Friday, February 12, 2016

Using subprime produce deliciously

Red bell peppers!!

Red bell peppers are delicious, but quite expensive because their shelf life is so short. These are fully ripened and are ready to begin rotting. Sometimes you can find them at bargain prices when they've passed the point of looking good. I took advantage of this the other day and bought 2 peppers wrapped in packaging so we could not examine the whole fruits. When we got them home, I unwrapped them and other than some slightly wrinkled skin, they were fine. I can relate, because my skin is wrinkled as well.

The plan was to use them that night for dinner so they would not deteriorate any further.

Cornbread-stuffed red peppers

OMG, was this delicious!
I'd made some cornbread a few days ago to go with some some fish/vegetable soup that my husband made on one of those really cold days. (Fish from our neighbor and vegetables from the garden) So when I considered my options for the peppers, I decided that the last 3 pieces of cornbread would be perfect to make stuffing for the peppers. So here are the recipes for the stuffed peppers and my cornbread. Enjoy!

Yogurt cornbread (This is adapted from a buttermilk cornbread recipe from Joy of Cooking, but without the sugar, salt, and bacon fat.)
Dry ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2  teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup frozen corn kernels (You could coarsely chop the corn, but I rarely bother.)
Wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1/2 cup water (Since I rarely have dairy milk on hand, the water and the yogurt simulate the buttermilk, which is also a cultured milk product.)
Several pats of butter

Grease a 9"x 9" pan with butter (I use a glass pan so I can see if the bottom is browned.)
Stir the wet ingredients in a bowl, add the dry ingredients, and mix quickly, but thoroughly.
Pour into the greased pan and arrange the pats of butter on top of the batter.
Bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes or until bottom of cornbread is toasty brown.

Cornbread-stuffed red bell peppers
2 red bell peppers
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup mixed herbs from the garden (garlic chives, oregano, meadow garlic, rosemary, and parsley)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2/3 cup crumbled cornbread
1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Water and olive oil as needed

Cut peppers in half and remove stems and seeds, Turn cut side down in 1/4" deep water in a microwaveable pan. Let them soak up the water to re-hydrate while working on the stuffing.
Fry the onion, celery, green pepper, and sunflower seeds in olive oil over medium temperature until onions turn translucent. Don't rush this process. The vegetables will lose quite a bit of their volume while cooking.
Add the cornbread and the herbs to the frying pan.
Thoroughly mix the stuffing ingredients in the frying pan and then add water a little at a time until the stuffing just begins to get sticky.
Meanwhile, cook the red peppers in the water in the microwave for 5 minutes or so until the peppers start to cook and get soft. You can tell by the smell when this happens.
Pour out the water the peppers cooked in. (Save it for later use in a soup or other stock.)
Turn the pepper halves over and fill with the stuffing. It will be a fairly high pile in each half. Lean the peppers on the sides of the pan and on each other so they stay in place. Add the cheddar on top and then grind some black pepper on top of the cheese.
Microwave until the cheese is melted. Let the peppers sit for 2 or 3 minutes then serve.


A healthy and filling dinner.

 And speaking of wrinkles...

Last week I met up with Sue Powers my college roommate for lunch as she was passing nearby. 
Sue Powers and I were roommates our freshman and sophomore years at UMass in Amherst back in the 60s. We don't see each other often since she's still in Massachusetts while I'm now in Florida. But we do go out of our way to meet up when it makes sense. We met for lunch when she was in the area on business. Fun.

This sweetgum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua)
was silhouetted by the sunrise over the St. Johns River
on a frosty morning. 

Sunrise sweetgum...

As usual, my husband and I walked along the shore of  the St. Johns River at sunrise this week, but it was below freezing, so we walked more quickly than normal and took only a few photos on this cloudless morning. Our 12 years in Florida has thinned our blood and we are not as cold tolerant as we used to be. I liked this Spanish moss-festooned sweetgum tree.

Today, it's in the 70s again and we'll enjoy a salad from the garden for dinner. More cooking to our harvest.

I hope you are enjoying your winter season.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

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