Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Ghost Pepper Jelly Incident

I never claimed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.  In my life I've done some incredibly stupid things.  Today, I'm adding Making Ghost Pepper Jelly to the list.

This all began some time ago, almost two years, I think.  Somebody gave me ghost pepper seeds and I tried to grow them.  They sprouted, and died.  Only two survived because of the very cold summer we had.  I re-potted them and babied those two survivors over winter.  Then, on the day of the final frost, I re-potted them into something bigger and continued to baby them.

They flourished and I had two plants full of ghost peppers.  It was awesome.

Word got out and I brought the first couple of peppers that were ready to work.  I gave a couple to the friend who gave me the seeds, and I gave one to my manager, who split it with another guy I work with.  

They both ate half of the pepper raw.  Poor Shane was bleeding internally and out his backside.  The pepper burned its way down in some gastrointestinal Sherman's March until it arrived at the ocean.  That poor bastard!  

I even made some salsa with a few and it was a huge success despite the risk of internal bleeding and death.  

At the end of summer, I picked what was left, and froze them in a freezer bag.  The intent was to make Ghost Pepper Jelly.  I had a freezer bag with about 40 of them just waiting for their chance to pounce.  

The recipe I used was pretty much the standard one you find on Pinterest.  

3 Ghost Peppers
3 Red bell peppers
6 cups of sugar
2 cups of apple vinegar
3oz of liquid pectin.  

Simple enough, right?  

Chop up the peppers and remove all the seeds and stems.  Run it through a food processor or blender with the sugar and apple vinegar.  

Put it in a pot, boil it for 10 minutes, then add the pectin and boil for another 1 minute.  

Put it in jars and follow the basic canning instructions.

Most people look at recipes on Pinterest and think, "Oh, I'd love to try that!"  But not me.  Nope.  I look at a recipe and see all the things I could screw up and produce a nightmare.  

For example, instead of 3 ghost peppers, I used all 40 I had.  And 7 giant red bell peppers.  I adjusted the sugar and vinegar accordingly.  Plus, the pectin.  

I will say I learned a lesson from the last time I chopped up ghost peppers.  My hand was numb for about an hour then burned like hell for several more hours after that.  This time I used rubber gloves when handling the peppers.  

I said that bit so I could tell a story.  When I was a kid, we canned jalapeno peppers.  I spent about three hours chopping them for my mom.  Afterwards, I went to the bathroom.  Need more details?  


I'm also amazed at how many times a human rubs their eyes.  Wow.  

So, yeah, I made too much for my cooking pot and it boiled over.  The fumes were so bad I was coughing and gagging.  My eyes were teared up like a South Korean student protester and my skin was burning.  I must have gotten more on myself that I realized.  My arms are still burning with red marks where the toxic brew hit me.  

As a warning, I'll say that when it boils over and scorches on the heating elements of an electric oven, it smells even worse.  

But I kept on and finished filling the jars.  As I type this up, I can hear pops of different jars as they seal.  Honestly, though, most of them popped as soon as I took them out of the boiling water bath.  

HINT:  Boiling water is great at cleaning up after spilling tons of jam or having it boil over.  I used that boiling water to clean and it saved me a huge mess later on.  

HINT:  Wear gloves when cleaning the pots, pans, knives and containers used to chop or cook ghost peppers because it still burns the fuck out of your skin when doing dishes.  My hands are red and on fire.  

I even have a dozen of those adorable little jelly jars full of the toxic brew.  I say "toxic" because I haven't tasted it yet.  Not even a bit.  I'm not sure why but right now, scorching the inside of my body to go along with the outside just doesn't sound like fun.  Nope.  

I'll be bestowing these "gifts" upon unsuspecting people tomorrow at work.  After that, I'm thinking about selling off a bunch so I can get some cash.  How does $5.00 a small one sound?  Think of it as chemical warfare on the cooties trying to make you sick.  This stuff will burn all the way down and sanitize the pipes.  

While I don't have money for labels, if I can get some, I'm going to call it Uncle Ted's Semi-Famous Heinous Anus Jelly.  Just remember, it's your ass that has to deal with it, not mine.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Worst Pick-Up Lines Ever

I've always loved bad pick-up lines.  There is something wonderfully tacky about them.

Baby, are you from Nashville?  Because you're the only ten I see.

There is always something awful and lewd about them.  As if saying something bordering on vulgar would turn a woman on and make her fall under your spell.

Damn, baby--if you were a screen door I'd slam you all day long.

If you're lucky, she might laugh, but most of the time they'll roll their eyes and walk away knowing you are an idiot.

One of the best pick-up lines I ever came up with was the anti-pick-up line.  My friend Joe and I were in a bar in Macomb called The Cafe.  We were college students and broke as hell.  Our server was gorgeous.  Tall, thin, great face and beautiful eyes.

After she brought us the third round of drinks I got the courage up to flirt with her.

"Do you keep track of how many guys hit on you during your shift?"

She stopped and looked at me for a second.  I had said something so random she didn't have an answer already waiting.  After months of seeing her, months of her working nights at a bar in a college town, somebody actually said something she had never heard before.  I got her attention.

It went downhill after that.  She wasn't interested.  Joe was highly impressed, though.

I've been having a rough time in the dating world.  Probably because I don't really date much.  I'm not a dater.  The reason is pretty simple--I'm not interested in dating anybody.  Not in the traditional sense.

For me, I need to have an emotional bond with someone before I can be attracted to them.  There is no attraction until that happens.  None.  This is why I don't hit on women unless I'm bored or I want to get a reaction out of them.  My troll genes come through sometimes.  I cannot help it.

But no, I don't ask women out.  I don't date.  I develop relationships as friends and then the emotions and attraction starts.  Once that emotional bond starts, the attraction just sort of happens.  It's not something I can control.  And since most of these women are friends who have no idea of the nasty mess that's roiling inside my head, many of them seem blind-sided by my revelations, almost upset and offended by them.  I'm a friend and they don't see me as anything but a friend.

And I cannot be attracted to a woman until she's a friend and we have a strong emotional bond.

As you can imagine, this has made for some incredibly painful and difficult days, and there have been some horrible nights spent talking to women who have no interest in me while I deeply care about them.

But I realize now I've gone about this the wrong way.  I've recently seen there are others like me and there is even a name for it.  Demisexual.

I'm not going to get into the weird debates that have been floating around the net about this term, this identity, and how it fits into various communities.  I have my identity and I'm moving forward with it.  

No, I have a new idea on how I'm going to move forward from here, and I'm working on some of the best pick-up lines ever to describe just what's on my mind.  Instead of gross and vulgar lines with bad puns and inappropriate similes, something that cuts right through the bullshit to the heart of the matter.  

"Last night I thought of you.  I was in my bed all alone and wondering about your opinions regarding Twentieth Century poetry.  I imagined you describing how much you enjoyed T.S. Eliot because I don't see you as a Sylvia Plath sort of woman."  

But sadly I'm in the Midwest and it would be much more likely she would want to talk about NASCAR or football.  I could roll with that.

This world is a weird one.  And for me, it just keeps getting weirder and weirder.  I like that.  It chases the boredom away.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Runnin' With The Devil

I got in trouble at work again for buying souls in the break area.  It used to be a simple sort of business.  Somebody needed money and would be going around panhandling.  Eventually they came to me and I would offer the money they asked for in exchange for their soul.  They would laugh, agree, and I would whip out the contract.  Standard contract, really.

I had purchased several souls that week and somebody complained.  So, a manager had to come talk to me.  I usually have to have these "talks" once every few months.

"Ted," the manager asked me in a tired voice.


"Are you buying souls in the break area again?"

"Maybe.  How much do you need?"

Then she rolled her eyes at me and told me to knock it off.  Apparently there had been some complaints.  Seems like I'm always getting into trouble for little shit like that.

Nobody cares about their soul anymore.  Especially stupid kids who have never even been into a church let alone religiously educated.  I'm not a religious guy myself despite being forced into Catholic schools for years.  I am well versed in the Church of Rome.

The greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing the world he didn't exist.

We've heard this before.

I remember as a child the neighbors kept changing their religion.  They were an interesting family.  The husband and wife were swingers.  She was a beautiful redhead who always seemed a breath away from going batshit crazy at any moment.  Their son and I were friends for a while.  He was a good guy but a bit strange.  All the religious changes really had an effect on him.

One day he was telling me about The Devil.  It was the usual tripe we heard from religious people.  Red, scaly skin, horns, was always hiding around some corner and waiting to attack.  We were kids at the time but for some reason I really found it comical.

Most of the stuff about Lucifer I've seen is comical.  Even The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey seemed cartoonish and silly.  In fact, most of what he wrote about wasn't even Satanism--it was atheism.  His indictment was against all religions.

I think that's why I loved discovering the band Ghost so much.  They treated the devil with respect and honor.  They worshiped him and glorified him.  Papa Emeritus II performed mass to herald the coming of the Ancient Serpent Deceiver as masses stand in awe.

I've just recently finish reading The Demonologist:  The Extraordinary Life of Ed & Lorraine Warren by Gerald Brittle.  This book is a fascinating look at exorcisms and the deals people make with Lucifer.  Brittle, a former priest, lets the Warrens tell their story and educate the reader about all the ugly details of demons, and the trouble people get themselves into.  More often than not, people invite a demon into their lives by using occult practices, like Ouija boards and seances.  One man used an old mirror to perform some advanced occulus spells and let a demon into his house.  And perhaps the ugliest case in the book is where a girl spoke to a spirit on a Ouija board for a year and then let him out.  The demons then terrorized the family and destroyed their home.

One of the interesting facts I found was how people are often ripped off by the demons.  People will cash their paychecks and put the cash in their pockets only to have that money stolen.  To where?  Ed Warren points out that often times, sorcerers will receive that money, as part of their pact with Satan.

So, I've got these souls.  Contracts people have signed giving me their souls.  I'm wondering what kind of deal I can make with these souls.  It's a valuable currency--far more valuable than anything these people can imagine.

I have big ambitions.  I'm going to need to buy a few more souls.  In the end, I will claim that which is mine, and people shall weep and cry out for mercy.  And the answer will be a single whisper.  "Noooooo."