How to Cook without a Recipe: Hodge-Podge Salsa

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Ever since my family and I began our Grocery Store Rebellion, one of the challenges I noticed is that the garden and the markets do not uniformly produce serving sizes.  The beans come in the amount that gets harvested.  The tomatoes are the ones which are available from one particular garden.  This is probably why, even with a thriving garden, lots of people still end up running to the store. Cooking with odds and ends  and without recipes requires a different way of thinking.

Gardening is not like buying your food at the grocery store. Sometimes you get 4 ears of corn for 5 people. Sometimes you don’t even enough of one type of bean to make a serving of veggies for your meal. Resist the urge to go shopping when this happens, because with a little creativity, you can make wonderful things from your odds and ends.

We’re all so accustomed to having a list of set ingredients in measured amounts…to truly break free of the grocery store, you have to free yourself from the “list of ingredients” mindset and proceed into real scratch cooking like our grandmothers used to do.  Vintage cookbooks can be really helpful in teaching you to cook from scratch because they were written before food became industrialized and all of these unhealthy processed convenience items took over our kitchen cupboards.  (Click HERE to learn more about scratch cooking.)

The fun part is figuring out how to use these garden odds and ends to make delicious things.

Yesterday, I concocted salsa from a strange series of items.


I took this…

Random veggies


And then these two  ears of corn that weren’t enough to serve everyone…


Two ears of corn


And came up with this perfect ambrosia….


This is from garden odds and ends

How to make salsa without a recipe

Here’s how I made Garden Hodge Podge Salsa. It’s super easy and you can adjust it based on the flavors you like and what you have on hand.  This is not a recipe as much as it is a guideline so be creative!

4 heirloom tomatoes
(I used all different colors)
A cup of mixed cherry tomatoes
A handful of cilantro
A purple onion
A yellow onion
2 jalapenos
2 cloves of garlic
2 ears of corn
A dash of salt
A tsp of turbinado sugar
A splash of lime juice


Wash all of your veggies well.

Peel and chop your tomatoes.  I put aside a few pieces to use in the food chopper, and diced the others by hand into small pieces.

For the other veggies that aren’t as soft, a food chopper speeds up your process greatly. I have this inexpensive Hamilton Beach food chopper and use it almost daily to speed along my kitchen chores. I like the glass bowl because it doesn’t absorb food odors like the plastic ones do.

red hamilton beach food processor


Hamilton Beach 72860 Stack and Press 3-Cup Glass Bowl Chopper

Remove the stems from your cilantro – they are bitter and unpleasant.

Use your food chopper to finely mince onions, jalapenos, and garlic.  Adding something soft like one small piece of tomato allows you to mix in the turbinado sugar at this time, too.

Scrape all the minced veggies out of the food chopper with a rubber spatula.

Add bell peppers to the food chopper – you won’t want them to be as finely minced as the other veggies were.

Chop the veggies


At this point, you will want to drain your veggies because you can see from the picture above, they are far too liquid-y. I like to use a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. If you want to speed up the draining process, stir the veggies in the sieve several times with a fork.  You can save the delicious liquid for cooking rice or adding to soup. If you don’t want to use it, you can add it to the compost pile.

Drain veggies




In a pot of boiling water, cook ears of corn for 3-5 minutes while your veggies are draining.

When the corn has finished cooking to the point you prefer, immerse the cobs in ice water to stop the cooking process and get them cool enough to handle.

Cut the corn off the cob using a sharp knife.

Stir the corn and salsa together in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and a splash of lime, and it’s ready to serve!

We had ours on top of a green leafy salad with some grilled chicken.  It was so flavorful the salad didn’t need even a drop of dressing.

Salad with hodgepodge salsa



The Lost Art of Scratch Cooking

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook: Anniversary

HIC Brands that Cook Essentials Stainless Steel Mesh Strainer, 7-Inch

Hamilton Beach 72860 Stack and Press 3-Cup Glass Bowl Chopper

Sow Revolution: Join the Grocery Store Rebellion

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • I like your post. I had to chuckle, however on your statement, “free yourself from the “list of ingredients” mindset and proceed into real scratch cooking like our grandmothers used to do.”

    If you were referring to my grandmother, born 1892, they lived in the city. She was sent by her mother, my great grandmother, to the store to get supplies…in German. They probably lived in German town.

    If you were referring to my mother, born 1925, they were not the farm type. They lived in Queens, NY in the burbs. Businessmen with wagons loaded with produce, fruit, fish, or even ice, would entice the street to purchase their goods. Need eggs? you could buy “cracked” ones cheaply. at the deli Need cream? Bring your own container and they would pour the amount into it. During the depression they sewed little to nothing, did not can, put food by, or make their own bread. They endured.

    My mother was a 1950s homemaker. You purchased everything from the store. She never could figure out why I embraced the frugal/self reliant mind set.

    I really did enjoy your article.

    • I’m glad you liked it! 🙂

      My grandmother was this tiny little lady who used to raise and butcher chickens, raised an enormous garden until well into her 80s, and cooked, cleaned, and canned like it was her mission. I always think of her when I think about a hard-working old-fashioned lady. She was not only extremely self-sufficient, she was the sweetest person around. I don’t think she ever said a harsh word to me in my life.

      Have a great day!


  • As soon as you titled the post “How to Cook without a Recipe” I knew it was for me 🙂

    Looks like a great recipe. The only thing I would change, and this is for my own personal taste only, are the jalapeno peppers. I like sweet salsas. I think I would change the jalapeno’s to a sweet cherry pepper. But that’s me … a friend of mine would go hotter with a ghost pepper.

    Thank you for the recipe 🙂

  • I have probally 20 cook books. I read them then mix differnt things up or alter them to taste anyways. When your low income you know how to cook with what you have. 😉 gardens save us with produce for sure.

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