My brown thumb

One of the things I miss about Texas is the abundance of cheap and good Tex-Mex. For those of you from other parts of the country, Tex-Mex a spin on traditional Mexican cooking.

There’s a lot of cheese, tomato and cilantro used while spiciness is done with either jalapenos or chipotles (which are dried, smoked jalapenos).

This year I had the bright idea of growing my own cilantro and jalapenos. I bought and planted seeds from the local Fred Meyer.
The seeds sprouted in late April. However, the directions — yes, I read the freaking directions four times — recommended not transplanting them outdoors until the temperatures averaged 55F or higher. In Seattle, this means “July” during our first mini-heat wave.

The plants were outside for about a two weeks before looking really sad and eventually dying. Undeterred, I bought a couple of seedlings at a local grocery store. These were substantially larger than the runts I had sown. As it was now July, they would receive plenty of sun — summers are 8 hours longer than winters — and should do well. Right? Right??

So, finally, this weekend, we harvested the crop , pictured to the left. No, the quarter is there just for size comparison and yes, the crop was a solitary jalapeno. I haven’t tried it yet, so I’m unsure if it’s even hot.

My cilantro fared even worse, and I wasn’t foolish enough to try growing tomatoes. However, since you’ve read this far, I’ll share my salsa recipe with you:

Jim’s Excellent Salsa


  • 4 medium-sized (red) tomatoes
  • 6 tomatillos (green tomatoes)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2-4 chipotle peppers
  • 1/4 C lime juice
  • 2 small bunches cilantro, chopped coarsely
  • salt to taste


  1. Remove the core from the tomatoes.
  2. Remove and discard the husks from the tomatillos. Wash the innards and remove the cores.
  3. Place the tomatoes on a broiler rack and bake at 500F for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Break the chipotle open and remove any stem and seeds.
  5. In a blender, mix the lime juice, garlic, chipotles, cooked tomatillos and one bunch of cilantro. Blend very well.
  6. Add the red tomatos and remaining cilantro. Mix lightly (a few pulses) you want the mix to be somewhat chunky.
  7. Salt to taste.
  8. Let stand for about 30 minutes at room temperature. The salsa should be served at room temperature.

If you wear contact, use gloves when handling the chipotles. Janet ruined a set of contacts by touching her eyes, even after washing her hands.

A chipotle is a smoked, dried jalapeno. You should be able to find them in the “ethnic section” of your favorite large grocery or natural foods store. If this is your first time doing the recipe, try it with one or two before kicking up the intensity.

If you use and like the recipe, please let me know.

3 thoughts on “My brown thumb”

  1. I think it’s really funny seeing your “Weight Loss” entry suddenly followed by this Tex-Mex entry. Any correlation? :’)

  2. Ooh, this is a toughie to answer. I think it’s as intentional as writing a piece on reaching my 1989 weight following a revision of one on time traveling (spam), either. 🙂

  3. Further irony: this was not even a jalapeno, but a bell pepper. Bell peppers are usually the size of your hand. (Oh, the agony)

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