Pride Cometh Before the Squash
By: Elly Well
Three weeks ago, I made squash bisque and “hot packed” it into jars. This was the first time I had ever made bisque – even had contemplated making something as intimidating as bisque – and I made it with winter squash that I grew in my very first vegetable garden. Naturally, I was impressed with myself. I was so proud that I gave jars of the bisque to every family on my road, keeping only one jar for myself. This jar I put in the back of the kitchen cupboard with the cheery thought that I would retrieve it on some cold snowy night and savor the bisque with friends by a fire.
Two days ago, my bisque exploded.
When I say “exploded,” I don’t mean like a bomb. I mean like a volcano. Although I didn’t witness the event, forensics indicate that the lid of the Ball jar flew off with sudden violence under a Mount St. Helens of stinky orange goo that spewed out in all directions. I estimate a splatter radius of six feet. That is the approximate length of the cupboard and nary a cereal box, nor one soup can, went unscathed.
Also two days ago, I called each of my neighbors to inquire whether they had sampled my bisque yet. No? Um. I urged them not to try it now. I also recommended that they take special care not to jostle or otherwise agitate the bisque as they carried their jars outside, away from their residences, to a safe detonation site. I pray that the messages I had to leave on some of my neighbors’ voicemail systems never reach the internet.
What did I learned from this fiasco? (1) To ensure sterilization, I must “parboil” jars before hot packing most foods (whatever “parboil” means). (2) I should not show off when I don’t really know what I’m doing, especially not to neighbors because otherwise I will get more nicknames like “Mad Squash Bomber” that will be difficult, if not impossible, ever to live down. (3) When encountering a suspicious substance, do not inhale.
I learned this last lesson vicariously from my husband. Just as I was finishing up cleaning the cupboard, Seth walked in the door. “What’s this?” he asked, “jam?” He picked up the Ball Jar that was now sitting half empty on the counter and before I could stutter out a negative, held the jar to his nose and took a deep snort. He put down the jar, clapped a hand over his mouth and ran back outside.