Soccer is not the state sport in Louisiana, my home state, but it is getting more popular all the time. Kids are starting very young, in elementary school, so they have pretty good skills by the time they reach college age. My daughter has been consistently playing for years and I wouldn’t think of missing a game. I even plan to visit her even though she is a bit far away. It is worth a day’s drive to see my girl do her best for the team. I want to take a surprise gift: a new ball, billed as the “best in the world” by Top Corner Magazine I guess there is only one way to find out. I will take her word for it. I hope she goes for the gesture. I want to show my love and support in a way that appeals to her adult needs.

I put in some real research effort to find this soccer ball and get it in time to take with me to the upcoming game. No expense was spared. Your kid is in college only once. I was planning to bestow it on her right before so she could use it. At dinner, we would discuss how it performed, although I would certainly see the results for myself. The celebration meal was as good as the game. She is more than an average player and scored well over all. The best part was that the team won and no small credit went to the new ball. I was a proud papa to be sure.

We relished our food as we replayed the game in our minds and shared the joy of our camaraderie. I was pleased to see that she still eats as much as always, and pours hot sauce on everything—just like I taught her. She said she missed the food at home (real food she says) since she was on a team training regimen. There is a sacrifice when it comes to college or pro sports. You would think that the players burn off the calories during practice and the final game would boost the count even more. But she had to do what the coach instructed. Dinner with dad was a rare treat.

I promised to come to the finals, if the team qualified, and that we would have another fine supper after. I would bring the bottle of hot sauce again to make sure that the taste was up to her standards. She is a true child of mine. I raised her right, not with a silver spoon, but with some great Louisiana spice.

A Nice Night

During the summer, I have a lot of free time and it is ideal for researching new restaurants and menus. I love to fabricate my own dishes and experiment with new spicy sauces. I take a personal vacation here and there, when others are away, to enjoy my favorite pastime. When I travel, I savor all kinds of local fare; but when time permits at home, I have another agenda. Just look at the name of my blog. I have a pretty good inventory of recipes, but there is always room for more. I love to entertain and people expect something new every time. In fact, I have special dinner nights for privileged guests who like to expand their palates and take a chance. I am now in the process of planning one in the near future. The menu will have to be original. It takes time to try things out and adjust the seasonings.

Today is a warm as I sit outside on the covered patio, spared from the intense rays of the sun, and write this blog for you. I promised personal experiences and food ideas and here I go. I am focusing on different kinds of chili peppers, so that I can mix and match them in different ways. You should learn about Fresno, Anaheim, Jalapeno, Aji, Aleppo, Ancho, Bahamian, etc. I could go on and on.  Go to the website called Chili Pepper Madness for detailed info. Don’t you just love the name! I can’t always find every single one at the supermarket and I rely on jarred peppers from time to time. This is a short cut method when you don’t have time to roast them on your gas burner or grill. You can’t use them all at once so know their distinct flavors and uses.

As I cool myself off with the new outdoor ceiling fan that I bought from this web site, I feel up to sharing some information with you. Day is growing into night and it is time for a good meal (spicy, of course). I ponder the possibilities and arrive at something yummy but simple. The grill is on and I start to make the following:

Easy and Spicy Cheddar and Jalapeno Grilled Turkey Burgers

Ingredients and Instructions

  • 1.25 lb. very lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Minced garlic
  • Chopped jalapeño
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green onion
  • Taco seasoning (homemade or store ingredients bought)
  1. Combine everything in a bowl.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Shape your burgers the size you prefer. Recipe makes six on average.
  4. Use nonstick pan over medium heat without oil.
  5. Cook burgers as you prefer, until they reach 165F — about 8-10 minutes on each side.

Serve your burgers with whatever veggies you like (such as avocado, sliced or grilled onions, tomatoes, etc.). I think you and your family or guests will enjoy all the flavors. This is what good, spicy eating is all about.

An Old Habit

After quitting smoking, I felt instantly better although it was probably in my head. I know it takes time to rid your lungs of the effects of years of a bad habit. One of the best reasons to stop is beyond better health—foods taste and smell better. For a foodie like me, this is super important and a top priority. My meals are more pleasurable making me wonder what took me so long. I don’t regret my decision; but oddly enough, when I am near a smoker, I remember what it was like. The smell and taste come back like yesterday. I loved sucking the tobacco deep into my lungs and exhaling slowly. It was relaxing and satisfied some kind of longing unlike anything else—including chocolate or hot sauce: two of my favorite things on earth.

Nonsmokers hate the smell of cigarettes while smokers find it pleasurable. It comes from toxic substances to be sure, but there is a scientific explanation to exactly what forms that smell. You can find out a lot more about it here: The problem is that it is habit forming, giving it another dimension entirely of destructive dependency. You don’t mind at first, thinking you are in control; and then then the need for a drag wraps you in its firm grip, strangling you if you don’t fulfill it. It has you in its power—and it is unlimited. I remember it had me buying at least a pack a day.

What makes it so addictive? It is simple: dopamine and noradrenaline are chemicals in the brain affected by nicotine. Thus, a smoker can achieve a better mood and more concentration at will. Inhaling can produce feelings of pleasure while it reduces stress and anxiety. Sounds good so far like the perfect panacea. No wonder it had millions in its grip before the news was out about what it can do to body organs, especially the lungs.  Over time, you find you crave the nicotine rush. Your brain becomes used to it and wants more, as in any drug addiction. You start to smoke more to get the same effect.

That’s as far as I care to go for a scientific explanation. The psychological one is obvious. There are certain people who are more susceptible than others to the negative effects of smoking; hence it becomes a habit. Fortunately for me it is an old one. I write this blog more as a warning than an enticement. Don’t let me make it sound too appealing. For my fellow food lovers, I promise you better meals and the ability to discern the spices and ingredients if you stop smoking. This should be reason enough to quit. While I don’t want to encourage you to replace one vice with another, reward yourself with a treat if you succeed. I vote for chocolate spiked with chili powder. That’s my new weakness and it is far healthier.

I Won’t Admit it, But My Wife Might be Right

Everything is better with hot sauce, I kid you not. In fact, it makes food taste so much better that I tend to eat larger portions. My wife says I am packing on extra pounds, and I won’t admit it, but she may be right. When food is fun, you do overindulge from time to time. Maybe it is more often than not right now. I won’t give up the Louisiana style of eating, but I will get a bit more conservative. Meanwhile, I am going to take my wife’s advice. I need more exercise and time out of doors. I need another hobby besides collective spicy recipes. Ha! So, what is it going to be?

I thought about sports of various types, but I am not the athletic type. Nor do I like the pace of golf. I abhor bowling and I shun skating of any type. Being a spectator is too static.  I want to do something interesting and different. A friend goes metal detecting for fun and tells me he finds all kinds of bric-a-brac in the oddest places. This piques my interest and it would get me walking on weekends. Plus, I will be away from my nagging wife. I can’t lose! Actually, maybe I can—a few pounds. Ha.

The idea of going metal detecting was spot on. I enjoyed my friend’s company and the places we tried this endeavor. He selected an assortment of parks, playgrounds, parking lots, alleys, gardens, and residential streets. He said that commercial districts were sometimes lucrative in terms of volume of “finds” but that you also get a lot of real junk. I was willing to try anything, so I said, “let’s go!”

I had a metal detector for beginners, so it wasn’t too fancy to operate on my own. My friend has a more complicated device, and I find it cumbersome. Metal detectors vary according to whether it is for amusement or a serious practice. In short, one for a hobbyist treasure-hunter will not be the same as the best one for a professional. Some are obviously better at detecting as they are more sensitive. There are many brands like Garret, Cobra, Teknetics, and Viper. Each company makes one for beginners.

It depends on whether you want it to be waterproof and have lots of accessories. It is about frequency and more advanced technology. The more sophisticated metal detectors can search rivers and streams and on land in any place. When you step up in price, you get more bells and whistles—plus there are more buttons to learn house to use. The only thing I care about is the sounds that the gadget makes when you find something underfoot. Wow. These babies can run from $500 to over $2,000! You can see why I went with the lower-end model.

Guest of Honor

I was so excited when my daughter called and announced that she was going to come home from college for a visit. I knew that it wouldn’t be long so I planned to make great use of the time. What better way to celebrate her appearance than to throw a party for all her friends. I included family as well. There is an art to having a party or so I am told. I am not a big entertainer but I can host people with some hot, spicy food and a keg of beer. I believe in keeping it simple so you don’t get over your head in the food and beverage department.

He food part is easy because I top everything with hot sauce. I kid you not. If you don’t like it this way, don’t come over. I start with breakfast. An omelet sings when it is flavored with sriracha. It goes in a bloody Mary drink to rev up the tomato juice. For lunch, have a burger spiked with tobacco mixed with stead sauce and you will give your tongue a treat. Any kind of meat or fish can be doctored up for dinner. You can eat your way through the entire day keeping it spicy. I hope I have made my point. Now, for the party, I will make my special salsa dip to coat fresh tortilla chips. It is a crowd pleaser for sure.

The party was successful because people like corn relish mixed with all kinds of spicy and they ate up the barbecued chicken wings which were no less hot. It was a feast of hot appetizer cooled off by the aforementioned beer. I hoped that one keg would be enough based on the cost of a keg compared to bottles as looked like a lot of beer and I didn’t want to leave the group without enough to drink. In fact, there was a bit leftover. I can’t say that about the food. It was gone in a flash.

My daughter was thrilled that I did it myself in her honor. I promised to repeat the process any time she wanted to come back home. She was reluctant to leave but her classes were calling her silently in the wind. There were exams and grades to worry about. At least she left with a good taste in her mouth about coming home. She is my pride and joy and I would throw another bash in a second. I would serve whatever she likes.

People ask me for recipes and I don’t even write them down. You have to guess what is in a particular dish by tasting it yourself. If you are good at discerning different kinds of peppers from poblanos and Fresnoes to Anaheim and pimentos, you will make a good start. There are also anchos and rocotillos not to mention Guajillo and jalapenos. I use any and all available in the local store. If they aren’t available, there is a pantry in my kitchen full of exotic jars.

Nice Visit With my Daughter

I miss my daughter, so I talked my wife into going with me to visit her at school for the weekend. It would be a good opportunity to bond and catch up. She requested that we bring various things she needs. At the top of the list is a quality backpack. She has an old college student bag that has certainly seen better days. My wife and I agreed that getting a nice business one would be better as she will be graduating soon. The business style is more expensive, but it is also sturdier and will last a longer time. One day it won’t be loaded with heavy text books and gym shoes and instead will be a container of business papers and office supplies.

In addition to the backpack, she wanted some food. This comes as no surprise! What college kid doesn’t feel like they are starving and that the cafeteria food is terrible. I assembled a variety of yummy things that wouldn’t spoil. I didn’t limit myself to cookies, chips, and crackers. Believing in the power of flavor and spice, I also got some interested packaged and canned goods that would do well for a basic meal. Chili is her favorite and there are at least twenty types from which to choose. Fortunately, I know which one. I also would take some hot sauce and sriracha. They can make some bad cafeteria food shine.

Like father like daughter. We are two peas in a pod. My wife gets a real kick out of it. We will be food buddies for life. My daughter is the light of my life. We like to cook together, share favorite tips and tricks in the kitchen, and dine out when she is home. I poured my heart into that gift backpack in the hopes that it will spark her memory of our good times. I spent a long time researching it and found a great web site to help me at I sent all the loving vibes I possess with the contents. I will be there to see her open it and perhaps we will share a tidbit or two. It is hard to envision her as a career woman with the backpack in a new function. Maybe she will prefer a briefcase, but I know she is a casual gal. Meanwhile it is more than perfect for school and to take on part-time jobs and at night when she joins friends.

Children are your namesake. They are your life for so long and then they are gone. Giving them care packages is all I can do at this point. We text and e-mail like any other father and daughter, but it is not the same without her physical presence. I have so many wonderful memories and I expect to have many more as she enters a new phase of life. It is also a new phase for me and my wife. Meanwhile, I busy myself whipping up new dishes that use traditional spices in novel ways. I thus have two passions in my life.

Trash Bandits

Have you ever taken out your trash one night to find that the cans are knocked over and papers and garbage are strewn everywhere? The smell is overwhelming and your shoes get stuck in the goo. You are beside yourself as you pick up the mess. No, it isn’t the neighborhood pranksters or a stray cat. It is a bunch of errant racoons gone wild with hunger. People have seen them all over town. It is hard to avoid them. They seem to multiply like rabbits. I have had my share of run-ins with these evil critters. I am not the only one who faces their wrath if you don’t have something tasty lying around. They will forage until they find it. Who would guess that they would want my leftovers as spicy as they are. Maybe these racoons like hot sauce. Ha!

I thought I had met my match after a few tussles with these ugly fellows. I asked my neighbors for advice. In fact, I set up a community meeting on the subject of “animal invasion.” Besides packing your garbage tightly in sealed bags, there isn’t much you can do we decided. I just couldn’t accept that. There had to be a way and I started to do my usual research online. Guess what. I found the solution. I bought the best outdoor motion sensor lights to place strategically on the fence next to the trash cans. If some little masked bandit comes within their range, the lights go on very brightly and scare them away. You can add sound if you want, but I am waiting to hear from the neighbors. If we all do this, imagine the cacophony of odds noises.

As far as I can tell, the light works just fine as I haven’t had a run-in in weeks. The trash stays in the can and the alley is not a sight for sore eyes. But I also know that the racoons are there, lurking about on the hunt. I don’t want to set traps as I am not a cruel person. Animal control will come anytime you spot them in your yard. I once found them on the roof hiding in a metal vent. The rattle of their feet was unsettling. It felt like a hoard of rats. If one house has garbage, they will stay in the hood in the hopes of finding a treasure trove in a can. Thus, the neighbors and I all decided that it would be an all or none effort. Everyone would get at least one or two motion sensors for outdoor use. They come in various sizes and are easy to mount on fences are stick in the ground in case the creatures trespass on your lawn. Just beware that your teenage son might get caught sneaking about at night, trying to jump the fence to get into the house after hours.

Upgrading the Backyard

Imagine devoting an entire blog to trampolines. Well, you are about to read one. I am staring blankly at the one in my backyard, but it doesn’t go away. It is time to take down my daughter’s favorite sport now that she is away at school. I could leave well enough alone and wait for her return, but suddenly I have a huge desire to install a brick barbecue grill and smoke in its place. Sure, I could do this outdoor kitchen elsewhere, perhaps near the covered patio like everyone else. It is just that the Trampoline Choice is such an eyesore. Who wants a large round thing with stringy things all around it in a lovely plant-covered yard? The space could be much more attractive. My daughter loved it, of course, as most kids do. When she was young, you couldn’t get her off. It was bounce, bounce, bounce—all the time.

Adults like them I am told; it is just that I am not one of them. I chose to exercise in different ways. I can go to the gym, stop eating so much, walk the dog through the neighborhood (several times a day), or lift weights in the spare room. Getting on a taut mat and making a fool of myself as I do somersaults and flips is not my idea of adult behavior. I don’t care if gymnasts do it. They live in another world of form and fitness. They live in gyms all day long and use whatever is around.

I could do the same and use what is around but this ugly behemoth of a trampoline is not to my liking nor my idea of fun. I can just smell the barbecue sauce on the grilling ribs, chicken, and steak. My mouth is watering as I write. I am even willing to share my fare with friends, family, people on Facebook and some nosy neighbors. They are used to coming over to use the trampoline – or at least their kids are. There is about to be a new look at my house and a new source of fun.

My daughter will have to be on board, and she does like barbecue. If she craves a trampoline session, she can pop in at the nearest place. They are, oddly enough, springing up here and there. Given their popularity, I wonder if I am making the right decision. I know I am. I want to see a bright shiny stainless steel grill smoking away when I come home from work. I want to sit and relax on the patio chaise lounge sipping an ice-cold brew. I will get up infrequently to turn the ribs (chicken or steak) over to brown the other side. I am an outdoor chef at heart and could eat from the BBQ every day. I have the best sauce recipes in town. When it comes to spice and heat, I am the king.

Proper Pepper Handling Instructions

When you first start cooking with some real heat, you’re going to be tempted to treat chile peppers just like any other ingredient. Don’t.

Think about it: there’s a reason it’s called Pepper Spray. The capsaicin that is the major irritant in self-defense sprays is the exact same thing inside chile peppers. There are oils on these peppers that could irritate you at best, burn you at worst. So let’s be smart here.

The first thing you need to do is wear gloves. Plastic disposable gloves will do just fine. Never touch chile peppers as you’re cutting them with your bare hands. If one of the gloves tears or something while you’re cutting, stop and immediately replace it. You’ll thank me later.

The other thing you need to do is not mix anything. Take normal cross-contamination steps like you would if you were using raw meat. Cut your peppers on a washable cutting board AWAY from your other foods. I always deal with chiles last. Once you’re done cutting and prepping them for your dish, be sure to stop using the cutting board and knife. Wash them in hot, soapy water. I usually run them through the dishwasher after, just to be sure. Wash down anything that the peppers, or you with your gloves on, may have touched. Including the faucet handle.

And now, if you’re anything like my kids and don’t listen to my great advice that comes from years of experience, what can you do if you have hot pepper hands? First—water isn’t going to help you. It’s an oil, and oil and water don’t mix, remember? Do this instead:

–Try to touch as little as possible. Your hands are now chemical weapons. Again, remember the pepper spray bit from before? Don’t touch your eyes, nose, lips, or any other sensitive areas until you’re sure you’ve gotten it all off. Be really sure.

–rub your hands with a little vegetable oil. You are in a kitchen, you probably have some laying around. The oil in it will help counteract the oils in the peppers. It’s hard to wash that stuff off, though. You’ll have some smooth skin to show for it.

–or try dish soap. If Dawn can get oil off a bird’s feathers, it can get chile oils off your hands. Wash your fingers and make sure you even get under your nails.

–alcohol will also help. I know they recommend rubbing alcohol, but if you’ve got some high-proof beverages around, they help too. It should start to dissolve the oil enough that you can wash it off with some soap and water. Just, you know, stay away from flames until you’re sure it’s all washed off.

–something else you might have in your kitchen: vinegar. It’s acidic, and it will help counteract the burn. You’ll also smell like a salad.

–If you get it in your eyes, blink your eyes a lot and cry. The tears will help. Rinse your eyes with cold water or a saline solution.

Hot Sauce Goes With Everything

If you have the right kind of hot sauce, it can cover a multitude of cooking sins. It adds flavor and can also mask other tastes. You just got to know what is the right kind of hot sauce for the meal. So my plan here with this post is to just give you a couple of ideas on the types of flavors that are going to go well with different foods. That will give you an idea of where to go with it. The best thing about hot sauces in general is that there are so many varieties out there. I like them because you’re not tied down to just one type of chili pepper. The good kinds of hot sauce will have a mixture of a few different kinds plus seasonings or added flavors for a real spicy treat!

So first we’re going to go with red meats, because that’s something I’m often eating. You may find yourself wanting to put some hot sauce into ground beef in order to make hamburgers, or maybe you are looking for something to enhance the flavor of a marinade that you plan to use on beef ribs or steak. For them, I’ll go with a traditional kind of Tabasco sauce if I want a mild flavor. I often go with something that has heat and garlic, just to give it a little something more, especially if I’m putting it in ground beef. I always feel that the lettuce in my hamburger can take some of the sting out of the hotter sauces, you know?

Okay, now that we’ve talked a little about red meat, next we’re going to talk about white meat. First we’ll talk about poultry. Maybe you’re trying to spice up your everyday kind of chicken or you could be looking to enhance your Thanksgiving turkey.Personally, I like Louisiana style hot sauces for poultry. The vinegary, fermented flavor really brings something to an otherwise boring dish. Buffalo style sauce is excellent for snack foods like chicken wings, too. Another good option is a green Sriracha. It’s thicker than the red kind, so keep that in mind. Then there’s pork – the other white meat.If you’re looking to make a great pulled pork sandwich or something like that,go for something with smoke and BBQ flavors. It will give it a traditional taste but with a nice kick to make it memorable.

For fish, I recommend just using a regular Sriracha or Asian style hot sauce. They are traditionally used as dipping sauces, as fish has a more delicate flavor. Take that into consideration when you’re preparing your food.

Now, I am not going to tell you how much or whichbrands you should go with here. Adding hot sauce to food is a bit of an art. Everybody has an opinion and you and I might not see eye to eye. I have the ones that I like and you may think they’re too hot (or even too mild, I don’t know). The main idea is to bring out flavors in your dish, so do some taste-testing as you go.

Is There Ever a Wrong Time For Hot Sauce?

I always have the daily kitchen staples in my house: milk, bread, cooking oil, and hot sauce! It is just something that can always be found on my table and in my food. Life wasn’t always this way, but I’ve gotten better as I age. Now that I’ve stopped caring about what anybody thinks, I make my food the way I want to. I don’t always want every meal hot enough that I want my eyes watering, but I do like a lot of bold flavors in my food. If it’s not going to come by it honestly with seasoning and preparation, then I’m going to add some hot sauce and help it along.

I’ve got different kinds with different levels of heat, because I don’t want my eggs burnin’ through me first thing in the morning, but that chicken and rice I plan to be fixin for dinner is certainly begging for a serious added kick of flavor.Heck, I’ll even mix it into salad dressing! If I’m going to be eating rabbit food, you know darn well that I’m going to be mixing some hot sauce into that frou-frou vinaigrette you’re trying to pawn off on me.

Here are some interesting ways to add a little more hot sauce to your day:

–mix a little in with your soup. Especially if you’re feeling sick, nothing is better for clearing out those ol’ sinus passages, am I right?

–on a cold night, add it to some hot chocolate for extra warmth.

–melt some butter, stir in some hot sauce, and pour over some freshly made popcorn. Your kids will never try to steal your snacks again!

–add some to your hollandaise, cocktail, or pasta sauce for an extra special dose of flavor. You can improve the taste of hummus significantly if you add some hot sauce to it.

–Believe it or not, tossing some in with a fruit salad really makes a boring pot luck standby really sing.

–It goes great with ketchup, and ketchup goes great with so many things: ground meat, burgers, fries, chicken, hot dogs…

–Thanksgiving dinner. When you make the brine for that turkey, add in some hot sauce. It’ll add spice and smokiness. Your guests will thank you.

I do all of this—and more—on a regular basis. Some of it came about just because I was trying to drown out the taste of something else, and other times it was intentional. When you start adding hot sauce to food, don’t just dump a whole lot on. Add a little and try it first. Your goal is to add a warmth of flavor, not just face-melting heat.

If there is ever a wrong time for hot sauce, I don’t want to be right!

Measuring Heat

Just like earthquakes, peppers have a scale to let you know what their impact is going to be. It’s called the Scoville Scale, and it measures how hot the type of pepper is. A pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville created the scale as a subjective test based on taste way back in 1912. He had some people try an increasingly diluted solution of the pepper until they noticed their mouth wasn’t burning. Seems pretty subjective now, but it was the best he could come up with.

Since then, we’ve introduced science into the testing, but the idea is still essentially the same. Since the 1970s, we’ve been using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (you may see it abbreviated as HPLC) to measure the amount of capsaicin oil (the chemical that causes the burning sensation) in foods and rate them on the scale accordingly. There are more accurate ways, but this is the most well-known and it is usually prominately displayed on labels.

If you see a pepper and it’s rated at 2,500 Scoville Units, it would need to be diluted 2,500 times before your eyes didn’t water, your nose wouldn’t run, and your mouth wouldn’t feel like it was on fire. So the higher the Scoville Units, the more the capsaicin and the hotter the pepper. Since all kinds of things can affect the way a chile pepper grows, the heat level is more of a range than an exact number. You want accurate measurements, eat something else. You want spice, you throw caution to the wind and accept that sometimes things are just going to be hotter is all.

On the very low end of the scale, you’ll find sweet bell peppers. Regardless of their color, they usually barely break 100 Scoville Units. Tabasco’s Original Hot Sauce clocks in at about 2,500 Scoville Units, which is about halfway between a sweet bell pepper and a jalapeno pepper.

I know you’re wondering about the other end of that scale now. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the current holder of World’s Hottest Pepper is Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper Pepper. It ranges somewhere in the neighborhood of1.4 million to 2.2 million Scoville Units. To give you an idea of how hot that is, commercially available pepper spray hits between 2 and 5.3 million Scoville Units. You understand that right – eating one of those peppers is basically the equivalent to pepper spraying yourself in the mouth. And your digestive tract. Just sit with that information for a few minutes.

Now, you’ll also see a range for hot sauces as well. I have found most commercially-made hot sauces tend to be pretty accurate as far as their heat scale goes, but if it is home made or created in small batches, the heat has more leeway and maybe one bottle is super hot and the next one is just mildly tear-inducing. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it all makes sense when you think about it. That’s nature for you.

Besides, they say variety is the spice of life, right?

Some Like it Hot

If you’re reading this blog, you probably like your food spicy. You’re like me, and you might even be reading this blog in order to find more ways to incorporate hot sauce and peppers into your foods. That just makes good sense to me. However, we need to accept two significant things: 1) not everybody has the same tolerance for spicy awesomeness, and 2) just because we don’t think something is too hot doesn’t mean that others are going to think the same thing. Therefore, we’ve got to be patient with people and make some accommodations when we’re cooking for a group, or even other members of our own family. I have found a few workarounds you might appreciate.

First, if I am going to cook for people that I know have weaker palates than I do, I can find a sauce that has a similar taste to what I like and find a more mild version. If you’re using actual peppers, you can also substitute what you usually use with something lower on the Scoville scale that brings the same kind of taste. Or, you can do a really thorough job of scraping the sides and taking the seeds out of the pepper, since that’s where most of the heat is located. That might help cut down on the number of flames shooting out of your ears.

However, that isn’t really fair to those of us who enjoy more of the heat. Sohere’s another option, which requires doing more cooking. If you’re going to use hot sauce as a marinade or chile peppers as an ingredient, make a “hot” version and a “mild” version. I usually make the mild version first, and keep it separate – and clearly marked – so nobody accidentally has their taste buds fall asleep or surprisingly burst into flames. Making the mild version first helps with cross-contamination. It’s easier to go from mild to hot than from hot to mild. Also, unless you know the crowd you are cooking for, it’s hard to guesstimate how much of each item to make. But sometimes this is a good choice, because everybody gets what they want. If you’re the one who likes things spicy and you’re doing the cooking, you might not even mind the extra work because you’re getting what you want.

The last option is probably the easiest: I put out a bunch of sauces and provide my guests with shallow dipping bowls. Then they can choose the heat level they want and the amount that works for them. I also provide some blue cheese dip and milk for those who overestimate their ability to take the heat. Or, you can leave some peppers in a bowl along with other condiments and let people decide on their own how much, if any, they want. Even using the pepper as a garnish can be a subtle reminder to guests that they can bring the heat if they want. Plus it just looks good there.