World class food product created by Carson City mad scientist
October 26, 2006
I recently got involved in a project with our ex-neighbor, Chuck Van Hise, which I will remember for a long, long time.
Chuck and Barbara used to live next door. Then several years ago, they bought another home further west and retained their former home as a rental.
We have continued to be good friends, who get together for dinner and cards on a frequent basis at each other’s home.
While they were our next-door neighbors, Elaine and I got to share many tasty fruit and vegetable items from Chuck’s garden (his personal pride and joy).
After moving away, Chuck has continued to plant his garden each year at that rental, so Elaine and I can enjoy the results of his green thumb. How’s that for being “a good neighbor!”
Last week, when I drove into my driveway, I saw Chuck digging in the garden, next door.
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Being curious, I wandered over and asked what he was doing.
He told me Barbara was back East visiting relatives and he was digging up some Horseradish roots, so he could make homemade Horseradish.
Having never done anything like that, I innocently became interested, offered to lend a hand and he instantly accepted.
We dug up all kinds of weird-looking Horseradish roots and then drove over to his house to process them.
At Chuck’s house, I got busy washing and scrubbing the dirt off the roots, while he began to get ready to process them.
He got out a blender, a gallon jug of white vinegar, a carton of sour cream, and a salt container.
I finished cleaning the roots and cut them into small pieces for the blender.
My first inkling of trouble should have been when I accidentally dropped a piece of the Horseradish on the kitchen floor.
“Blue,” their large family dog (being the ever-vigilant opportunist that he is, and who is constantly underfoot when there is food around), instantly wolfed down that piece.
Within seconds, he let out a small whimper and bolted for his water dish. He drank all of the water, crept back, laid down on his belly, continued to whimper and I could swear I saw tears in his eyes.
I asked Chuck what was wrong with Blue and he replied, “Oh nothing, he just wants some attention.”
I finished cutting the Horseradish into small pieces, and then Chuck (now known as the Mad Scientist), began to churn together a mixture of Horseradish, vinegar, sour cream and salt in that blender.
I asked Chuck, “How do you know how much of everything to put in that blender?”
He smugly replied, “I do it by eye and experience.”
I continued, “So, how do you know how to make that mixture milder or hotter?”
He said again, “I do it by eye and experience.”
Note: That should have been my first clue to bolt out the door and return home, safe and sound and unharmed.
I also noticed that the odor of Horseradish was gradually getting stronger and stronger in the kitchen.
Chuck finally decided that the first batch was done to his satisfaction, turned off the blender, stuck a spoon into the mixture, got a small amount of the Horseradish and asked if I wanted to taste it to see if it was hot enough.
Like a complete dummy, I said, “Sure.”
I put the spoon in my mouth and swallowed a tiny amount of the Horseradish.
Instantly: The room seemed to go dark. I broke out in a sweat. My lips and tongue went completely numb. The hairs in my nostrils tingled. My nose started running. Tears flowed out of my eyes. My stomach felt like I had swallowed a blow torch. I couldn’t breathe!
I staggered back, almost fell over the whimpering Blue, wheezed, and hoarsely croaked, “Holy Moly! I’m dying!”
I frantically grabbed my Manhattan, and gulped it down to try to put out the fire in my mouth and stomach.
Chuck said, “Come on, Q, stop fooling around. It can’t be that hot.”
He stuck a spoon into that unholy mixture (it was bubbling like a witch’s brew!), got a big blob of that God-Awful stuff, put all of it in his mouth and swallowed it.
It was awesome: I watched a grown man cry monster-sized tears, frantically gasp for air, clutch his stomach, try to talk with no sound coming out of him, stagger back over a whimpering Blue and take huge gulps from his beer mug.
When we could both talk again, I tearfully whispered to Chuck, “Geez, that stuff will peel the paint off of my truck. My God, what did you create?”
He hoarsely replied, “Wow! That is some kind of world-class Horseradish!”
So, if you’re a Horseradish lover, give the Mad Scientist a call for his recipe.
But, before you do, you might want to update your life insurance.
I personally guarantee that our Horseradish will keep you toasty warm when you are out ice fishing this winter.
• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon that he can’t tell you how many batches we made of that Horseradish.
If he grins and says, “They made three large batches,” he might have been peeking in the kitchen window at the two of us.
• Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal.