Peppers, Peppers, Peppers
One of the unique things about living out here on the prairie is that you are able to have a campfire, open fire ring, or grill using natural firewood. They're great to sit around for either planned or unplanned social gatherings with friends. And let me tell you, there's nothing better than sitting around a campfire with an ice-cold longneck bottle of beer in one hand and a grilled green chile or banana pepper for an appetizer in the other.
To fix the peppers, simply throw some 6 to 8-inch green chiles or banana peppers on the grill and roast them until the skin starts to crack and they are cooked through. Then each person grabs a pepper and peels the skin off. Next, the most important thing to remember is to lean way over because when you take that first bite off the end of your pepper, the juice flows out in a big gush.
Ahhhh! The Good Life.
I planted all my pepper varieties in the garden earlier this summer. And of course, I started them each from seed in the house around early March. This year I planted bell peppers, jalapeños, green chilies, banana peppers and Peter peppers, along with two unknown red hot varieties that a neighbor gave me.
Pepper plants are one of the prettiest plants in the garden with their dark, shiny, leaves. We always place a couple of plants in pots and sit them out on the back deck with the other flower pots.
I like slices of bell peppers on my veggie relish tray, in stir fries, on kabobs and especially stuffed. You can stuff and bake bell peppers with practically anything. I prefer to use my mother's beef and pork meatloaf recipe.
The wonderful thing about bell peppers is that they are so easy to freeze when you have a surplus at the end of the garden season. You don't have to blanch, cook or steam them. Simply cut the top off, cut out the core and seeds and drop them in a plastic freezer bag.
During the winter months, you can take a package out of the freezer, stuff them with a meatloaf recipe and then put them in a slow cooker all day for an easily prepared dinner meal.
One additional thing that I do with bell peppers is make a red pepper relish. It's a tasty dish that looks great, and it's something that you won't find in the grocery store.
Red Pepper Relish Recipe
- Red bell peppers, seeded and chopped -- 1 dozen
- Medium onions, chopped -- 3 1/2
- Vinegar -- 1 1/2 cups
- Sugar -- 1 1/2 cups
- Mustard seed -- 1 tablespoon
- Canning or kosher salt -- 1 tablespoon
- Put the peppers and onions into a food processor and pulse until they are well chopped but still chunky.
- Place the pepper-onion mixture and remaining ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and boil slowly for about 30 minutes.
- Carefully pour the hot relish into 2 or 3 sterilized pint jars. Cover with sterilized lids and bands and process in a hot water bath for 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, the relish can be stored refrigerated in clean jars for one or two months.
(Okay, okay. Sometimes I add a couple drops of red food coloring into the mixture for extra color.)
I add jalapeños to so many dishes, but always to my eggs in the morning. They are an important ingredient in my Killer Salsa recipe. And they are also used in making poppers, stuffed with cream cheese, breaded and deep fried.
Here is a recipe I use that came from Cousin Andy for pickled jalapeños. This recipe is great for those people that have trouble with the heat from a fresh jalapeño pepper. Take these on a picnic or to a potluck and you'll be surprised at all the compliments you receive.
Like me, the recipe is simple.
Sweet Pickled Jalapeños Recipe
- Jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds removed -- about 2 quarts
- White vinegar -- 4 cups
- Sugar -- 4 cups
- Whole cloves -- 5 or 6
- Fill 5 or 6 sterilized pint jars with the jalapeños.
- Add the vinegar, sugar and cloves to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Pour the liquid over the jalapeños, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace.
- Place sterilized lids and bands on the jars and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Green Chiles and Banana Peppers
Of course, I like these peppers grilled as hors d'oeuvre, but I also process a lot of the green chiles with the boiling water bath method so I can use them throughout the year. Green chiles are also great for making chiles rellenos. I pickle a lot of the banana peppers.
One of the fun things about shopping in a garden seed catalog is that you can always find something unique to purchase and try out in your garden. And this year I found Peter peppers which happen to be a hot, red chile pepper. Now I will not get into a discussion about the shape of these peppers, but I will tell you that the shape starts with a “P.”