A family recipe brings treasured kitchen memories
In August, when hornets began to hover around our picnics in the back yard, the kitchen was buzzing with chopping and chatter as Mom and Grandma began making their annual batch of chili sauce that would lift meatloaf to new levels all winter long!
A trip to the market produced enough peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes, apples, peaches and pears to fill the huge preserving pot that has been in our family for years. Sugar and apple cider vinegar were added. Cheesecloth-wrapped pickling spice was plunked in the middle of the simmering pot with a few tablespoons of cinnamon, and then the long cooking process began, wafting a sweet tangy smell through the open kitchen window.
That is when I discovered that bees are attracted to vinegar! The window screen would be literally covered with these hungry creatures buzzing around for the duration of the cooking process. Several hours later, Grandma would dip a spoon in, have a slurp, and declare the chili sauce sufficiently reduced to golden goodness, ready to ladle into steaming hot, sterilized jars secured with lids that would pop as they cooled and sealed.
I continue to make our family's chili sauce each year, and love to share it with friends who have never tried this unique recipe that includes fruit to soften and enrich the vegetable flavours.
This tradition reminds me that time, and family members may pass, but the cooking aromas from our childhood bring sweet memories back to us like it was just yesterday.