I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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More notes on Tabasco at home and making home-made fermented pepper sauce

Last year, I made two batches of home-made fermented chili sauce, a version of Tabasco, working from Rob Walsh’s recipe in his book The Hot Sauce Cookbook.  This is one of those recipes that is a real project– it requires lengthy drying and fermenting, and there’s no point in making just a bit of it.  So the learning process from repeat efforts moves a little slowly.  For that reason, I posted on the blog then, and am going to post an update from this year’s batch.  The post has been one of the most regularly-viewed posts I’ve done in the last year or so.

I learned something from the two batches, the first made with Thai bird chilies and the second with what was being sold at the local farmers market as tabasco peppers.  The thai chilies were wonderful. It made a hot sauce, but it was balanced with a lot of great flavor from both the chillies themselves and the fermenting process.  I was moderately unhappy with the tabasco peppers.  I think they had far more water in them than the Thai chillies, and, in the process of fermenting, a funky slightly off taste was too pronounced.  I decided in the future, whatever peppers I used, I was going to sun-dry longer than the recipe suggested.

The Thai bird chillies I used last year are rated as 50-100,000 Scoville units on the scale used for rating pepper and other hotness.  They are a pretty hot pepper and hotter than most used in Mexican cooking or in many hot sauces.  The cayennes I am using this time are rated at 30-50,000– plenty hot but not as ferocious as the Thai ones.

I also discovered that, once you make the mash into usable hot sauce, it is very stable in the refrigerator.  The stability of Tabasco is in part because it has so much vinegar in it.  Walsh notes that the mash his recipe produces keeps a couple of months.  I discovered that if you go ahead and use the amount of vinegar his recipe calls for, on the low side, it will keep in the refrigerator indefinitely.  I still have some left from last year in the fridge (a little) and it’s still great.  No sign of spoilage.

Another aspect of the effort last year that was difficult was that Walsh called for deseeding the peppers after fermenting. This process with the Thai chillies was ardouus, and I was determined to find a better way this time.

This year, I bought cayenne chillies from Yoknabottom Farms.  It turned out well.  I’ve only tasted it a bit and not used it in cooking and will report back in comments as I used it.

Here’s some notes on what I did and how it compared to before.

One serious word of caution:  With this recipe, you are doing a lot of handling of a lot of peppers.  Even if you are accustomed to handling peppers without gloves, you are going to want gloves for the cutting and seeding.  Also, even dried, these peppers still have some juice to them.  More than once they squirted on my face, and I’m not sure how to deal with that.  A shower just got pepper in my eye, I am pretty sure from an eyelash.

Fermented Hot Sauce

1.  Wash and pat dry about 2 pounds of peppers.  Put them on a large baking tray and dry them outdoors for 5 days.  That’s slightly better than twice what I did last year, and I think was a good move.

2. Cut off the stems of the peppers.  Cut the peppers in half.  Remove the seeds from the peppers.  I do that by scraping them with the side of a knife, and then removing more as I go along.  It’s a big project.

3. Put the peppers in a large steel bowl and mash hard and thoroughly. Add 1/4 cup fine cosher salt and keep mashing.  Leave out on the counter overnight.

4.  Put in a earthenware crock and stir in a cup of spring water.  Cover the crock with a dinner plate (I dispensed with Walsh’s method of covering the fermenting peppers with a half cabbage.  It just made a mess).  Let sit for a couple of weeks.  Check occasionally, mix together.

5. Put the contents of the crock in a blender or food processor.  Get all the liquid you can.  Add two tbs of high quality vinegar (I use Bragg organic apple cider vinegar.  It complements and does not compete with the flavors in the sauce).  Blend very thoroughly.  If you have 2 1/5 cups of paste, add 2 cups of vinegar and blend some more. Put in clean jars and refrigerate.

This is not a headline: More bull-s–t emanates from Chris McDaniel’s legal team

This is one of those dog bites man / man bites dog things.  The headline would be “McDanial campaign makes a rational announcement.”  Nope.

Last week, the trial judge announced that McDaniel’s election challenge was dismissed. Any lawyer involved could have advised McDaniel where he was in minutes.  Supporters commented on this blog that there was no reason he should not appeal.

And, honestly, from any perspective it seemed a simple decision.  All elements were easily evident before anyone paying attention.  On Friday, we were told we would hear on Tuesday.  On Tuesday, we were told… they needed more time.  Unless it’s about keeping more money flowing, I don’t see what this is about, but McD and his campaign had this to say to the dead-enders this evening on Facebook:

Friends, we appreciate your support.

We are as committed as ever to fighting for your voices and values.

Today after 4:00 PM, Judge McGehee’s order was signed and entered into the Jones County Circuit Clerk’s office. It would not have been proper to issue a statement of intent about a potential appeal without the order having been entered. Now that the order has been entered, we expect a decision tomorrow or Monday.

We appreciate your continued support.

Sure, under the rules, they had 30 days to appeal that only began when the judge entered a final order.  But they knew every single thing they needed to know about this decision on Friday.  Every single thing  Any refusal to announce a final decision is either trying to keep the money flowing, or just screwing with all of us in Mississippi.

Marshall Ramsey says McDaniel is looking for another sign.

Quote for the Day (more about McDaniel lawyering. A big part of a lawyer’s job is to assess possible outcomes…)

“He wasn’t really ready to even accept (dismissal) was a possibility,” McDaniel attorney Mitch Tyner said Friday after a special circuit court dismissed his lawsuit challenging his primary runoff loss.

From Geoff Pender’s Clarion Ledger story about the dismissal of the election challenge.

I’d not have snarked about this if the word used was “probability.”  But possibility?

Meanwhile, this seems to have gummed up McDaniel’s decision making processes.  You’d think the yes/no decision about an appeal would be a quick one whatever decision is made.  But McDaniel wants more time– he’s delayed the decision until tomorrow.

Time has not been Chris McDaniel’s friend.


Today’s Facebook bulletins from McDaniel suggest that he’s not aware it’s over

He posted this on Facebook today:

“Rise up, warriors, take your stand at one another’s sides, our feet set wide and rooted like oaks in the ground.”

– Tyrtaeus of Sparta

More about Tryrtaeus here.  He did not present ideals that involved knowing when to fold ‘em.  One of his (well, his if he was a real person) big themes also seems a little off here:  Support of the state (Spartan) authorities in their struggles.

This, also posted on Facebook, also suggests the fight, such as it is, will go on:

“This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

– Winston Churchill

Whoever is doing the Facebook feed also posted this:

“…Let us use this court decision to motivate us, not to sadden us. Today we must begin an important transition, to return our party to its conservative principles. It was the Party of Reagan. It can be again. 

This party belongs to us and it’s time to reclaim it for true conservatives.

Let our battle cry be: WE ARE ALL McDANIEL REPUBLICANS NOW!”


I don’t see how he can post this stuff and not appeal.  Other thoughts?

Joyce Freeland’s reaction:  His staff is saying, “Drink the Kool-aid” (well, Flavor-Aid, as the Kool-Aid people would insistently remind you).

Funny. Most of McDaniel real objections were technicalities about absentee votes, but he’s disappointed he lost on a technicality

Alternate title:  Chris McDaniel acknowledges he does not always understand.  I hated picking between these.

Here is the statement from Chris McDaniel about the dismissal of his case, from his Facebook page:

I am very disappointed to hear Judge McGehee granted Senator Cochran’s Motion to Dismiss on a technical filing issue, instead of hearing the case on its merits. 

Nevertheless, I trust that God has a plan. We may not always understand, but all will be revealed in time. Although we do not yet have our justice, my prayer is that God’s will be done. I likewise pray for all involved (including those who wronged us). 

In the coming days, I will keep you informed on our options. 

Standing and fighting for you and our principles has been the honor of my life. I am grateful for your support and proud to call you my friends.


Ole Miss football half-time observation.

I’m guessing that no team in football history ever had the same number of false start penalties they had in scored points.  7 and 7! Hotty Toddy.

Update: I know this is hyperbole with numbers like 3 and 3 possible.  But 7 and 7 at the half was pretty bizarre.

A hearing on the Cochran motion to dismiss, and the Cochran reply brief

Following #mssen on Twitter produces a lot of live-tweeting from the hearing on motions in the Senate election contest.  The judge gets the quote of the day; with McDaniel’s lawyer arguing that the secretary of state had opined that there was no deadline for filing a state election contest, the Court asked:

McGehee: point me to that authority that says the court should do what Mr. Hosemann thinks, his opinion

The judge stated that he was going to wait to rule on the subpoenas because it would be unfair to do so without hearing from the circuit clerks (someone on Twitter noted the unaccountable absence of “Circuit Clerks for McDaniel” bumper stickers).  He also said that he will try to get an opinion deciding the motion to dismiss done by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, YallPolitics has the Cochran reply brief on their motion to dismiss.  It basically is designed to lock down the arguments already made, and really doesn’t leave much that McDaniel said unanswered.

McDaniel’s subpoenas as a Potemkin Village: More evidence that the McDaniel Election Challenge is Just Pretend

A Potemkin Village is a pretend peasant village built for the entertainment of royalty.  It is pretty clear to me that McDaniel’s election challenge is about… entertaining isn’t the right word.  Pleasing.  Pleasing his constituancy.  He’s going to say he tried everything and got beat on unfair injustice and technicalities.  Send money and prepare to continue the good fight.

The subpoenas of the circuit clerks are all that and more.

Rule 45 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure governs supboenas.  In the last day or so, the McDaniel campaign has faxed subpoenas to 46 circuit clerks demanding they bring documents to Jones County on two or three days notice, as described in my prior post.  I’m concluding that the subpoenas were faxed because that’s how the Circuit Clerk of Lafayette County got her subpoena.  Here’s what Rule 45 says about subpoenas:

(b) Place of Examination. A resident of the State of Mississippi may be required to attend a deposition, production or inspection only in the county wherein he resides or is employed or transacts his business in person, or at such other convenient place as is fixed by an order of the court.

Well, I think we can all assume that, for three subpoenas reported on the internet (Hinds, Lafayette, and Oktibeha), the clerk under subpoana does not live in Jones County, where they were required to deliver the documents.  There has been no order reported stating an “other convenient place,” and, frankly, I’d be shocked if the court entered such an order.  Presumably, an effort to obtain such an order would be met by Cochran’s lawyers with arguments noted in my prior post.

(c) (1) A subpoena may be served by a sheriff, or by his deputy, or by any other person who is not a party and is not less than 18 years of age, and his return endorsed thereon shall be prima facie proof of service, or the person served may acknowledge service in writing on the subpoena. Service of the subpoena shall be executed upon the witness personally.

To be blunt, personal service means you hand it to the person.  And someone has to swear that was done.  Sending in a fax:  Not personal service.

 [T]he party causing the subpoena to issue shall tender to a non-party witness at the time of service the fee for one day’s attendance plus mileage allowed by law.

I’m not sure how you fax a check for the witness fee.  I’ve always handed it over with the subpoena (well, had my process server hand it over much of the time, and sometimes handed it myself).  Maybe I’m not creative enough to see other ways of doing it.

By this point, I think it could be clear that someone receiving a document subpoena to go to a county some miles distant, with no personal service and no witness fee, can pretty much say, “Oh, that’s not a subpoena, it’s one of those spam faxes, like the ones offering us a Bahamas cruise on a discount.  We don’t have to do anything about that,” and toss it in the circular file.

(2) Proof of service shall be made by filing with the clerk of the court from which the subpoena was issued a statement, certified by the person who made the service, setting forth the date and manner of service, the county in which it was served, the names of the persons served, and the name, address and telephone number of the person making the service.


(A) A person commanded to produce and permit inspection and copying of designated books, papers, documents or tangible things, or to permit inspection of premises need not appear in person at the place of production or inspection unless commanded by the subpoena to appear for deposition, hearing or trial. Unless for good cause shown the court shortens the time, a subpoena for production or inspection shall allow not less than ten days for the person upon whom it is served to comply with the subpoena.

I think we would have all heard reports of the throw-down that would have occurred if there was an attempt by McDaniel to shorten the ten day period.  To two days.

(f) Sanctions. On motion of a party or of the person upon whom a subpoena for the production of books, papers, documents, or tangible things is served and upon a showing that the subpoena power is being exercised in bad faith or in such manner as unreasonably to annoy, embarrass, or oppress the party or the person upon whom the subpoena is served, the court in which the action is pending shall order that the subpoena be quashed and may enter such further orders as justice may require to curb abuses of the powers granted under this rule. To this end, the court may impose an appropriate sanction.

I’m thinking sanctions here.

Here’s another statute for the McDaniel legal team

Miss. Code Ann. § 21-15-911 requires that after votes are counted, the voting materials are to be resealed and locked and turned over to the circuit clerk:

…the box shall forthwith [be] resealed and delivered to the circuit clerk, who shall safely keep and secure the same against any tampering therewith.  At any time within twelve (12) days after the [vote counting and tabulating] … any candidate or his representative…. shall have the right of full examination of said box and its contents upon three days notice… which examination shall be conducted in the precense of the circuit clerk or his deputy who shall be charged with the duty to see that none of the contents of the box are removed from the presence of the clerk or in any way tampered with.  Upon completion of said examination the box shall be sealed with all its contents as theretofore.  And if any contest or complaint before the court shall arise over said box, it shall be kept intact and sealed until the court hearing…

In election contests where I have been involved, I have understood that the opportunity for campaigns to look at the boxes is during the period provided for that by statute.  I have seen copying machines moved to the courtroom for that process.

That is why I was surprised when I heard that the folks McDaniel had in Lafayette County didn’t make any copies when examining the boxes here.

I am even more surprised to read in the Clarion Ledger that the McDaniel campaign has subpoened materials locked in the ballot boxes from forty-six counties.  The subpoenas were issued on Monday, August 24th, faxed (at least to Lafayette County) on August 25th, and demand the documents be delivered in Jones County on August 29th.   That seems a pretty unreasonable response time for this sort of demand.

Further, I have no doubt that the statute mandatorily requires that after the 12 day examination period, those boxes be sealed until brought to court for the actual hearing (on September 16th), and would read it to also require that they be in the custody of the circuit clerk until then.  According to the Clarion Ledger, the Circuit Clerk of Hinds County is actually contemplating breaking the seals:

“There is no way we can go through 118 precinct boxes in two days to check to see if they contain absentee ballots,” Dunn said.

The subpoena seeks a lot more than absentee ballots.  The Circuit Clerk of Lafayette County has taken the more judicious step of seeking the advice of the county’s attorney.

You can view the Lafayette County subpoena at the Clarion Ledger link.