You may have gleaned, dear Reader, that I am not a shining star when it comes to the culinary arts. Try as I might, things just seem to go slightly wrong - from overflowing, unset grape pie, to pans that catch fire.
Several weeks ago now, I purchased four adorable little peppers - cute as buttons they were, from the local farmer's market. They looked like ordinary peppers your mother might have stuffed with an interesting ground meat mixture in your childhood. I also bought a basket of seedless coronation grapes (table grapes or concord grapes, depending on where you live). I was so looking forward to a week of yummy goodness fresh out of a garden nearby (this is what you always imagine with farmer's markets - that Joe has just that morning plucked the pepper right from his own fields and lovingly transported them into town just for you. Sadly, some vendors purchase their goods from the local grocery store just as I might have done, and are reselling the produce from their booth. Still, I prefer to keep the dream of Farmer Joe alive in my mind.)
The next day I settled in with a bowl of beautiful, freshly washed seedless grapes - tiny blue jewels of sweet juiciness. I spit the first mouthful out. The seedless grapes had seeds. Not just a few seeds, but at least 32. In each tiny grape. Multiplied by a hundred grapes, that's a lot of seeds to have to spit out.
So I decided to be clever. I mashed the grapes by hand into a sieve so I would be able to enjoy the fabulous juice without the annoyance of seeds. It was quite a lot of fun, actually, though it took some doing. By the time every grape was squished, I had precisely one cup - 8 oz. of grape juice. The basket of grapes had cost me $5. A pretty expensive glass of juice, wouldn't you say? And for all my effort, my palms and fingers were faintly stinging. I learned later this was probably from the tannin in the grapes. I have a whole new sympathy for grape stompers.
That same evening I cooked up a big batch of spaghetti sauce, using most of that week's allotment of vegetables - including one of the peppers. When chopping the peppers I noticed my fingers felt a little raw and my eyes felt a little filmy, but didn't pay it any mind. On adding the peppers to the sauce, I began to smell a slight scorched aroma, but on stirring things around didn't notice anything sticking to the bottom, so I carried on with other things.
After the sauce had bubbled away for some time, it was with great anticipation that I took out a spoon to taste my creation. And discovered I had bought hot peppers. Dry your sinus mucous, equivalent to volcanic lava kind of hot. My taste buds ran screaming out of the house in abject refusal to have anything more to do with what was in that pot. So I tried everything I could think of - I added cheese, plain yoghurt, tomato paste, lemon, water, sugar, testing each time to see if it made an appreciable difference. I finally got it to the point where I could eat it - tears streaming down my face - but by that point it surely did taste... interesting.
It took me a week to get through it all.
Now, I wasn't going to bring this up as some of you have been through this drama with me via a social networking site I wont name, and I do apologize most sincerely for the repetition... but Reader, it happened again! Oh, not the peppers. I'll never be conned by the cuteness of a tiny pepper ever again. It was the grapes! I bought another basket of grapes two days ago, and it very clearly said right on the basket SEEDLESS. I even tasted one in the store (why is it you can't taste the oranges before you buy them? How disappointing is it to bring home what you think are going to be beautiful, juicy oranges only to discover they are mealy and dry?) There was a suggestion, ever so faint, of a seed in the grape I tried and considered that worth it for the gorgeous grapey juice that comes with it. So I brought them home with me, and the next day to work for lunch. Well, imagine my shock when I ended up with a mouthful of seeds. Again, I'd been had by false grape advertising.
I'm off grapes now. It'll be a long time before they're able to convince me of their seedlessness.
Anyway. It's a laugh-a-minute in Tess's kitchen. If you'd like to stay for supper, I've got some nice sauce simmering away on the stove....