Tag Archives: hot sauce

Doing The Right Thing: Confessions Of A Gardening Junkie

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I just got lambasted by my dear friend and gardening guru, Mike, for being a selfish gardener.

Now, before you all jump to my defense, I’ll tell you this…Mike is a TRUE friend.  He doesn’t just tell me what I want to hear.  He tells me the way things are, uncomfortable or not.
And, the uncomfortable truth is, he’s right.  I am being selfish.

At the end of the gardening season, Connecticut experienced a fast cold snap, sending the overnight temperatures into the twenties for a couple of nights.  It was time to cut down the garden, ready or not, and harvest the last of the vegetables.  I took up the winter squash and Dahlias, then set myself to taking up the hot pepper plants, and harvesting the peppers.  Ripe ones went into the freezer, and unripe went into paper bags, to be ripened inside.

Three of my pepper containers were predominantly green.  I brought them in and put them under the lights so that I could get further ripening from those plants.  Cool, right?

Not so fast.  That was better than a month ago.  I’ve been tending the plants, watering, ripening, bringing them along.  They’re out on the front porch, which is enclosed, but not heated.  We had a wonderful week a couple of weeks back, and these last couple of days have been great.  The peppers on the plants are now predominantly ripe.

 

So…why have I not harvested the damn things, and composted the soil by now?  Well…it’s because I have been selfish.  I love having the plants around.  I love coming home, to look up into my windows and see that lush, green life shining its welcome in the window.  I love the sparks of deep red against the green leaves.  The plants look vibrant and healthy, for all the world like they’re having a grand time of it out there.

“But they look so happy!”  I wailed into the phone.

 

Mike, in his wisdom, said, “No.  You need to stop this.  The plants are doomed, and your watching them go on is like watching a two year old, running with delighted reckless abandonment toward a cliff.”

Truth be told, and here’s where Mike’s genteel brand of tough love comes in, the plants aren’t as lush and green as I want them to be.  When I open my eyes and stop thinking only of what I want from the plants, and see more than what I want to see, I see leaves in decline, yellowing and fading.  The plants have stopped flowering.  The peppers are ripe.  The two Peter Pepper plants have achieved over 90% ripening, with only a few green guys left.  The big Cayenne planter has achieved about 50% ripening, but the leaves are starting to yellow.

 

The plants are telling me that their time is up.  These plants are asking me to harvest what is ripe, and let go of what is not.  The soil is fried.  There’s nothing left to sustain their needs.  Soon, the ripe peppers will fail, burst and fall off the plants.  The green ones will wither.  The soil will never stand a chance in compost.

I am, selfishly, no longer meeting the needs of the plants and soil, and that is inexcusable.  It’s time to shelve my gardening addiction, and let Nature take her course.

It’s also time to haul my elder statesman out and start cooking these peppers into this year’s batch of wicked hot sauce!

 

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It’s All Over But the…Ugh…Dishes.

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Good morning!

Hope this finds everyone still groaning from yesterday’s festivities!  Had a very nice dinner, used the old roaster oven for the bird, outside, and it came out FABULOUS.  Note…when you transfer your roasted turkey from the rack to the platter, and it falls apart…the turkey is done.

Oh!  That was some good stuff!  The roaster sat out there and did the job, also freed up my regular oven for stuffing, my baked squash, and the squash pie.  They were awesome, and especially so, as I grew all the squash this season.  Oh, yeah, I went all out this season, didn’t just grow peppers!  Squash (summer and winter), hot peppers, tomatoes…way too many tomatoes…spinach, cauliflower, three varieties of eggplant, little sugar baby watermelons, and these really cool hybrids called, “Gold Bar” melons…a hybrid of melon and cucumber, and absolutely delicious.  Topped it off with my Dahlias, for even more color…and I did it all in containers.  My brother called it my “bucket jungle.”  The only thing I didn’t have in containers were some marigolds and little salvia plants that my neighbor sent over.

This is just a tiny peek at what my very limited space looked like…and this doesn’t even take in half of it. What a season!

Anyway, back to the day….Now it’s all over, have to strip the leftovers from the bird, and set myself  to washing these dishes, and that roaster pan.  I might just boil that one out with vinegar and baking soda.

There was no way I was going into that last night! I kept that sink cleared all darn day.  At the end of it all, I figured…yeah, they’ll be there tomorrow.  Wish as I would that they would wash themselves, or just get up and crawl out of the house…they would be there in the morning.

And they are.  No, of course I don’t have a dishwasher!  Are you kidding?  THIS is my washing machine!

Can’t put the roaster away, either…have to do tomato sauce from the um-teen plants I had growing (I think I topped out at 70-75 tomato plants) and I’m probably looking at canning around five gallons, or more, of sauce.  At least, that’s what the bags of frozen pureed tomatoes are telling me.  Good thing I bought all those cool vintage canning jars!

Today, going to make a really big batch of home-made instant hot cocoa.  We love Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Sensation.  But, it’s not always on the shelves, and it gets pricey when it isn’t on sale.  So, I’m whipping up a batch, and I’ll keep you posted.  I’m using a big box of instant non-fat dry milk, a jar of French Vanilla Coffee Mate, a can of Hershey’s Special Dark baking cocoa, a bag of Special Dark chips (ground in the food processor with the cocoa) and a “giant” bar of  Special Dark (also ground in the processor.)  I’ll toss in a half cup, maybe a cup, of sugar.  Guess I’ll be doing some taste testing…poor, poor me.

Finally got the hot sauces into jars.  Got a few labeled, too!

And I was poking around in a fractal forum this morning, found one of my oldest fractals.

Cool way to start the day, when you’re avoiding the sink….might just avoid it further, and whip up some cream, have me a slice of squash pie for breakfast.  Mmmmmm…healthy!  Squash is a veggie.  It counts…right?

Have some FUN today!

Cooking Hot Pepper Sauce In The Elder Statesman

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Cool beans!  OK, cool peppers…got my pure habanero sauce started…mixed up all those little hotties with garlic, onion, a little salt, a couple of green-ish garden tomatoes…the last of the fresh ones (the rest are in the deep freeze awaiting my attention…) and tossed them into my stately senior citizen, that 1941 Westinghouse roaster oven.   Sizzled and popped them all around for a while, then added the water and let them stew for a couple of hours.  Now I have a big bowl of stewed hot peppers, which I will puree in the morning with some vinegar and get into some jars.

Here’s my beloved roaster, getting ready to go to work.  This is a serious machine!

Tossed them all in with garlic, fresh tomato, onion…heck, yeah, seeds and all!  That’s where the heat is!

Aren’t they pretty?  This almost looks like a crisp summer salad, ready to just chomp into.  Too bad it would KILL me!

About halfway through the cooking process, just about to add the water…I opened the lid and got knocked back a foot by the fumes.  This is going to be some seriously HOT sauce.

Now, tomorrow, I’ll go back outside, (I can’t make this stuff in the house.  It chokes my family.)  and bring the blender with me.  I figure I can puree this batch while I fumigate the neighborhood with the next one.

Aaaand, now it’s tomorrow already? Wow.  Well, I finally got my evil habs all stewed up and ready to get mixed up with the vinegar, pureed…liquifies…whipped…essentially destroyed.

Did some voodoo with the blender and food processor, and came up with a whopping gallon if…get this…”Wendy’s Rippin’ Deadly Lunatic Demon Goo.”  I was bouncing names off of everyone who would listen (and probably a few that didn’t care to) and came up with this.  My cousin, Wendy (poor kid was named after me) immedialtely second(ed?) that motion, so…a new hot sauce is born.  Now to get it all into jars!

Now, who in Heaven’s name is going to eat a whole gallon of this stuff????  Not me.  I don’t eat hot peppers.  I do have friends and family (brave souls…or silly) asking for it, so they can go for it.  I just grow the things, pack up the sauce and give it away for kicks.

Next up:  A milder mixed pepper sauce…still blazing, but a whole lot more civilized.

See you then!