I’ve missed sharing recipes and stories with you this summer. I have often thought about my little food blog that I just started at the beginning of this year, and about you all, who are so kind as to read my posts. I so appreciate your support. The thing is, these last few months I have really been GOING through something. I’m talking painful, not fun, trudging-through-the-mud kind of stuff. I’ve been going through and living one of the most difficult struggles of my 29 years on God’s green earth. This summer in particular, my struggle has left me without a desire to cook or to blog (among other things), and I’m not very good at pretending, so I haven’t.
It’s crossed my mind over the last several weeks to share this struggle in a more public way, expressly on my blog and facebook. A lot of people think it’s a taboo topic. Or that it’s embarrassing; humiliating, even shameful. That you’re not supposed to talk about it until you’ve already overcome it. It breaks my heart. I’m a pretty open person, and I have experienced firsthand the deep, deep blessing of sharing my life’s joys, occasional burdens – especially this burden – and challenges with my community. I share this with you not just to lay bare my struggle, but to more importantly inspire others to do the same. SO, you must be thinking, get.to.the.point.
My husband and I are struggling with infertility.
We began “trying” to get pregnant at the beginning of 2012, with much anticipation and no doubt whatsoever that in nine months our doberman puppy Tank would be a big brother. The first few months, it was easy to chalk it up to our travels, as last year we were gone a lot, and we kept our hopes high. We were “trying” at the same time as a few friends of ours, and over the course of the year, each couple got pregnant, except us. And then some. New life and pregnancies kept coming out of the woodwork for people around us. With the news of each baby on the way, I felt a little more left behind, as though I was further and further away from our goal to start a family. The genuine and true happiness that I feel for a friend who shares with me the news of a new baby on the way is mixed with sadness and grief when I wonder why we have not been able to create a baby of our own. When I was younger, I never for one second thought that infertility could or would be an issue for my husband and me someday. Now that I’m here, I can say that few things in my life have been harder than this.
I know that God is good and that He has plans for us. Dom and I will be parents; we are confident in that. The waiting and uncertainly are so hard though. I have learned how little control we actually have in life matters such as this (read: little to none). And I am now learning that though I am 100% in this struggle, infertility does not define me or my identity. I have lots of other, WAY cooler things that I am defined by, such as living in the grace and love of Jesus Christ (the creator of all things and giver of every good and perfect gift!). Or that I am Dom’s wife, or that I LOVE to sing, laugh, go running… You get the point.
So that’s my big confession; my big news. Don’t you worry, this is not turning into an infertility blog. I started this blog to share food, photos, stories and recipes with you, and most of all, LOVE. Love is hard and messy, and so is life sometimes. You better believe that when I have good news, I will share it with you! I covet your prayers for Dom and I and our future family.
And in the meantime, I would love to hear from any of you that might be struggling with this or who have struggled with infertility in the past. It can be such a lonely, hopeless struggle. Infertility affects one in six couples that are trying to conceive, and there are so many people out there suffering in silence. This is not a burden any couple should have to carry alone. I encourage you to reach out to your community of friends; be vulnerable and real even when it’s scary, and if you have good friends, they will carry you and pray for you when you can’t carry yourself. Find a support group. Journal and pray. Just don’t go it alone! Through this I’ve had the ever-present help of the Lord, my INCREDIBLE husband, and our wonderful best friends and family, who have been loving us through this journey. Jesus himself said “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke (ie. a cattle yoke) upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. My hope is in you, Jesus.
I am literally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually sustained by love. Thanks for reading and for letting me share my heart and journey with you.
Until good news comes, let us get our minds back on yummy food. Today I’ll show you how to make one of the best summer snacks, salsa!! We’ll refer to it as salsa fresca, since only fresh ingredients are used.
All that you’ll need you can find in the produce section (or your garden if you have one!). I got a little excited when I took this picture, and I let a red bell pepper sneak in, and I pictured too much produce! To make one blender full of salsa, we’ll use a few fresh tomatoes, 2-3 jalapeños (depending on how spicy you like it), a red or white onion, a lime, a bunch of fresh cilantro… Let me pause here and let’s take a moment to think about how incredible a bunch of fresh cilantro smells… Ahhh, it’s just the best. AND, cilantro helps rid our bodies of heavy metals, so I read. Lastly, you’ll need a few cloves of garlic, and they don’t have to be chopped like they are here; peeled is just fine.
If I do say so myself, these heirloom tomatoes from our garden are SO handsome! They’re naturals at modeling.
I can’t help myself… here’s one more angle on these beauties before we blend them up into salsa fresca oblivion.
Time to make this happen! Lop the tops off of the jalapeños, and slice them in half lengthwise. Be careful not to touch the white “spines” (not sure what that’s called so I’ll go with spine!) or the seeds inside the pepper – it will make your skin red and feel like burning! Carefully slice out the spines and scoop out the seeds and discard them. Peel your garlic and cut off the woody bit on one end (not pictured). I like to get a little violent and crush my garlic cloves with the heel of my big chopping knife, because it breaks open the skin and makes the clove super easy to peel.
Onto the lime. God really knew what he was doing when he created citrus. The flavors of SO many dishes around the world are characterized by the fresh, tangy zest of these amazing fruits. There would be no salsa without lime. There would be no fish tacos without lime. There would be no fun without lime. Period.
Now onto our key player and the most beautiful ingredient today, the tomato! Pictured here are brandywines, grown organically in our garden. So intricately crafted and full of life they are.
Cut them in half first, and seed each tomato half. This simply means sticking your finger in each seed area to remove them from the tomato. This reduces the amount of excess water in the end product, since tomatoes are made up of over 90 percent water. You can do this into the sink or a separate container. Call me crazy, call me a hippie if you will, but I don’t have it in my heart to waste these little organic heirloom seeds & their juices, so I drink the seed mixture when I’m done! Ha! Think of it as a V-8 without the 420 grams of sodium. After seeding, quarter each half.
Cut your onion in the same way that you did the tomato. Rinse your bunch of cilantro, then get ready for some manual labor and remove the leaves from the stems, discarding the stems. This is actually the most time-consuming part of making salsa.
Place the tomato nuggets (yeah I said it) into the blender first, because if you put the onion in first, the blender won’t blend properly and will just be revving its little blender engine. Not that I had to learn that the hard way and dump everything out and place it back in or anything…. So, tomatoes first, then the onion, garlic, jalapeño, and the juice of one lime. I add six or seven turns of sea salt from my grinder; you can salt to taste. Start with a little salt before you blend, and add more to taste when you sample it. Save the cilantro for the second round of blending.
As you can see, I cut up a few too many tomatoes! They could be used to make a second batch, some bruschetta, or baked with onion and garlic and then blended for pasta sauce…. There are so many options! I enjoyed these extras with some salt and fresh pepper, basil, mozzarella, lots of olive oil and a splash of balsamic. Ahh, summer.
Start the blender on low, then turn it on high after several seconds. Blend to your desired smoothness. My husband prefers his salsa less chunky, so I make it nice and smooth. Note: sometimes I use a spoon near the top of the blender (not anywhere near the bottom where the blades are spinning and WILL ruin your spoon and your batch of salsa… again, not that I speak from experience) to get the ingredients moving, pushing them down toward the middle of the blender. After a couple seconds of doing this, I let the blender do the rest of the work. Once blended, add the cilantro and blend it right in, to your desired consistency. Total blending time should be less than 30 seconds. It’s super quick!
Time for sampling! My hand model and taste tester, Meghan, is pictured here. Thanks for all your hard work, my friend!
Just like we did here, grab a friend, some tortilla chips, and enjoy!! Any chips will do, but my favorite are the blue corn chips from Trader Joe’s. You can also serve this with rice and beans, put it in a burrito or tacos, or pour it over scrambled eggs! It should keep in the fridge for up to three days.
Thanks for joining in on my salsa post, and for reading about the journey that we’ve been on. To see our journey as photographers unfold, check out our dominick b. photography blog.
Love big this week,
Recipe: Salsa Fresca
- 3 large tomatoes, seeded
- 2 fresh jalapeños, pitted
- optional: 1 small red bell pepper
- 1 medium red or white onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 lime
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
- Halve and seed tomatoes, then quarter each half.
- Cut off tops of jalapeños, slice in half, then remove seeds & spines and discard. If using bell pepper as well, do the same, and slice into quarters.
- Halve onion, then quarter.
- Peel garlic cloves and cut off woody tip.
- Rinse cilantro and remove leaves from stems. Discard stems. Set cilantro aside.
- Place tomatoes in blender first, then onion/jalapeño/garlic. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the blender and add a pinch or two of salt to begin.
- Blend on low for several seconds to your desired consistency.
- Add cilantro leaves and blend.
- Add more salt to taste.
Total Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 12