Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I have been peeling tomatoes while preparing to make a salsa recipe that my cousin, Gay shared with me. She told me to "cook it till the cows come home." I have been thinking about that idea and what it means and it has led me to other rambling and reminiscent thoughts. Gay was raised on a dairy farm in Star Valley, Wyoming. She lived out of the city limits of Afton, while I was a "city girl" in the booming town of about 1,200. From what my mother has told me about farm life, I understand that after the cows are milked in the wee morning hours, they are taken to the pasture where they can graze for the day; when milking time comes again, they are ready and willing to make the trip back to the barn to be milked. I do remember from time to time, being at Aunt Mae's home and going with Gay or Patrice to get the cows. The cows came right along, slowly, after being away all day. So in other words, "till the cows come home" is an all day thing. . . . Another thought about the cows. . . . I remember springtime in Star Valley and how going down to Uncle Morris' how the manure smell was especially potent. I made comments about it stinking and he said that it was the greatest smell on Earth. Now when I spread manure on my garden and the kids complain because of the smell, I don't think it is all that bad? Funny how our perspective changes with life experiences.

I have many fond memories of Star Valley and I find it interesting that I am constantly running into people who know someone who lives there, has lived there themselves, or has family who has or does live there. Mother and I went to a local farm recently to buy some cucumbers (ours didn't do well at all) and in speaking with the owner, it came out that he has family who lived in Star Valley many years ago--Ollie and Evie Petersen. Mother had heard of them, but they had left the "Valley" years ago.

A few years ago, when Matthew was returning home from his mission to Denver, Colorado, we were anxiously waiting at the Portland airport. Because of the changes in the security at the airports, of course we couldn't go right up to the terminal but had to wait behind the security gates. We had no idea which flights were coming through at the time, so I stopped a girl who had just come through and asked her where she was from. I really meant where did you fly from, but she took it literally and said, "Star Valley, Wyoming!" (What are the chances of that?) I told her that I too, was from Star Valley and told her my maiden name. She excitedly told me that her best friend was Ashley (my first cousin). What a coincidence. It is interesting how so many people know about Star Valley, but it really is a wonderful, beautiful place so I guess it isn't all that strange after all.

When Gay first gave me her salsa recipe and told me to "cook it till the cows come home," I didn't have the patience and instead drained off most of the liquid so it would thicken more quickly. When I told Gay about it, she said, "I told you to cook it till the cows come home." This time I am going to exert more patience, I think that must be another lesson to learn when dealing with cows and other things. . . . Here is Gay's salsa recipe:

8 quarts tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I like Roma the best)
8 cups onions chopped
4 cups green peppers chopped
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup salt
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp black pepper
Jalapeno peppers chopped (15-16 to taste)
Put all ingredients in a very large kettle and "cook it till the cows come home!"
Pour salsa into hot jars and process according to canning guidelines for your state.

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