Saturday, May 29, 2010


Let’s get growing green peppers. They’re easy, and this works for all kinds of peppers.

I can hear you now, saying, "Oh, it's no use; my family won't eat that." Well, try it once. They may surprise you.

My husband and I have kids from all over the world, and it was amazing to me that kids from anywhere, of any color, race or nationality, will eat anything that looks, smells and tastes good--given half a chance. Tell them they only have to eat four bites. That even a good dog will eat four bites. They're children of God--so much better than the best 'mere dog.' Tell them so and ask them to eat the four bites, but they don't have to eat the pepper if they don't want to.

You may be happily surprised!

Back to the peppers:

Of course you know that most peppers (except Bell Peppers) are at least a little bit ‘warm,’ and that some are downright hot, while others still are absolutely incindiary! If you are a 'pepper novice', I'd stick to Bell peppers, Anaheim chiles, and occasionally a bit of jalapeno. Stay away from the habaneros, the cayennes, the Tabascos and especially the pequenos! Leave them to the pros and the reckless!

Some people like to wear gloves while handling them. I don’t bother with that, but then, I’m careful not to touch my eyes, nose, mouth or anyplace else I don’t want to have burning for a week.

If you bite into a pepper that is hot, hot, hot, DON’T drink water! Take a teaspoon of sugar and hold it in your mouth. For some reason, sugar seems to neutralize the “heat” of the warmest peppers. Water just spreads the volatile oil over more of your sensitive tissues. Go the ‘sugar’ route.

Buy nice thick-walled peppers for your salad. I mostly use Bell Peppers in any and all colors—they even come in purple now, you know!—but sometimes I ‘break out’ and use Anaheim Chilis, small sweet yellow peppers and often a bit of jalapeno. Makes a nice change.

I wash everything with plain old dishwashing soap and a good sponge with a ‘scrubby’ side, and then rinse well and dry. Then I simply cut off the tops and bottoms of the peppers--saving every bit of the edible part--open the pepper out and remove the core, the seeds and the membranes, and cut the pepper into dice or strips. Then I put the pepper flesh into a zipper-lock plastic bag, mark it, and pop it into the freezer. This way I have peppers of all kinds, all year long, to use any way I like—except for fresh salads. Thawed pepper is a miserably un-crisp beast and your salad will hate it. So will you. But for everything else, it’s great! By the way, I usually mark the bag before I fill it, which makes writing a lot easier.

About the seeds:
Separate the seed from the membranes and put the membranes and stem in your compost container; then put the pepper seeds on a paper towel overnight. Feel them the next morning and see how dry they are. If you want to plant them, don’t dry them overnight, treat them to a ‘garden bed.’ This ‘garden bed’ is just like the one you made for your tomatoes (See Post # 3, “Will Work For Food”) and cover them with a bit of soil; water well and set on that same sunny windowsill or its clone.

Be sure you keep the different kinds of peppers separate. Grow them in different containers if possible, so you’re not reaching for a cayenne when you thought you were growing Anaheim Chilis.

If you are drying them, wait until they are completely dry, and then put them into a marked ‘paper pocket*’ and store in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to use them.

When your Pepper Babies get their first four leaves (remember, cotyledons don’t count!) you can transplant them to Styrofoam cups with coffee-filter-covered-holes punched in the bottoms of the sides and covered with pieces of. Unlike tomatoes, peppers like to be transplanted at the same level as they were growing before. Don’t tuck them in up to the chin like tomatoes. Just a nice step across to a bigger ‘apartment’ and peppers are happy. Keep them in a sunny window and water when the ground is dry 1/2” from the top.

When the plants get too big for your Styrofoam cup, and the weather has evenly up for spring, plant them out in your garden. They’re pretty plants, so they can hide out in your flower garden if you don’t actually have a veggie garden yet. Sometimes bell peppers bear heavily, and need some support. You can tie them loosely to a sturdy stick with ‘rings’ cut from old pantyhose that have ‘runs’ in them (waste not, want not) or use soft pieces of 1” wide cloth. Try not to make the ties too unsightly; gardens are supposed to be pretty, and we want yours to be the prettiest.

Gardens love veggies. In monasteries all over the world, the monks used to pair veggies and flowers that would help each other. There are several veggies that can enhance your flowers, and several flowers that go nicely into salads or cooking pots. I”ll be doing a post on that in the near future.

Meanwhile, I have a nice recipe for your dinner tonight, and tell the kids (especially the boys) that they need not eat the peppers themselves; that’s only for the men (If you have picky girls, say ‘It’s only for the grownups.’) Whatever vegetable matter they don’t eat can go into the compost bin, to create new earth for your next few years’ gardens, so don’t sweat the small stuff if they decide to stay little boys and girls for a while yet. They grow up too soon anyway.


1 # ground beef
4 green peppers
1 med onion
1 cup cooked rice
2 cloves garlic
3-4 cups pasta sauce
OR canned, diced tomatoes with juice
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp oregano
olive oil
1-2 eggs
½--1 c grated Monterey Jack cheese
Salt and ground black pepper to taste


Peel and dice onion; reserve. Smash, peel and mince garlic; reserve. Boil some water in a 4-quart pot, and while this is heating up, wash your peppers. Take off the tops and save everything, as above. Using a tablespoon, clean the seeds and membranes out of the pepper and rinse it well.

Now from here you can do it one of two ways:

Either chop the pepper tops, onion and garlic, and sweat them along with your thyme, oregano, and black pepper, then proceed as follows, or you can:

Mix the meat, rice, eggs, onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper all together in a big bowl. Mix it with your hands to make sure it’s all evenly distributed. Reserve. Put your seeds in paper towels and the rest of the membranes and stuff into your compost container.

Now, boil the peppers for 3 minutes (and the tops, if you’re using method two—only watch them--they boil for a much shorter time than the whole-pepper cases—maybe for one minute). Remove them carefully—you don’t want to break them or punch a hole in one of them—and drop them in cold water. I use a large slotted kitchen spoon, or sometimes a large sieve with a handle.

Stuff them generously with the meat mixture and put them in a greased 9” X 9” pan or casserole. Pour the pasta sauce on top and around them and sprinkle the pepper tops with the cheese. If you have a canning funnel with a wide (2 ½”—3” mouth) you can center the opening over each pepper in turn and drop your cheese through, plop onto your pepper, no bits of cheese all over the pan. Cover with greased foil. If you use the spray-on stuff, your cheese won’t stick to the foil, it’ll pretty much stick to the pepper top, where you want it. Why feed the foil when the kids like it so well? An additional sprinkle of Parmesan doesn’t hurt, either, if it’s right there in the cabinet and your family likes it.

Leave a small air hole in the foil so the peppers can breathe.

Bake at 350*F for about 45 minutes to an hour, (or microwave [NOT in a metal pan!] for about 7-10 minutes, lightly covered by greased waxed paper. That should keep most of the cheese off the paper and onto the stuffed peppers.). Serve with a great mixed salad, corn-on-the-cob and iced tea. Nice!

See you next time, when we’ll be talking about

Remember to let me know what you think of the recipes, and of the blog in general! If there is something you’ve always wanted to cook, or grow, or both, let me know and I’ll do a post on it. This is a gift from me to you, and I’d like it to be something you really want. Thanks, and God love you!

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