Archive for the ‘peppers’ Category

In preparation Thursday, September 16th, 2010

The dawn before fall is nearly as good as spring when it comes to gardening, for me at least. The first plants are drying in their beds. The grass has all but stopped growing. The temperature inside need only be regulated by the opening and closing of windows. We are passed the heavy maintenance stage of weeding and watering and wrangling. All the pumpkin vines have shriveled leaving our back steps a staggering of orange orbs with only a couple looking as though they are waiting for Cinderella’s fairy godmother out in the garden bed.

Soya Envy soybeans, dried on plant, collected for next year's crop

Next steps:

  • Continue gathering seeds – so far I have edamame, marigold, pepper, tomato and butternut squash
  • Covering the tomato plants for a few more nights before picking all and leaving them to ripen on newspaper in front of a sunny window
  • Pick the last peppers
  • Make a list of what did well and didn’t for next year
  • Canning tomatoes
  • Cooking and freezing the pumpkin for pies and baby food
  • Help my parents pick apples and pears, with bonus bagfuls to take home
  • Plant fall bulbs – my pick this year was crocus
  • Plant garlic – just waiting for the order to arrive
Chile Relleno Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Poblano and jalapeno peppers

This Labor Day was spent laboring over making chile relleno. My mom’s hot Big Jim peppers were ripe for the picking and the Hub and I had found 4 lovely poblanos on one of our little pepper plants. So, what better to end a long weekend with than a 3.5 hour experimental cooking session. My mother had made them several times with mixed results and I was inspired this year by a post from a favorite blogger who happened to get into more and more cooking posts recently – much to my liking.

It was fun charring the peppers – too much rain meant we couldn’t use the grill so luckily my mom had a gas stove. The poblanos really danced but the Big Jim’s seemed to rest well during the toasting.

The blister-skinned peppers were then placed in a paper bag. Thus making their own steam which helps with the skinning of the pepper. While skinning I held the still hot peppers under cold water which also seemed to help the skins release.

My mother either sliced the tops off or made a slit in each pepper to dig the seeds out as best as possible. With 14 peppers to do I finished the job not as thoroughly which made for a few surprising hot mouthfuls when we’d finally sat down to eat. I told burning-eared sis that she’d won the Prize Pepper. After seeding we commenced to stuffing with triangles of Jack cheese and some cooked burger I’d seasoned with a little salt and cumin.

The very-basic batter is what attracted me. The peppers are simply dusted with white flour . . .

and then dipped in stiff-beaten egg whites folded back in with their whipped yolks. I used a pinch of salt during the white beating to get them to thicken a bit more substantially.

After dipping the lightly floured peppers they were placed in 1/4 inch of oil in a medium skillet. The oil is ready when you can put the end of a wooden spoon in it and small bubbles rise up. This test is less splattery than the water flick test I used to use.

The batter was puffy and light and adhered well to the floured peppers. They turned a lovely golden color. Each one took about 5-7 minutes to make sure the cheese had melted inside, turning every couple minutes. We served them up with homemade refried beans that my mother had started earlier and a tomato sauce I started earlier, from our garden tomatoes we cooked down, strained and blended. It was seasoned with chili powder, cumin, dried onion, fresh garlic, paprika, salt and a pinch of sugar.

It was well worth the mess and process. Definitely not something I’d want to whip up every weekend but a great once-a-year treat when the garden is bursting with that bounty of peppers.

Pick a peck of peppers Sunday, March 14th, 2010

My last post seemed utterly disjointed so I’ve decided to do a bit of a rewrite.

All peppers were planted inside 8-10 weeks before May 15 (our average last frost date). They get approximately 12 hrs. a day under grow lights. They were planted with little to no soil coverage as per the instructions on the packet.  I water them mostly from our water cooler when the top of the soil is nearly dry. Plants seem to do better with rain water, which I should start collecting, but I’m hoping the next best thing instead of tap is purified water.  I labeled each packet with the date they arrived from Bakers Creek and also with the date of the initial planting so I have a reference to look back on.

The peppers that were planted were:

  • Red Mini sweet bell peppers; planted 3-06-2010
  • Odessa Market sweet peppers (Odessa is a town by the black sea in Ukraine – apparently an area my distant relatives came from); planted 3-06-2010
  • Craig’s Grande Jalapeno; planted 3-11-2010
  • Chinese five color – “screaming hot little peppers in a rainbow of colors, can also be grown inside in containers; planted 3-11-2010
  • Lemon Yellow Habanero; planted 3-11-2010
A peppering of children Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Even though I was unable to attend the canceled children’s gardening workshop, I still wrote a story that will appear in March 14‘s edition of the American News.

One can only fit so much into print so from time to time I’ll elaborate on some kid-friendly projects you can do with children, whether you are a caregiver or parent. I’ve briefly written of terrariums.  Today I planted seeds with the kiddos, and tried my hardest not to add too many, “no,no,no”, “stop,stop,stop”s to the mix. So far the peppers are planted – they were suggested to start by seed 8-10 weeks before the last frost. That puts the time frame to get them in dirt and under light anywhere from last week to next. A lovely friend gave me a couple grow lights for my birthday so I’ve rigged those with some poster brackets and hemp twine so I can raise and lower them on some free-standing wooden shelves. I’ll have to post pictures when I can find one of two cameras. I’ve set a timer on my cell phone for 12 hrs. – from 8am to 8pm to have the lights on. On 3 sides I’ve taped some foil as a lot of light is lost if not reflected back on the seeds. It’s not pretty, but it should be pretty functional. The lights should stay approximately 2 inches above the pots and then the plants once started. This will hopefully ensure that they don’t get too lanky and stay squatter and more robust. I’m also using cut down TP and paper towel rolls as pots. Some already have a little fuzz growing on the outside so I’ll have to watch that.

I just spoke with my mother and she asked if I had bottom heat on my seeds. “Um, nope.” I guess peppers enjoy warmth, so, if I don’t see germination early next week I might have to try adding some warmth. She has a special mat that warms seeds from the bottom so I might borrow that. I’m a little apprehensive to use a heat pad but I suppose that could also be an option. Or, moving the set up closer to a heat vent. We’ll see, I have plenty of seeds leftover so I could try something else completely next week as well. Especially if the TP rolls disintegrate before my seeds even germinate.

I’m using the Miracle Grow seed-starting mix and it isn’t as fine as I’d like plus there seems to be a lot of sticks. I’ll have to look into making my own mix once I run out. I also mix is with water in a bowl right away so it’s a little easier to handle and after the seeds are planting a little watering at the end won’t upheave the seeds.