As we learn in her just-released memoir, Bootstrapper, From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm (Knopf, 2013), Mardi Jo Link can make a meal out of just about anything that grows out of the Up North soil, including her fresh salsa recipe. Link’s book, a chronicle of her divorce and subsequent efforts to raise her three sons on her small Northern Michigan farm, is thoughtful, guffaw-funny, spirited and heartwarming. It also leaves you hungry for farm fresh cooking. Mardi’s salsa recipe helps quench that craving: “I live on this fresh salsa in the summer and my favorite way to serve it is for breakfast alongside scrambled eggs. If the eggs are from your own chickens, so much the better,” she says.

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Kitchen Sink Salsa


  • 2–4 medium jalapeño peppers, to taste. (Jalapeños are a type of chili pepper and like all chilies get progressively hotter the older they get. The mildest are bright green with a smooth skin, the hottest are bright red with vertical white age striations.)
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 large bell peppers
  • 1 yellow sweet pepper
  • 1 red sweet pepper
  • 2 large white onions
  • 4 fresh ears of sweet corn, kernels cut off
  • 8 ounces northern beans
  • 8 ounces black beans
  • 6 garden tomatoes, the size of your fist
  • 3 tomatillos
  • 1 giant handful of fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons of Michigan honey
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • Juice of two limes
  • Sea salt to taste


Chop the jalapeño peppers with the garlic into tiny pieces. Chop the bell, red, and yellow peppers together with the onions into slightly larger pieces. Add corn and beans. Chop the tomatoes and tomatillos into pieces slightly larger than the peppers and add to the vegetable confetti you’ve now got going in your big bowl. Chop up the cilantro and stir that in, then the honey and olive oil. Squeeze the limes over the bowl and mix well. Take one last walk around your garden or through the farmer’s market to see if there’s anything else perfectly ripe that has to go into the mix. Cauliflower florets? Green beans? Snap peas? When you’ve got everything in, sprinkle the salt and enjoy!

This article is also featured in the July 2013 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s MagazineGet your copy now!