jalapeño hot sauce
13 days. Wow that’s awkward. Let me explain.
We moved. Again. Yes, I should be totally used to it. I should be like a well-oiled machine. I should be like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music who decisively yanks her homemade dresses from the closet, crams them into her satchel and with heroic inner-strength, serenely leaves the von Trapp family behind, guitar in hand. I should be serene, darn it.
It was relatively un-hectic, as far as moves go. We didn’t have much stuff, anyway, and apart from some frames had never really settled into the place, so there wasn’t a crazy amount of work. I thought myself to be keeping a pretty composed and breezy exterior until the neighbor kid pointed out the three craters that had burrowed into my face. I was scrubbing the shower floor when she came in to say goodbye. As I whirled around to look at her, she recoiled with wide, terrified eyes and gripped her Barbie to her chest while asking tentatively in a quiet voice, “What happened to your face?” Forcing a smile on my crater-face (and trying not to give Barbie the stink eye) I told her, “Well toots, sometimes when grown-ups are feeling stressed, it shows up on our face.” Just you wait.
So yes, there was some stress involved. Have you ever lived in a foreign country? It doesn’t really matter where it is; the adjustments that have to be made, particularly the mental ones, are numerous. For instance, the city of Quito has this law called Pico y Placa. Basically, it means that on certain days of the week, and certain hours within those days, you cannot drive your car. No one is exempt; your days will depend on whatever number is on your plates. And of course the truck we had secured for the move happened to have Pico y Placa that day. What a fun problem to be dealing with when our friend (the driver of said truck) happens to be struggling with a chronic time-management problem.
Then there is the matter of expected time versus actual time. We come from a world where, if you order something like, oh I don’t know, the Internet, for instance, you call for an installation and all that seems to matter is that you have a valid credit card. Here? Well you call, and no one answers. So you call again, and still there is no answer. You verify the phone number and keep trying. Finally you reach someone who informs you that their policy is not to give Internet to foreigners. The Internet. It’s not as if we’re trying to adopt a child. It’s the internet. I mean, we’re going for the luxurious (and oh yes, it is luxurious!) high speed option. Don’t they want our money? Answer: Apparently not. We both work online, we need the internet! Eventually we found a loophole in the form of an Ecuadorian mediator and asked them to come as soon as they could. “We’ll come in one or two weeks. ¡Que pase bien!” Click.
I did break down at the beginning and posted from an internet café (Jan 5). For 60 cents per hour I sat sandwiched between one teenager literally staring at her Facebook page, and another video chatting with who I can only assume to be his girlfriend, feeling so thankful my Spanish is not advanced enough to understand his muffled words. (Not to be judgy, but you just know when someone’s being dirty.) The monitor was one of those massive, heavy original models where the screen bubbles out and everything is distorted. The keys stuck and my only options for changing the keyboard language were three different Spanish countries. And it had this sort of spasm where every time I touched the mouse or keyboard the cursor would start darting around wildly until settling at the very top of the page. There I sat attempting to describe burgers and guacamole while dealing with the computer’s epileptic seizures. I’m telling ya, that post came to you with a great deal of sighing and huffing and laughing at the sheer insanity of the situation. I think I threw dirty-talker to my right off his game. Ha.
So guess what. It’s been 2 weeks. And everything is OK. So we needed to wait. Whatever! Once in a while, it’s good and even beneficial to be without certain creature comforts. Doing so, you see that the sky did not fall, you managed just fine, and maybe even learned how to laugh a little faster when things do not transpire as you’d expected.
To get back into the swing of things, I thought I’d share my recipe for hot sauce, which I made just a few days before our move. I may not have been able to channel Julie Andrews, but at least I have some super spicy, super tasty hot sauce to dunk stuff in. I’ll take what I can get.
14 darling little jalapeños
1/2 medium white onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
8 tbs vinegar
1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
2 tbs vinegar (extra)
2 tbs water
(makes 1 cup)
Heat a cast iron pan over high heat. While it’s heating up, douse your jalapeños in some oil. (I used the oil from the marinated artichokes I’d made earlier that week.
Since I had added sliced jalapeño to the oil, the marinade gives us even more jalapeño oomph! Shake them around to make sure they all get some oil. Add whole jalapeños to your pan.
Hear that snap, crackle, and pop? Isn’t it great? Char them as evenly as you can by moving them around every once in a while, but don’t think you’re burning them. Char = flavor! Once you’ve achieved sufficient char and wrinkledge (that’s from the Kale-Webster dictionary, uh, yet to be released…) transfer back to whatever you’d used to douse them with oil. Now throw your onions and garlic on the pan and cook until softened. (Tip: Go ahead and turn off your heat and just let the onion and garlic cook on the residual heat of the pan. That way it won’t burn. That’s one hot pan, let me tell you!)
Once softened put straight into a food processor. Pull your stems off the jalapeños. They will come right off with a “shloop!” Add those to the food processor with juice of 1/2 a lime, salt, and your vinegar. I added mine tablespoon by tablespoon, rather than all at once, just because I wanted to make sure I didn’t add more than I needed right off the bat. Also I find it just kind of blends better that way. I kept scraping down the sides to make sure everything got incorporated. Once smooth, we strain.
I used cheesecloth for the first go at it, so that only the juices came out. And because it’s fun! But any strainer will work just fine.
With your pulp, we’re just going to take it a step further. In a small pot, bring the pulp with extra vinegar and water to a boil and cook until it is nicely loosened up. Back into the processor it goes! Process until super smooth, and, you guessed it – strain again! (Last time, I promise.) This time I used a regular old strainer and using a spatula, kept spreading the jalapeño mixture and scraping the thicker pulp off the bottom. Once you have strained about as much as you physically can (or until you get bored), simply pour the hot sauce into a glass jar and refrigerate! It should keep for about 6 months in the fridge. Because I don’t like to throw anything away, I put my leftover seeds and jalapeño pulp from the strainer into a glass jar and refrigerated that too! It’s perfect for adding some quick flavor and heat to soups, sauces, pasta – you name it!