Lane gave me some peppers. Quite a few big, lovely, firm sweet peppers. A wealth. The photo below shows only half. At first I thought I was going to mush them all up with tomatoes and sugar and raisins and such and set the big pot on to boil another dozen jars. I'm so glad I didn't. (Thanks, Lynne!)
Jeff took pity and built the last piece of the temporary counter top. It is marvelous.
Together with the peppers, it is making me feel very rich.
Finally, a food one is meant to burn. And the feeling of the rich, warm-climate flesh slipping willingly out of its skin. The smell. The precious brown liquid pooling in the bowl under the strainer. More than any crazy Christmas chutney, this is my idea of saving the season.
I remember my mom peeling roasted peppers. Her neatly pared fingernails slipping between the charred skin and the bright insides. To child me it seemed, like most of her activities in the kitchen, one of super-human ability. Ripping the green tops from the carrots with a turn of the wrist; balancing the wide sheet of pasta on her arm as she turned the crank with her other hand; gently drawing the round, white pepper seeds off the ragged, bright meat.
Watching my own hands perform this eminently tactile task feels like an echo. I cannot separate these peppers from the peppers of the past, my plain fingers from her freckled ones.
A freezer in the basement, full of food. A handy husband. A community of generous friends. An opportunity to have my mom in my kitchen, even while she's a day's drive away. And a bowl of pepper soup (onions, peppers, chicken stock, butter, salt) as well. When the old timers say, waste not, want not, I think this is what they mean.