Wow! Hot Sauce

I made hot sauce, and IT’s REALLY GOOD!

Must write down my sort-of recipe for posterity.

1. I drizzled two heads of garlic with olive oil and roasted them in a small covered casserole dish (you can also cover them tightly in foil) at 325 for about 50 minutes, until the skin was crispy and the cloves soft and mushy.

2. I charred about 35 garden-grown jalapenos, some red but most green, under a broiler for about 7 minutes a side. This was supposed to make the skin come off easier, and it sort of did, but I think I need to be more careful about turning them and getting all sides really singed and surface-crisped. The job of getting the skins off and the seeds out, while wearing, then not wearing, then wearing again awkward disposable plastic gloves was irritatingly labor-intensive and somewhat painful to my hands (and any other part of me I touched). Capsaicin, it burns!

I gave up after about 20-25 jalapenos and threw the rest away. I felt like a failure at this point. Also, I went to bed because it was late.

3. Next morning, I peeled the garlic and added the squishy heads to a pot with the chopped up, softened, somewhat deseeded and deveined and de-skinned jalapenos and one bright red habanero. I added about a tbsp of sugar and 2 tsp salt and about 3 tbsp of that good, bright red tomato puree that comes in a tube. I added apple cider vinegar to cover, about 2.5 cups, plus some water as I cooked it down for an hour or so, stirring frequently. I had regular white and red wine vinegars but I really wanted the cider vinegar flavor, which I love.

4. After an hour and a half of simmering, and letting it stand for maybe half an hour to cool, I strained the pepper and garlic liquid mush (laboriously, messily) through cheesecloth several times, while wearing another pair of those disposable plastic gloves. Then I tasted some with my gloveless finger and poured it on a few tortilla chips.

5. It is insanely, addictively delicious! I wanted to lick the pot! I think the roasted garlic is the key to a savory, roasty depth of flavor. The peppers were hot but not enough to overpower all other tastes. The tomato sweetened it and gave it a nice bright red color. I would do this again! Maybe.

Home grown

Oxen headbutt

Sit, pig

Two more fair photos.

Thirty days hath September, so tomorrow is October already. It’s day three of gloomy rain. I can hear the chickens squawking about it from inside with the windows closed. Or maybe one of them is about to lay an egg. It seems to be an occasion for noise.

This morning I’m going to try to finish making hot sauce, with our own garden-grown jalapenos (and one ripe habanero), which may turn out to have been a dumb idea. I am using this site for guidance, which calls for broiling the jalapenos and removing their skin. I found it difficult to peel off the skin while wearing protective gloves, so I did it unprotected. I went to bed last night with my mitts on fire, and only halfway through the peeling.

John is on reserve this month and was called out to fly to Los Angeles yesterday afternoon. He’ll be home in time for dinner, which may or may not feature some homemade hot sauce.

I went to the Portsmouth Farmers Market yesterday to stock up on some ground beef and chipotle-jalapeno sausage from my meat CSA with New Roots Farm. The texture and flavor of this local, pasture-raised beef and pork is truly superior to the majority of store-bought meat. And it’s definitely not just that I like the idea of eating/ supporting local food/ farms. I bet I could take a couple of mouthfuls blindfold and tell which was grown on grass ten miles away.

Harvest time

Merry-go-round

The sun is hot, the air is cool, wild asters are blooming in the verge, the wheel of the year clicks from ‘summer’ to ‘fall’ and we go to the fair again, you and I. It’s not always the same fair – but all fairs are the same.

I take pictures of cattle, sheep, and piglets, and you eat a turkey leg. We watch 4-H kids lead their four-legged charges around in a ring. We look at the prize vegetables. We look at home improvement items and handmade crafts. We share a paper plate of fried dough with cinnamon and sugar. I make you look too long at chickens, ducks and geese. You make me look too long at tractors, antique farm machinery and men sawing logs.

This year, we watched a woman throw a double-headed axe at a target made from a circle of sawn wood a couple of feet thick. It spun in the air. Twice it bounced off the target, ugh; the third time it wedged deep into the wood, yes! That was something new.

A man from our town had a two-seat antique mechanized celery transplanter on display. “When farming first became mechanized, I guess farmers had to become mechanics too,” I realized, out loud.

Pulling

We watch cattle or large horses in pairs strain against their harnesses to pull a sledge piled with granite blocks. We watch men in faded ball caps tap, smack and sometimes whip the oxen on their noses, backs and rumps to get them to move the way they want.

It seems hard for the oxen to understand what they’re supposed to do, and hard for the men to get them to do it. The beasts are yoked together but they don’t always pull in the same direction at the same time. The men flail with sticks. The oxen lurch – hopefully forward, hopefully at the same time.

“This is a living, annual, advertisement for how great it is to have tractors and trucks now,” I say. You stop eating the turkey leg and nod yes.

The horses seem to understand pulling, and humans, a little better.

Draft horse at the fair

You like to be able to put a key in something metal and mechanical and make it go. I like things that are alive. Both require care and tending, in different ways.

We have raised two daughters, flown airplanes, written stories, owned cars, trucks, a tractor, a boat, houses, dogs, cats, fish.  Now we have 7 chickens and they have just started laying eggs. We have planted trees that are now 5 or 10 times taller than we are. We have planted and picked every kind of garden vegetable and berry fruit that would grow here and that we wanted to eat.

Once a year we travel two-score miles or so to visit and celebrate effort and abundance. And then we go home to our own work.

Figural

A collection of photos from a recent trip to the Mediterranean.

In Amalfi.

In Crete.

In Venice.

In Sicily.

In Santorini.

In Sicily.

In Venice.

In Rhodes.

In Crete.

In Venice.

In Mykonos.

In Venice.

In Mykonos.

In Ephesus.

In Venice.

In Mykonos.

In Ephesus.

In Crete.

In Athens.

In Mykonos.

In Venice.

In Amalfi.


In Amalfi.

In Pompeii.


In Rhodes.

In Santorini.

In Ephesus.

In Sicily.

In Athens.

On a ship.

In Amalfi.

In Venice.

In Santorini.

In Rhodes.

On the Mediterranean Sea.

In Mykonos.

In Santorini.

In Mykonos.

In Santorini.

See also: I was gone and Narrow and wide.

Kill not the moth nor butterfly

Dreaming of Mexico, a butterfly follows Route 1A/ Ocean Boulevard south, over a bridge near Rye Harbor.

Drive carefully, it’s monarch migration time. In this region, they really do appear to follow the beach and coastline, and the adjacent Route 1A, on their southward journey. Watch out for them on sunny days with either a north or northwest wind, or little wind at all.

Danaus plexippus. As fall approaches non-reproductive monarchs are born. These are the butterflies that will migrate south. They will not reproduce until the following spring. These late summer monarchs will travel hundreds and even thousands of miles to their winter grounds in Mexico and California. These monarchs need a lot of energy to make their trip! They store fat in their abdomens that will help them make the long trip south and will help them survive the winter. During their five months in Mexico from November to May, monarchs remain mostly inactive. They will remain perfectly still hour-after-hour and day-after-day. They live off of the stored fat they gained during their fall migration.

(I was gone, but now I’m home and blogging has resumed.)

I was gone

Blue door in Santorini

The blue ocean beyond the blue door is a volcanic caldera. Some say it is the location of the lost kingdom of Atlantis.

I was on vacation, is where I was. It was quite wonderful. I’ve got photos on Facebook (on “public” setting) and I’ll probably make and link a Flickr or Smugmug album at some point.

Here are a few more photos from our family trip to the eastern Mediterranean, by sea.

Beach in Amalfi

“Summer vacation”… the two most beautiful words in any language? I close my eyes and I can still smell lemons and suntan lotion. We drank a lot of wine made close to the places we visited.

Push me, pull you boat in Malta

I have never seen a boat like this before.

In Malta, they speak a baffling language called Maltese (Malti) that is blended and descended from Italian, Arabic and English. One of many interesting things I never knew until late August, 2012.

The pic above is a view (and telephoto lens shot) down from Deck 7, stern of the ship, our stateroom veranda. No hotel room will ever compare.

A street in Mykonos

A strange and beautiful Greek island where the wind blows hard on a perfectly sunny day, tourists bathe in sunshine and the salty sea or shop for jewelry and ouzo, and traditional island life endures.

Also, the island was covered in small cats.

Seahorse fountain, Taormina, Sicily

A perfectly lovely town we visited before ascending to a winery on the slopes of Mt. Etna.

Our itinerary: Rome, Naples (Amalfi/ Pompeii), Sicily (Catania/ Taormina/ Mt. Etna), Malta, Athens, Mykonos, Turkey (Kusadasi/ Ancient Ephesus), Rhodes, Santorini, Crete (Chania), Venice.

Apollo ruled our voyage, and Poseidon was in a cheerful mood – it was hot and sunny every day except in Venice, and the seas were mainly calm.

Wings and stripes in St. Mark’s Square, Venice

A few more photos later today. I have an abundance of lingering happiness from this trip.