Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Making Winter Magic Hot Sauce

The snow was like magic as it graced the trees and road banks. It was magic I was able to get out of the driveway without shovelling it. Vroom, front-wheel drive and new tires does it again. I had a bag of ingredients and some jars and I was going to Greg and Mary's to have lunch and make hot sauce. My street, at least, was plowed. They thought theirs was, but it wasn't, but I got to their house all right and parked on a side street.

Homemade soup, homemade bread, homemade fruit crisp, and then we started throwing things in a pot to make winter magic: hot sauce. I had a pint of tropical fruit cocktail (mangoes, pineapple, and lime slices in a ultra-light syrup), Greg cut up a fresh pineapple, Mary and I chopped up a couple of carrots. I had them taste-test a high-heat skinny red pepper and a fat fire-roasted chipolote. One of each went into the sauce. Then a couple of cloves of garlic, two-thirds of a cup of homemade tomato paste, about 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, and a dollop of date syrup. We had to have a little more sour, so a tablespoon or so of white balsamic vinegar went in too.

We let it simmer for a half hour or so, until the carrot coins were soft. The smell that wafted into the kitchen as we lifted the lid to stir was full of warmth. Taste tests affirmed we had the right amount of heat. Then we set it outside to cool enough to whirl in the blender. We figured we had enough for 4 half-pint jars and 1 quarter pint. Actually it turned out we had enough for 5 half-pints and the quarter pint. We added two more tablespoons of the white balsamic vinegar to assure the mixture was acidic enough to preserve with a boiling-water bath. But the taste was not sour at all.

I should have brought my jar lifter, but we were able to improvise with tongs. We pasteurized the jars while the pureed sauce was heating again to a boil. Into the jars and thence into the boiling water bath for 15 minutes. The tongs worked to take the jars out and we listened in delight as the lids all sealed with satisfying pops.

The plow had come while we cooking, but the magic hadn't left: no car in front of me and the CRV just drove through the plow-line and kept going down the snowy street and air full of fluffy snowflakes .

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