All vegetable gardeners know there is one magical moment when the garden harvest yields the perfect variety of produce to actually make a dish. It happened to me last week. I had vine ripe tomatoes, fresh garlic, a large onion and jalapeños. Time to make some homemade salsa.
I pulled out the food processor, which I never use. Normally, I’m happy with a sharp knife and a chopping block. Of course, I’d be happier with a rich, single man. Anyway, I read through the directions and figured out the contraption. With my fresh ingredients assembled, the only thing left to do was to remove the seeds from the jalapeños.
I slit them, scooped out the seeds with my fingers and threw all my fresh ingredients into the food processor. In a couple of pulses, I had created the perfect, spicy salsa. About ten minutes later both my hands burst into flames.
I thought seriously about calling the fire department, but decided to take my scissors to an unsuspecting aloe vera plant instead. Problem was, with no feeling left in my hands, it was hard to hold a pair of scissors. Wishing for a hand epidural, I still managed to slather my hands with aloe vera by 11:30.
At 11:42, they began blazing so badly, I put out the second alarm and called Hill Country Martha.
ME: “I’ve been attacked by a gang of ferocious jalapeños! My hands are burning! I’ve already tried aloe vera. What do I do now?”
HCM: “Well, the jalapeños have oil on them. That’s why your hands hurt. Wash them in vinegar. That should do the trick. And take a couple of Advil.”
ME: “Don’t oil and vinegar make salad dressing?”
It didn’t put a dent on the flames and the fire raged on. At 11:48, I took my trembling hands to the computer. My mouse felt like a porcupine. I managed to Google “Help, my hands are burning up, what the heck do I do now?” into the computer and saw there were plenty of other idiots out there with fingers on fire. Guess we must all be victims of the relentless Burning Hands Syndrome. The first suggestion I saw was to dowse my hands in vegetable oil and wash them with soap. Now I was certain I was making salad dressing.
At 11:53, I oiled and washed. At 11:54 it turned into a three alarmer. At 11:56 I called Broken Knee Spadette because her husband is an avid gardener and knows about such things. She said to rub them with salt, rinse thoroughly and take a couple of Tylenol. By 12:00, they not only burned but now they were raw.
At 12:01, I stuck my entire body in the freezer for five minutes. At 12:06, I called Very Best Friend using my nose.
ME: “Help! I have jalapeño hands. It’s a five alarm fire!”
VBF: “Wrap them in bacon for fifteen minutes and take two aspirin.”
ME: “But won’t that cook the bacon?”
At 12:15 the dog came after me for the bacon. I called HCM back with my big toe. She said, “Give the dog the bacon, wash your hands in laundry detergent, and take an Aleve.” I asked her if she thought I’d live long enough to see the Teenage Eating Machine graduate from high school.
At 12:23, Dearly Demented Mom’s babysitter showed up. She said, “I smell smoke. Say, why are your hands so red?” I explained the situation and she suggested rubbing some lemon juice and sugar on them. Oh great, now I’m making lemonade.
I probably should have made a paste of the two, but after all the pain medication I’d taken, I wasn’t thinking too clearly. So I squirted lemon juice straight on my burning hands and let me tell you, the pain was worse than running a marathon in five inch heels. I immediately stuck my hands into the sugar canister. Suddenly, the flames went out. I don’t know if that was the right remedy or if my hands had just gone numb from the throbbing. Whatever, my Burning Hands Syndrome stopped.
So here’s your hope for the week. I hope you’ll be the first to buy a pair of my new Jalapeño Fire Retardant Gloves. Hopefully I can invent a pair that is easy to wash using oil, vinegar, soap, bacon, sugar or lemon juice. And here’s hoping you’ve learned a valuable lesson from this Hot Mama. Stick to store bought salsa.