Graham's Story - Chili Sauce

Submitted by Tamarack on July 15, 2011 - 9:56am

Some food is all about patience. Patience and Food don't go together much anymore. Most things you can buy at a grocery store are frozen, or prepared, or microwaveable. The shelves are overflowing with packages that exclaim "Quik n' Easy!" or "Instant!" When was the last time you really needed your rice to be cooked in two minutes? Do you really need bacon that sizzles after five seconds in the microwave? Even Jell-O packages come with "Quick-set" directions now, so you can chill it for only 30 minutes, instead of the usual two hours, as if it was an emergency or something.

Have Nutri-Grain bars done anything good for community spirit? When food comes in individually wrapped packages that you can eat with one hand in the car during rush-hour traffic, have the good folks at Kellogg's really done us any favour? I don't think so.

In fact, I propose a completely different idea. We're going to make slow food. Really slow food. So slow, in fact, it takes six months to get from the stovetop to your plate, and it takes at least three people to make it.

We're going to make slow food because no one ever built community by dashing out the door with a pop-tart gripped between their teeth. Because single servings aren't big enough to share. Because making it together makes it taste better.

This is my grandmother's recipe for Chili Sauce, and when we find the time to make it, it's always worth the wait.

Make this chili sauce sometime in the summer, and take the whole day off to do it. Buy the vegetables from a farmer's market if you can, and buy organic, too. And the most important part is, get your friends and family to help you, and make sure there's good music on, real loud.


Combine these ingredients in a big pot, after doing all the chopping and preparation:

30 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped. (Don't get canned tomatoes. Really.)

2 cups diced celery

5 green peppers, diced

2-3 sweet red peppers, diced

8 medium onions, diced

3 cups good cider vinegar

3 tbsp. coarse salt

2 1⁄2 cups packed brown sugar

6 tbsp. mixed pickling spice


!Simmer over medium-low heat until it gets a little thick and everything's absorbed the flavours of everything else.

Ladle out into sterilized glass jars while it's still hot (Sterilize your jars by washing them in hot soapy water, and then baking them in the oven at 300 degrees for a while. Don't put the metal lids in the oven. Let them cool off before you put the sauce in them.).

Screw the lids on tightly and let the jars sit for a while as they cool some more. Once they've cooled off, the lids should have dimpled down to form a really tight seal. Place the jars in your basement somewhere and wait until winter. On some dark, cold night, bring up a jar and enjoy a few spoonfuls as a garnish on meat or with macaroni & cheese. (My dad fondly remembers peanut-butter and chili sauce sandwiches, but I've never developed a taste for it.)

Isn't that nice? A little patience goes a long way, in cooking and community building.