Hatching

Updated: Dec 9, 2018

No eggs involved. Just 120 pounds of freshly harvested Hatch chiles in three burlap sacks (one marked HOT) and a college roommate I had only seen once in more than three decades. This month twenty years ago after finishing an extended kayaking trip in Johnstone Strait near the northern end of Vancouver Island, I drove at a leisurely pace south on Highway 101 and stopped by to visit Carl at his home near Silicon Valley before turning east to head home. I had little spare time to stay then and we visited only a few hours, but we were glad we did. Carl has always been fun to hang out with.

"Not 60 pounds. One hundred twenty pounds. Yeah! It'll be great!" And it was.

Now retired and oozing with free time, after Carl arrived, we spent a couple of days leisurely talking and resting before finally putting the grill together and getting down to business. Three or four roasting and bagging sessions later, about a hundred pounds of chiles were nicely singed, vacuum packed and quick frozen by the time Carl had to get going. The rest were eaten or strung up in a few small ristras but a problem still loomed. How to keep almost one hundred pounds of frozen chiles frozen during the long, hot, multi-day trek home back west.


A plan was hastily hatched (yuk yuk) requiring nothing more than diligent purchase and replenishment of a few pounds of paper-wrapped dry ice blocks each day, carefully packed into two ice chests cram-packed with frozen chiles. It would work. It had to work.


A text message a couple of days after Carl left reported the chiles made it through 105ºF weather to their first stop in Arizona. Good news!


A second text message a few days later reported all chiles safe and sound in the freezer at Carl's home. Fantastic!


Phew. It worked! Neither of us were really that worried about it not working. We didn't really care a great deal if the chiles thawed and spoiled along the way back west. It was just fun stuff to do while together here visiting. I would never have guessed I would ever process more than a hundred pounds of chiles in just a few days time out here. It's just not something that ever occurred to me to try doing, but I should have known if it ever did happen, Carl would be the instigator.


I have a few pounds of Big Jims Carl left in the freezer for me to use here and three small ristras of them hanging, slowly drying to perfection too. I'm going to wait until the first good blizzard this winter to cook any of them up into a dish. I hope it's a big, blustery one that leaves lots of deep, clean snow. I love sitting snug inside beside crackling fire, a movie playing, and a winter storm raging while blissfully feasting upon that first big, steaming plate of greasy enchiladas.