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Recipe: Grandma’s Chili Sauce

The Dynamics of Family

My family is small. I have three cousins, three aunts, and three siblings. When I was born I was fortunate enough to have three full sets of Great Grandparents living. Yet the rhythm of time separated us. The distance across the country, drugs, personal choice, death, and divorce.

Through High School, I was close to my paternal grandma. With her, I shared a passion for writing, drawing, and wordplay. She taught me to darn socks, even though I told her we could buy a pack for a buck or two. Weekend mornings, my dad and I would walk through her green front door and I’d announce, “I heard you were making us breakfast, Grandma!”

It was news to her ears, but she always made me waffles or french toast. The morning faded into the afternoon and I’d find my way to her fruit room and bring up a pint of her chili sauce. Oh, man did I love this stuff.

June 16, 1987, changed my life. A car accident sent my grandma to write forever with the greatest authors of all time.

Now they are gone. Forever. It was seldom, though a few times I found myself back at her home. Her fruit room still a beautiful display of colorful canned fruits, vegetables and a few jars of chili sauce. One by one we opened those jars and relived the memories of my grandmother as her chili sauce tantalized our taste buds.

A couple of years ago I asked my dad if he had Grandma’s Chili Sauce recipe. He did not, but would ask his sister.

This resulted in a recipe she was making–but NOT my grandma’s.

Then my cousin came back into my life. I asked her. She did not have it either.

Last week, I was talking to my mom and mentioned I missed my grandma’s chili sauce. She told me she had once made it when she was married to my dad and they lived in Sacramento. I should mention here that my parents have been divorced for 29 years and remind you that it is my dad’s mother who made the chili sauce.

Next thing I know, I have a pen and paper and am writing down the coveted recipe!

Who would have guessed that it would not be my grandmother’s children, nor her grandchildren that preserved her legacy in a recipe that brings back such fond moments? Instead it would be a daughter-in-law, faded into no relation due to divorce.

I share with you here, my grandma’s delicious chili sauce recipe–I love it with chips!

Grandma Jana’s Chili Sauce

8 cups (about 12) tomatoes
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp all-spice
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup mild vinegar

Cook tomatoes for one hour.
Add green pepper and onion and cook for another 30 minutes.
Stir in sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, all-spice, nutmeg and vinegar.
Bring mixture to a full boil for 10-minutes and stir until thick.

Makes 3 pints.

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