But speaking of disasters in the kitchen.
My family is Polish, so every year for Christmas, we cook up the works: pierogies, golumpki, kielbasa, haluski, you name it (though please don't try). We always like to have this phenomenal red beet horseradish with our smorgasbord, specially ordered from Scranton, Pennsylvania. (God, we're strange). I remember four years ago, when my boyfriend and I first started dating, I thought it would be super romantic to cook him up a Polish feast one night. Because that's the most obvious thing to do when trying to woo a potential mate. It must be true love because he's still around, cabbage and all.
Back to the horseradish.
One year, my mother had this brilliant idea that we should make our own horseradish, bottle it up, and give it out to our Texas friends as a Christmas present. Because nothing says "Merry Christmas from the Ogonoskys!" quite like a side of homemade horseradish!
Some foods are very dangerous. That day I quickly learned that the horseradish root is without a doubt the most dangerous in all the land.
My mom and I started by trying to cut up the roots. When that didn't work (because you might as well be trying to cut tree bark with a steak knife), we switched to grating. And that's when the fumes came. When I say "It felt like our entire kitchen had been filled with deadly fumes and I was momentarily blinded by the severity of it," I assure you, I'm not being melodramatic.
So, without the ability to see (and therefore, grate), we (and by we, I absolutely mean yours truly) decided it would be a FANTASTIC idea to put the hard-as-rock roots into the blender to chop up.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened next.
Sparks started flying. The blender started to screech. My dad and sister - who conveniently opted out of this activity - ran downstairs, only to run back upstairs screaming because their eyes hurt, their noses started instantly running, and tears were streaming down their faces. My house had become a site filled with hazardous material, the damage done by these unassuming little lethal suckers.
Spoiler alert: We lived. (Surprise!!!) Once the fumes cleared and we regained consciousness, we bottled up the horseradish and gave it to our friends. And although I'm sure they appreciated it, we vowed never to reprise "That One Time Mom Tried To Kill Kim With A Root."
Where am I going with this? Oh I'm going somewhere.
My boyfriend's friend recently had a birthday party out in the suburbs (League City, to be exact), and to celebrate, he held a "Meatstravaganza" at his house. Or as i kept referring to it - "Meatsapalooza." ('Stravaganzas" and 'paloozas are one in the same, as I'm sure you know). And let me tell you, I felt pretty good about the concept - Everybody who comes brings a piece of meat, and we'll grill it up. The more unusual, the better. Phenomenal. I love everything about it.
So I decided to go the creative route (scary, I know), and made Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers, tweaked and inspired by Taste for Adventure and Chaos in the Kitchen.
Now. I know jalapeños. We've had some interesting times together. I've learned through trial and error to always remove the seeds (or you'll die), eat them in small bites (or you'll die), and wash your hands after working with them (or you'll inevitably touch your eye, ruin everyone's 4th of July, and die). Okay, the dying part *might* be a stretch, but these little peppers are pretty intense. I knew full well going into this that they fall under the Dangerous Foods list (right there with onions, lemons, garlic, and the ever-dreaded horseradish), but I felt fully prepared to take them on.
Wrong you were, Ogonosky!
Because I was working with such a LARGE amount of jalapeños, I hadn't anticipated the deep, visceral reaction I was going to have. I coughed, I sneezed approximately 57 times, and an unstoppable itch grew within the depths of my throat. Weird. But on a scale of one to horseradish, it was about a seven. Incredibly unpleasant, but definitely not the worst.
I will say though, the gosh darned poppers were the hit of the 'palooza! I mean, the little twerps were so. good. The crispiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the honey, the mild spice of the evil jalapeños, the cheesiness of the cheese? ohmygodsogood. And what's not to love? Bacon, check. Cheese, check. Honey, check. Jalapeños, well...
Next time i make them (heaven help me), I may add some honey or corn to the inside cheesy filling for a little more sweetness. And I also might wear a gas mask.
Ehhh, shoulda' coulda' woulda'.
Even though the experience was a bit harrowing, the end result was incredible. On the drive home, the bf told me the popper might be his favorite thing I've ever made. To which I replied: "Yeah, but I almost died making them." To which he replied: "Worth it."
But you know what? The bf was totally right: They are so worth it. Just learn from my mistakes: Turn on a vent, open some windows, and for Pete's sakes, wear safety goggles.
AND DON'T TOUCH YOUR EYE.
*Update, 7/21/2013: I made the bacon jalapeño poppers again for a party (because I'm both masochistic and hedonistic all at the same time) and added an entire ear of corn to the inside mixture. I definitely recommend doing this. It added another level of flavor and texture to this already complex tasting app. All you do is take one (uncooked) medium-large ear of corn, cut the kernels off, and stir into the cheese mixture. Voila!