered and blasphemous to the eye.

My first instinct was to give my babies some water. “THEY NEED WATER!” I screamed with fervour yet no one was around to hear my cries. Nor was there a water source in the general vicinity. I had to construct a plan. And fast.

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The plan in question was entirely to meticulous and in-depth to get into right now but let me tell you with the help of Partner we quenched those plants of their awful thirst and we did it good.

It took near half a day, but in the end, with aching backs and tear streaked faces we accomplished our task. The plants only growing closer and dearer to our hearts.

Harvesting 101- it sucks.

When Partner called me late that night to tell me she had caught wind that the Frosts were on their way to her neck of the woods my heart pulsated a few too many times. I had seen before what the Frosts were capable of and it wasn’t a pretty picture.

The Toms were still all green. How nice it would have been to let them ripen on the vine. A dream that would never come to fruition (pun completely intended). We had to get them out of there. Green tomatoes would be a hell of a lot better than the putrid mushy black things they`d be transformed into if the fucking Frosts got their dastardly grips around them. We needed to harvest. And fast.

The next day it began. Partner and I picked. We picked the Cherry’s, the Beefsteak, the Roma’s and the odd varieties we couldn’t put our finger on. We picked until our fingers bled. We hauled and we covered so that the green tomatoes would soon ripen into their sought out red.

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In the end we saved over 400 pounds of Toms from the Frosts. And that is something to feel good about.

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Cooking 101- with an abundant supply of raw product ones demand will rise considerably.

What the hell were we supposed to do with 400 hundred fucking pounds of tomatoes? I played with the idea of consuming it all as raw product but knew after considerable trial and error that was not going to fly.

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Partner showed up at my house one early morning with provisions and we spent the day cooking- her the teacher, I the pupil. There was some difference of opinions on how to carry out the process but in the end she won. She always wins.

It only took one day to get me hooked. There I was swimming in a sea of tomatoes- green, yellow, orange, and yes some even ripened red. I had more raw product than I could handle.

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But I knew as well as my red stained hands I would try my damnedest to use it before having to freeze my precious Toms. A tiptoeing knowledge that eventually these little green globes of deliciousness would end up rotting was constantly on the outer edge of my mind, so I needed to make use of them. And fast.

Partner and I went separate ways at this time. I was elbows deep in the experimental phase of salsa creation whereas she preferred the cookbook method. It had been fun while it lasted, but it was time for me to spread my wings. I needed to venture out in this big ‘ol salsa world alone and now was the time to do it.

With each newfangled batch I made a creeping sensation that I could do better would come over me. Piquancy was my forte and I would go to the ends of the earth to get that perfect spice in my salsa. I carried out trials with different peppers, resulting in nearly losing an eyeball and having to dip my face in a shallow dish of milk for several hours to heal my burning membranes.

There has been up’s and downs in this salsa making business but I will never give in. I have discovered it must be my lot in life to find the perfect blend of tomatoes, peppers and onions to create the tastiest salsa ever made.

And so help me God, I will.

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