Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pickled Before the Storm

Hurricane Sandy is a’ comin’! Maybe they’ve downgraded it to a tropical storm this minute. Or maybe we’ll get a few showers and call it a day. It’s hard to take a weather system that changes its mind so frequently seriously. Instead of running around like a headless turkey, rechecking my flashlight’s battery for the 10th time, I decided to make some chilli pepper pickle. In my earlier post I mentioned how we’re deluged with peppers of all kinds. Well, here’s another way to use some of them–in a spicy pickle that instantly dresses up any blah weekday meal.

I’d always thought making a pickle was a grandmotherly activity that took days and days of rumination and preparation, and a skill that one only acquires with grey hair. Apparently not! A quick google brought me to this prolific blogger’s website with a recipe for an instant pickle. Thanks, Anita @ A Mad Tea Party. The first time I tried this recipe, I followed her exact spice combination. The pickle quickly became our favorite and, with repeated attempts, has evolved into as formidable a condiment as any grandmother’s! I hope you enjoy making and devouring it as much as we do 🙂

Instant Chilli Pickle (Mirchi ka achar)

1 bumper picking of chillies…er… 1 cup sliced chillies, various (I used a combo of long Indian, banana and jalapeno chillies)
1 tsp black mustard seeds (rai)
1 tsp nigella seeds (kalonji)
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
1/2 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tbsp mustard or vegetable oil (I prefer the former)

Spices

Combine all the spices in a mortar and crush the heck out of them. Or, if you aren’t feeling too Hulk-y, just jostle them around with the pestle until they’re somewhat crushed.

Pour spice mixture into the jar of chillies. You can use canning jars or other fancy equipment but I’m a reuse-as-much-as-possible kinda girl so my container today is a decidedly unfancy jar of Tostitos salsa (what can I say, in another era I was naive enough to think that supermarkets actually liked us, the consumers. The hubster, in fact, is still not fully converted). Well, at least the jar was clean!

Heat oil to just before smoking, before pouring it into the jar containing chillies and spice mixture. Add a few drops of lemon juice. Tighten lid and shake well.

Voila!

Although the pickle can be enjoyed immediately because the hot oil partially cooks the spices, it definitely gains merit by sitting awhile in the sun. If you remember to prepare it in the morning and leave it out in the sun, or even just on the counter, the evening will have you endeavoring to stop at just one helping. Or, if you’re like us, the pickle will replace a curry and last much less longer than you thought it would.

Until the next bumper picking of the relentless pepper plant.

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Grumpy McGrumpton

My older son, Unglam Boy1, 6, is the mayor of a city! Maybe you haven’t heard of it before since not all trains stop there, but in our house it’s a major destination. It’s called Grumpsville. He was born there and is ostensibly a lifelong resident. I tried to get him to move to Joytown, but he adamantly refuses to entertain that idea. He says he feels more at home in Grumpsville and likes it there. And now that he’s been elected mayor, well, my case is considerably weakened. However, it struck me tonight that I should make the mandatory conditions for election public in case more kids are looking to run for office. Maybe he won’t have any competition, but at least no one can accuse me of showing partiality by relation, right? The compulsory requirements for the position listed in the memorandum I got were:

  • Candidate’s life cannot be fun.

If your kid has ever said, “wow, thanks mom, this is FUN!”, I’m sorry he’s automatically disqualified. The mayor of Grumpsville cannot and will not find any activity designed or organized specifically for his enjoyment, fun. In fact, enjoy should not even be a valid word in his dictionary, and he should be able to defend this under oath. If you show him the word “enjoy” in the OED, he should be able to walk away in a huff and pretend he was never shown any proof of its existence. An art project is no fun, neither is live theater. Going out to eat in a family restaurant that only serves grilled cheese isn’t so rad either. A whole day spent in a superhero costume fighting imaginary bad guys under forts made from all the pillows and blankets the family owns is okay but not “too fun”, so that doesn’t count either.

In short, if nothing is total, absolute, exhilarating fun for your child he is still in the running.

  • Candidate must be unwilling to lose.

The mayoral candidate cannot, under any circumstances, be willing to be defeated. If he senses the big D looming ahead in a game of, say, scrabble he will upend the board and storm of wailing. YOU obviously made him lose by not playing fair. Who made the rules about only making words in a certain direction anyway? Not him, that’s who. And if they ain’t his rules, he ain’t gonna play by them! How’s it fair to him if game rules are made to make him lose? Even if you do end up compromising (after threatening to never play a board game with him again), what about the pesky little things known as “other kids”? They never bend the rules for him, and since he doesn’t take losing well, he will spend most of the evening wallowing in the injustice of it all and not playing at all!

So, if your kid has some sportsman spirit and can take a loss in his stride he can try FairCity — Grumpsville is not his town.

  • Candidate must have formidable argument skills.

“V, it’s time for bed; please put away your drawing.” “One more minute, I forgot to draw the mole on his temple.” 1 minute later, “Let’s go.” “It’s been only 42 seconds.” “You’re already late.” “But tomorrow isn’t school; you said I could stay up on weekends!” “Yeah, you already did stay up later.” “But you said I’m older now and I should listen to my body. Well, it’s not sleepy!” “I can see how tired your eyes are, you can barely hold your pencil.” “How do you know I’m tired?” “I’m your mom, I just know!” “I amn’t! Moms don’t know everything!”

Sound familiar? Your kid is in. Exhausted just after reading it? Sorry, different career choice recommended for yours.

  • Candidate must not appear outwardly cheerful at all times.

Does your child automatically smile at friends and loved ones? Is he willing to wave hello if you prompt him to? Does he run to open the door when his friend arrives for a planned playdate instead of hiding in his room for the first five minutes leaving you to awkwardly make excuses for his sudden reluctance to play? If you answered yes to any of the above, your election to this position isn’t very likely. He isn’t applying to be mayor of Cheerland after all.

So. Does your kid qualify for this position or am I the only one blessed with the perfect candidate*? 🙂

Mayor Grumpy

*This picture is a couple years old but it captures his current countenance perfectly.

Peppers Galore: Indian Stuffed Green Peppers recipe

We planted various pepper plants this summer. It was my first experience of planting a kitchen garden since this is our  first residence in an area where summer is, by our standards, freakishly long. I planted long Indian chillies, banana peppers, jalapenos and green bell peppers–2 plants each. Owing to my amateurity, I had no idea that one plant produces enough peppers to last a family a whole season, with more to spare. Unless you are eating pepper curries every day. Or maybe chowing down on chilli peppers, neat, with every meal. Once the plants started blooming and I realized the pepper flood that was going to overtake my kitchen I started frantically searching for recipes to use them in. I pickled them, jarred them (another first!), made curries with them, cut and dried them for sprinkling on shelled peanuts (if you haven’t tried this concoction yet, your peanuts are missing their best pals!), and everything in between.

Bumper Pepper Crop

Now that I have an end-of-season bumper crop of green bell peppers, I’ve been looking at ways to use them up before they wilt in the fridge. The produce of a kitchen garden is like pumped breast milk: wasting even an ounce of it is heart breaking. I know that now. So I made these nifty pepper bundles stuffed with a lightly seasoned, delicious potato filling. They’re stunning to look at, easy to prepare, non messy, and go with virtually any kind of supper. Pair them with some brown rice and raita, or with naan, even sprinkled with some mozza for a yummy side dish! You’ll need:

Stuffed Green Peppers

5 small-medium green peppers, whole but cored
2 potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 small onion, minced
1 green chilli pepper, minced (optional)
2 sprigs cilantro, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp mango powder
(Just salt and pepper will do if you do not have access to the spices)

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Remove the tops of the green peppers carefully so as not to cut through skin on the sides. (If you cut around the stem the top will pop off like a cork, bringing most of the seeds inside with it. Poke a finger inside the cavity to wring out the rest of the seeds.)
  • In a bowl, mash potatoes, add onions, chilli, cilantro and spices. Mix well.
  • Stuff mixture into the bell peppers gently filling all available space.
  • Line a cookie baking sheet with tin foil.
  • Grease your hands with a little cooking oil and roll peppers in your hands to coat evenly with the oil. Stand on baking sheet like a line of soldiers.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes on 350, turning occasionally. At the end, when peppers have wilted and look done, increase oven temperature to 400 for about 7 minutes until the skin of the peppers is charred.
  • Let cool; serve warm.
Baked Peppers Served Warm

Last hurrah of summer! I love you, Fall 🙂