Brewing Napalm

Last year for Christmas my friend, April, sent me a jar of habanero jelly. Boy were my taste buds in for an awakening! I'd never had it before, and April said that I only needed to use a little bit on a cracker covered with cream cheese. I took this to our New Year's Eve fete, and it about knocked my socks off. When April said little, she meant littleOnce we got the hang of it, our one jar didn't last very long.

I'm such a chicken when it comes to heat that I really hadn't planned on falling in love with this concoction, but I've had this stuff on my mind for many months. So - while preparing or fall food preservation, I decided to make some of my own. I couldn't get a hold of April at first, so I used a recipe I found online for Napalm Jelly. There is another recipe, which is very similar to the recipe April uses. This morning I made 2 more batches. Today's batches were my last attempt at making this delectable stuff. I've done 4 other batches, and there's little to nil heat. I apologize for the science project format of this post, but I think i just did my own little project. Go figure.

Just in case you're wondering, one batch only does about 7 half pint jars - so it's not a HUGE storage commitment.

1 1/2 c Vinegar
Green or red bell peppers (April's recipe calls for 3; Napalm recipe only has 1)
Jalapenos or Habaneros (April's = 12; Napalm = 2) - both say to remove stems, seeds & membranes
Sugar (April's = 7 cup; Napalm = 6 cup)
Liquid pectin (April's = 9 oz; Napalm = 3 oz; Surejell = 6 oz)
Non-Corrosive pan
Cheesecloth (April's you pour through into a 2nd non-corrosive pan; Napalm = no cheesecloth)
Jars, Lids & Bands

Experiment 1: Jalapenos + green bell peppers
Used the Napalm Jelly recipe I found online. Only have to boil for one minute, add pectin, and boil for one more minute. This recipe didn't tell me to pour it through cheese cloth, so the jelly is very opaque. Not much light shining through the jar... Only used one 3 oz liquid pectin. This one had nothing in the heat arena. Set just fine. Labeled it Sweet Pepper Jelly.

Experiment 2: Half jalapeno/half habanero + green bell peppers
Used Napalm Jelly recipe. April said she strained hers through a cheesecloth, so I did this. I like the translucency after this sets. Used one 3 oz liquid pectin. Set just fine. This batch helped me figure out that I like the flavor of habanero better - it's a little smoky, but it still didn't cut it heatwise. Labeled this Not So Napalm.

Experiment 3: Habanero + red
Used April's recipe for Habanero Jelly. I <3 <3 <3 the way this looks and the way it set. It cleared my sinus right out while it was boiling, so I was so excited about it. I doubled the ingredients (so it counts as 2 batches, right?), so there is lots of sweet goodness to go around. You boil this one for 20 minutes before adding the sugar. April said this calls for 9 oz of  pectin, but that set too firm for me. Guess what? Not so hot... Yummy yes, scorching no. Labeled this one Not So Hab.

Experiment 4: Jalapeno/Habanero + red
I used 3 red bells, 4 jalapenos (stemmed and seeded), and 4 habaneros. I stemmed and seeded 3 of the habaneros - one of them I just removed the stem and tossed it in whole. This one confirmed that I like the color using red bells. I happened to look at the menus included in the pectin box, and their jalapeno jelly calls for 2 3-oz pectins. I boiled for 10 minutes, added the 2nd pectin, and boiled for one more minute. I don't think I had the jars hot enough, and I forgot to boil the lids so that the glue would soften. I'm a little nervous about the seal on this batch. I'm also getting anxious because this is not setting. I don't know if I let some of the pulp slip out of the cheese cloth or if jalapenos just make the difference in color, but this is a bit redder than before. Currently nameless orange jelly

Experiment 5: Jalapeno/Hab + green
Today's 2nd batch. Until now I still haven't gotten to April's heat, so I decided to just go for it with this one. I used 3 green bells, 2 jalapenos (stemmed and seeded), and 6 habaneros. I left the seeds in 4 of the habaneros. Boiled for 10 minutes, added 2nd pectin and boiled for one more minute - then I strained through the cheesecloth and boiled the juice for one more minute. I tried a bit of the spillage after I had ladled this batch into the jars. I didn't get the punch of burn, but my mouth was warm for quite a while afterward. Same with this batch on the setting - it's not jelling. Getting anxious...  Currently nameless green jelly

So here's what I have to wonder:
  1. Why are you supposed to use more pectin for this type of jelly than other fruit jellies?
  2. Does boiling for 20 minutes extract more of the heat from the jalapenos and habaneros?
  3. Would I be OK with the heat from long-boiled jalapeno or do I crave the flavor and a little bit of heat from the habanero?
  4. Do I <3 this jelly enough to start planting my own habanero plants each spring?
  5. Does the 1 cup sugar difference (7 in April's, 6 in Napalm) matter when we're basically talking one cup per half-pint jar?
  6. Was my pectin expired?
  7. How do I decide which jars to keep for us and which to share?
My SIL, Shaunna, used Not So Napalm (because I did share a jar of that with her) to make Monte Cristo sandwiches (except they used fried egg on the sandwich instead of coating the sandwich French-toast-style and cooking both sides of the sandwich). I'm thinking that would be an excellent use of this jelly.


Drop Kicked to the Wolves

Last night I got a phone call from the Utah Democratic party regarding the environmental practices of the Republican party in the state. The caller read from a script about missile testing in the west desert and power plant development in pristine wilderness. I don't know how long he pontificated (probably less than one minute), but that was enough.

I stopped him and informed him that I'm an environmental engineer who works on permitting projects in every arena that he had just discussed. I went on to say that for the good of my own personal financial livelihood, I was inclined to side with the Republicans on environmental practices within the state of Utah.

I'm fairly certain that my response was not on his list of "here's what to say when the public says this..." I was granted moments of silence. In fact if it hadn't been for the murmurings of other callers in the background I'm fairly certain I would have heard those darn crickets. He eventually thanked me for my time and ended the call.

I hung up the phone and tried to decide if I had ever or would ever have a strong enough political conviction that I would interrupt the public's evening with such a phone call. I still don't know what the real purpose for the call was (although I suspect it was a fundraising effort), but decided that I regularly back away from confrontation and would not be able to do it.

Then I thought about a lunch conversation this week with a coworker and a client. We were discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of wolf hunting. Again, I did not dive in and express a firm opinion. What if I had to back it up? What if I had to explain? Do I really have a preference on this topic? I definitely do - it's just that I prefer to keep that opinion to myself. I'm pretty friendly with this coworker and client, and I still was not comfortable confidently discussing the topic.

So - I'm sitting here on a lovely Saturday morning thinking about my lack of backbone. Is the issue that I don't have an opinion, that I'm afraid of conflict, or that I'm uninformed? I do a lot of reading, but do I need to read more about such topics and solidify my point of view?

I think I just like living in my little bubble where everyone inside this solitary shelter holds my same beliefs. I don't have to disagree or be uncomfortable if no one gets to share opinions other than my own. But then I just put this on a public blog, and I'm sure there are people out there who would slaughter what I've written.

I did it to myself - I broke my bubble for a moment, and I'm curious if anything's going to happen...


I Smell Trouble

Griffin is the oldest of a group of 6 boy cousins that were all born within 9 months of each other. We call this group the Sinister 6. When they all get together we try to get photos of them. Not always an easy task. Here's this year's version...

No really...


Bake at 350

Bam! One day of pleasant 70 degree weather, and I've got thoughts of fall decor, harvest baking, and food preservation in my head.

After the boys left this morning I swept the front porch, rearranged the trunk and flowers and imagined the mums that I'm hoping to use again this year. Griff is already talking about Halloween, but that's the next step.

I think I'm ready to do peaches. I can feel that macintosh apple fixation coming on (looking forward to apple sauce and more apple pie filling!). My cousin posted a pesto recipe today that has my mouth watering. Funny that she should mention gnocchi in her post - I've got some waiting for me to whip up some bolognaise - a good recipe for which confounds me. Do you think gnocchi would work as dumplings for a thick, beef stew? I'm salivating over hot pepper jelly with cream cheese on triscuits. I'm just waiting for April to send me the hot pepper jelly recipe...

So - all I need is a day off, some cooler weather so I can heat up my kitchen, unoccupied counter space, clean pans and canning supplies and the peppers, peaches and apples to preserve. Hmmm...


Dating Advice for Preteen Boys

Here's the deal. My dear Evan would absolutely dig a hole and crawl into it for the remainder of his days if he knew I'd posted this, but HELLO I'm a mom and a blogger. I can't make this stuff up, and it must be shared.

So Evan has captured the heart of one of his classmates. He's had her heart since 3rd grade, but really who's counting. Anyway. This year the girl has found herself, and she knows that Evan is what she wants. Please note that they've only been in school for one week - AND - his devotion has never wavered. Evan accepts things as they are, and this thing just was. In his world she and he are and would always be...

Last year they weren't in the same class, but the spark was still there. I guess she needed reaffirmation of his devotion, and she's had the gusto to extract him from his posse during recess to draw the line. My poor boy is clueless in the love department (and I hope he remains so for the next 10 or so years), and he had to ask his resident expert (me!) what most of it meant.
Are you still into me?
Can I call you after school? I think we should discuss this without anyone else around.
Unh. We're through!
This was at 3 separate recesses all on the same day. My poor Evan came home from school and wanted to transfer classes. He was baffled!  With the "into me" comment, he squeezed her shoulder and told her she was a really good friend. She responded by huffing off and stomping across the playground. He guessed correctly that he had not given her the answer she wanted. But to Evan's credit - he wanted to know how he could have responded any differently.
Because if I was "into her" what would we do about it? WE'RE IN 5TH GRADE!!!
He didn't get the "we're through!" and I explained that he'd been dumped. His response?
Shouldn't I be sad?
I told him that if he wasn't then it was OK. He was very nervous about going to school the next day - apparently rightly so. She apparently wasn't serious about breaking things off and spent her after school hours writing him a love song (on the piano!). Words cannot explain his exasperated expression when he came in the door and held the crumpled note up in the air and asked his brothers to leave the room.

Later I told him to tell her that he just wanted to be her friend, but his dad overheard me.

So now I give you dating advice according to Jon Hill. (As shared with me by Evan's older brother - this occurred while dove hunting - a trip attended by Evan, Carson, Jon, and 3 of  Jon's brothers - do you see where this is headed?)

According to Jon, telling a girl that you just want to be her friend is the worst possible thing you can say. This is the part that really gets me. Then Jon referenced The Simpsons (Season 4, Episode 8 to be exact) where Bart has a crush on his older next door neighbor, who trance-literally rips his heart out, throws it against a wall, and watches it drop into the trash, when she tells Bart that she has a boyfriend. I was choking too hard to hear what Jon's advice for fixing the situation is, but I'm sure that all that testosterone offered something...

We all are fond of this girl at our house. She's adorable, and I'm in love with her for identifying Evan as the target of her affections so early. I always have thought that Evan would be the boy who would find one girl and stick with her (he's just that loyal) - I just didn't think it would happen before he was 10. She's just got to realize that she is pouring it on a little thick - you just need to take it as it is with Evan. He'll eventually catch on and react appropriately. It just has to be on his time - and he's not one for pressure so you may be in for the long haul. Be patient - he's so worth it.


The Happy Door

Do you have one of these?

I know I haven't gone very far in the post, but I need to back up and start over.

I love my house - inside and out. I've talked a bit about indoor features, but I'm not so good about singing the praises of the outdoor spaces.

I don't love the weeds that overwhelm my yard, but that's something that in a good year I could fix. I love the mint that grows under the maple that Jon planted. I love the rocks that have been transplanted both from my back yard and from Michelle's yard. I love the daisies that came from Aimee's house. I love the lily and Russian Sage from Elaine. I love Griffin's strawberry patch that he lovingly weeds and waters.

There are just some characters in need of pruning. The burning bush (which is Jon's favorite) is taller than me. The Rose of Sharon and other beast on the corner? Those things are OUT OF CONTROL. I seriously think they're over 12 feet tall. They scratch on the house when the wind blows and that drives me CrAzY !!! I used to try to prune the corner shrubs/bushes, but they grow too much in one season and Jon attacks them with the trimmer - not even worrying about my angled cuts. So each spring there are lots of dead ends that result from his straight, ill-placed cuts. When they grow as fast and the thorns get as large as these do - Oh Well!

We've installed new light fixtures on the garage. I have my hanging basket on the porch. Jon's working on repairing the porch railing - while I'm dreaming of new, wider, angled steps that fan into the yard. A couple of years ago Jon painted our garage doors. I love that they aren't white, but they are taupe. It's a nice color, but there just isn't any punch.

Our front door was painted in Smokehouse (SW7040 - see swatch at right - if your monitor even does it justice - looks REALLY gray on mine). It was SUCH an improvement over the tired, sun bleached blue that was there before, but I have already grown tired of the monotone facade. So I got out my paint deck and started looking for color. I found one that immediately made me smile.

It's a close cousin for the shades of geraniums in my porch baskets. It's a shade that's going to liven up my winter. It's named for one of my favorite flowers - which does not currently reside in my yard... You ready?
Here she is: Coral Bells (SW6593)...

This photo shows Smokehouse (which is still the color of the trim) and our Coral Bells door.

My dear Jon said that it's a slap-your-face-pink, and I adore it. Know what else I adore? The names of the other colors on the strip -

Alyssum, Loveable, Amaryllis, Grenadine, Poinsettia.

Jon said I could keep Coral until after Christmas and then he'd need to change it. I'm thinking Poinsettia may be in order.

But for now Coral Bells makes me smile, and I think she says

Come on in!

Please do!


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