Archive for the ‘jalapenos’ Tag

07-25-2016 Journal – Summer Gardening!   Leave a comment

We’re in the heat of the summer and the garden is flourishing.  Even though the amount of rain has been a little less than expected the nightly watering is paying off.  We don’t water too much each day, just enough to keep the plants from wilting.  It seems to be paying off big-time.

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The sunflowers are already 4 feet tall.

As you can see the garden looks healthy and green.  Even the pepper plants I was so worried about a few weeks ago have recovered and are producing what appears to be a record number of peppers.  These hot days and night are exactly what they needed.

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These jalapenos will help make some delicious salsa.

My better-half has already made a number of loaves of zucchini bread and I’m anticipating a lot more in our future.  The zucchini plants as of this morning have an additional fifteen zucchini’s ready for use in breads and stir-fry’s.

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This big fat one will be on the dinner table tonight.

If the rest of the summer goes as planned we’ll be celebrating one of the best gardens in recent years.  In another week or so I’ll get really serious about drying and storing many of the herbs we’ve grown.  We should easily be able to have enough on-hand for the entire winter and then some.

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It’s time for me to get to work in the garden for an hour or so.  Even with fabric laid down to eliminate weeds they still manage to grow in every little crack and crevice.  It’s annoying but they must be removed as quickly as possible because they steal a lot of the nutrients needed by the vegetables and herbs.

WE JUST CAN’T ALLOW THAT

 

07-23-2016 Bread & Butter Pickle Day!   Leave a comment

Today begins my summer chore of making the first batch of Hot Bread & Butter Pickles.  Over the course of each Summer I normally can at least four batches of pickles. Each batch is usually 14-15 pints and I make both Dill and B&B versions.  All of my pickles are Hot which means slices of jalapeno and red pepper in each jar as well as a shot of ground habanero for good luck. Today I’ll walk you through the process but without giving up my secret pickling mix recipe.

The first thing this morning I prepared the jars and canning supplies by sanitizing them with boiling water.

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Once the jars, lids, and rims are boiled I then wash the cucumbers thoroughly.

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They are then sliced along with the red pepper and jalapenos. All are set aside until I’m ready to fill the jars.

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I  return to the stove to prepare the B&B syrup. It consists of my secret spice mix, 7 cups of sugar, and 7 cups of distilled white vinegar.

 

Packing the jars is my least favorite part of the process but still very important.  The jars are carefully packed, the syrup added, and the lids and rims tightened down. The jars then take a boiling hot water bath for a full fifteen minutes.

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Getting the first batch of the season completed is always a good feeling. Here’s the finished product . . . 15 pints of very hot and sweet pickles. They’ll be ready for eating after they sit for a few months to absorb all of the flavors.

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MORE TO FOLLOW

07-21-2016 Garden Issues!   Leave a comment

The garden is once again fast becoming my top priority. As usual at this time of the season the herbs are out of control. I spent some time this week pruning the oregano and catnip for later drying.  I did a general cleanup of the dehydrator in anticipation of a heavy work load this summer.

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It holds a great deal of material as you can see.  This week I filled it with diced jalapeños, cayenne’s, and two pounds of habaneros.  After six hours the peppers were ready for grinding. Unfortunately my reliable old grinder failed to work and I was forced to make a quick trip to Walmart to purchase another.  The peppers were ground into a fine powder and stored for future uses.

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Hot, Hotter, and Hottest

Then it was back to trimming and photographing some of the newly blooming day lilies.  These pictures are of the early bloomers with more colors and variants expected within a few weeks. I love these colors.

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It was a garden and yard work day all around.  I spent some time paying attention to my compost area. I needed to wet down the piles and add a compost accelerator. I’ll be needing as much of it as I can get to add to the garden this Fall.

The better-half and I also began the process of redesigning the garden for next Spring. We’ve decided to discontinue growing vegetables in one of the large frames and to devote it entirely to growing culinary herbs.  It’ll be something of challenge placing the correct herbs near others that are compatible. We’ll also be placing herbs in the vegetable frames to keep out assorted pests and varmints that the herbs do naturally. Hopefully we’ll be able to agree on the final design of the garden before Spring arrives and the purchasing and planting our selection of herbs begins.

IT SHOULD BE GREAT FUN

 

 

 

 

06-03-2016 Journal – More Garden Time!   Leave a comment

Now that the weather has taken a warmer turn I can really start enjoying my Spring and Summer. I love digging in the dirt but even that gets a little old after a few weeks. We been having warm nights and even warmer days and the plants in the garden are really taking off.  I’m even amazed at how fast the plants seem to grow here in Maine at this time of the year. I think the plants know they can’t waste any time in this short Maine growing season.

Here are a few photos I took over the last couple of days at plants that were only inches tall ten days ago. Granted I planted seedlings and not just seeds but even with that being said the amount of growth has been amazing.

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‘These chives began blooming in May.’

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Look at this oregano plant. Ten days ago it was an inch high and now it’s growing out of control.  I’ll have more oregano than I’ll know what to do with when I’m ready to make my first batch of pasta sauce.

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I’m also seeing some really healthy growth with the pepper plants. I planted more hot peppers this year than ever before and from the initial start it looks like it’s going to be a great summer for them. Currently I have seven types of hot peppers planted. There are Jalapeños, Ghost’s, Cayenne’s, Serrano’s, Kung Pow’s, Anaheim’s, and even a few Thai chilies. I certainly look forward to using a mixture of those peppers in the preparation of my chili and a few batches of salsa later in the summer. To be sure they’ll be plenty of heat to go around. 

This rhubarb plant broke through the ground in mid-May and it’s now over five feet high and going strong.  More rhubarb jam and pies are in my immediate future.

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The last one I can show you may be the biggest hit of the year for the neighborhood.  This catnip plant barely survived the winter but in three weeks it’s grown to be almost two and half feet tall.  The neighborhood cats haven’t discovered it yet but OMG when they do the fun will really begin.

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If all of these plants keep growing at this rate it will a gardening year to remember.  Lots of sunshine, water, and TLC make all of the difference.  Now back to the deck for a delicious hot pepper margarita, chips, and salsa. 

LIFE IS GOOD

05-28-2016 Journal – Salsa, Salsa, Salsa!   Leave a comment

Now that the garden has been planted I have extra time on my hands for other things. I noticed a few days ago that we seem to be running out of our homemade salsa.  We both love salsa so much and eat on average a quart every two weeks or so. My better-half insists on putting it on and in everything she eats so running out is not an option.  I’ve had a newly developed recipe that I’ve been waiting to make and this is the week to do it.  This recipe is called ‘Six Pepper Bean Salsa’. 

It even sounds hot and trust me it really is.  I’ve gathered together jalapeños, habaneros, Serrano’s, Thai chili, black pepper, and finally Ghost peppers. Add black beans and chili beans and a host of other ingredients and there you have it.  I even managed to harvest some early chives from my garden as well. During the summer months we always try to have at least one item from the garden in every meal.  So let’s get started.

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‘Slice & Dice with rubber gloves.’

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I usually wear very think rubber gloves when messing with hot peppers. I tried the normal latex gloves but they weren’t getting the job done.  Thick rubber from then on assures me of no more burning body parts. Then I gather the necessary jars, lids, and pots and boil them thoroughly.

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Everything must be boiled to keep things as sanitary as possible. That’ll keep contaminated jars from becoming a problem later on.  Next I begin the cooking process and the adding of a little heat.

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‘Dried habanero and chili peppers.’

Finally the salsa is ready for canning. I know canning seems complicated but it really isn’t.  The process is simple and easily managed. The more often you do it the easier it becomes.

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And here’s the finished product.  Thirteen quarts of really delicious salsa that is also hot enough to get anyone’s attention.

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EASY PEASY

05-20-2016 Journal – Hot Stuff!   Leave a comment

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Before I get started today I need to make a declaration. I LOVE HOT PEPPERS!  It’s my opinion that almost everything is improved if you can make it hotter.  I make a lot of salsa’s and chili’s and have upwards of six really excellent recipes using an assortment of hot peppers.  I grow some of my own when possible and I’ll buy from almost any source when certain peppers aren’t available locally. 

I received some bad news a few days ago concerning an ex-loved one who passed away.  I was feeling a little blue after receiving the news. My better-half suggested we go out for dinner and where better than a Mexican restaurant to look for therapy.  We’ve been visiting this restaurant for years and we knew the food would be excellent. Not only could I people watch for a while but I could also eat all of the  smoking hot food I could handle.  A proper atmosphere to rid myself of the blues.

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I’ve told you all of these boring facts about myself so you’ll understand the rest of this story.  As we waited for our food to arrive a new bartender appeared and began chatting with everyone.  He and I got into a friendly discussion about our love of hot food  when he surprised me.  He pulled a large jar from under the bar that was filled with tequila. Floating in the the tequila was an assortment of hot peppers, habanero’s, Serrano’s, and jalapeño’s.  The tequila had been soaking up all of that lovely flavor and hotness for a week. He dared me to try his latest creation, the “Hot Pepper Margarita”.  I couldn’t refuse and look like a coward so I took a long pull on the straw after salting my tongue and lips.

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I’m sure you’ve heard the term “taking ones breath away”. That’s exactly what that margarita did.  It was a little sweet and hot enough to make me gasp. It was freaking delicious.  Little did I know that I was first customer dumb enough to try it.  I was so dumb in fact I tried it again and again.  My head was sweating, my mouth was burning, and I was in heaven.

Now you know why I have this mother-of-all hangovers this morning.  I stumbled into the kitchen last night around 3:00am badly in need of a glass or two of cold water.  The water was so cooling and delicious but tasted strangely familiar . . . just like jalapeños. I’m now on my third cup of coffee as I sit here writing this and it too tastes just like jalapeños.

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Don’t get me wrong . . . I’m not complaining in the least.  I can’t wait to get back on my feet and do it all over again . . . in a week or two.

I’m going out later  today to make a few purchases of my own.  Two bottles of tequila, habanero peppers, Serrano peppers, and a few jalapeño peppers. I’ll be making my own hot pepper infusion to serve a perfect  Hot Pepper Margarita to any of our summer visitors.

PASS THE ADVIL PLEASE.

07-27-2015 Journal–Dill Pickle Day!   Leave a comment

Every summer about this time I donate one day of my time to the making of dill pickles.  I’ve loved dill pickles for most of my life and if I do say so myself, I make one helluva pickle.  Mine are a bit different from the store-bought variety since I pickle the cucumbers in a dill brine accompanied by a selection of sliced habanero’s and jalapeno’s.  The results have the best dill flavor I can supply with enough heat to make your head sweat. 

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My better-half isn’t a big fan of the dill flavor so I’m relegated to making one small batch each summer that will usually last me most of the winter.  I have a couple of other people in the area who are also big fans of dill and I make enough to keep them supplied as well.

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The process begins with a 48 hour bath for the cucumbers in lime water.  This will help keep the pickle slices crisp after the canning process has been completed.  While the cukes are soaking I slice up a sufficient amount of habaneros and jalapenos to add to the mix.  I was able to pick up a package of fresh dill yesterday and I’ll place a small sprig in the top of each jar. It’s mostly for decoration purposes but in addition to that I also add dried dill to the brine.

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After the cucumber  slicing, dicing, and jar  packing, the final product is covered with dill brine and capped. Then into a boiling water bath to help seal the jars and to precook the pickles.  Then it’s on to the cooling rack for a few hours and here’s the finished product.

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Thirteen pints of some truly hot and tasty dill pickles.  Good for any occasion or you can just sit and eat a jar while watching a movie.  If possible and if we have a good supply of cucumbers I may make a second batch of Kosher Dill pickles later this fall. It’s a totally different flavor of dill and I love it as much as these.

* * *  NEWS FLASH * * *

Today is a big day for us.  Today is our Independence Day from cable TV.  All of the companies equipment has been removed and will be shipped back in a few days.  The account was closed after the typical games these companies insist on playing.  They offered me a 50% reduction in my monthly rate if I would reconsider and stay with them.  I asked only one question. If they could afford to do that so easily now it must mean they’ve been overcharging me for years.  We agreed to disagree and that was that.  Good-bye, Good Luck, and get the hell out Dish Network.

* * * HOORAY FOR US * * *

07-17-2015 Journal–Flowers, Flowers & More!   Leave a comment

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I just finished doing a lot of yard work and I’m exhausted.  With all of the rain we’ve been having the grass is growing faster than I can keep up. The compost pile is already four feet high and It’s only mid-July. It’ll be like Mt. Everest come October.

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I thought I’d post a few new photo’s of our flowers around the garden and house. The colors are fantastic and as some flowers fade many others are just coming into bloom. The colors are nice to look at but the smells are incredible.

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As you can see we have a few rather large zucchini’s already  to pick and within the week I’ll be collecting a basket full of jalapeños and hot banana peppers.  They should make some tasty and screaming hot jalapeño poppers in a few weeks.

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My friendly skunk has been blocked from the garden by the new fence but continues hanging around.  I’ve been finding holes in the yard where he’s been digging for grubs.  It may be time for one more night of surveillance with my new rifle.  This guy has outlived his usefulness and I may have to lay some serious violence on him.  He’s slowly morphing from a friendly night visitor to a varmint.  Unfortunately for him varmints have a very short life span here.

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This will be a shorter post than normal because the better-half and I have been invited to dinner this evening. Good food, good drink, and two grand kids to chase around for a while.  That has the makings of a great night.

Since I’m not allowed to leave the house until I’m presentable and smell good, I need to get busy. No matter what there are always rules to be followed or ignored. Such is life.

07-11-2015 Journal – Garden Update!   Leave a comment

With warm weather finally arriving the garden is almost out of control.  Many of the plants that were previously damaged by my marauding skunk have recovered. Almost every pepper plant of which there are many are now blooming and others already have jalapeños that are ready to be harvested.

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The newly installed fence has completely stopped all of our little woodland friends from nosing around at night but there are indications that one of them has been testing the fence, trying to find a way in.  I could see tracks in the dew on the grass where the skunk has completely circled the garden checking every inch of the fence.  If he keeps this nonsense up I may be forced to remove him permanently.  I was hoping I could avoid bloodshed but maybe not.

The better-half’s flower gardens are in a constant state of color and are looking gorgeous.  She has such a large variety of flowers that there always seems to be something blooming somewhere on the property.

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After a two year wait I’ve begun to harvest my rhubarb.  During the better-half’s jam making frenzy last week it was used for the first time to make strawberry/rhubarb jam.  I had some of the finished product for breakfast yesterday and it was well worth waiting for.  It’s amazing that such an ugly plant can taste so damn good.

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Last evening we had guests for dinner which I prepared on the grill. The better-half’s dessert was a rhubarb/strawberry/blackberry/blueberry crisp.  It was even more delicious than it sounds. A nice big piece of that crisp with a huge dollop of Kool-Whip.  It just doesn’t get much better than that.

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At the rate the garden is growing we’ll soon be very busy with pickle making and canning.  Without a doubt this will be a year where everything exceeds all of our expectations.

06-01-2015 Journal– Normalcy Returns!   Leave a comment

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‘Rear Yard Water Feature’

Today I’m celebrating my release from two days of captivity in "computer hell".  All of my network connected items are finally working once again and all is right in my world.

I spent four hours yesterday digging into the software on my main computer in an attempt to find that one little thing that would fix all of my networking problems.  It was a mentally exhausting exercise that really didn’t make me much smarter just more frustrated. 

As I peeled away the layers of this damn computer onion I discovered a lot of settings that are automatically set by the Windows program when working with local networks. After four hours of searching I discovered a small screen that I’d never seen before. I clicked on a small box on that screen which initiated some sort of BS setting, and miracle of miracles, everything began working properly.  I read the small descriptive blurb  near that switch but understood none of it …… but it worked.

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‘It’s amazing what a little rain can do.’

Today is a day of much needed rain and I’m relaxing with the cat in front of the television.  As you can see by the photo’s the rain is quickly turning our property into a jungle. I just finished watching for the umpteenth time, season one of Sherlock. It’s a modernized version of Sherlock Holmes produced by the BBC. It’s my all time favorite recreation of Holmes and believe me I’ve read and seen everything ever made or written about the great detective.  It’s just a great way to spend a lazy and rainy day.

Earlier I prepared an appetizer for our dinner tonight which I hope will be spectacular.  I hollowed out eight fairly large jalapeños, stuffed them with a mixture of cream cheese and spices, and wrapped them in bacon.  I’ll toss them on the grill and crisp them up to start off our meal of roasted chicken. Add a small salad and we’ll should have an excellent meal.   I may even throw in a few tortilla chips and a jar of my home made black bean/corn salsa. That’s hot enough to spice up any meal and to keep your mouth burning for quite a while.

I’m also spending some time planning our two day vacation for next week. It may involve a day of shopping and walking through the Old Town section of Portsmouth, NH, and also visits  to a few local wineries and breweries. It should be a relaxing couple of days if the weather doesn’t screw it up.