Monthly Archives: September 2012

Hot peppers and my aching loins


As I have mentioned before in this blog, I’m a hothead. I really like spicy food, and since returning from Asia, I’ve been cooking curries that tend to be on the hot side. My channa masalas, kadhai paneers, and sambhars are considered quite spicy to an average western pallet (although they might be considered bland to a native of Tamil Nadu), so planting some hot peppers this year in the garden seemed to be a sensible thing to do.

Four small pepper plants were planted in a raised bed, and the tag that accompanied them said they were hot cherry (or chiltepin) peppers which rates a 1000 – 3500 on the Scoville scale. By comparison, a jalapeño is between 2500 and 8000, a serrano pepper is 5000-23000, and a sweet bell pepper is 0 1. You can read all about the Scoville scale here.

A very hot and humid July meant that the plants thrived and many blossoms turned into fruit on the little pepper plants. But as the peppers matured in August, their shape was not that of the picture on the little tag…

20120924-230606.jpgThe peppers on the left are the peppers in question. Serrano peppers on the right.

After consulting some websites on pepper identification, I concluded that the peppers were of the scotch bonnet variety, which have a rating of 100000 – 350000 on the Scoville scale… and I had over 20 of them on the plants.

Now I can eat a serrano pepper whole, and enjoy them in curries and omelettes and soups. Popping a jalapeño in my mouth is like eating an apple, and the deep fried battered ones are mouth watering to me. Those bottles of pickled jalapeños that you can get in western supermarkets and that appear on substandard nacho plates in family restaurants are like my dill pickles, but there is a point where the heat is just too overpowering for me.

When the first few of these scotch bonnets ripened, I picked one to use in a giant double batch of channa masala. I was very careful and used gloves while preparing the pepper. I chopped it into the smallest pieces I could, almost mincing it, and added it to the monster pot of chick pea curry. On the cutting board, there was the tiniest piece of the pepper, smaller than a bread crumb or the head of a pin.

It was taunting me… egging me on to try it. So I tentatively deposited the tiny morsel of pepper flesh into my gob.

When I recovered two days and seven gallons of yoghurt later, I came to the conclusion that I would need to come up with a different use for these capsicums.

I felt like my tongue had been sliced by a sword. There was no taste, just pain. I prefer having less pain and more taste, as if my tongue had been sliced by a fake sword… maybe one made of foam-core like the heroes on the Indian TV serials. Something that had taste, but caused a little pain. Not so much hardcore, but foamcore.

I decided on concocting a hot-sauce that would not only use these peppers, but utilize some of the other vegetables in the garden. That way I could disperse the heat instead of trying to cut out my tongue from the burn, and use some of the abundant produce left over in the backyard.

This sauce is similar to a Franks Red Hot or other commercial hot-sauce that has tomatoes in its ingredients and goes well with samosas, soups, and curries.

Foamcore Hawtsauce inspired by the TV serials of India

Ingredients

3 cups halved cherry tomatoes or chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped onions (1 large)
1 chopped large sweet bell pepper (I used an orange one that gave the sauce a nice colour)
3 scotch bonnet chile peppers (or your favourite hot pepper)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1 cup white vinegar
2 tsp sugar (optional depending on how sweet your other produce is)
2 tsp salt

Directions

Mince the garlic and chop onions, tomatoes, sweet peppers.

Seed and chop the hot peppers.

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Be VERY careful when handling hot peppers, especially the seeds. The gel like substance around the seeds is where most of the heat is, and can be easily transferred to delicate body parts like eyes or lips. This includes when you are disposing of the refuse from the peppers. I composted mine and then turned the compost pile with bare hands not realising I was touching a lot of seeds from the scotch bonnets. The capsaicin is NOT water soluble and can’t be washed off with soap and water. I went to the bathroom half an hour later and invented a new dance called Oh my aching loins.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add onion, chile peppers, sweet peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

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Reduce heat and add tomatoes, vinegar, salt, and sugar if you’re using grocery store produce.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

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Carefully puree ingredients until smooth. I transferred everything to a large measuring cup and used an immersion blender, but a food processor would work well too, just be sure to clean it thoroughly.

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Using a fine-mesh sieve over a glass jar or bowl, pour the pureed mixture through the sieve, pushing on the solids with a wooden spoon to extract all the liquid. (Discard solids CAREFULLY, No dancing.)

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Store in a glass jar, let the sauce cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate.

Makes about a litre and will last up to six months in the fridge.

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I decanted it a day later into smaller bottles so I could give some to friends. My cats don’t like it so much.

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1 Source Wikipedia.

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iOS uppity dates and frustrated coffee shop patrons


A certain computer company, named after a piece of fruit, released a major operating system update to their tablet and cell phone line a couple of days ago. It is touted to be the best operating system EVER and will offer over 200 improvements to their popular products.

The geekosphere has been all abuzz about it, and the newsfeed on one of my social sites is full of comments about, what must surely be, the greatest advancement in portable computing equipment for at least two months.

Now, I’m not exactly a luddite, and I’m all for progress, but seriously, are all of these updates really necessary? Was there something wrong with my tablet? Does my smartphone need more educations? Will this new operating system, named after some large cat, fix all of the things on my laptop that were perfectly fine before?

Or is it going to answer all of my prayers and do everything I wished for?

Will I finally be able to upload the pictures of my food to my anti-social network and have my phone translate my drunken ramblings into a witty caption that will captivate my grandmother and present a double entendre, that will make me look intelligent for the clerk at the drugstore that I just added to my acquaintance list?

Will autocorrect finally read my mind and not put embarrassing things into my texts? Will my new map application be able to find obscure points in vagina? IN VIRGINIA! I MEANT VIRGINIA!

Will it download the latest shameful video from a disgraced reality TV show before I even know I want to see it? Scratch that… NEED to see it?

I was at my local coffee shop today, reading the news on my second generation tablet, and sipping a $37 coffee that is made from fairly organic trade coffee beans that were roasted one at a time in a solar powered oven made from recycled machine guns that were acquired by a wandering naked man in San Diego who wanted to “cover the night”.

Suddenly, right in the middle of an article featuring grainy royal mammary pictures, I was informed that my operational system was completely obsolete and I needed to download this new system.

I was led to a menu where it listed all of the amazing new features that were going to be offered, including many that wouldn’t work on my very very old tablet that I bought brand new last year on the first day it was available. But it promised to be the most awesome upgrade of all time, even more so than the most awesome upgrade of all time that was required five months ago.

So I pressed the download button and was presented with a thousand page document about the terms and conditions of this new awesome thing and an option to download said document, as a Cumbersome Document Format file, to peruse before I make a decision on my awesome download.

I was informed that my dreadfully obsolete, year old tablet doesn’t have enough memory to download the terms and conditions, so I take a chance and hit “agree”, and hope that this computer company doesn’t now have custody rights over my cat because of some weird Term or Condition.

A progress bar comes up and says that it will take six minutes to upload.

I look around the coffee shop, not used to the absence of a pixelated screen.

I lock eyes with a gentleman at the next table who has his smart phone in front of him. He nods knowingly and asks “Upgrade?”

“Ya”

“It’s going to be awesome… apparently”

“Ya… I heard that”

“Did you read about the new things that it does?”

“Ya. I can’t wait to use the 3D map of my living room option so I can find the remote for my smartphone”

“I think you need the newest smartphone to use that feature”

“Oh… I should get one of those”

“It’s not available until next week, and there’s a two month waiting list”

“Oh. I’m going to go get another coffee then”

“This is a coffee shop? My new map application said this was the free clinic!”

The barista informs me that they can’t get me a coffee because the solar powered roaster is in the middle of updating it’s operating system, so I collect my stuff and let my tablet continue to download over the 4G network, that doesn’t seem much faster than the old network that has less Gs… Geeze.

After the “six minute” progress bar is completed forty five minutes later, I was informed that a reconfiguration and decompression will take place after a reboot and I should be able to use my mobile device sometime in the next few days.

I couldn’t wait, so I dusted off my last cellphone and started blogging about it just now.

Wow… I can’t believe how fast this thing is…

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