The Ottumwa Courier

Food

August 16, 2006

In the kitchen with Kimi

Kimi Hull loves to cook, especially salsa

OTTUMWA — Just because you don’t like tomatoes doesn’t mean you can’t do some great canning.

“I love to cook. That’s my favorite thing to do,” said Kimi Hull of Ottumwa.

This summer, she’s become known for her generosity with jar after jar of salsa, and giving lots of garden-grown tomatoes to friends and family.

“My husband likes them, so I started growing them. He says you can’t get a good one in the store.”

She wouldn’t know.

“I just don’t care for fresh, raw tomatoes,” she said.

Cooked tomatoes are fine, though. She likes chili and spaghetti sauce, as well as chips and salsa. At a party years ago, the couple tried a homemade salsa, and they were hooked.

“My husband said, ‘This is the best salsa I’ve ever had; you’ve got to get the recipe,’” she said.

She found the cook, Sandy Walker of Davis County, to be quite gracious.

“It was winter when I called her, and she gave me the recipe,” Hull said. “Then, when summer came, she talked me through it over the phone.”

A busy mother of twin boys, Hull has adjusted the recipe both for convenience and taste.

For one thing, she always tries to use several different tomato varieties in each batch. For another, every veggie gets a quick turn in the food processor. And though she cleans them very well, Hull doesn’t peel her salsa tomatoes.

“You can’t even tell the skins are left on,” she said.

Taste testers agreed. They called the salsa slightly sweet, with some heat coming on slowly. But not too much heat; Even her two-year olds love Mom’s chips and salsa.

To improve her skills as a canner, Hull said she’s asked for tips from lots of gardeners and canning experts, since both skills are important to the finished process. One tip, using half a ton of compost brought by a friend, was so helpful Hull can barely keep up with her tomato crop this year.

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