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Weird Things Happen To MeAugust 4, 2005

Yesterday, as I was signing the UPS log, the UPS guy leaned over and touched my big toe. And said, "Nice."

Just.... wha?

Strangers don't touch strangers, dude. He wasn't freaky; he seemed very nice. I don't mean to, or even think I should, make a complaint. Apparently he must appreciate chipped sparkly polish.

But it was weird.

(But the reason he was there was fabulous: I was receiving a box of Penzey's spices from Gwen, who sent them in response to my plea for vegetable recipe ideas. I'm so excited! Now I have to read their catalog and figure out how to use them, but hey, one of the spice mixtures even has chipotle in it! And there's this shallot-pepper mix that looks so good, and a bunch of others! I'm spoiled and happy and learning how to cook!)

(Aside numero dos: Although I am cooking way more nowadays, I'm still pretty flippin' clueless. I decided to attempt bhindi masala the other night, a crunchy, spicy, Indian okra dish. It called for chopped green chilies. I wasn't sure how many to chop, so I sliced up half the basket, maybe about forty of them. I thought they were like little green bell peppers. When sauteing them, I noticed I couldn't breathe, all-of-a-sudden-like, and had to open the windows and turn on the fan. Then I ate some of the okra with some rice, and thought it was mighty hot. And then my mouth heated up more. And more. And more. I thought I might never eat again. I didn't even bother with ice water or milk, I just licked the ice cube trays in an attempt to cool off my mouth. Finally I referred to the recipe, where I found that I should have chopped TWO green chilies. Damn it.)


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don't taunt the chilies! they always seem to win. at least when i'm cooking. i did something similar with thai basil -- mistakenly thinking it was exactly the same as "regular" basil and throwing loads of it into something. sweet moses. they are not the same. it was nearly inedible.
i have spent so much time trying to make indian dishes at home that i practically feel they are free when i eat them in a restaurant. i've given up. i applaud you on your good eating spree though. it can be so difficult -- especially when it's so flippin' hot outside.

Oh, ow! That's even worse than my tablespoon of cayenne powder! Good luck next time--Indian food is fun to cook.

Oh poor baby...that's amazingly...wow. Be careful! See, that's the reason I stay out of the kitchen. Teaspoons have a way of turning into tablespoons and sugar accidentally becomes salt. OOPS!

WONDERFUL stuff happens to you! I am so excited about the WEDDING DRESS . . .

If you are looking for recipes for Indian dishes check out the books written by Madhur Jaffrey. I think she did a series for BBC that was broadcast on Public Television a while back. The cooking shows may be defunct but the books are still around and full of easy, homey recipes. Mmmmm. Healthy too. Both veg and meatatarian.

Anyway Rach, all the best from me and mine. Grace

Sounds like Mr. UPS has a little foot fetish, maybe? Just a thought.

40 green chillies! Whoa! That's just...incredible. I hope your mouth is feeling better now. Try sugar water if you ever find yourself in that situation again (hopefully not though)

Congrats on the wedding. Can't wait to see the dress. I am so jealous you got to see Stephanie. Sorry about the chilies. Hope your next cooking adventure doesn't cause as much damage.
So the UPS man was hitting on you. LOL

I suppose it would be me to ask...how has been the nether regions since this hot encounter. I hope the u-bend god has not been privy, cough, to sights only a god would understand and your shift was not very shifting.

All joking aside, chillies can be dangerous no wonder you couldn't breath choping that many up in a confined space. Should have certainly cleared out the airways hope it left you with some mebrane!

Lassi is what you need, the original smoothie I suppose. Recipe's vary from region to region but it is THE drink for curry eating yoghurt, water salt or sugar are the basis I like crushed cardomen seed in mine but it's all a matter of tase, cream, honey, nutmeg etc etc are all added by others. But chilled lassi is not only refreshing but is your own personal fire service in a glass:0)

That's another reason to always read the whole recipe before you start. I've actually been mocked for following recipes by people who don't - they want it to be all talent, to come naturally. I'm a security junkie. And I cook better than them.
I can recommend Madhur Jaffrey, I've used one of her books. Very good instructions, and ingredients that are easy to find. Not to mention how incredibly good it is.

Oh my god - the toe thing!

I was sitting at my husband's tennis club the other day, knitting along innocently, when this old(er) man came by and leaned over me. I thought he was going to say something about the knitting - he had already commented on it - but instead he reached out and TWEAKED MY BIG TOE! Like you, I didn't think he was being untoward or anything - really, more grandfatherly. But like you said - STRANGERS DON'T TOUCH STRANGERS!

Weird, huh?

LOL, thanks for the morninc chuckle and the mental picture of you burning up even befoer you ate all those hot things ;) I got some in the greenhouse that are MILD, just exactly probably wwhat you thought you'd get,m mini green peppers.
Ahhh Penzey's gotto love them!

Mmmm, Penzeys! There's one at the end of my street, walking distance. Five different kinds of cinnamon, jars you can open and sniff at, the wonderful smell when you walk in the door... Get the free catalog, it has good recipes in too.

That catalog looks neat. Can't even imagine how hot those peppers must have been.

Another word of advice concerning hot things, do not, I repeat, DO NOT consider it wise to sprinkle red pepper on something while it is in the oven. Your eyes will not thank you. Even if you do think that those sweet potato fries will be better with a bit of red pepper, your EYES will not.

Just sayin ;)

Oh my god, I just laughed my ass off from the beginning of this post to the end. I now have no ass. Jeebus, you're hilarious.

M-m-m-m-m-m-m Penzey's. I'll hafta try 'em. And Darling, RTFR.

When I was up north, at last vacation, I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store. I was actually at the cashier. This,like, 70 year old woman, dressed professionally (way outta place in up north michigan), is staring at my feet. Finally, she says, "You have got the most adorable feet I've ever seen. They look so cute in those sandals. Some women just shouldn't wear those sandals..." And she went on some more, just staring, and ended with "Just adorable." Finally the cashier says, "I gotta see this" and peeked over. Folks, I got some butt fuckin'ugly feet. And I had total raptor toe nails going. The cashier kind of winced, in embarrassment, for me. While the ol' lady drooled on. Too weird.

Dang, I should've saved this story for a post.

Why is it older people feel compelled to touch me (and others, it seems)? Most awkward touching is from them. I know they came from an earlier time, but we're talking the 1940s, not 1870!! Also, old men who make innuendos to young women make me sick. Old doesn't mean harmless, guy; move along!

Rachael, I'll have you know I was accepted by the Culinary Institute, and that's after I left the oven on high and left a curry to "simmer" down to nothing but charred and foul-smouling garbage. We all make mistakes. :)

LOL!! My mom had a similar experience with chilies. She made salsa one day, and decided that the recipe must me mistaken, and doubled the amount of chilies called for. When I came home from school, she had me try it. Nearly blew my head off!

Hey, you'll never learn unless you "experiment" a bit ;)

Your first mistake was cooking with okra. Euw.

Oh yes! Penzey's rocks...and I'm currently waiting on a recently placed order. Can't wait until it comes and I can cook something new and thrilling.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Penzey's...get that second job now to fund the spice purchases. Muhahahha......

Maybe the guy who touched your toe had Tourettes - sometimes they need to touch people. I just read about it recently in this book called: Passing For Normal, by Amy Wilensky, Or perhaps he was just a pervert.

Smith LOVE Penzeys. It really does spice up food in a wonderful way. Your experience sounds like something I would do...therefore, he does the cooking.

Penzeys changed my life. Who knew there were different kinds of cinnamon? And juniper berries, the perfect spice for a gin-lovin' grrl.

Here's my cooking tip: your local library has cookbooks. Yes, you can learn new recipes & get the scoop on new ingredients yet *still* have yarn money!

Bhindi masala is one of my favorite Indian dishes. I'm sorry you had such an unpleasant chili experience; I find that ice cream helps, but maybe that's because, well, any excuse to eat some Cherry Garcia!

EEWWWWWWW...and the UPS guys are usually so nice. if I'd a been there, I'd a karate-chopped the freakin weirdo. that is JUST not cool.

you forgot to tell people on your blog about the ouchie you got when you pooped the day after you ate the chili.

Cold beer also works as does milk. Water just makes it worse or so I have been told. I like things hot but there is such a thing as too hot.

a)UPS guy WAAAAAAY out of bounds. Not only do strangers not touch strangers, they especially don't touch strangers while they're WORKING.

b) 40... chilies? FORTY?! Oh no! My mom tried to make corned beef & cabbage once and instead of 10 cloves of garlic she put in 10 HEADS ... we tried to eat it, we really did, but in the end we had to throw out all that nice brisket... fortunately she was normally a very good cook.

ewwwww! A UPS man with a toe fetish. ... and he touched you, ewwww!

Well just remember, if you can't even breathe while you are cooking it, it may not be a good idea to eat it.
I'll remember that everytime I see a UPS guy. And I will be sure to keep my feet in the house.

BE CAREFUL WITH THE CHILIS!!! you can really hurt yourself with some of them; blisters and everything. MOST IMPORTANTLY; WASH YOUR HANDS IMMEDIATELY AFTER TOUCHING CHILIS!!!! you touch your eyes or something with even the slightest bit of juice and damn that's gonna really suck. and i wouldn't want you to lose knitting time over some little vegetable...

I did something similar once with habeneros. Only I did put in TWO and then made the mistake of touchign my eye. OH MY FREAKING GOD! Mimi's not kidding when she says to wash your hands. Man did that hurt. And then I couldn't even eat the beans I was making because they were so hot I wanted to die.

I ended up giving the rest of the chili's to a Brazilian friend of mine. (My grandfather had planted them by accident, thinking they were orange bell peppers.) She scoffed at my wimpy Americanness when I told her how hot they were. She learned her lesson though, after she put two on a pizza and wanted to die herself.

My gawd woman you just crack me up. Half a basket of peppers. I would have given anything to seen the sudden realization taking place. I once cut peppers like that and the phone rang. Not even thinking about during my phone conversation I started touching my face and rubbing my eyes. My lips were on fire and I was blinded for an hour. I learned my lesson on not playing with "fire"!

That's like when my dentist said "new hair color? It suits your coloring??" Uh...ok.... just a bit strange....

*stifled noise* Really, I'm not *chortle* laughing. I swear.

Loved the hot pepper story! Reminds me of some of my own cooking stories, actually. My first husband was the usual victim, enduring my chickensicles (poorly fried chicken), salt-packed greens (who knew "salt pork" was so salty?), and french-fried mush (hint: Heat the oil up BEFORE you put the potato slices in. And don't cook 'em for 45 minutes.

FYI, it's hard to get the pepper taste out of your mouth unless you drink something a bit oily. The pepper flavoring is not water-solvent. If it happens again, try eating a slice of bread (to wipe most of the flavoring out)and drinking some milk (to flush out the rest). ;o) Speaking from experience!

P.S. -- Also loved reading your antics with the Yarn Harlot and said a big out-loud WOO-HOO for your marathon triumph! Congrats!

Very funny story. I agree about being careful about what you touch after cutting hot peppers. I won't let hubby get amorous if he has cut peppers without protection (disposable rubber gloves). Only had to learn that lesson once.

Ditto Maia. Oh my. That puts a halt to any fun.

Oh my Lord. What is it with people? Similarly, a couple of days ago I went into a room to see a patient, and her sixty-or-so countrified father randomly and spontaneously reached over and grabbed my pen out of my BREAST pocket of my scrubs!!!! WTF???

(I actually told him not to touch me again. Creepy McCreeperton.)

The toe thing is weird. The best thing to do if you eat too much chile? Ice cream! (See there actually is a valid reason). The hot hot oils in the chile do not get removed from your mouth the same way by water. I know - from when I was in Thailand, and I chomped down on a whole green chile in a dish where you were supposed to leave the chiles on the plate. I felt like one of those cartoon characters who had fire coming out of their ears!

Oh, I so totally get the squick factor of strangers touching you. Hell, I just got a congratulatory peck on the cheek from my local FedEx guy because he'd heard that I was getting married. Even though I love Alex the FedEx guy, it felt Very Strange.

I cannot even imagine how hot that dish was. Holy cats. Enough to make you just stick your tongue in yogurt or milk and leave it there for, like, an hour.

Penzeys? I LOVE THEM. They also sell wonderful vanilla extract and I'm wicked fond of their Korintje cinnamon. I'm also fond of their salad dressing mixes. Good stuff all round.

:) You'll want to watch out if you ever make a Thai curry, too. Those containers of premade curry paste are *quite* potent. I have a cookbook that includes a recipe for making one's own curry pastes, and says you can substite commercial pastes for the recipes if you want. So I did- without changing amount- and found out the hard way that two tablespoonfuls of homemade paste must be WAAAAAAY less potent than the commercial paste and it was so extremely hot it was totally inedible. I tried again next time, to find that 1/4 the called for amount was hot enough to break out in a sweat.

Um, Rach, can I borrow your magical nail polish? I'll only reveal my toes to DH -- I promise!

As for chilis, I got to visit the emergency room once after converting an especially nice batch of chilis from the Santa Cruz flea market into salsa. Silver sulphdiazine cream is amazing stuff.

And a comment from the farmer: even peppers from the same plant, picked on the same day, can have a huge variance in their heat.

Our neighbors are the coolest ever and always give us loads of peppers from their garden. Of course I have no idea which ones are hot, so if by some miracle I am cooking, I take aguess and cross my fingers. I can't wait to tell Jacob about your 40 chiles...he will love that.

And the toe thing...that is just weird. Um, I'll take the compliment, but NO TOUCHING. please.

P.S. Em's comment made me giggle.


ew, touching other people's toes is just. not. ok. Anyway, about cooking - moosewood recipes rock. Deborah Madison books will teach you how to cook. Same for Jack Bishop. and last - taste everything when you're cooking. spices, every ingredient (well, not raw eggs perhaps but still..) and after you add something and stir it in, taste again. Cooking is alchemy, and things change with heat, with cooking method and time, with being combined with other things. When you start tasting as you go, you'll develop your palate, and start to understand what something will taste like just by reading the ingredients, and then...you start making recipes up! fun!

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