Roasted Tomato Salsa and Moving Forward

This tomato salsa is roasted over the grill to add some depth and flavor to a homemade salsa combination. Can it for later or serve it fresh.

I got up from the couch in a huff. The majority of my marital disagreements focus on two things: church and a clean house. They often come when I’m stressed with work and life and am trying to juggle too much. This isn’t anything new, but it’s usually a word or a comment that sets me off, gets me thinking about all the other things that have been irking me, the things that weren’t important enough to mention at the moment, but suddenly they are all culminating into one giant ball of me being irritated with you.

The huff was cleanliness related. I retreated to the kitchen, clanking dishes together as I loaded them into the dishwasher, sighing at the state of the kitchen, torn apart to create a makeshift photo studio as I finish the photos for my cookbook. Ole retreated to the basement to manage other domestic chores that seem to consume all the time we could have, should have, would have if only.

A small head of blonde hair appeared in the doorway looking bleary-eyed and sad. “I can’t find Pooh,” said a sad voice. She headed downstairs to look for the beloved worn and dirty stuffed toy that she held tight every night, and she returned without him, slowly sulking back to her room to look for him there.

I was mourning the lack of downtime as I stared at the clutter and continued loading dishes, thinking of the to-do list items still yet to be done before I could head to bed when my husband sprinted up the stairs. Loudly.

Within seconds he had crossed the house, shoved through the boys’ bedroom door and emerged with Kjell in his arms and then on the couch, where my son would sit, frightened and with his voice shaking to tell us, “I can’t see you! Where are you?!” Yet we were there, not a foot from his face and his open eyes, Ole already sliding his shoes on and getting ready to head to the emergency room.

Somehow this has become something we’re prepared to do: emergency rooms, sedative drugs and tubes shoved down our baby’s throat. It’s something that causes time to stand still, where nothing else matters, not deadlines nor laundry nor dishes. Everything stops for one small boy who is now being forced to say his ABCs in the back of our car. Minutes pass and the letters stop coming from his small lips, as I try desperately to get him to hang on, to tell me hello, to say something to me.

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is watch your child go from talking to seeing his eyes gloss over, his body go limp and his breathing to slow to barely a whisper. I’m hovering above the ER room, watching a team of doctors and nurses crowd my baby, seeing myself there among them, holding his cold hand and wondering if this time he’ll still wake up the sweet boy I know he is. I see the IV go in, a tube down his throat and a call for an ICU bed.

It’s all too familiar. Too much of the same. A new night, a different doctor, the same result.

There was a bit of a warm spell the first two weeks of October. The sun was hot and powerful, the air warm. While some perhaps wished for the cool of autumn, I sat and enjoyed the sun, begging it to last…for my tomatoes.

A cluster of green tomatoes hanging on the vines, not yet ripe and still blossoming and growing. I hadn’t resolved to frying them green or turning them into chutney just yet. I still wanted them fresh and ripe, ready for sauce, salsa or to be sliced for dinner.

Two weeks later, the air has cooled. Long sleeves have become necessary, but I have 20 red (and a few orange/yellow/black/striped) and ripe tomatoes and only a handful of green. My freezer is full of sauce, and I have jars full of salsa. Now to decide what to do with the last 20, but not before I eat a few just as they are.

Like my tomatoes, I wish I could keep my son in the moments when he’s healthy and running through the backyard yelling with joy far too loud. However, these are things that I have no control over, the changing of the seasons and whether or not the outcome for Kjell will change. In the moment, I’m going to savor every bit of it and do what I can to preserve it.

5 pounds meaty tomatoes (about 7 cups)
2 large whole onions
5-6 jalapeños
5-6 garden salsa peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups lime juice (bottled)
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup packed cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin

Heat grill to medium-high. Slice tomatoes and onions in half. Remove seeds from peppers, if desired. Rub olive oil over all vegetables. Place on grill over medium-high heat, turning once, until skins blister and char slightly. (Alternatively: Roast at 400º F in the oven until charred.)

Remove charred skins if desired. Add tomatoes, peppers and onions to a food processor and pulse lightly 5-6 times to combine. Place a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute garlic for 30-60 seconds until fragrant and then pour in tomato sauce. Add in lime juice and salt and bring to a low, rolling boil. Reduce heat and boil for 10 minutes. Toss in cilantro and cumin and simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Can salsa in 8-ounce or pint-sized jars, leaving 1/4″ of space at the top. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Any jars that do not pop and seal properly can be stored in the fridge and eaten within a week. Sealed jars can be stored in a dark, cool place until ready to consume within 12 months.

Makes approximately 7 pints salsa
Copyright © Food for My Family.


  1. Lovely. Beautiful recipe, beautifully written. Hugs and hugs. Sniff. xo

  2. You have such a way with words Shaina… this is a powerful piece. Thank you for sharing your heart with the world. 🙂

  3. Thinking of you and your family (and of course, the wonderful food you produce too).

  4. Huge hugs being sent your way. You remind us that we need to focus on the important things and just let the other things go. I hope we can all find the strength to do just that.

  5. I can’t imagine. As the mother of a 6yo boy, this breaks my heart. I praying for good news soon.

  6. Wonderful post Shaina. Thank you for sharing your heart and your life, and beautiful recipes with us.

  7. Oh my. Sending lots of love to you & your family.

  8. What a beautiful post. It can be so hard to remember what’s really important in the day-to-day chaos of family life–thanks for the poignant reminder.

  9. Oh, Shaina. My eyes have teared up, such a tough thing to go through. I’m sending prayers for your family.

  10. Still praying you guys find some answers!!

    I love your words Shaina, you have such a way of telling a story, like I was right there with you.

  11. Oh, Shaina – my heart goes out to you. Even though I already knew some of Kjell’s story, my heart was in my throat while reading this. You have such a wonderful way of looking at things, of treasuring the small moments.

  12. I hope your little guy gets through this very soon. Keeping your family in my prayers.

    The salsa looks so great, I’ve never tried roasting the veggies, sounds delicious.

  13. You have just made time stand still for me, too. This is an incredibly powerful piece, Shaina. My heart aches. Many thoughts and prayers are with you & Ole, Kjell, and the rest of your family.

  14. Shaina, I don’ t know you (yet), but my heart was so touched by your post. I cannot imagine what you are going through and I so admire your courage and willingness to share here. I wish there was something that I could do far afar.

  15. Oh, Shaina. My heart just breaks for you watching your little boy struggle. All of us are holding you in our virtual arms. Praying for Kjell and your family.

  16. Shaina ~ you are amazing. When I read your posts I always feel as though I’m sitting across the table sharing cups of coffee with you. Your words are always so perfectly sewn together. My heart aches to read this post. I can’t stop the tears this time to move on with my own day, and I’m so sorry that you Kjell and your family have this hovering over your heads constantly. You are all in our prayers, always.

  17. Thinking of you and your sweet family! You amaze me! Sending lots of prayers, love, support, and hugs! xoxo

  18. Sweet Shaina…praying for you and yours sweet friend. Praying for some rest and that downtime that eludes.

    Thank you for the reminder that things can change so quickly, and show us how we get caught up in the less than important. Thanks for sharing your gift of words.

  19. holding out hope they figure out what is going on soon!
    your salsa looks wonderful

  20. I can’t think of anything to say that hasn’t already been said except that I will add to the prayers of others; hoping for the power of many to answer the needs of this one small boy.

  21. What a beautiful heart felt post – when things like this happen, especially to our kids, it really forces us to take a step back and think about what is important. Praying that you all will find the right doctor and that healing will come to your son.

  22. What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. Your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  23. This brought me to tears. Holding you all close in love & prayers. Let me know if you want meatloaf delivered to your door 🙂

  24. fabulous post! I’m thinking of you and your family is in my prayers

  25. Big hug to you, Shaina. Lots of tears in my eyes while reading your beautiful post. Hoping everything will be ok.

  26. John Levy says:

    Wow Shaina. Incredibly powerful and moving post.

  27. Continuing to pray for you guys. You are so strong! 🙂

  28. My heart breaks every time I hear about a child being sick. I wish your boy the strength he needs to pull ahead. Thinking of you and your family…

  29. What a hard hard thing to go through. Praying for you, that you find some answers and some healing. You are truly a beautiful writer.

  30. I love your voice and I hope and pray you find some answers (and some peace).

  31. So scary…thinking of you and sending lots of good healthy vibes your way. Your little guy is strong and I hope you find the answers you need.

  32. How is your little boy doing now? Is this a seasonal thing that happens? My sisters little boy had horrible allergies, when they lived near the beach. He was rushed to the ER several times and once he turned almost totally gray with 75% of his lungs shut down. They’ve moved and he’s been fine. If this is related to the weather/mold can you move to a different area?

    I’m sure your salsa is wonderful but honestly who can think about that with such a dreadful story regarding your son. Please keep us posted. I know he will be fine.

    My thoughts and prayers will be with you.

  33. Isn’t it amazing how our petty disagreements get swept aside in the face of an emergency? Kjell must be ok, right, or you wouldn’t post this? Thoughts and prayers with you and your family.

  34. Some of your best writing ever, friend. You know I love you more than my luggage. Praying for you guys, and Kjell especially.

  35. When situations like this happen, it’s funny how fast the things that bother us seem to disappear. Hope Kjell is doing better.

  36. Oh this breaks my heart. Thank you for sharing this with us and I’ll continue to send my love and prayers to you and your family.

  37. Shaina, I have no idea how I missed this post, but reading it makes my heart break and come back together again in the same moment. I love you, my friend, and even though I’ve never met Kjell, I would do anything to make him better.

  38. Thinking of you and praying for you, I’m so sorry. xos

  39. Shaina, I can’t possibly fathom the weight that you and Ole bear. I am praying that the doctors come up with an answer soon and that your moments of joy are endless.{{Hugs, love, & shoulders always cleared for you}} xoxo

  40. My prayers are with you and your family. Thank you for all you do you are truly and inspiration to me and others.
    Peace be with you. Karen

  41. Shaina, this must all be so scary. I hope sharing it helps. I know that, for me, sharing hard personal stuff with my community isn’t about getting comments or expecting a response, it’s about working it through for myself, regardless of who is–or isn’t–reading on the other side. Perhaps the same is true for you but, either way, we’re here, listening, thinking of you and ready to be there however you need no matter where this–or any other part of life–takes you. Xo

  42. My family makes a similar recipe. We roast childes over an open flame, but roasting in the oven works just as well. As I was reading, I remembered running around my parents’ home as a kid, and the smell of roasting chile coming from the kitchen. The mind and its memory of food is a powerful thing! Thank you.

  43. Loe you, Shaina. I’ll keep praying for you and Kjell and all of you.



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