Sunday, June 24, 2012

Moroccan Stuffed Peppers

I promise; this post WILL end in a delicious recipe for Moroccan stuffed peppers. HOWEVER, my research into the Bell Pepper itself was so fascinating, that I just had to share some of it with you!

That means strap in, Timmy, I'm about to engage in
To start off, let's define the botanical traits that allow us to recognize and class fruits and vegetables.

NOTE: Before you respond with some nonsense about how the government says that tomatoes and zucchinis are vegetables, understand that the Supreme Court of the United States has purposefully mislabeled certain fruits SOLELY for tax reasons. 

The ripened, seed bearing part of a plant when fleshy and edible (including tomato, eggplant, cucumber, and zucchini)
The roots, stems, and leaves of any herbaceous plant cultivated for its edible parts (leafy greens, flowers, celery, cabbage, etc., basically any edible part of a plant that is NOT botanically classifiable as fruit)

Those definitions raise all sorts of interesting questions and debates, such as:
"Is potato a fruit?"
You might be thinking, "How could anyone mistake a potato for a fruit?" 

Potato plants DO produce fruit!
But that's not the part of the potato plant that we eat. The fruit of the potato plant is poisonous; the part that we eat is the stem tuber which is indeed classed as a vegetable.

As it turns out, potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and chili peppers are all part of the SAME family of plants: Solanaceae


Other prominent members of the Solanaceae family include:
(aka: moonflower) 
(aka: mandrake root) 
(aka: deadly nightshade) 
        POISON duh...
(aka: tobacco)

And there you have it: 
Many members of the nightshade family are used by humans as important sources of food, spice and medicine.
However, Solanaceae species are often rich in alkaloids, such as atropine, scopolomine, and hyoscyamine, whose toxicity to humans and animals ranges from mildly irritating, to hallucinogenic,  to FATAL in small doses! In fact, tomatoes, bell  peppers, and chili peppers are among the ONLY plants in the nightshade family that produce edible fruit!


Capsicum is a genus of flowering nightshades in the Solonoideae subfamily of Solanaceae

The part of the capsicum plant that we cultivate, harvest, and eat is the ripened, seed bearing FRUIT of that plant.

What the hell am I talking about? Peppers!

THAT'S RIGHT: Bell peppers are fruit!

Whatever... if you read this far you earned your reward:

Moroccan Stuffed Peppers

  • 1 2/3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 4 medium to large bell peppers, tops cut off and seeds removed
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup golden rasins
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups V8, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (save a few sprigs for garnish)
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Place the peppers upside down in a microwave safe casserole dish and add about an inch of water; cover with a lid or inverted dinner plate and place in the microwave for 3-6 minutes. Drain the water and turn the peppers right side up (water and dish will be HOT)
2. While the peppers are cooking, brown the ground beef with the garlic powder in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon until it is no longer pink (4-6 minutes). Stir in the raisins, cinnamon, and cumin; cook for another minute. 
3. Stir in the rice and cook for another 30 seconds or so, remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup V8 juice, mint, orange juice, salt and pepper.
4. Spoon the beef mixture into the steamed peppers. Pour the remaining V8 juice into the dish and cover again. Microwave until juice and filling are hot (2-3 minutes). 

Garnish the peppers with mint leaves and serve with the sauce.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sewing the Seeds of Garlicky Love

Has it ever occurred to you to try growing your own garlic plant? If not, hopefully this post will plant the seeds. ;)

If at any point you've gone to the store and bought a bulb of whole fresh garlic and forgotten about it on your kitchen counter, then you may have noticed that after a week or so your garlic will start to grow shoots. 

That's right: Your garlic is alive!

Most super markets will keep fresh garlic refrigerated for at least some period of time over the coarse of delivery and storage, and when the garlic is brought out and begins to warm up it thinks that the spring has come and it starts trying to grow.

"So... do I name it, or what?"

Whether or not you want to name your new pet garlic plant is up to you, but at this point you should be thinking to yourself, "Hmmm... if Fred wants to grow, why not let him grow?"

To keep your new friend happy simply plant it in an area without to much direct sunlight, and water it periodically. In a few short months you'll be harvesting your reward of fresh spring garlic, garlic scapes (the curly top buds that form in the springtime, and are DELIGHTFUL) or even try your hand at curing and storing your own garlic. Heck, go out in the back yard and plant a whole row of them so you can make one of those big, fancy wreaths of garlic!

Or you could just curse it for a pipe dream and lightly roast the budding cloves in olive oil over a very low heat until they are as golden and tender as butter (times will vary, just make sure you don't burn them) and then proceed to smear them across a slice of toasted Italian bread.

The choice is yours... as long as you remember that the choice exists for you to make. (Cue "The more you know..." PSA theme)