Tag Archives: pepper

What’s shakin’?

Yes, it’s been a while since I last posted. I had this little thing called a dissertation to write…

USGS map

USGS map showing where the earthquake was felt

If you live in the USA you may have heard about (or felt) the earthquakes we’ve been having. All the the strongest ones (4.7, 5.6, 4.7) occurred at night while I was sitting in my big leather easy chair. I was actually on the phone with Aric when the 5.6 record-breaker shaker hit. Last night we had a 4.7 while most of the state was under a tornado watch! Oh, and yeah, OKC was dealing with flash flooding at the same time. Crazy. We’ve had a record-breaking year in many categories. We lived in California for 8 years and I never felt any as strong as the 5.6 and certainly not as many clustered so close together.

The map above is the product of a form on the USGS earthquake web site page Did You Feel It?After I feel a quake I immediately go this page and fill out the form (yeah, I know I’m a geek). Kate said she felt the 5.6 in St. Louis. I saw on the interweb that people in Wisconsin also felt it.

Chinese cabbageMike has put the plastic on the hoop houses and things are looking fine. We have lettuce, arugula, red mustard, and cilantro to eat, and I can start harvesting Asian greens at any time. And in the hoop houses we still have peppers (lordy, do we have peppers!). Speaking of which, I found a great way to roast and peel chilis. I just put them in my convection toaster oven on high for about 8 to 10 minutes, then wrap them in a dishtowel for a minute or two. They are easier to peel and less messy than roasting them on the grill or over a gas flame, and you don’t have to worry about the smoke alarm going off. You don’t get the fire-roasted flavor of course, but it sure is convenient.Pepper abundance Other veggies started under the hoops: spinach, chard, leeks, kale, lettuce, and carrots. All but the chard and spinach are from saved seed! Still left to harvest are peppers and sweet potatoes.

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Mother nature’s revenge

Temperature map

A few days after I wrote the previous post in June, we had a “weather event”, something not uncommon in Oklahoma. It was not a tornado, but a microburst. Don’t be deceived by the name, there was nothing “micro” about it! Most microbursts only last a minute or two, but this one went on for 20 minutes. Winds were up to 80 mph, and there was hail. So our garden and yard looked like it had all gone through a paper shredder. It took Mike three days to clean up the debris. Some plants came through better than others – things that had skinny or fern-like leaves. Many vegetables snapped in two, or had all their leaves stripped. And then, the next day, the temperature started rising, so that now we’ve had a month of 100+ degree weather.

In fact, July in Oklahoma was the warmest month on record – ever- for a state in the USA:

“Oklahoma and Texas had their warmest months ever on record, with average temperatures of 88.9 degrees F and 87.1 degrees F, respectively. Oklahoma’s statewide average temperature was the warmest monthly statewide average temperature on record for any state during any month.” (NOAA)

And, oh yeah… we’re also having a drought here. Most things are still alive, thanks to Mike’s foresight in installing a new drip irrigation system. So tomatoes, cucumbers, and pole beans are still alive, but not setting fruit (too hot for blooms to set). But here are the real survivors, the plants that are not only still alive, but are producing something edible:

  1. amaranthHyacinth Bean
  2. okra
  3. peppers
  4. sweet potatoes
  5. sunflowers
  6. basil, oregano, garlic chives
  7. arugula
  8. hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) which I grow for an ornamental, but I’m rethinking that…
The funny thing is that the plants that seem to be doing the best are those that came up voluntarily in the patio chat (arugula, basil) or cracks in the concrete (amaranth).

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Chili time

The eggplant, peppers, and most of the tomatoes are out of the garden now. We left three tomato plants in and will pull them out when the first frost is forecasted. We have good luck in getting the green tomatoes to ripen this way: pull up the whole plant, or large stems with tomatoes still on them and hang them upside down in your basement. Check every day for ripe or almost ripe tomatoes. Last year we had fresh tomatoes into January by doing this.

poblano and serrano peppersAs you can see from the photo, we haven’t processed all of our peppers yet. I’ve made green chili stew, chili rellenos, and added chilis to about everything I can think of. Yesterday I dried some poblanos in the dehyrdator (center of photo). I ground some  of the dried red ones in my spice mill (an old coffee grinder). That’s what I’ll do to all the small green poblanos too. The larger ones I’ll char, rinse, ziplock, and put in the freezer.

The serranos I sliced and made a “refrigerator pickle.” I heated the leftover pickle juice (vinegar) and added a teaspoon of salt, mustard seeds, garlic, and a bay leaf, then tossed the sliced peppers in, heated to a boil, and put back into the jar and then into the refrigerator.

Tomorrow I’ll pick the last crop of green beans, pull the plants out, and transplant leeks, bok choi and mustard greens. The leeks and bok choi came from seed I saved this summer. The mustard is a different variety from what I usually plant – a red leafed type. Spinach and lettuce are now coming up, so I need to put some chicken wire over the beds to keep the neighborhood cats from scratching everything up.

Hey, check out Aric’s new brew blog. Some mothers want their sons to become doctors or lawyers. How boring!

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Late September

Autumn is definitely my favorite season – and what’s not to love? The weather has cooled so you can stand to be outside, you suddenly feel like cooking again, the tomatoes have recovered, and you’ve got eggplant, peppers, basil

Juliet tomato

Juliet tomato

and all your herbs goin’ crazy. We’re still getting the yellow tomatoes, but I’m more impressed by the Juliet tomato, which is a Roma type that bears clusters of 1.5  inch oval fruit. The one plant I bought has been very productive. I’ll definitely look for it next year at the farmer’s market.

Because I let some of my spring greens reseed I even have bok choi, mustard, and arugula to harvest now. Currently this is what I’m picking: tomatoes, bell, poblano, and serrano peppers, eggplant, tomatillo, okra, mustard, arugula, basil, bok choi, Italian parsley, four types of basil, and green beans (yes, I’m so excited about finally getting some green beans!).  The Delicata has little squashes on it, so I’m hopeful that they will mature before we get a frost.

I’ve also started my winter garden and here is what is up so far: beets, carrots, rutabaga, cilantro, fennel, arugula, bok choi, radish, turnip, and volunteer garlic. I have so much volunteer and second-year garlic that I’ve decided I don’t need to plant any more. I am watering all the seedlings with chicken manure tea so that they’ll get a strong start.

Because pepper plants are loaded down, I’ve been looking for some new things

One of the many poblanos that are ready to pick

One of the many poblanos that are ready to pick

to do with poblanos. They’re always good just sliced up, fried on the griddle, and used in sandwiches, eggs, and on salads.

Oh BTW, Matt has a new blog about living and teaching in Vladivostok.

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Millions of peaches

Millions of peaches peaches for me
Millions of peaches peaches for free
If I had my little way I’d eat peaches everyday

We’ve been getting some excellent peaches from the tree by the back door for about a month. This is surprising because we had two late frosts, but very few dropped off during the spring and summer, and the

Peaches: fresh, canned, chutney, and rice pudding

Peaches: fresh, canned, chutney, and in rice pudding

normal gangs of squirrels have not been snacking on them. The limbs have been really loaded down, so we’ve been eating, drying, canning, and cooking all sorts of peachy treats. Eating peaches from this tree makes me especially happy, as the tree is a “volunteer” that sprouted in our compost about 8 years ago.

The peach slices dried in the dehydrator are an excellent snack and great for backpacking. Mike doesn’t even peel them, he just slices them and dips them in water with a little lemon juice added. I’ve made peach salsa and chutney to freeze in ziplock bags (see below). Yesterday we had peach crisp for breakfast and today I made peach rice pudding (see below) for dessert.

You’ll notice that my recipe for peach salsa and peach chutney are very similar. I love making chutney because you can just combine all sorts of vegetables and fruits. Too many green tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and peaches? Make chutney! (My grandmother would have called this chow-chow.) And the peach salsa can be eaten as-is or combined with a regular tomato salsa fresca. I think it is especially good on shrimp or fish tacos, or served with pork fajitas.

  • Peach salsa
    • 6 cups diced peaches (unpeeled)
    • 2 – 4 minced serrano peppers (seeds included)
    • 1 minced whole lime (or two key limes)
    • 4 minced garlic cloves
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seed
    • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 tsp chipotle sauce (optional)

Cook in a saucepan over low flame for about 30 minutes.

  • Peach chutney
    • 4 cups diced peaches (unpeeled)
    • 2 – 4 minced serrano peppers (seeds included)
    • 4 minced garlic cloves
    • 1 minced whole lime (or two key limes)
    • any other fruits or vegetables you need to use up (today I added a peeled cucumber, mango, an onion, and a few raisins and craisins)
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seed
    • 2 tsp whole cardamon pods
    • 1 tsp whole mustard seed
    • 1/2 tsp whole cloves or 1/4 tsp ground
    • 1 tsp ground tumeric
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tsp diced or grated fresh ginger
    • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
    • 1/2 cup sugar

Cook in a saucepan over low flame for about 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and the cardamon pods (if you’re picky…).

  • Peach rice pudding
    • 1 1/2 cups rice (I used Thai jasmine, but any short-grained rice would be good)
    • 2 1/2 cups water
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 1/2 cup half-n-half (light cream)
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup sugar (white, brown, or a mix)
    • 2 cups diced peaches, with skin
    • 4 cardamon pods
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Cook in a covered pod over a very low flame. Depending upon the type of rice you use you may need to add more milk.

The delicata squash and contender bush beans are up and growing. I think we’ll get a good picking off the beans, but I doubt the squash will make before the first frost. You never know though, we’ve had some strange weather lately (rainy and unseasonably mild for August), and maybe it won’t freeze until December. I planted some beets, pak choi, and lettuce yesterday. I just broadcast the seeds, and will then transplant the seedlings after they come up. I need to plant more beets, carrots, cilantro, and spinach as soon as possible, before the weather reverts to its normal hot and dry mode.

Hopi Red amaranth

My Hopi red dye amaranth is starting to form seeds heads, and the cosmos is starting to bloom. I’ve been harvesting the sunflower seed heads for the chickens and toss them a dozen every day. These aren’t the large sunflower seeds that you buy for snacking, these are naturalized sunflowers that reseed all over. The birds and the chickens love them. (Speaking of birds, we’ve got a nest of Mississippi kites in the neighborhood and you can hear their calls/screams throughout the day. It’s kinda weird to see them here in the middle of town. What next – hawks and turkey vultures? )

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