JEFF TIEDEMAN: Peppers become perfect pickPeppers add color, flavor to all sorts of dishes.
August in October, and it’s a breeze.
That’s what the headline said on a Herald Website story Tuesday about the unseasonable weather we’ve been experiencing the past couple of days.
I don’t know too many people who are complaining about the daytime temperatures in the high 70s to mid-80s or the nighttime numbers near 50. Gardeners are particularly appreciative because it has meant a longer growing season and more produce.
The warm weather and lack of a killing frost has really been a boon for my first-year strawberry patch. The nine plants that I sowed this spring have doubled, and we’ve been enjoying the tasty red orbs on our oatmeal just about every morning.
And my half-dozen eggplants have produced enough fruit for several meals as well as a few 2-cup vacuumed-sealed bags in the freezer.
But perhaps the plants that have benefited the most are my peppers, particularly my bells, jalapenos and habaneros. A poor planting schematic on left most of our pepper plants dwarfed by crazy scarlet runner bean vines.
In July, the foliage became so thick that I had to put four pepper plants in pots or risk losing them. The two bells and two Hungarian wax pepper plants now are producing some nice fruit. (We hope to bring them inside for the winter, since we’ve bought grow lights with hopes of keeping a few perennial flowers alive, raising some herbs and starting vegetable plants for next year’s garden.)
Luckily, the majority of our peppers plants grew tall enough — albeit late in the season — so they could bask in the sun. But it wasn’t until just the past three weeks or so that they’ve come into their own. I now have jumbo jalapenos and bright orange habaneros, and some of my bells are the size of softballs. (However, I’m afraid our prolonged heat wave won’t last long enough to turn them red.)
I really like the versatility of peppers. They add color and flavor to all sorts of dishes. They can be stuffed with rice and ground meat, smothered with tomato sauce and baked in the oven. They’re also great in homemade marinara sauces. And a newfound favorite of mine is to roast red bells for vegetarian lasagna. (See recipe at /www.grandforksherald.com/event/ tag/group/Life/tag/food/.)
But the main reason I raise peppers is because they’re essential for my homemade chili. I’ve dubbed one version “10-alarm” because it contains 10 kinds of peppers.
However, I rarely make it any more, since Therese isn’t a big fan of spicy chili. And I can’t even prepare it for our elk hunting trip because a few of the guys don’t like it hot.
Plus, as my friend, Mark Young, reminds me, we all have to sleep in the same tent.
“C’est la vie.”
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.