How to Cook without a Recipe: Hodge-Podge Salsa

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

By the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and Prepper’s Pantry.

Ever since my family and I began shopping locally, 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 have 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…

hodge-podge salsa

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

And came up with this perfect ambrosia….

hodge-podge salsa

How to make Hodge-Podge 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)
  • 1 cup of mixed cherry tomatoes
  • Handful of cilantro
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1 purple onion
  • A yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 ears of corn
  • Dash of salt
  • Tsp of turbinado sugar
  • 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.

TIP: 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.

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.

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.


  • 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 our Hodge-Podge salsa 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.

What other hodge-podge recipes do you make?

This is just one of many ad hoc recipes that my family enjoys. We find that Hodge-Podge salsa goes great with chips, salads, enchiladas, tacos, and a host of other foods. What are your thoughts? Have you tried this? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments below.


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

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, 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; 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. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

How to Cook without a Recipe: Hodge-Podge Salsa
Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

3 thoughts on “How to Cook without a Recipe: Hodge-Podge Salsa”

  1. I’ve done a salsa, kinda like this, w/some leftover, canned, chunky pineapple. It’s really good on rice and beans too.

  2. Here’s an easy, spicy salsa:

    One 28 ounce can of corn
    One can of mangoes
    One can of black beans, drained
    2 habanero peppers, chopped, seeds and ribs removed

    Mix in a medium bowl and enjoy with chips.

    You can substitute 4 ears of cooked corn for the can. Just cool after cooking, and use a knife to cut off the kernels. You can also a cup of substitute black beans for the can. Soak overnight and then cook them. Drain and add to the bowl.

    The habaneros give it a little “wang” but it is a great party salsa. I discovered this by accident back in 2008. I was making a salsa with stuff from the pantry for a party. One of my guests asked me if I had any jalapenos to go it in it. I didn’t but did have a few habaneros. Therein lies the tale. I should bottle this stuff!

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