Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Joy of Jalapeños and Other Green Things

Growing up, I never saw a plant reach maturity. Every plant that came within a 50 foot radius of my parents' house had about thirty seconds to pull up its roots and skedaddle to Goshen before the dreaded Hales Blight would begin to curl its gnarled fingers around its stem and squeeze the living photosynthesis out of it. Even my stalwart cactus, Ernest, which proved to be more resilient to the blight than other plants, ultimately succumbed and shriveled into something resembling Mick Jagger before a Botox treatment.

Memories of Ernest and the other dead plants of my childhood have made me wary whenever my wife has suggested that we grow something. So, when we started buying seeds and tilling a large garden in our backyard, I kept thinking to myself "Maybe we should buy some pigs, too, for when our garden turns into a GIANT MUD HOLE."

Of course, I never said that out loud. That would have made me the pig in the mud hole, so to speak.

As usual, though, my fears were unfounded. The garden flourished and I learned that a cucumber tastes a lot better when you don't have to pay for it. And that tomatoes are the rabbits or Angelina Jolies of the vegetable world.

I also have learned that the jalapeño are a fun pepper to have around. No one in my family really likes hot peppers, so the jalapeño plant has kind of become my Giving Tree. Whenever I need to feel better about myself, I head out to the jalapeño plant and exploit it for all it's worth. So far I've made jalapeño sauce, salsa, and pickled jalapeño. I also have dreams of baking jalapeño poppers as soon as I figure out what a "popper" is.

Getting back to my Giving Tree comparison, though, my jalapeño plant is no piece of self-less greenery; if you take from it, it takes from you--with a vengeance. As I was making my jalapeño sauce, the fumes from from the stewing peppers nearly turned my throat into jerky. My wife had to evacuate the kids to the upstairs floor where we keep the gas masks and HAM radio. It also solved our ant problem.

Then, later, when I was chopping up jalapeños for homemade salsa, I made the mistake of touching my lips before washing the jalapeño juice off my fingers. That's not something I'd recommend doing, folks. Even if you don't like your lips.

So far, the only jalapeño recipe that hasn't hurt me has been the pickled jalapeños. Don't be surprised, though, if you hear that I've spent a week in the hospital for botulism.

Anyway, I'm happy to say that the Hales Blight is not a problem in my wife's garden. Which is great since I have no clue where to buy a pig.


  1. I once had a cactus too, which died along with my bonsai tree. Try putting a few drops of Tabasco sauce on a hot pan. That will give you the heebie-jeebies. As a final thought, from my professional soldiering, I know that keeping the gas masks and the HAM radio upstairs is less effective during a bomb raid.

  2. I love your way with words!

    (Which is good, considering your occupation... :D)

    There is a DeGraw Blight, too, with no magic touch of a spouse to blunt the sad effects.

  3. What are ya saying son...that I can't grow green things....

  4. Not at all...you're flower garden has looked really great recently.