If you're wondering where in the world Redacted Recipes has been all week, I can only say that bad things really do happening in clusters. Last Thursday my laptop died. I mean, completely and utterly died. I will say that it was fixed very quickly-- shipped off to IBM on Friday and back and in working condition on Tuesday. And that would have been terrific if it were not for the fact that on Friday my cable modem died. And the cable folks had no opening until today for fixing it. So yes, we were reduced to sniffing out other people's wireless, which was painful and unreliable.
But that's not all. On Saturday, which was a very, very hot day, our lights started to brown out and our window A/C unit began to run at such a low level that it was all but useless. We wrote it off to a temporary problem, assuming that city-wide power usage was at a high. That evening I went to turn on the bathroom light and realized that the switch plate was red-hot. The wall surrounding it was also frightening hot. So we went downstairs to alert our building super, who waved us off (as he always does), saying "Is fine. Call office Monday."
Now, we live in an old building and we know the wiring is not up to code--this is taken for granted in New York. But a hot wall is nothing to ignore, particularly in light of the fact that our downstairs neighbor had an electrical fire in her kitchen wall last year (and when we all told the super we could smell smoke he waved it off then too, insisting "is fine, is fine!"). So we called the fire department, who came and disconnected the wires in the outlet. I love those guys. There they were, fully suited up, sweating to beat the band, and racing up six flights of stairs.
As of now everything is working again. My computer is good as new, we have a nice fast internet connection, the bathroom light has been rewired and the walls repaired, and we even got a leaking faucet fixed, too.
All this just in time to get to my post for this month's Taste and Create! I had the pleasure of being partnered with Pam of The Backyard Pizzeria, a blog full of appealing photos and recipes. While there were many dishes I wanted to try I really had to limit myself to something requiring very little cooking time (did I mention it's been HOT?). It seemed fitting to try her recipe for Sambal Oelek, a Thai chili paste packed with heat but requiring very little in the way of simmering (and no baking! Yay!). Pam's post about it has some very interesting information on the health benefits of chili peppers. Apparently the capsaicin, which gives them their fire, frightens prostate cancer cells so much that they sometimes commit suicide. Who knew?
For reasons I don't quite understand, red chilies are rare on the ground in my part of the city. Pam and I emailed about using green chilies and agreed that they probably wouldn't be hot enough, so I went with the superstar of capsaicin, the habanero. And this stuff is hot, let me tell you. But really tasty, too, if you use with caution.
1 pound red chillies
5 1/2 ounces garlic, peeled and chopped
5 1/2 ounces tender young ginger, peeled and chopped
2 stalks lemon grass, thinly sliced (white part only)
6 fluid ounces vinegar
8 ounces sugar
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon lime zest, chopped
Blend the chillies, garlic, ginger and lemon grass in a food processor or mortar and pestle. While processing gradually add the vinegar. Place the pureed mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the salt and lime zest. Remove from the heat, cool and bottle in sterilised jars.