Farmer’s Market Salsa Fresca with Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

As we are heading full swing into the summer farmer’s market season here in Southern Illinois, I am sharing a staple of sorts from my house: salsa fresca. I prefer somewhat of a kicked up pico de gallo. When time allows, I prefer to bake my own tortilla chips.

Salsa Ingredients:

2 to 3 large tomatoes

2 to 3 peppers

1 large onion

handful of basil

2 garlic cloves

a pinch each of sea salt, sugar, cumin powder, smoked paprika, and chipotle powder

a dash of freshly cracked black pepper

the juice of one lime

Salsa Directions:

1. Chop the tomatoes, peppers, and onion into about 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.

2. Finely chop the basil and mince the garlic.

3. Add all ingredients together in bowl and mix together.

Tortilla Chip Ingredients: One bag of flour tortillas.

Tortilla Chip Directions: Cut or tear tortillas into chip size pieces. Bake at 350 degrees F on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet until they reach the desired crispness. You can also get fancy and cut them into special shapes to fit whatever theme you desire. Be creative.

Note: Cilantro and parsley work just fine too. Use as hot or as mild of peppers as you prefer. Mix it up a bit! Have fun and enjoy!

TOSI Challenge: Flat Iron Steak Sandwich & Fries

Individual flat iron steaks from Dierks Farms and fresh sourdough bread baked by Scratch Brewing Company, both of Ava, were among groceries I got this past Saturday at the Carbondale Community Farmer’s Market. This pair of ingredients seemed like a great starting point for a TOSI (Taste Of Southern Illinois) Challenge creation.

For the steaks, I used a quick marinade of Ponzu, grapeseed oil, salt, pepper and a few drops of red wine vinegar. Then I applied some Cactus Pete’s Ultimate Steak House Rub, made in Buckner, that I found at Arnold’s Market in Carbondale.

I grilled thick slices of the sourdough bread in a bit of butter on my George Foreman grill. I also grilled some onions and sweet mini pepper strips with a few shiitake mushrooms from Fly Away Family Farms of Makanda. Each side of bread was smeared with basil pesto. After grilling the steaks and allowing them to rest for the juices to redistribute, they were sliced against the grain. I added a slice of Swiss cheese for flavor.

The oven fries were pretty simple but tasty. I cut scrubbed Russett potatoes into thick fries and coated them with grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, and paprika before baking in a single layer at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, turning once. For the fry dipping sauce, I mixed a bit of mayonnaise with ketchup and added some chopped fresh herbs. I used basil and parsley from my kitchen window with some dill from All Seasons Farm of Cobden. The ivrn fries were the perfect compliment to the flat iron steak sandwich.

The TOSI Challenge Meets the Carbondale Community Farmer’s Market

Last Saturday, I was finally able to spend a little time at the Carbondale Community Farmer’s Market, also affectionately referred to as the winter farmer’s market and indoor market. As many of you know, I’ve been dealing with cancer treatments and restrictions for the past few months that limit my ability to get out and do these kinds of things. Being back at a farmer’s market, even if only for a little while, was a real treat for me.

With so many great ingredients and foods from which to choose, it was the perfect place to resume the TOSI (Taste Of Southern Illinois) Challenge. Instead of eating hazardous household products or engaging in harmful behaviors, this is a more tasteful challenge (pun intended.) Quite simply, The TOSI Challenge is to create foods or meals from ingredients made or grown in Southern Illinois. Use #TOSIChallenge when sharing your creations on social media and when possible, tag or at least identify the Southern Illinois ingredients.

One of my first purchases was a ready-to-bake pizza from Tonight, Pizza Italiana.

These are made in Carbondale and can even be ordered online. I opted for the Margherita pizza. My son has requested to try the Americana version next. Its toppings include hot dog and French fries.

One of my next stops was at Mustard Seed Sowers Farm for some iced holy basil tea. They had other choices, but that was my favorite. Mustard Seed Sowers Farm also had boxes of tea available for sale.

One of the benefits of shopping at the farmers market, besides supporting your community, is that you can speak directly with someone who knows the product. For example, at Honey & Shrooms, you learn the difference between the light and dark honey.

This week, I combined some of the honey I purchased from Honey & Shrooms with shiitake mushrooms from Flyaway Family Farms in a chicken stir fry over rice. I also used some red scallions and garlic that I bought from the nice lady in between Mustard Seed Sowers and Dierks Family Farms.

Fresh dill from All Seasons Farm went into a salmon en papillote weeknight meal over thinly sliced potatoes. I also used some of the red scallions, lemon zest, olive oil, and butter.

Fortunately, my taste buds were working better last Saturday (chemo really wreaks havoc on them,) and I worked up an appetite. Southern Que was the perfect solution. I opted for the half slab of ribs with baked beans and slaw. It was wonderful.

I didn’t leave my fur babies out of the TOSI Challenge. Mario’s Mama was there with treats for dogs and even a few for cats. So, Pokey got a canine-safe iced cookie, and the kitties got tuna melt.

There were many things to see, and even a fitness class. (I was already tired from walking more than usual for now, so I did not participate…) I didn’t manage to get pictures of every vendor, but there is a nice variety.

This indoor, winter farmers market runs from 9:00 am to noon on Saturdays through March at the Carbondale High school.

Resources:

Carbondale Community Farmer’s Market, http://www.carbondalemarket.com/

Tonight, Pizza Italiana, http://www.tonightpizzaitaliana.com/

Mustard Seed Sowers Farm, https://mustardseedsowers.weebly.com/

All Seasons Farm, http://www.allseasons-farm.com/

Flyaway Family Farm, https://www.facebook.com/FlywayFamilyFarm/

Mario’s Mama, http://www.mariosmamapetbakery.com/index.html

Scratch Farm & Brewery, https://www.scratchbeer.com/

Southern Que, https://www.facebook.com/southern.que/

Honey & Shrooms, honeyandshroons@gmail.com