By CLAUDETTE ROPER
Ay, chihuahua, muy caliente! Not exactly Mountain Man’s words, but close enough. He says the only two reasons he passed Spanish in high school were because his cousin tutored him and the teacher liked him. Actually, I suspect she was just afraid that he’d repeat the class, but I digress.
Mountain Man is not a fan of hot, as in beads of sweat breaking out on his nose. He does like jalapenos with a little bite, but the fact that jalapenos come in at less than 10,000 on the Scoville scale vs. the red savina habanero, which tops out at 580,000, doesn’t impress him.
Removing all the membrane and seeds has been my mantra for years. There’s only one problem with that – it’s not 100 percent. On the other hand, we don’t have television, and most of our entertainment comes from watching the chickens, guineas, turkeys and cows. It’s nice to shake things up and watch a hot one slip by now and again.
This winter, at a church social, the favorite appetizer was jalapeno poppers. These were not the cream cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapeno halves that are more commonly served under the same name. What impressed me was that they were an instant hit with Mountain Man!
This cook tends to tweak recipes and sometimes also rename them. Both happened with this one when I took them to a wildlife banquet. To the best of my knowledge, there were no 911 calls, and all 100 of them were gone.
If you are new to working with hot peppers, be sure to follow some basic safety tips. Also, be careful about trying to play tricks on anyone. As Grandma always said, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets an eye put out!” or in this case, capsaicin in it.
IN YOUR EYE
It’s been many years ago now since an older brother thought he’d play a joke on a younger brother. With great precision, he neatly sliced a jalapeno pepper, fanning it out on a cutting board. Then he called younger brother and generously offered to share.
It appeared that the joke was over when younger brother said, “No thank you” and walked away. But that day, when older brother forgot to wash his hands before rubbing his eyes … he learned about poetic justice.
Grandma also said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You may be like me and not like to work with gloves, but remember, just because your mouth can handle eating hot peppers doesn’t mean your hands will feel the same way. Wear gloves when seeding jalapenos.
If not, trust me when I say that it will take more than one thorough hand-washing to protect some of the more sensitive areas of your body. When you use a tissue – wherever you put it – your hand had to first touch it, and yes, it transfers to the tissue. Enough said!
This next part is for those who didn’t believe the first part. I know your type. You’re the same ones who had to pee on the electric fence before you believed Dad!
So, if you didn’t believe in the ounce of prevention part, here’s your pound of cure (and I use the term loosely – this is not medical advice). Since capsaicin is an oil, they say it can only be dissolved with other oils or alcohol. Examples are butter, olive oil and beer.
Milk also works, but is best if it is whole milk. If you rubbed jalapeno into your hands, rub in some olive oil or butter. If you rubbed your eyes, either have someone else help you or get it off your hands before trying to help yourself.
Use a clean washcloth soaked in milk and pat it around the eye. Do not rub. Repeat with a fresh corner of the washcloth and finish with keeping a fresh, milk-soaked cloth on the eye. Do not use water.
CARIBOU ON A HALF SHELL
• 1 pound jalapenos, halved lengthwise and seeded
• 1 pound caribou sausage (or favorite sausage)
• 8 ounces Neufchatel (or cream cheese)
• 1 cup shredded cheddar
• 1/2 small onion, finely diced
Fry the sausage and onions until meat is done. Drain the fat, then thoroughly stir in the cheeses. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spoon filling into each jalapeno half. Bake for 20 minutes.
Make twice as many as you think you’ll need. If by chance you would have some leftovers, they are excellent on burgers.