I grow many types of organic heirloom tomatoes each summer. Though I have made and water-bath canned several different kinds of cooked salsas in years past, I decided not to bother this year. I far and away prefer to make and eat fresh salsa (aka Salsa Fresca or Pico de Gallo) with my tomatoes right after I pluck them off the vine.

Fresh Salsa | Healthy Green Kitchen

I take a pretty loose approach to salsa making. I don’t really follow a recipe- I simply chop up a slew of tomatoes, then add a little of this and a little of that. Red onion is a must. So is lime juice, cilantro, and some jalapeño chile. Sometimes I may add cucumbers…avocado is another option. In the pictures here, you’ll notice I added fresh (raw) corn sliced right off the cob.

Fresh Salsa | Healthy Green Kitchen

Below is a basic fresh salsa recipe with which you may play around. Chop the tomatoes as big or as small as you like, and use different colored heirloom tomatoes, if possible (though if you want your salsa to contain as little liquid as possible, it’s best to use plum tomatoes). Make a little to snack on with crackers or chips, or to eat with veggies, or throw together a big batch to enjoy with tacos or any Mexican-inspired meal. I’ve been known to eat a big bowl in lieu of a salad! Have fun and enjoy.

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My house has a longish rocky driveway and purslane grows like crazy along the edges. I also find it in my garden beds, so I eat it quite a lot. I love its slightly sour flavor raw in salads, and I occasionally cook with it. But it never occurred to me to make pickled purslane until I saw a recipe in Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving by Kevin West.

pickled purslane 1_text

I am new to Kevin’s work (he also has a blog called Saving the Season) and I really enjoy his writing. I own many preserving books but have found Saving the Season to be particularly charming. I’ve loved everything from the book I’ve made so far this summer, including several types of jams and the Sunshine Pickles…Kevin’s recipes are truly inspiring and unique.

Pickled Purslane | Healthy Green Kitchen

Purslane is an edible wild plant with an incredible nutritional profile. According to herbalist Susun Weed, purslane is an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, as well as the minerals calcium and magnesium. Purslane is also a source of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha linolenic acid). This recipe is easy to make except for one thing: you have to pluck the leaves from the purslane stems (and 1/4 pound is A LOT of purslane leaves!). This is a bit of a pain to be sure, but if you quiet your lazy bits and get meditative about it, you may actually enjoy it. I did.

Pickled Purslane | Healthy Green Kitchen

So how do you eat pickled purslane? Kevin suggests serving it with sandwiches or charcuterie. I like it straight out of the jar…I’ve found it to be a welcome addition to scrambled eggs and enjoy it tossed into salads, too.

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Thank you all so very much for your kind words after my dog died. We miss Jezebel tons but we are keeping busy (and showering her brother Jake with lots of extra attention)…we’re doing okay :)

For the past week and a half, my husband and I have been home while our kids are away at camp. It’s been a really wonderful “staycation”…the type of experience I recommend for all parents, if possible! My husband usually travels quite a bit for work and is only home on the weekends, which means we don’t get to spend that much time together. Having almost 2 straight weeks for just the two of us to hang out has been really, really amazing.

Earlier in the summer, we came to the realization that our house was in major need of deep cleaning, some painting, and a bunch of small fixes here and there. We also hatched a plan to redecorate our kids rooms. With the kiddos gone, we’ve been working steadily to accomplish these tasks (except for the painting…we hired someone to do that) and it feels really good. We rented a 10 yard dumpster and got rid of SO many things that were cluttering up our home; we’ve also donated lots of items and even sold some at a yard sale.

In addition to all the working (and multiple trips to Ikea), we’ve played a lot, too. We’ve gone on lots of walks and hikes, and watched a bunch of movies…Crazy, Stupid Love was my favorite! We’ve also been cooking a lot. Because our kids don’t really like fish or seafood, and we don’t eat it much when they are around, we’ve had it for a lot of our meals. We thought this Seared Scallops recipe was really terrific.

Scallops with Gremolata | Healthy Green Kitchen

I adore scallops. They are a great source of protein and they are SO quick to make…seriously, this recipe only takes about 10 minutes. I adapted it slightly from my friend Lynda and it’s a keeper, for sure.

I love the idea of the Pea Purée on which Lynda served her scallops, but peas aren’t in season now so we enjoyed ours over chopped broccoli and yellow squash (from our garden) sautéed with garlic and olive oil instead. I think these scallops would also be great over rice (or any grain, really); pasta would work, too (but seriously…when does pasta NOT work?).

I LOVE the Alaskan Weathervane scallops from Vital Choice(< --affiliate link). They are pricey but delicious, and wild/sustainably harvested. I think they are worth the occasional indulgence, but otherwise just use the best quality scallops you can find. As for the gremolata, you can play with it, if you like: parsley and mint are more "traditional" gremolata ingredients, I believe. I like using preserved lemon rind because it's so flavorful (instead of "regular" lemon zest); if you do this omit the salt in the gremolata, since preserved lemons are already quite salty.

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roasted tomato frittata

My dog Jezebel died last week. She wasn’t sick, so it was a shock…a hard thing for my family to go through. (Not that it’s any easier when your animal is ill and you have time to “prepare”: I have been through that scenario a number of times and it’s very hard, too.)

Jezebel

Jez was a leonberger: they are very beautiful, very big dogs (she was 125 pounds). She was a fun-loving gal, and loved to play (and often caused mischief) with her brother Jake.

jake and jezebel

The unfortunate reality is that leonbergers (and other giant breeds) don’t live as long as smaller dogs. But because Jez was such a puppy at heart (even long after she stopped being an actual puppy), we hadn’t really faced the fact that she was getting on in years for the breed. She was 8 1/2 when she died, which is sadly about average as far as the leonberger lifespan goes :(

Jezebel

Jez wasn’t just a big dog…she had a seriously big personality! So her passing has left a big hole in our family. For a couple of days after it happened, I couldn’t do much of anything because I was too upset. Accomplishing the simplest of tasks was like trying to cross a river filled with molasses. It was so hard…I just wanted to lay in bed and cry.

On the third morning, though, I woke up and reflected on how Jez died outside under a tree where she’d spent a good deal of time since we moved to this house 6 years ago. I am guessing she enjoyed that spot a lot, and I believe she was happy each time she lay down there, even the last time. I’ve been told that it is a blessing for one’s dog to pass on in their sleep at home, as they are near their family and the surroundings that make them comfortable. Thinking about things this way has helped me to feel better.

Rest in peace, sweet girl.

Jezebel

Working in my garden has also helped me to feel better. Thank goodness for that, because it’s kind of a mess…it’s like the weeds are on steroids or something this year. But my garden is also bursting with many different types of heirloom tomatoes, and for that I am so grateful. I’ve been using them in all sorts of ways and will be sharing a few different tomato recipes with you in the coming weeks, beginning with this Roasted Cherry Tomato Frittata.

cherry tomatoes

This frittata may not be appropriate for those super hot summer days when you don’t want to turn the oven on, but our weather has been blissfully pleasant as of late. And now’s the time for the best tomatoes, so get ‘em while you can. I made this for my family last Sunday morning before we took my kids to sleep away camp and we all loved it; I hope your family loves it, too.

cherry tomatoes roasted

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August has only just begun and my kids don’t go back to school until next month. From seeing friends’ updates on facebook, however, I know there are lots of children out there who have already waved goodbye to summer (or will very soon). To make the transition a little easier (and more fun!) I’ve team up with MightyNest to bring you a healthy and green reusable lunch gear giveaway :)

reusable lunch gear giveaway from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

I just adore MightyNest. It’s an online store specializing in natural, non-toxic products for the kitchen and home. Their numerous items are beautiful and durable, and their entire reusable lunch gear selection is 100% free of potentially harmful chemicals (including BPA, phthalates, and lead). They’ve put together a giveaway for my readers: it includes the lovely lunchbox and water bottle that you see above, plus a few other wonderful things. We want your child to have a super stylish, eco-friendly, and wholesome lunch from home when they go back to school!

Lunch Gear Giveaway | Healthy Green Kitchen

I have two kids (ages 14 and 11) and I’ve been doing the home lunch “thing” for a long time now. We’ve been through our fair share of lunchboxes/bags, believe me, and I can say without any doubt that the Milkdot lunchbag that comes with this set is definitely the nicest lunch bag we’ve ever owned. Here are the other items that are a part of this giveaway:

-One Lifefactory glass bottle
-One Lunchbots Uno
-One Snack Taxi sandwich bag
-One Wean Green glass bowl
-One Kids Konserve ice pack

It’s a great set for your child, but if you don’t have any kids and you bring your own lunch to school or work, you will love it, too!

{Ps If you are looking for fresh inspiration in the lunch box department, I suggest you check out this great-looking book: Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love.}

The total retail cost of this giveaway is $83.00. It is open to US residents who are 18 and over and will run until 08/12/2013 at 12:00 PM (US Central Time). Please use the widget below to enter the giveaway and I wish you the best of luck! Many thanks to MightyNest for sending me/my daughter the set to try out, and for sponsoring this giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway