Give Up the Ghost

Ghost Pepper 1

Our current issue is Stewardship, which sent AJ and I to Ginger Hill on Hawai‘i Island to visit with peace activist, artist, and farmer Mayumi Oda, her family, and the crew of organic farmers that run the place.

“It burns a little going in, but I want more.”

“It’s not I’m going to die hot, not bad.”

“I’ve definitely had hotter.”

“My mouth is numb.”

Ghost Pepper

While we were there, we planted around a stubby ghost pepper shrub, and I was allowed to take a handful of the tiny thermonuclear devices home with me. After drying, I made salsa out of them, and brought them to the office to share.

Never heard of a ghost pepper? In 2007, the ghost pepper was named the hottest pepper in the world, based on the Scoville score, an old school exponential diagram of pain. Since then, some cray planters made something even more ridiculous. But I’m guessing that at the top of the Scoville, everything feels just as brutal.

Nobody died today. Maybe because I used peppers that were still green, and therefor not yet peaking. I’m the equivalent of a North Korean army scientist: intended to make a thermonuclear device to scare the shit out of my neighbors, but my whack skills ended up in a dirty bomb that dudded into the ocean.



6 large tomatoes

1 head of garlic

1 large onion, Maui if you can get it

1 bell pepper

half cup of diced pineapple or mango (optional)

To dry a pepper: put in a plastic bag with a tablespoon of salt and shake. Then put the peppers on aluminum foil in the sun. Bring indoors when the sun goes down.

You should know how to get the skin off a tomato by now. Here’s how: cut a cross at the bottom, and immerse in boiling water for about a minute. Then place in a colander under cold running water. The skin should come off fairly easily after that. If you have a garbage disposal in the sink, feel free to grab the peeled tomatoes and grip them until the seeds burst out violently.

Don’t worry about cutting everything all pretty, it’s all going in the blender anyways. Heat a cast iron pan with olive oil and saute the vegetables for two minutes (sans ghost peppers), then transfer to the broiler for 5 minutes. Allow contents of cast iron pan to cool for ten minutes (enough time to check phone and finish a beer) and insert into a blender. This may take more than one application, depending on the size of your blender.


2 ghost peppers, dried.

half a stalk of cilantro

2 tablespoons tomato sauce (optional)

a tablespoon of mayo (optional, but it does wonders for Zippy’s chili)

a shot of beer

two shots of vinegar

a shake of salt

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