The Ottumwa Courier

August 16, 2006

In the kitchen with Kimi

Kimi Hull loves to cook, especially salsa

By MARK NEWMAN, Courier staff writer

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.

“The tomato plants grew so huge, I have to crawl in under them and pick them,” she said.

Mark Newman can be reached at 683-5358 or by e-mail at

Sandy Walker's Salsa, as made by Kimi Hull


20 cups tomatoes cleaned and cored (food processed on pulse)

8 cups white onions

7 green bell peppers

7 banana peppers

5 jalapeno

5 cloves of garlic crushed or 2 Tbs. of minced from jar

1 1/2 C. sugar

4 tsp. chilies (peppers)

5 Tbs. salt

2 1/2 cups white vinegar

4 tsp. cayenne pepper

3/4-1 cup cornstarch

Reserve 2 cups tomatoes and mix with cornstarch, set aside

*food process all vegetables and add to tomatoes

*add rest of ingredients to vegetable mixture

Cook 20 min. on medium heat

Add cornstarch/tomato mixture and cook 20 more minutes.

Process 20 minutes. (Warm water bath)

Makes 16-20 pints


Baked Chicken Parmesan


4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 egg and 1/8 C. milk mixed and beaten

3/4 C. seasoned bread crumbs

3/4 C. Oven fry (Extra Crispy Chicken)

2 tsp. Italian seasoning


Seasoning Packet from Kraft Spaghetti Dinner 

1 medium tomato  (chopped)

2 cups water

2 Tbs. sugar

1 small can tomato paste (6 oz.)

1 cup shredded mozzarella and  provolone cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix top 3 dry ingredients. 

Dip chicken in egg, then bread crumbs mixture, coating well.

In 13x9-inch baking dish, arrange chicken.  Bake uncovered 20 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, mix together remaining ingredients except cheese.

Cook on medium heat until hot. Pour sauce over chicken, then top with cheese. 

Bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Serve with 8 oz. cooked angel hair pasta.

Mini Garden Pizzas




    4 fat free softshell tortillas

    1 small can tomato sauce

    1 Tbs. Italian seasoning

    1 tsp. crushed garlic

    8 oz. grilled chicken breast (cubed)

    1 1/3 C. shredded mozzarella cheese

    1/2 C. chopped tomatoes

    1/2 C.sliced zucchini

    1/2 cup chopped green and red peppers

    1/2 C. thin sliced mushrooms

    4 Tbs. fresh corn



Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix tomato sauce with spices and garlic. 

Place shells on non-stick cookie sheet. Top each with 2 Tbs. sauce.

Add 2 oz. cubed chicken, and 1/4 of each vegetable. Sprinkle tops with 1/3 cup cheese.

Bake 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and bottoms of shells are crispy. Serves 4.