Black Friday Survival Guide

November 24, 2009 at 11:59 pm

With the increasing number of deaths each year at the various Black Friday sales it makes one wonder why anyone of sound mind would go.  Sure there is denial – those things don’t happen here just in high crime areas.  Well, that is not at all true.  Recently a Walmart employee was trampled to death in tranquil Valley Stream, N.Y.  A customer at the same Walmart, Jessica Keyes, miscarried purportedly after being knocked down in another Black Friday melee.

Another rationalization stems from pomposity.  I don’t shop at Walmart, that’s for trailer trash.  Well, your hubris won’t save you either.  In another episode two men died at a Toys “R” Us in chic Palm Desert, California after an argument led to an exchange of gunfire.

I know what you are thinking now, California?  New York?  All those people are crazy.  In Lee’s Summit, Missouri two people were mowed down in a shopping center parking lot.  Need more?  In Roanoke, Virginia a man is caught on video striking another shopper five times at a Best Buy.  Fashion Place Mall In Murray, Utah had to close not long after opening because police had to break up nine different fights.  At the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrece, California and elderly lady and nine others were injured when the mall dropped free gift certificates from the ceiling.

These are not events from several shopping days.  These all occured on Black Friday 2008.  Virtually every store in every town has some issue every year.  Conclusion?  No sane person goes to Black Friday sales.

So don’t go.  Seriously, I know that this is the worst economy since the 1930’s, the last Great Depression but there are other ways to give a gift of the heart without spending lots of money and risking your life.  Salsas.

That’s what I am giving this year.  Fresh, homemade salsas.  Talk about cheap, too, much more budget friendly than Rock Band and a lot less annoying than Zhu Zhu Pets.  Produce and a dozen or so 16 ounce Mason jars.  Fresh salsas are better than any thing you can buy at the market.  All you need is a food processor or blender.  Heck a good knife will work.  A good fresh salsa is like a bowl of summer sunshine but it goes better with tortilla chips.

Canned tomatoes are preferrable to fresh because they are picked at the peek of ripeness and the skin is removed.  Frozen pineapple and mangos can be used instead of canned or fresh but thaw and drain them first.  All other produce is fresh and, if possible, organic.  You can easily control the heat, too.  For mild remove all seeds and membranes from chilies.  For medium remove half of the seeds and membranes.  Don’t remove any for a good hot salsa.  For sissies omit the chilies altogether.

Since these salsas contain no preservatives they need to be eaten within two weeks of making which means they are perfect for you last minute Santas.  Each recipe yields roughly two 16 ounce jars of salsa and here are those simple recipes:

Salsa Rojo (traditional red salsa)

  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 onion, quartered
  • 2-3 jalapeños or Serranos, sans stems
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • sea salt

Place onions into a blender or food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and blend another 30 seconds. Add garlic and peppers and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste and cilantro and blend until well mixed. Chill one hour before jaring.

 

Salsa Verde (green salsa)

  • 6-9 tomatillos, halved or 1 28 ounce can tomatillos, drained
  • 1/2 onion, quartered
  • 2-3 jalapeños or Serranos, sans stems
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • sea salt

Place onions into a blender or food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Add tomatillos and blend another 30 seconds. Add garlic and peppers and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste and cilantro and blend until well mixed. Chill one hour before jaring.

Mango Salsa

  • 2 fresh mangos, diced or 20 ounce jar, drained
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 Serrano chilies, diced
  • 1 banana, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Jamacian jerk seasoning (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.  Place 2/3 of the salsa into a blender or food processor and pulse five or six times then fold back into the salsa.  Refrigerate at least one hour before jaring.

Pineapple Salsa

  • 1 28 ounce can diced pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeños chilies, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.  Place 2/3 of the salsa into a blender or food processor and pulse five or six times then fold back into the salsa.  Refrigerate at least one hour before jaring.

Now if you just can’t bring yourself to actually make your gifts but want to avoid the Black Friday free-for-all, buy a copy of Amigeauxs – Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine by moi.  They’re only $10!  What?  Friends and family not into cooking?  No problem!  How about a copy of the exciting political thriller A More Perfect Union also by me.  Come on, buy one so my loved ones will get something better than a jar of salsa for Christmas.

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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