I fancy myself as someone who is pretty handy in the kitchen, a man able to smoke a brisket, assemble a tart, craft a Cassoulet or conjure up some ice cream. But one day, one sad summer day, I entered the kitchen overly confident that making ketchup was a breeze. How hard can it be to reduce a spicy sauce rendered from about ten pounds of my finest homegrown tomatoes? Such a question was soon to be answered. After what seemed like 57 ingredients and the same number of steps, a molten sea of soupy bubbling sauce began its journey in a heavy stock pot, evaporating ever closer to its final glory: thick, rich, barely pourable, but totally delectable ketchup.
While the watched pot had no trouble boiling, I had trouble remaining focused on stirring its simmering contents. (Oh look, something shiny.) My distraction was fed further when a neighbor stopped by. Unfortunately we both share the gift of gab and what seemed like a few minutes of chitchat morphed into a lengthy catch-up of current island events. As I waved goodbye and stepped back onto my kitchen stoop, a smell that can only be described as scorched sugary tomato sauce melding to the bottom of stainless steel stockpot hit me like a wall.
My dash to the stove was halted as I came upon an eruption of red sauce spewing to the height of the ceiling—each burst leaving a trail of dripping red stalactites. One false move and the authorities would find this beefy meatball fused to the floor, done in by a Mount Vesuvius of splattering Marinara.
Wielding a broomstick to push the pot off the burner, I averted a disaster or rather eclipsed the next phase of this disaster. The cleanup seemed endless, as any and all surfaces in the kitchen took direct hits. Boz and Gracie were all too eager to help, licking up anything found at shin height or on the floor.
What did I learn from this culinary catastrophe? 1.) Be careful with your condiments; and 2.) Some dogs are allergic to tomatoes.
Update: check out How to Make Ketchup.