Living Retired #212- October 9, 2017
HOME CANNING AKA: DO-IT-YOURSELF BOTULISM
It’s that time of year again: home canning season!
Home canning is when amateur chefs toss away our fears of working with precision-engineered, finger-severing German knives and explosive gas stovetops. We turn our kitchen into a Heinz food processing line– but without the goofy hairnets and union-mandated breaks.
Here is my recipe to produce your very own supply of jam-size jars of food-born botulism…
First, drive out to a farm stand and purchase enough bushels of tomatoes, bags of cooking onions, and baskets of peppers to fill the trunk… of your spouses vehicle. I’m just saying.
Back home, the messy process of peeling and chopping the tomatoes, onions, and peppers begins. This is tedious and mind numbing– just like surfing through your 955 cable channels and your choice comes down to ‘Duck Dynasty’ or ‘Say Yes To The Dress.’
Chopping all the vegetables can lead to early onset carpal tunnel, so to help pass the time you can binge watch your favourite television series. Just make sure you don’t turn on CNN for the latest Trump gaffe! Remember you are holding sharp knives!
The main ingredient of any batch of homemade food-born botulism is sugar. The purpose of sugar is to add sweetness… and to make one hell of a sticky mess when the pot boils over!
And the pot WILL boil over! It’s in the recipe directions, right after where it says ‘We recommend you make this recipe when your spouse is not within easy travel distance of the kitchen.’
“Gary! Come here! FAST!! Your chili is spewing out onto the kitchen floor. Oh my god Gary it’s like flubber! It’s oozing all over the engineered flooring. Everything is stained tomato red.”
It takes a while, but you can get most of the burnt sugar and tomatoes back in the pot. For the remainder of the boiling process, which is about three hours– the amount of time it takes to play the last two minutes of a professional basketball game– you need to continually ‘taste-test’ the boiling hot chili on the stove, which any idiot knows is a surefire way to self-administer 3rd degree burns to your tongue!
Every stove is different, however, you will know the mixture is finally cooked when the Army Reserve–in camouflage clothes and helmets with tree branches and dead leaves sticking out of them–swing pick axes to smash their way through your front door!
“Mr. Chalk. We have received a petition about the putrid odour emanating from your residence. Your neighbours are now walking around covering their noses with white surgical masks. It looks like the streets of Beijing China.”
OMG! My first thought was that I left my gym bag in the car trunk!
“Mr. Chalk. You can’t hide the evidence. I can see you’ve been slicing and dicing tomatoes– your fingers are stained red.”
My wife urged me to correct him–the actual colour was Pantone ‘Country Barn Red’–but I wasn’t sure that would help.
Our sweet chili recipe is a family favourite of my wife. It dates back many years ago– to the pre-Netflix Era. But it was different this year…
You see, many months ago our friends Margot and Susan tasted our chili sauce and right away proclaimed it to be in their exact words: “Thussh ish dullishush!” Full disclosure: it was New Year’s Eve.
Apparently, according to my wife, I agreed to show Margot and Susan how to cook the chili! Full disclosure: I was wearing a lampshade and singing Aulde Lang Syne to the guppies in the aquarium.
So last Saturday we spent the day cutting, peeling, boiling, and finally pouring the chili into jars. Yes the pot did boil over. A river of bubbling chili sauce percolated onto the kitchen floor making a sticky, gooey mess of everything! And that’s when it happened…
At first I thought Margot and Susan were leaning down inspecting our Spanish mahogany hardwood flooring–to ensure it complimented the granite countertop and backsplash. But I was wrong. Right there in the middle of our kitchen floor they were playing Twister!
Margot and Susan’s feet were cemented in the hot chili sauce. Margot was on her hands and knees; with Susan leaning overtop with one hand glued to the floor, the other reaching for a wooden spatula on the stove. To my knowledge this was the first time adults played Twister without consuming alcohol!
For all of this–chopping, dicing, cooking, destroying the kitchen floor, cuts to fingers, and suffering third degree burns leading to skin grafting—everyone took home 6 itty bitty jars!
Not including the cost of extended healthcare to pay for the skin grafting operation and follow-up home care and rehabilitation, the cost per 1-pint jar was $72.