Another bountiful harvest to enjoy

“What on Earth are you going to do with all this stuff?” demanded my wife, the Pearl of the Orient, as she surveyed the buckets and boxes full of garden produce taking up the majority of the floor space in the garage.
In spite of a summer of rotten weather, the September reprieve across Drizzle Creek District had resulted in an abundant crop from most gardens—even mine.
“Why do you have to go overboard on everything? Next year cut back on the garden. It’s just a waste,” the Pearl added, barely containing her disgust.
“Nah! You never know when the commercial food supply chain might collapse, and these gardening skills will keep us from starvation,” I explained as I gazed with personal satisfaction at the bounty.
“Besides, I’ll give the surplus away to our less-fortunate neighbours.”
“Hummmph! They already turn out the lights and refuse to answer the door when they see you coming with another pail of zucchinis,” snorted the Pearl as she edged her way around the clutter and headed for the house.
“I need to make up a batch of Dad’s Chili Sauce. We’re about out. Could you dig out the canning pot and some sealers?” I directed at the Pearl’s retreating figure.
I didn’t quite catch her polite reply.
I counted out the 40 ripe tomatoes the recipe called for and threw in another dozen for good measure. We had no sweet peppers, so I added the whole crop of hot banana peppers in lieu of.
The onions and garlic were kind of ad lib. The celery commercial grade and the spices straight from the pantry.
I gave the knife a good honing and set to work slicing and dicing. The Pearl commented on the reckless abandon with which I was whacking and peeling.
I patiently explained a sharp knife was less dangerous than a dull one. And that things simply should be done with a certain amount of flair.
“Ouch!” (Oh well, you could hardly notice the blood when it’s mixed in with those tomatoes).
I struggled to get the monster pot onto the stove and fired up the burner.
“Careful it doesn’t boil over,” cautioned the Pearl.
When it did, I silenced her protests explaining the non-stick surface would be a snap for her to clean up as would the splashes on the floor. From her look, it seems the chili wouldn’t be the only thing with a slow burn.
Finally, the cooking process was over and a sample taste revealed it was still a bit mild.
“Needs a pinch more cayenne,” I announced, smacking my lips with satisfaction.
“Just a little bit, maybe. Remember that last batch was so hot, you nearly developed a bleeding ulcer. Let’s keep it mild this time,” advised the Pearl, trepidation in her voice as she handed me the cayenne shaker.
“No fear,” I breezed and began to shake.
“Careful! That lid is loos . . .” started the Pearl.
Plop! Whoosh! The lid came off and the whole bottle—a large one—of cayenne pepper was added to the mix (I guess it won’t be a mild batch).
We bottled everything up without a lot of worry about proper sealing. Nothing nasty could live in that medium.
I picked up an extra supply of Tums.
That night after a bedtime snack of toast and chili sauce (yum, yum), I drifted off to sleep wondering if the internal stirring and unease was the result of a misspent youth—or just another ’rhoid.

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