XXX Hot Horseradish

Katie Kueber’s annual horseradish party, held on her beautiful farm just a mile down the road, is one of my favorite Two Inlets traditions. We come together to peel, scrape, chop and grind horseradish, to distribute the joyful, painful work among us. We come to make multiple passes down the impressive slide of hot potlucked appetizers. We come to drink wine and beer. We come together for a good group cry.

When the horseradish is in the chopper and the processors are grinding, the fumes make the water sprocket out of our eyes. We cry so hard we have to laugh, the fumes filling our craniums with the brutal side of fall spice, sweeping out any summer scudge, giving our heads a thorough cleansing before winter.

IMG_3710 IMG_3714

Every year we say the fumes are more painful than the last, but this year it was really true. Maybe it was the dry August, maybe it was bad luck–maybe it was good luck–but there was no doubt: standing any length of time in the horseradish-shredding garden hut was tolerable to only to the strongest among us. (That would be you, Vern, Marie, and Mary.)

IMG_8591 IMG_8619 IMG_8602

This, what happens when you’re the grinder . . . is what we call “horseradish face!” (Flashback to last year’s party for this pic, when our wild-and-crazy Czech friend came to the horseradish party. I’m not kidding: his dad was in the film industry and he and his brother at ages 8 and 10 were so insane and hyper that the were the inspiration for Martin/Ackroyd’s famous Wild-and-Crazy-Guys routine. He’s older now, and I can testify: still lovably wild and crazy! And a major horseradish-lover, hooked to it in a birthright/DNA kind of way.)

But Marie, Katie’s mom, (far left) was the major-domo of the horseradish hut this year, the most hardcore of shredders, powering through the strongest root to date. Heartland Table fans may remember her as the one on the Hot Horseradish episode who said “you have to wear your buffet pants to Amy’s house–something with an elastic waist!” for which I love her greatly.

IMG_1971

Marie remembers her family in Two Inlets throwing a party to grind all the horseradish in the fall, and specifically the year that her uncle decided to hook up the grinder to a small engine, so that the fumes could fly away on the breeze. Wise man. Outside is truly best.

IMG_1970

The Horseradish Party is BYOJ (bring your own jar) and after I gave up scooping–like an idiot I wore mascara and it was just streaming down my face–my friend Cheryl took up the honors and potted us out to the end, scraping the bowl.

I feel my mom’s horseradish sauce in my future: basically equal parts spicy creamed fresh horseradish and sour cream, seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon. My additions to that are pinches of sugar and cayenne, which just amplify horseradish’s sweet heat.

(For recipes that make the most of fresh horseradish root, check out my Beef Stew with Red Wine, Mushrooms, and Horseradish Cream; Roasted Shrimp with Homemade Cocktail Sauce, and Bloody Mary with Pickle Juice and Horseradish Ice Cubes.)