Archive for the ‘peppers’ Tag

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

09-15-2015 Journal – Hot Damn !!!   Leave a comment

Do you have a favorite food?  I think everyone does but unless you ask you may never know what it is.  For most of my life bacon was my favorite but as with all things, changes can occur.  I still love bacon and will eat it until I die regardless of the possible consequences to my health.

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‘My favorite pie.’

I now have a new love in my life that captured my attention about ten years ago.  For me it was like finding the Holy Grail.  I’ve been obsessed with it ever since and there’s no end in sight.  What is it you ask . . . Habanero Peppers.  They’ve changed my life as well as my taste buds, FOREVER!!

Many people love hot food laced with Cayenne, Serrano, or even Ghost peppers but heat isn’t everything.  I require as much heat  as possible but I also want flavor as well.  I’ve tried almost every hot pepper I could find over the years and even came up with a few exotic mixtures in my lame attempt to find excellent flavor with head-sweating heat.

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‘Red-Savina’

After a few years I began hearing about a type of habanero pepper called red-savina.  I ordered some from a place in New Mexico and my life was changed forever.  Since my discovery I’ve made many batches of chili and salsa using red-savina’s as the heat.  The flavor is incredible and the heat is a killer. The perfect pepper for me.  It’s difficult to find them in regular markets but my solution was to periodically purchase a red-savina mash on–line.  It lasts a reasonable length of time in the frig and I can get a half pint for approximately $10.00.  That will last me a good six months.

Recently I found myself running out of red-savina’s and was forced to temporarily fallback to using the standard habanero peppers.  Some were grown in my garden and the remainder were purchased from a local food store.  Then it was time to get to work. I put on my extra thick latex gloves and began the process.

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‘My babies.’

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‘Sliced and Diced’

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‘And Dehydrated’

If you’re going to try this make sure you wear the appropriate mask to keep the dust from your nose and sinuses as you’re grinding it.  You’ve been warned, it really is painful.  The end result is a  small jar of habanero dust good to use with almost any meal you’d like to prepare.

I’m working on a new recipe which uses habanero soaked bacon strips laid across a stack of tasty pancakes covered with maple syrup.  Sinfully delicious and hot enough to make you cry.

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.

05-26-2015 Journal – One of Those Days!   Leave a comment

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I’m suffering from a total lack of interest today. It rained through the night just a little and I’m not really in the mood to be playing in the garden mud this morning. I rolled out of bed a little later than usual and had an unappetizing breakfast of healthy cereal which tasted a lot like cardboard. I knew it was going to be one of those day when I left a kitchen cabinet door open and then proceeded to walk into it a few minutes later putting a small notch in my head.  That’s what I mean when I say "One of those days."

The next thing was the damn alarm system.  It’s nice to have technology in my life but when I have to put up with a smart ass alarm system telling me how stupid I am, it’s kind of embarrassing. After screwing around for ten minutes I finally set the alarm, got in the car, and left the garage.  Five seconds after the garage door closed I realized I’d forgotten my camera and telephone.  Back to the house, turn off the alarm, get my stuff, and then back to try and set the alarm once again. If the burglars have as much trouble getting in as I had getting out we should be completely safe.

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I then headed to the first of six nurseries trying to find cayenne pepper seedlings.  For some reason unknown to me or the nurserymen, there seems to be a shortage of cayenne peppers this spring.  I normally can buy a six pack of the plants for a couple of dollars but not this year.  My last stop was at a nursery well known for it’s impossibly high prices for just about everything. They had only three cayenne pepper plants, each planted in separate container, with a cost of $3.99 a plant.

BS I tell you!

As I was leaving empty handed I had an uninterested employee ask me in that awful politically correct tone, “Have you found everything you were looking for sir?”.  I nicely told her no. I was looking for a few decent prices but couldn’t find even one.

Double BS!!

I’ve also been looking for a new garden bench for the last few weeks with no success. I stopped at Home Depot today after checking out their website which listed close to twenty different types. I searched for twenty minutes through that huge building and was beginning to get a little frustrated.  Depot has never been known for it’s customer service and that hasn’t changed a bit. After tracking down a store employee who did his best to avoid me, I asked about the benches. He explained to me, the pain-in-the-ass customer, that they have no benches in inventory. He gave me one of those smarmy smiles and told me they were an online purchase only. 

Triple BS!!!

Screw them, I left in a huff after wasting most of my morning.  I revisited my reliable local nursery and purchased a few additional Ghost pepper plants and a six pack of orange bell peppers. Total cost, $5.20.  I never did find a effing bench but I’ll sit my butt on the ground before paying $199.99 for one.

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This day has sucked soooo bad.  I guess it’s time for me and the cat to kick back and relax on the deck. I can sip a drink and relive the last few hours of this stupid day and try to smile. The cat could care less either way. He just lays there like he always does thinking about what cats think about. He’s not smiling either.

09-03-2014 Journal Entry – 2014 Garden Results   Leave a comment

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Today’s my day to brag a little.  We finished the last of the canning yesterday which means that within the next three weeks I’ll begin to close down the garden for this year.  I have to say it’s been a great gardening summer with more enough rain to keep the plants happy and a level of production at least 30% better than last year.  This first list is the approximate amounts of veggies we harvested over the last three months.

  • 10 – pounds of cherry tomatoes
  •   6 – pounds of jalapeños
  •   2 -pounds of cayenne peppers
  •   6 – pounds of snap peas
  •   4 – pounds of black beans
  • 30 – pounds of zucchini
  •   2 – pounds of kohlrabies
  • 50 – pounds of cucumbers
  • 4 – pounds of Beets
  • 5 – pounds of radishes
  • Two additional plantings of lettuce.
  • Two additional plantings of snap peas.
  • One additional planting of radishes

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We then took most of them and processed them into the following list of usable foods for the winter months.

  • 10 – pints of hot mustard dill pickles
  • 15 – pints of pickled zucchini
  • 12 – pints of pickled jalapeños
  •   8 – pints of pickled veggie mix
  • 24 – pints of hot B&B pickles
  •   1 – pint of pickled jalapeño/habaneros
  • 13 – quarts of roasted corn/black bean salsa
  •   9 – half pints of radish relish
  • 18 – large loaves of zucchini bread
  •   5 – quarts of pickled kimchi
  • 12 – quarts of chili for freezing
  • 4 – pounds of kale, frozen

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This last list are the herbs I harvested during the Summer to help refill our stocks for winter.  We use a great deal of them in every meal we make and we also supply to to family and friends when requested.  They’re extremely easy to grow and dry and taste great.

  •   1 – quart jar of dried oregano
  •   1 – quart jar of dried parsley
  •   1 – pint jar of dried habaneros
  •   2 – quarts of dried chives
  •   1 – quart of dried garlic chives
  •   1 – pint jar of dried jalapeños
  •   2 – quarts of dried kale
  •   9 – pounds of dried sunflower seeds
  •   1 – quart of dried Cilantro
  •   1 – quart of dried Basil

All of this was from a 350 square foot garden.

Gardening is not as easy as most people think but the rewards make it well worth the effort.  My better-half and I really want to know what we’re putting into our bodies. While it’s almost impossible to do that 100% these days, it gives us a little more peace of mind than the average person.  Along with gardening we’ve become two of the biggest pain-in-the-butt label readers anywhere.  It’s something everyone should learn to do because it’s enlightening and at times a little scary.

The better-half has a few batches of jam to prepare in the next few weeks but there’s no rush.  All the necessary berries are in the freezer and can be used at any time. I always look forward to the blackberry jam made from the berries we picked, there’s nothing better. 

 

09-14-2013   Leave a comment

It’s time today for a little catch-up on my journal.  In just a few short weeks the Maine weather has gone from extreme heat and humidity to extreme cold and a couple of nights with a fear of frost.  It’s a little early for this temperature change but you have no choice but to adjust. 

I spent a few hours yesterday beginning the process of clearing plants from the garden for removal to the compost pile.  I was surprised by how many cucumbers and cherry tomatoes I was able to salvage.  I ended up with almost a dozen good sized cucumbers that were hidden amongst the plants and a at least a hundred cherry tomatoes that were still green but will ripen over the next week or so.  It’s never fun taking the garden down at the end of the season but it has to be done and can require a large time investment.

I removed the sprinkler systems and the hoses and all of the hot pepper and squash plants.  I left the beans, lettuce, and snap peas alone because they don’t mind the cold weather too much and are are still producing.  Another week or so and they’ll be gone too.

The leaves are falling from the trees already and you can’t walk through the yard without running into squirrels and chipmunks with their mouths stuffed with nuts and acorns. They aren’t even running from us anymore.  Their primary interest right now is to store away as much as they can as quickly as they can.  Funny, that’s exactly the same thing my better-half and I are doing as well.

Once all of the plant material has been removed from the frames I can begin the soil preparation for next year.  I’ll first rototill the ground and then cover the entire garden with three or four inches of compost.  Then I’ll spread a little lime into the soil with a generic fertilizer, rototill it a second time and call it a day.  I’ll let it set all winter and in the spring it should be ready to go. I’m hoping to have everything finished by the end of September so I won’t get surprised by good old Mother Nature who loves nothing more than dropping an early snow storm on us.

We spent some time the other night discussing changes to next years garden and the choice of items we plan on planting.  It’s an ever-changing process as we learn more about the plants and the amount of production we can expect.  It’s all of this prep work that makes the garden a success year after year and  it’s time well spent and worth the effort.

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