June
30
2015

The Jalapeno’s Have Arrived

June is almost gone, the days are heating up and the nights are getting shorter – ah, the joys of summer!  Guess what else epitomizes the best summer EVER?  That’s right baby, a big fat juicy Jalapeno pepper that you grew from scratch in your backyard!  I’ve decided to scale back a bit this year in terms of the number of plants and go for quality over quantity instead.  As such, we’ve got some real beauties coming in that I just had to share:

IMG_2537 IMG_2536

Later this week I’ll share a couple of Jalapeno popper recipes that I’ve come across lately (and that I plan to sample soon) – they look delicious and I plan to prove myself right in short order.

April
23
2014

Habanero Honey Whiskey

So, I already know what most of you are thinking when you read the above title to this post and I’m sure it goes something like this, “Habanero Honey Whiskey sounds like something that’s used during a fraternity hazing ritual”.  And while I can’t personally vouch for the specifics of greek culture on most college campuses, what I can say is that I’ve a found a really cool website.  It’s called Boozedand Infused.com and they have some of the most interesting and unusual recipes I’ve ever seen.

As you can probably deduce from the title of the site, they provide recipes that allow one to create alcoholic concoctions by mixing various ingredients with different types of alcohol and then allowing the entire mixture to steep for several days (or in some cases several weeks).  The resulting beverage is like nothing you can buy in a liquor store and what’s even better is that with a little imagination you can make all kinds of things with common items that are available in any grocery store that suit your own individual tastes.  In fact, I have some of their Blueberry Gin brewing right now in my kitchen that I can’t wait to sample (that recipe can be found here.)

But enough of the jib jab, let’s talk about Habanero Honey Whiskey!  Now, I like peppers just as much as the next guy and I’ve been know to consume the occasional Nectar of the Gods from time to time.  But, I’ve never contemplated putting the two together, until now of course.  So, how does one go about making such a concoction?  You can find their recipe for it here, but I’ll include the basics below from their site:

Habanero Honey Whiskey

“1/4 cup honey (about 85 grams)

1 medium cinnamon stick (about 4 grams)

1 habanero pepper* (optional)

Lemon zest – from about 1/3 to 1/2 of a medium lemon (about 5 grams of zest)

1 1/2 ounces Water

1 cup Bourbon or Whiskey of your choice

Remove the stem of the habanero and quarter the pepper, keeping the seeds intact. Place the first five ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer on low heat. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the habanero with tongs or a fork. Allow the rest of the mixture to cool completely. Strain out the solids with a mesh strainer.

Pour the honey mixture into a pint jar or other infusion vessel. Add the bourbon or whiskey, and close the jar tight. Shake well to combine.

After 24-48 hours, strain through a coffee filter, and let the infusion rest for a few days before drinking.

Depending on how much heat you can take, feel free to use only part of the habanero or omit the seeds.”

The end result looks (and I’m sure tastes) fantastic.  I look forward to making a batch of this myself and if any of you out there make it before I do I’d love to hear from you.  Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April
13
2014

Spring Has Sprung!

So the harsh winter months will not be missed my many, myself included, but those cold winds and icy conditions do make the experience of warmer days all the more enjoyable.  Lately, when I’ve found myself lamenting cooler that normal days, I need only remind myself that not too long ago I was having to endure sub-zero degree temps (the record being -45 in late January) and that 50 degrees and overcast really isn’t all that bad.

So, with the temps ever increasing my thoughts again turn to our garden and what types of peppers ill be growing this year.  But before I get into that let me tell you some of the things that I’ve been doing to prep our growing area.  Since I’ve grown peppers and tomatoes on the same bed for the past three years I thought that it would be a good idea to rebuild some of the nutrients in the soil.  I’ve been adding compost to our beds and I’ve also been working in Starbucks used coffee grounds when I can get them (on a side note, everyone should do this, it’s free and it’s makes your garden smell like a coffee house – what’s not to like?!).  I like to use organic fertilizers as much as possible so some blood and bone may be in order a few weeks before I put the final plants in.  I also meant to plant a cover crop last fall and then chop and drop it all but time got away from me and I never got around to it.

Another idea that I’ll be working on this year is quality vs quantity.  In years past I’ve tried to grow as many pepper plants as possible but what ultimately ends up happening is that I’ll plant too many in an area too small and they end up growing into each other so much that they become unmanageable.  I think that I’ll more aggressively prune the plants this year to experiment with growth patterns.  Finally, I plan to visit a local pepper grower to see what she might recommend for this year.  Her pepper offering is quite impressive, so much so that I plan to write a post about her later this week.

As an aside, you’ve heard that cockroaches could survive a nuclear holocaust, right?  Well, I think that the mint plant is the cockroach of the gardening world.  I haven’t planted mint in my one bed for two years but guess what I saw there a couple of days ago?  You guessed it – mint.  Not that I mind too much; at least it smells good.  Until next time….

 

 

 

February
2
2014

Chili Chocolate?

So over the holiday’s at our house sweets are passed around freely and without fail I always get a chance to try something different or unique as well as enjoy some of the classics.  This year was pretty cool though in that I came across something that I’ve never had before – Lindt’s Chili Chocolates.  The chocolates were packaged with several varieties and the Chili Chocolate was just one among several unusual pairings.  Think a Touch of Orange, Sea Salt and 70% Cocoa.
IMG_1012 IMG_1013
Now, before you assume that Chili Chocolate registers an eleventy on the yuck-meter (unlike Chocolate Cheese – which breaks said meter) this particular confection really isn’t half bad.  It’s a dark chocolate and you only taste a hint of heat at the very end and even then it’s very mild.  Not as tasty as the Touch of Orange and definitely better than the Sea Salt.  If you’re interested in trying out a sample of these chocolates you can purchase them here.  Go Broncos!
December
26
2013

2013 – The P4P Year in Review

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted and it’s been mostly because I’ve been swamped with year-end nonsense and the chores that came with the conclusion of our growing season and the cleanup that that activity entails.  So, I thought that I’d give everyone a wrap-up (albeit a very late one) of what worked this year and what, well, didn’t quite meet our expectations.  So here are the highlights of P4P 2013:

Hot Thai Peppers

I loved these peppers.  They were hot as Lucifer’s backside but the color and variation were awesome and the yield was very good, even those that I planted in the buckets.  I got so many this year that I don’t know that I’ll plant more than a couple of them next year but overall a definite yes for 2014.

Chili Red

In a word – bust.  One container plant yielded something like three peppers.  The flavor was bland and when combined with the yield I was not impressed.  A definite no for 2014.

Hot Cherry Red

I have mixed feelings about this pepper.  I liked the distinctive look and the flavor of this one but the yield was just wasn’t there.  The plant that I had did well but the nature of its structure (only one of two peppers per branch) means that you only get a handful of yield per plant (I think I got maybe 6-8 peppers total).  I get the feeling that in a warmer climate (or some type of greenhouse to compensate) these would do very well.  Bottom Line:  a “lean no” for 2014.

Tobasco

I was pleasantly surprised by what we got this year since I’ve never planting this variety before.  The plants didn’t get very big but the yield was impressive given their small size.  The heat factor was intense too.  All in all the season yielded about a quart and half so all in all not too bad.  A definite yes for 2014.

Poblano

This was the most prolific pepper that I grew this season which was completely unexpected.  In fact, I had to look up a few recipes to see what to do with them all I had so many.  Stuffed poblano’s are awesome (with sausage and cheese, yum!) and I would highly recommend growing these if you have the chance.  I didn’t have the opportunity to roast/smoke and can any of these but I will next year.  A definite yes for 2014.

Tomatoes 

We grew a few varieties this year but the type that yielded the most was our cherry tomatoes.  In fact, I posted in October what happens when one allows their tomato plants to get too large too quickly (they fall over, imagine that).  We grew some larger varieties but they only yielded a fee pounds total which is considerably below what we usually get.  The truncated season (due to an unseasonably cold start) slowed our progress.  White flies and too large plants did in in most of what we’ would’ve generally gotten in terms of usable plants two years ago.  I plan to plant my tomatoes in used whiskey barrels next season and see if this renders them a bit more manageable.

Container Gardening

I tried for the first time this year to grow some tomatoes and peppers in containers (5 gallon buckets) and the result was a bit underwhelming.  The tomatoes were basically a bust.  Scrawny plants and low yield (if not outright death) were the prevailing themes.  I found that the containers were too small to keep the soil cool enough on hot days and the amount of dirt was insufficient from a nutrient standpoint to allow the plants to really thrive.  Definitely not going there again in 2014.

As for the peppers, they did much better than the tomatoes but compared to the same plants that I placed in our raised beds, they fell short as well.  Toward the end of the season some of them really started to do well, but it was mostly too little too late because the season turned soon thereafter.  Next year I plan another attempt at container gardening but this time I’m going to use half cut whiskey barrels.  We’ll see how that goes.

Until next time, everyone have a Happy New Year!

 

October
18
2013

Pepper Joke of the Day

Had a co-worker share share this with me today:

 

How do you know when peppers are getting too nosy?

 

When they get jalapeño business……

 

I’m here all week folks; tip your waitresses and try the veal…..

 

Thanks Nathan!

October
17
2013

TIMBER!!!

Well folks, sometimes we strive to succeed and in some cases we succeed a bit more than we should.  I’ve got (or should I say I had) a very large cherry tomato plant that, with the addition of copious amounts of rain over this past weekend, literally collapsed under its own weight.  Check out these shots:

This is a few weeks before it happened.  Look at the size of that beast.

Pre-Collapse

And after it fell over…

precleanup

And after I cleaned it all up:

Post Cleanup

Now, I’ve grown tomatoes in the past but in the last couple of years they’ve gotten so big that they’ve become a nuisance.  Their size intrudes upon the other plants and the white flies that attack them are very difficult to manage.  So, in an attempt to prevent this from happening again I summoned my neighbor from across the street to ask about how to properly prune a tomato plant.

He informed me that most of the time the trouble comes from the side shoots from the base of the plant and that if these are pruned early and often, the result should be to force most of the new growth toward the center of the plant and hopefully upward instead of outward.  Which hopefully will yield a taller, yet more stable, tomato plant.  Here’s a video that I found where they discuss this very thing:

 

September
17
2013

This Season’s Bounty

Howdy folks!  While this season started out slow, the weather finally came together during July and August and our yields this year, while not as great as last year, are nothing to be ashamed of.  Check this out:

P1000732

 

Lots of tomatoes (unlike last year, damn white flies), bells, bananas, yummy snacking bells, japs and cheyennes.  My pessimism of just a few months ago appears to have been unfounded.  Hope that everyone out there is enjoying the fruits of their labor this quasi/almost fall season and that where they’re disappointed this year they plan for 2014 and crush it next season.

August
8
2013

Hot Golden Cayenne Peppers – They’re Smokin’!

Howdy folks!  Well I’m glad to be back from an extended absence and I promise to make up for the lost time.  I’m here today to let you know about another of my pepper plants that I’m really excited about.

Last year I grew a whole slew of green and red cayennes and they became so plentiful that I swore that I wouldn’t grow them again this year.  My curiosity won out over my will, however, and I ended up picking up a Hot Golden Cayenne pepper plant earlier this season at Lowes.  I didn’t expect too much from it and in fact since we had such a slow start this year due the weather I halfway forgot about it.  Well, after tasting one remembering it won’t be a problem.  You see, while my Cayennes from last year could pack a wallop in the heat department, they were nothing like the Goldens.  The Hot Golden Cayenne may lacking in some departments but heat isn’t one of them.

The incident of my encounter began one late afternoon when I saw one lone pepper that appeared to be just right to pick. The color was about right, the size was good and it stood out so much among the other green ones due to it’s golden color I decided to pick it pop it in my mouth.

The immediate heat that I felt was unexpected and took me by complete surprise.  A bit of milk and cheese later, I was able to catch my breath long enough to tell my wife “those babies are smokin’.”  You see, while my cayennes from last year were hot, which is what I expected from the Golden’s – nothing could have prepared me for the difference between the two.  They are each, indeed, in a class all their own.  I will say though that even though they’re probably not best consumed straight (at least for me) I can see some serious value as an additive to sauces, salsas and oils.  How about a bit more info these beauties?

Goldens get their name from their, you guessed it, golden color.  They’re ready to harvest between 85 and 95 days from when the plants are sown or once the peppers reach about 4 to 6 inches in length.  They like full sun conditions and need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight (on average) a day.  Unlike traditional cayennes that are skinny and have a wrinkled skin, Goldens tend to have a smoother skin texture and can be a bit larger.  The heat factor is intense too (as discussed above) and ranks between 30,000 and 50,000 on the Scoville scale.  For comparision Jalepenos are between 5,000 and 8,000 Scoville units so the Golden’s aren’t for the feint of heart.  According to the sources that I’ve read the larger and more the golden the pepper, the hotter it is.  These peppers are used to make hot sauce, jelly, and relish.  I’ve looked for a few recipes to share the are specifically designed for Goldens and but I’m coming up a bit short.  Here’s a shot of of a couple I just picked yesterday:

Golden Cayenne 1

Since I only have one plant I can only pick a couple at a time and because of that I think that this season I’ll dehydrate most of them to be used later.  I’ll keep everyone posted on how that turns out.  Well, until next time folks…

 

July
12
2013

Hot Thai Ornamental Pepper

I’m very excited about this new addition to our pepper plant collection this year.  As it’s name implies it’s used in a number of exotic dishes and leads to the classic heat that many Asian dishes are known for. Even though I’m formally unfamiliar with it I’m sure that I’ve had it in some random Asian dish that I’ve eaten over the years – and enjoyed the searing heat that it’s named for.

The Hot Thai has a Scoville rating of 50,000 to 100,000 (for comparison jalapenos have a Scoville rating of 2,500 to 8,000 so this baby is smoking!) so the heat factor is pretty intense.  It yields about 50 one to two inch thin-skinned peppers per plant, which is pretty good.  For comparison, last year I was lucky to get 20-25 jalapeno’s per plant.  Although I must say that the incredible heat of our jap’s last year more than made up for any disappointment in yield – but that’s a subject best left for a future post ;) .

Mature Hot Thai plants yield both green and red peppers but unlike other pepper plants these are sometimes grown specifically for their aesthetic qualities (hence the name “ornamental”) and less so for human consumption.  So, in one sense this pepper plant has a figurative one-stop shop: high yield, high heat and it looks good in your garden.  What more could a passionate pepper grower want?  Here’s a shot of one of our plants:

:Hot Thai Ornamental

I expect good things from this plant (in fact I have about five of them just to play it safe ;) so I’ll keep everyone posted on it’s (and their) progress.