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For want of a bell pepper

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What I now know about taking in the harvest, prepping food and canning veggies is that I don’t really know very much.


I’ve been picking and freezing tomatoes for the past few weeks in anticipation of making … I’m not sure. I already have enough spaghetti sauce. I’m not keen on salsa. Tomato aspic? That’s an answer to a crossword puzzle clue. I hear you can use tomatoes on boils and acne.

Once my garden was bare and my freezer was filled to bursting with bags of tomatoes, I brought them all out to thaw. I downloaded a few recipes. And I started to prep the mess.

The dog looked longingly at me. The cat meowed incessantly. I offered them bits of tomatoes to show them they didn’t want any. They turned up their noses and continued to look longingly/meow incessantly. I was starting to go a little nuts.

But it didn’t take long before I was done! Yep! That’ll happen when your blender seizes up. A friend happened to call — she had a blender I could borrow! I drive all the way to her house to find out it’s not a blender, but a mixer, and I have one of those! Haha! Thanks anyway!

I get home and outfit my old blender with beater-bar-thingies I’d just purchased and … they don’t fit. So I pulled out my old hand-crank decapitating machine — one of those things they display in the store and offer real food to show you how well it works — and started work. Tomatoes were thick, my arm was strong, and the handle broke.

Sigh. The cat meowed.

Then I realized I’d forgotten my recipe at work. Drive to work, collect the recipe, go home.

And then, cataclysm: the recipe called for a bell pepper I didn’t have!

For want of a bell pepper the canning season is lost? No! The kitchen is awash in tomato juice! It’s too late to call it quits!

Normally being short a bell pepper or two wouldn’t be a big deal, but a friend and I are doing the Big Box Boycott, so we can only purchase food from locally-owned businesses. Just for a month, thank god. But we were still nine days out!

I looked at my pot full of tomato glop. It would not last nine days; no way.

I’ve already given my friend grief because she’s admitted to sending her husband to the big box store to buy things; cheating by proxy! I say.

“Where am I going to find a bell pepper?!” I cried.

“I have several in my crisper,” she replied, nonchalantly.

“Of course you do,” I snarked.

She gave me permission to go to the store — one time — for the bell pepper. Oh, no. I don’t want that lorded over my head for the next year.

I envisioned myself in front of a grocery store, apprehending little old ladies by their coat sleeves.

Me: Ma’am? I’m sorry, I was wondering if you could buy me a bell pepper? I’ll pay for it; you can keep the change?

Ma’am: You! Don’t touch me! Go away! Panhandling isn’t allowed!

Me: Sir? I was wondering …

Sir: Harumph … mumble-mumble, bums, call the managers …

Me: Yo, dude! A little help? I need a bell pepper —

Dude: Is that like, code? I like it!

Me: No, I really do need a bell pepper and I can’t go into a big-box store; it’s on a challenge with a friend to not go, you know, and I have to go nine more days until I can and —

Dude: Oh, you got kicked out of all the stores, too, huh? Bummer, man. Later.

Me: Sigh.

Panhandling at the grocery store with a fiver in my hand for a bell pepper — my mother would be so proud.

Back at home, I chop onions. Grate garlic. Look for ginger powder — I don’t like ginger! Stupid recipe.

The dog looks at me. The wooden stirring spoon drops out of my hand. I glare at the broken blenders. And look up to see my mess had clogged the sink.

It’s all going to have to wait. There was no way I was going to start some high-pressure canning the way my luck was going.

For now, I await the plumber’s arrival. The cat can meow at him, instead.