Recently, I started loosely following a new policy in my kitchen. As things were bursting to life in my garden, I wanted to make sure I used them, all the while challenging myself. I decided I would try to use at least one homegrown ingredient in every recipe I prepared.
Easy enough, right?
I incorporated homegrown basil, cilantro, rosemary, and parsley into sauces and rubs, chopped chard and radishes into my salads, thought about incorporating fresh kumquats and strawberries into desserts, but never seemed to manage to get them into the house uneaten. I’ve got plans for tomato sauce, zucchini bread, carrot cake, and freshly ground pesto, all of which goes over pretty well around here.
This is my second summer with a full garden. Last year, we did pretty well until right around the end of June, when things took a turn for the hotter. As my pepper plants started producing bushels of cayennes, jalapenos, serranos, Thai dragons, and inferno peppers, things got interesting. The scoville rating my steaks went through the roof, I experimented with fajitas, quesadillas, and salsas that could be classified as weapons, and discovered my favorite dish of all time, simply titled, spicy eggs.
Kat rebelled against the spicy cooking, demanding a period of recovery for her taste buds, and so I had to get creative. I took to eating peppers over the kitchen sink with a pitcher of cold water and a bottle of Pepto-Bismol at hand. I carried a bag of chilies with me everywhere I went, and egged my friends into pepper eating contests, at every opportunity. Mostly, I took advantage of our four burner stove, and made a separate small “spicy version” of every meal I prepared.
One fajita night, things went awry. I’d just finished sauteing some pepper strips for my personal plate. Realizing I’d need the small pan to warm the tortillas, I dumped the sizzling peppers onto a plate, and brought the pan of boiling pepper juice over to the kitchen sink for a quick rinse.
Within a second of turning on the tap, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. A cloud of angry, vaporized chili oil rose from the pan like a vengeful Lovecraftian horror, hellbent on dragging me screaming into some bizarre dimension of absolute pain. I screamed as the cloud tore at my eyes, all the while expanding and moving toward the spinning blades of a ceiling fan, which made short work of filling the room with the hateful vapor.
Kat ran to the kitchen, noticed the cloud and asked,
rationally, “What the HELL did you do?”
“I vaporized the chili oil,” I whimpered.
“I’m sorry,” she said, before slamming the kitchen door shut. “I can’t let it take both of us. You’re going to have to deal with it.”
I covered my face with a dishtowel, turned off the fan, and started cranking open windows. I eventually made my way to the back door and got out to the backyard where I was finally able to breathe and douse my face with a hose.
The vapor eventually cleared, and we ate fajitas on cold tortillas. I relished every spicy moment of mine.
All of this is preamble to saying that with June upon us, things are getting interesting in my garden. This year, I’ve got a relleno plant, an inferno plant, a Thai dragon, my trusty serrano, two cayennes, two jalapenos, something called a mucho nacho, and an Anaheim chili. A few weeks ago, delicate white flowers started to appear on their limbs, and I knew the spicy time was coming soon.
Yesterday, as I watered, chased off pillbugs, and inspected my plants, I discovered three peppers ready for picking, a perfectly ridged and wrinkled Anaheim and two shiny, bullet shaped jalapenos.
Just look at these peppers. I’m going to carry pictures of them in my wallet, I’m so in love with them.
I think I’ll be having spicy eggs for breakfast tomorrow.