26 August 2008

Hot Sauce Cook-off

It is no secret that we have been growing the hottest pepper on earth, the Caribbean Red Pepper. We recently harvested "mini" carrots and have had them in the refrigerator for about a week now. We'd like to use them before they go bad. Decidely the only appropriate thing to do is to make hot sauce. Unfortunately we could not decide on just one recipe and thus spawned our first cook-off. I used a combination of recipes. See below for my version. You can find the recipe Donny used here.

The first step in most of these hot sauce recipes is to wear gloves. This is the first step we ignored. I mean, how hot could these peppers be? They really didn't smell hot or feel hot on my fingers. I thought "this is totally fine." I'm not sure if it was just from the heat of the food processor spinning or what, but immediately the heat of the peppers started to turn up and you could definitely smell it in the air. It's hard to describe what heat smells like, but maybe it's more of a feeling. It was strong. All of a sudden I hear Donny start yelping in pain. It appears that he's managed to rub some pepper residue in his eye. He franctically throws water in his face and drinks milk. He is fine for about 20 seconds and then repeats. He ran into the bathroom to get a clean hand towel, since most of the kitchen towels were contaminated with pepper. This action of milk and water and yelping went on for about 15-20 minutes. Fortunately he did not have his contact lenses in at the time or it could have been a lot worse. I try comforting him, all the while thinking, "why on earth did he rub his eyes? how did that happen?"

We finish making the 2 different hot sauces, but are a little defeated at this point. Both of us wash our hands with soap multiple times just to get it all off. We start to clean up the mess in the kitchen and prepare to make breakfast: scrambled eggs with organic local tomatoes & fresh basil from the garden, organic potatoes we handmade into hash browns and our favorite apple smoked bacon. We didn't have any bread, which isn't usually a must have in our kitchen, but I agreed to walk to our corner german bakery, 3 square, and pick up a loaf. Before leaving to go on the errand I sat on the couch to take a tiny break. The excitement of the hot sauce kind of wore me out, considering we only just woke up less than an hour prior. I partake in the obligatory eye rubbing to help wake myself up and then all of a sudden it hits me. I can feel the heat on my eyelids immediately and then after a few moments I can't even open them. I start yelling to Donny for support. I explain to him what I've done and how much it hurts. He calls for me to come into the kitchen immediately and so I stand up and start walking. At this point I am in so much pain and fear that I can't even open my eyes, so he helps me walk in. He immediately turns on the water and I splash it in my face repeated times. I start screaming "It hurts so much! It hurts! It hurts!", while still frantically splashing cold water in my face. He gets out the little milk we have left and I start drinking. Donny suggests splashing the milk in my face and blinking my eyes to get it all around. That might've helped, except it just hurt more. The pain was so fierce and intense that my only solace was the ability to voice out just how bad it hurt. At one point Donny even suggested that our neighbors could hear and would think I was hurt and something was wrong. My response to that was "But I am hurt and something is wrong!" He told me later that he thought they would think he was physically hurting me and was tempted to shut the window, but that they might think he was then trying to cover it up. Finally, the pain started to subside and I was able to move into the laughter stage. I'm still not sure how I managed to keep from crying, but the misery finally subsided. This was a true lesson in our hot pepper experiment. I took the calming walk down to the bakery and allowed the cool breeze to flow over my eyes.

Donny was in the midst of busily making breakfast, upon my return. We delighted in our small feast and even more so enjoyed tasting our hot sauce chellenge over our scrambled eggs and yummy olive bread. The sauces, which had more of a thick topping-like texture, tasted good in small doses, carefully placed on the eggs for each bite. We both agreed my hot sauce was better, since it contained more distinct flavors and even had a sweet, tangy taste to it. All in all, it was definitely a fun morning, but no doubt we will use gloves the next time around.

My hot sauce recipe (makes about 6 ounces):

Combine 1 cup of chopped carrots, 1 small chopped white onion, 2 minced cloves of garlic, 2 tsp. of salt and juice from 1 lime in a small saucepan over high heat. Boil for about 10 minutes. Put on gloves. Chop 2 caribbean red or habanero peppers. In the bowl of a food processor add chopped peppers plus a few seeds, 2 tbl. honey, 2 tbl. yellow mustard, 2 tbl. brown sugar, 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar, 1 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 tsp. paprika, 3/4 tsp. of each black pepper and cumin, 1/8 tsp. of each ginger and allspice. Add in the mixture from your saucepan into the food processor. Chop and grind until completey liquified. I put my sauce in an empty glass Philippe Mustard jar. Enjoy!

Tastes great on eggs, tacos and other food you want to spice up. Use sparingly.

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