Last week I made hot sauce for the first time. It seemed like a no-brainer to me, seeing how much I love hot sauce, how much I consume, and how many bottles are in the cupboard. You’d think I would have done this ages ago. Plus, between the garden and the CSA the counter was being taken over with hot peppers.
It was pretty simple, and I followed this recipe. I used 14 jalapenos (some were red, some were green) and one habanero. I cut them all by hand, without using gloves. Big mistake (more on that later).
The ingredients are simple and fresh. That was one reason why I picked the recipe I did. There is a lot of room to play around here, and next year I think I would try my own combinations to see what I could come up with. You could throw in tomatillos, celery, shallots, etc. This is what I worked with:
Everything went together into a pan with some oil for 3 or 4 minutes, and then water was added. This cooked for 30 minutes or so until most of the water was gone.
After cooling to room temperature (or if you’re impatient like I am, not-as-hot-as-it-was-ten-minutes-ago) it all went into the food processor with vinegar.
Next it had to be strained. I did this over a pint jar which I do not advise, because it took ten times as long, and it was hard to make sure it all went in the jar. Save yourself some time and just do it over a big bowl, in two batches, instead of 25 like I did.
I opted to stick it in the fridge, like the recipe calls for. In the future I think I might look into how to seal it so it can go on a shelf and I can give it away, or store it for longer periods of time.
Let me tell you, it’s hot. It isn’t the kind of hot sauce you douse your food in. A little bit goes a long way. It has pretty good flavor, but I like my hot sauce to have a richer flavor profile (and still have heat), which is why next time I would play around with more/other ingredients. This is a solid first start, and I’ve already used it a few times.
Now, about cutting the peppers bare handed. Within a few hours of cutting them my hands were burning so badly they were trembling. It was some of the worst pain I have ever been in. My face was sweating and there was no oil or burning on my face what-so-ever (luckily I avoided that mistake). I tried every suggestion I could find on the internet and nothing worked. This is a public service announcement: If you’re going to make hot sauce and cut up your own peppers: wear gloves. I think a good method might also be to just cut the tops off the peppers and throw them in a food processor. We have to learn our lessons somehow.
In 3 days I’m running my second marathon. Those of you who have been reading The Old Pine Tree for a while know how big of a deal this is for me. Last year I had two big injuries that kept me from two separate marathons. I worried that my body would never let me be a long distance runner and I did months of physical therapy.
I’ve been tapering and doing pretty well with it. Sometimes I feel stir crazy or worry I’m losing my endurance but then I got out for my run (short 3 milers this week) and I am bursting with energy. I hold back though and tell myself to save those bursts for the marathon. I like to imagine I’m saving up these bursts of energy for when I need them in the race.
People keep asking me about my goal time. I honestly don’t know. I’ve never run a hilly course like this. I’m just glad to be healthy, and I want to run smart. I have tiered goals, but I’m keeping them to myself. I have hopes for what I’m capable of.
I have spent the last 4 months training. That’s a third of a year. It’s gone pretty well. I got all of my runs in, multiple 20 milers, and I feel better than I have in the past. Maybe I should have done more speed work, maybe I should have done more hills, but it’s too late to worry about that now.
There’s nothing I can do but trust in the hard work I’ve done and enjoy the race. I remember last time I ran a marathon I had this overwhelming feeling of satisfaction while I was on the course just because I was there, accomplishing a goal that meant so much to me. I look forward to that moment of fruition on Sunday.
If you’re not a runner it might sound strange, but long distance running is one of the most important parts of my life. It is deeply personal and rewarding. I’m continually working at being just a little faster, just a little stronger, just a little more whole of an athlete.
A few more easy runs, a few more carb filled meals, lots of water, and some extra sleep. Then it’s race day. Truth be told, I’m ready.
It takes a village
I dream of giving out homemade gifts for Christmas: baskets of dilly beans, pickled beets, hot sauce, cloth napkins, and the like. My mom, and now myself, are famous for our canned goods.
This weekend we canned 20 pints of pickled beets. The neighbor grew the beets (we literally pulled the whole patch. The goat got the greens), so we gave him a third of them. It’s a pretty good trade, everyone does the part they’re best at and walks away with what they need. If only all of life were so simple.
If I had enough to give away these would be ready just before Christmas. Someday I’ll have the time, right?
Saturday I was out on my run and I couldn’t believe how fast autumn is going by. There are the same amount of leaves on the ground as there are in the trees. The pine needles have started to fall now. The air is not quite warm anymore, and it is thick with the scent if rich decay. My body is reacting to the change in temperature and the precious little daylight that hangs on. My instincts are telling me to run less and walk more, so that I can slow down and take in my surroundings. This is the peak of Autumn, and the beauty is unmistakable. I am storing up the feeling it gives me so that I have reserves come the middle of winter.
October, homemade beer and hard cider made from trees older than you. My mom in her Parisian scarf tending the fire, keeping off the late fall chill.
- The fresh scent of jasmine blossoms
- The taper. I’m tapering for the marathon next weekend, and I’m loving having a little extra time on my hands, the relief my body gets, and the knowledge that my muscles are storing up lots of good stuff (oxygen, glycogen) to help me run a good race (although I’m kinda scared of the hills…)
- 16 oz of black tea and milk and honey
- Roasted spaghetti squash. oh my goodness amazing.
- leggings and long sleeves (not quite cold enough for sweaters over the long sleeves yet, but I’m looking forward to that)
- Seeing one of my best friends last weekend. I hadn’t seen her in two years and it was like I hadn’t seen her in only a day. She seems pretty darn happy and that makes me pretty darn happy.
- The leaves on the ground. The colorful leaves are breathtaking in the trees, but there’s a quieter, deeper beauty seeing them strewn and dry on the streets and over the forest floor.
- What’s ahead. Who knows what awaits, but I’m excited that it will surely be some mix of the usual, the unknown, the adventurous, the wild, and the predictable.
No matter where a child grows up he or she experiences coming of age rituals. For kids in the city it is walking to school alone, or with friends, taking public transportation without supervision, etc. For those of us who grew up in the country it is being allowed beyond the edge of the yard to explore the woods and learning to drive a stick shift on dirt roads.
Another childhood ritual that many rural children experience, myself included, is helping with firewood. My mother always found it funny to take pictures of me at 15-years-old running the wood splitter with a true lack of enthusiasm all over my face. I remember at 5-years-old going out to the barn with my brother and father to help bring wood in for the fire that night, carrying one log at a time.
Firewood was the bane of my existence during those precious teenage years when everything is the bane of one’s existence. My parents only heated with wood, and what is horrible about that, for those of you who do not know, is that wood fires do not last all night. Waking up each morning at 5am for high school was a rude awakening (there’s probably a poignant metaphor there). We did not bother making a fire in the morning because we would all soon be out the door.
The irony of all of this (similarly to the fact that my brother and I both found our way back to Maine after swearing off the State and leaving for a while) is that my brother recently switched to wood heat, and I plan to heat with wood in my future home.
Procuring firewood is much different than oil. There is no set price, and if often comes from different sources. You might call it the poor man’s fuel (unless you live in Germany, that is). You might barter with the neighbor for a cord or two, you might get a bargain from the old man you’ve always gotten it from, and you might get some off your own land, like my parent’s recently did.
You might get tree length delivered and cut it yourself (which is cheaper), or you might buy it already cut. You might buy it already dry, or you might cut, stack, and dry it yourself. Probably you get whatever you can so that you’re warm through the winter, and let me tell you, there’s nothing like the dry heat of a good wood fire.
As soon as I left for college and my parents no longer had child slaves to stack wood for them, they installed a propane furnace for supplemental heat. Figures. But they still heat half of the house with wood.
There is no other fuel like wood. No other fuel that supports the local economy (sometimes with transactions that don’t go further than the country road you live on). No other fuel requires so much of one’s own sweat and muscle. Even if you’re not cutting the wood, you’re still stacking it, bringing it into the house, and re-stacking it. Maine is the most forested State in the country, in some ways heating with wood is what it means to be from Maine.
I want to throw it all to the wind. I want to read more, to drink tea in the crispness of autumn, to spend whole days watching the leaves change and then the trees go bare. I want to do things with my hands. I feel something deep inside me resisting this normalcy, resisting the mold I’m in, resisting the part of our culture that ensures we are defined by our “careers”. I feel this urge to break free and I’m not sure what to do with it.