Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce

Honeymoon Heat Carrot Habenero Hot Sauce-15

I have a piece in the new issue of Darling Magazine this month. I was asked to write a rosy-cheeked take on family dinners––their evolution from youth to adulthood, tradition, nostalgia, how the act of gathering around a table “transcends the act of dining as a means to an end.” I was feeling OK but not awesome about my rough draft when I submitted it in December, then: Christmas. We hosted my family at our new place. It snowed. I planned a few elaborate meals because, you know, food is love, and on the second night, before anyone took their second bite of potato tarragon galette, my brother and I were in a shouting match over my request that he not text at the dinner table. He got defensive. I called him an asshole. He got up and left. My mom cried, dad got quiet. Shaun tried to mediate.

It was ugly. But, it was real. More often than not, the meals we get to share with family and friends do not take on the convivial, alluring nature we see promoted across blogs and boutique media. It’s easy to set a beautifully-styled farm table and encourage meaningful, open-hearted dialogue and then CONVENIENTLY disregard that meaningful, open-hearted dialogue is, by nature of our human-ness, a fucking mess most of the time. The mess doesn’t sell.

Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce

Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce

Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce

There is nothing precious about our dinner table. It is, and has been, a mighty kickstand for the hardest and heartiest conversations in our lives. Sure, we’ve made many memorable, effortless, joy-filled moments around our table over the years, like that one night we stayed up late on a weeknight braiding challah and eating boozy french toast with a friend who kicked her dude to the curb. The time Cody and Emily stopped over before Corbyn and Caroline’s wedding with the kids and Shaun poured a bowl of tomato soup for Ev’s “Mr. Shark,” which he proceeded to splash all over his clean pajamas and Mr. Shark. And yet, for every uncomplicated and tender occasion we’ve experienced at the table with loved ones, there have been at least a dozen gritty, soul-obliterating instances that preceded it. Like New Years Eve of 2012 when Shaun and I ate buttered toast before The Lumineers show at the Ogden, contemplating if we’d even do 2013 together as a couple, or the night before our wedding that we ate bad pizza together on the floor, holding each other, laughing, crying, wishing we would have just eloped like we’d wanted all along.

Here’s my addendum to the story that was actually published: family dinner is where we do the work. And when I say family I mean our biological families, friend families or otherwise. And when I say table,  I mean the couch or the barstools or the floor or the porch or the car. Wherever we eat, wherever we are forced to stop and reckon with the day or our lives or our relationships with one another in the presence of food: we go to work. We take something that is hard and make it easy, or take something that is easy and royally overcomplicate it. We wrestle, together, with what Anne Lamott calls “the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.” It’s the angst and heat and sticky stuff that comes with the work that builds real, long-lasting commitment and goodness in our lives. We need to get better at celebrating THAT.

Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce
 
Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce
 
Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce
 
Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce
 
Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce
 
I struck my match, she poured out her gasoline.
We burn now. All the time. ― Tarryn Fisher
 

Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce

Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce

Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce (aka Honeymoon Heat) (aka SUPER SPICY)

Adapted from my friends Corbyn and Caroline who discovered a love of carrot based hot sauces while honeymooning in Belize last year. This recipe makes about 6 quarts of hot sauce. Yes! You read that right 6 qts. I felt like there was really no sense in making a small batch when so many friends go through sriracha so quickly. You can easily halve, quarter, or further divide the recipe to make a smaller portion with the same result. 

  • 15 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 cups peeled, chopped carrot
  • 4 medium sweet yellow onions, chopped
  • 30 medium habanero chiles, stemmed
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Juice of 6-8 limes

_____

Roast the garlic in a skillet over medium heat, turning regularly until soft and blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.

In the same pot, combine the carrot, onion and habanero chiles with the vinegar, 3 cups water, salt and sugar. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the carrots are thoroughly tender, about 20 minutes. Blend until smooth. Thin with a lime juice and more water if the sauce seems too thick. Taste and add salt as preferred. Store in glass jars in the fridge.

Happyolks | Carrot Habanero Hot Sauce

  1. Holly

    Your posts somehow magically fill me up exactly where I needed to be filled. Thank you.

    Reply

  2. Laurie

    Your posts fill me…up! Heartfelt, rich, real. Thank you.

    Reply

  3. Leah

    Yes. Life is complicated and it shows its full range of craziness around the dinner table. I enjoyed this honest addendum to you article. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  4. Jess

    This is awesome. You are awesome.

    Reply

  5. Medha

    Your words are so touching and honest! I absolutely love it! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  6. Grandma Driskill

    I’m at Laurie and Phil’s here until tomorrow morning @ 7:00a.m. She just read your blog out loud to me just now and I cried because there is a lot of shit in this old life and we’ve all faced it and still here to laugh cry and tell about it and LUWAMH Grandma

    Reply

  7. Katie

    Beautiful. You never fail to deliver a dose of honesty at just the right moment.

    Reply

  8. Ingrid

    I absolutely love this blog post. It is utmost true. Conversations at the dinner table with loved ones aren’t always as easy as it sometimes seems. But it is important to have those talks either way. Thanks for writing this. I’ll feature this post in my montly inspiring reads on my own blog.

    Love,
    Ingrid

    Reply

  9. stephanie

    there’s beauty in the mess we call life and in the honesty of this post. thank you for peeling back the curtain on complicated family dinners AND showing us the gloriousness that come with sharing food. it’s the contrast that makes the sweet moments so exquisite :)

    Reply

  10. shelley

    There is so much truth in these words, and definitely forces one to stop and think about all the moments we’ve experienced and shared around the table (or kitchen floor, or car, …). Beautiful, as always.

    Reply

  11. tessa

    Beautiful. And so, so true. Thank you for sharing this.

    Reply

  12. Danielle

    This is beautiful, and real, and honest. My most memorable–and painful–memories happened at the tables you beside wonderfully imperfect family. This is the magic. This is what nourishes us. Thank you so much for reminding me.

    Reply

  13. Grace

    YES to everything in this post. The dinner table is absolutely a place of working through life’s shit together, a space for healing, for airing thoughts and debating opinions. Love the last line most. Cheers to celebrating THAT.

    Reply

  14. Luisa

    wonderful. and your grandma’s comment made my heart sing.

    Reply

  15. katie

    beautiful post with incredible sentiments. thanks so much for your words and your perspective.

    Reply

  16. Kristin | Tasty Joy

    You’ve cut through the facade most of us have put up, but have also managed to make the ugly truth beautiful! This is a truly elegant post.

    Reply

  17. joan

    In charge of so little… so very true.
    Love this post.

    Reply

  18. Abby

    Oh, this is so beautiful. The writing, the photos, everything. Love.

    Reply

  19. Adrion

    Oh, how I have missed your writings, such poetry.

    Reply

  20. julia

    Kelsey – thank you for your vivid and touching honesty. Your courage in speaking the truth is refreshing and real. We need more people in this world like you.

    Reply

  21. Mallory

    Such a great post! Love your words.

    Reply

  22. Iren

    Thanks for opening your honest heart, thanks for the words that everybody can conner with. Because this is life. This ist the truth. This is the raw beauty in our life.

    Wishing you the best of all, from far away, from a country where people sing from the mountains 😉
    Iren

    Reply

  23. Iren

    connect with, I meant…

    Reply

  24. Annabel

    Kelsey… your writing is so beautiful it makes my heart ache. If you ever wrote a book, I’d snatch it up in a heartbeat.

    Reply

  25. Jenna

    YES! What Annabel said… PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write a book.

    Reply

  26. Jesse

    So glad you’re writing again. I’ve missed your thoughtful words.

    Reply

  27. Rebecca

    Love this. And love your grandma’s comment too. :)

    Reply

  28. Trisha

    I’ve been struggling lately with comparing the mess that is my life with the “perfect”images displayed on blogs and social media. This post was real and beautiful and exactly what I needed today. Thank you!

    Reply

  29. karen

    omg, soooooooo stoked to make this.

    much love to you!

    Reply

  30. thefolia

    Interesting how you selected this recipe with you text. Sounds like a powerful concoction not for the meak. Happy nesting.

    Reply

  31. Ashley

    Wonderful post! And super excited to make this hot sauce!!

    Reply

  32. julie

    you truly are one of my favorite writers. your honesty is a balm. thank you.

    Reply

  33. ceileigh

    I love that you paired your dinner-table revelations with a recipe for hot sauce. Sometimes reality can really scorch.

    Reply

  34. Jodi

    A-fuking-men, Kelsey! Can I even write that?, I don’t care it’s the only thing I can think of to express my gratitude for this post. Thank you for keeping this blog-agram world down to earth. Life isn’t at all like we are led to believe by looking at others blogs or social media accounts or magazines. It’s a big ugly mess and we need to be reminded that others go through that mess too. Sometimes I think everyone else is living in a magazine cover except me and that i’m the only one with stains on my tablecloth. Your honesty is always a breath of fresh air in this crazy little world, thank you for taking the time to write. Big love – xo

    Reply

  35. Links: Repurposed Ferments, Pancakes, and Winners - Food in Jars

    […] Carrot habanero hot sauce. […]

  36. shelly

    do you think that this would do ok not being refrigerated? I would love to make a big batch and then mail it out to friends and family

    Reply

  37. Tori Borchard

    This looks phenomenal, all I’ve been able to think about after reading it is tacos and squash blossom quesadillas! Do you know how long this recipe lasts in the fridge or if it can be canned (water bath or pressure)? Love it, thank you from a fellow Torero 😉

    Reply

  38. marcia

    this was so real and raw, thank you for not sugar coating the hard stuff. i’ve read so many books talking only about the beautiful bonds that can be created around the dinner table (which i whole-heartedly agree with) but nobody seems to mention the silent dinners because of the giant arguement that happened a bit earlier, or the harsh comments and raised voices that happen over the bowl of soup, or the fist that hits the table a little too hard and rattles the dishes. those are the real hard moments, but your honesty is so rich.

    Reply

  39. Molly E

    love it. and so happy to read your beautiful, honest, insightful words again. missed you. thanks

    Reply

  40. Celeste Wilson

    You’ve officially incorporated all of my favorite ingredients in one recipe!

    Reply

  41. kristie {birch and wild}

    every family gathering i have ever been to has involved food and drama. especially when there are six sisters and one brother at the dinner table. you hit the nail on the head with your writing here.
    love the hot sauce. i have never had a carrot based hot sauce, but it makes so much sense, as the sweetness of the carrots would surely work well with the heat of the peppers.

    Reply

  42. molly

    AMEN.

    (and i love this. so much.)

    Reply

  43. Laura

    Lovely photos! I don’t think I’ve ever seen onions look so beautiful

    Reply

  44. Allie

    I love this post. For years my husband and I would sit in front of the TV when we ate dinner, and I’m working to move us to sitting at the table more, because you’re right, it’s where the important conversations happen. What conversations have we missed out on by letting Hulu do the talking?

    Reply

  45. Mun

    The writing and photos are just beautiful :)

    Reply

  46. sunbeam

    Hey Kelsey, I have been following your blog for a while now. It may sound weird but I somehow wish I knew you for real, because you seem to be my kind of person: Strong, with a touch of softness and always always sincere, never afraid to show who you are. I just wanted to thank you for your beautiful words. They so often express how I feel or what I am experiencing. It is so beautiful to see some openness in this world full of superficiality. Thank you from the deepest of my heart.

    Reply

  47. Ileana

    I love coming here. Great post, as usual, with a fantastic-looking recipe.

    Reply

  48. narf7

    I rarely comment on food blog posts. This one struck a chord because it took you from “Lofty and anonymous and sterile food blogger” to down here with the rest of us in the space of a few honestly typed words. I guess that’s the beauty of social media. We CAN connect with someone that we don’t know if what they are saying resonates with us. Cheers for “connecting” and for the excellent recipe to boot. Not sure which is more valuable to be honest :)

    Reply

  49. veronika

    i feel lucky to have read it “in the raw”. thank you.
    thanks for bringing the heat, too.

    Reply

  50. kaitlin

    Beautiful writing and sentiments, not to mention the photos. I love the overhead shot of them on the dishtowel.

    Reply

  51. TheEightHours

    Gorgeous photographs and equally amazing accompanying writing.
    We are going to try this one soon

    https://theeighthours.wordpress.com/

    Reply

  52. Lauren

    New to these parts & feelin’ like I stumbled upon a super-gem. Where have you been all my (internet) life?! Your writing is wondrous & I recognize so much in yr discussion of the family table –Merci, from Switza-land <3

    Reply

  53. Jenna

    “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

    Thank you for speaking truth to power.

    Reply

  54. Erin

    Beautiful post and recipe! I’d love to try canning it… any thoughts on whether it’s acidic enough for hot water canning?

    Reply

  55. Katelyn

    I have consistently admired the honest and pure words and feelings that are compiled into your blog posts. For someone who is younger and on different (yet shockingly similar) paths than yourself, I look to you in the same light as my older sister. As a junior in college who ultimately has her ambitions ahead of her –at least a lot more than many souls I know– I keep your ‘For Sarah, for all of us’ post bookmarked and reference it in almost any instance of uncertainty, heartache and helplessness. For that I thank you with upmost sincerity for making a fellow human being regain confidence in their existence. Posts like these remind me that no matter how hard you try to believe in perfection, it is outweighed entirely from the bruises and scabs and tears and smiles that make up life. Your blog is so real. So honest. And so so beautiful. Just like the adventures humankind embarks on in their many times around the sun. And I thank you, for being my support and cheering section from a not-so-distant Colorado, for sharing your life’s triumphs and hinderances with all of us, and reminding us that there is nothing more wonderful than being human.

    Reply

  56. Kara

    Beautiful, Kelsey!

    Reply

  57. Renee Kemps

    Wauw. I’m touched by your words. I think you are so right; I totally agree.
    And your photos are just absolutely gorgeous. Can’t get enough of them.

    Reply

  58. Leo Sigh

    Absolutely beautiful photos and definitely something I’m going to try. The colors alone make it a must make :)

    Reply

  59. Sophia

    Photos which are included inside the topic are gorgeous definitely! pictures like these inspires people to make something like it own. your words are keen on me too.

    Reply

  60. Rakhee@boxofspice

    Beautiful post. I just love the honesty.

    Reply

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