bell pepper

Successful Garden on the Balcony

Our little potted garden is coming along nicely.

We had a little min-harvest and picked a handful of peppers recently. Don intended to pickle them with other veggies but so far his plans have not come together.

So I’ve started using them. The little red ones are great for giving taco salad meat a healthy kick. O.M.G. Hot but so good. A little fire on the lips is always welcome.

A little burn in the eyes or nose from touching your face after working with them…not so much. ūüôā

The colors of a fresh garden salad are so extraordinary, no painter’s pallet can duplicate nature’s artistry.
~ Dr. SunWolf

See How Our Garden Grows!

I thought after seeing the beating our flag took from Irene…

that our garden may not have fared well either. But our kind friends who were babysitting the plants must have sheltered them from the weather and took excellent care of them. We’ve even got some pepper growing again! Thanks so much Stephanie and Grady!

Our basil is growing like gangbusters too, but the other herbs haven’t made much of an appearance yet.

Don’s hoping to take some tips from his dad, gleaned from conversations while we visited and were awed by the size of his garden in Washington. Hopefully we will continue to grow our knowledge and our little herb and vegetable garden into something spectacular. Although I think it’s pretty spectacular that we’ve had this much success so far!

It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.
~ Lewis Gizzard

Pork Chop Stir Fry

Don was busy doing a few things last night so dinner was on me. We had pork chops defrosted and I wanted to make a stir fry so I did a quick Google search for pork chop stir fry. I used this recipe as my template.



  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • dash of red cooking wine
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

I chopped up the pork chops (I had two)¬†into bite size pieces, mixed with the marinade and let it sit for 1/2 hour. I just noticed that the recipe said to leave it at room temperature for that time. I didn’t read that last night and put mine in the fridge. Didn’t seem to hurt it any.

Stir Fry:

  • splash of olive oil in the pan for frying the pork
  • ground ginger – few shakes in the pan
  • 1 tbsp chili paste
  • teriyaki sauce (used about 4 tbsp)
  • green bell pepper (about 3/4 of a pepper)
  • red bell pepper (about 3/4 of a pepper)
  • one sweet onion
  • one green onion
  • two little mysterious peppers from our pepper plant
  • 1/4 cup toasted silvered almonds
  • chopped fresh mint (I know, different, right? It was good though.)

I toasted the almonds on medium heat in the wok while I waited for the pork to marinate and I chopped up my vegetables.

When the pork was ready, I fished it out of the marinade (discarded the marinade) and cooked the pork on medium heat, adding in the ginger and the chili paste.

Once the pork was fully cooked I added my onion and let that go until the onions turned translucent. Then I added the teriyaki sauce and let it go a little longer.

Then I added in the peppers and green onion and let it all blend for about five or ten minutes before serving.

I had processed some cauliflower to make rice Monday night (we thought we were going to make this then but time got away from us and we went with a quicker sausage and steamed vegetable dinner that night.)

So I heated up our “rice” and we dished up, sprinkling the almonds and mint over the top of the dish.

It was GOOD. (Channeling Jim Carrey from Bruce Almighty.)

I don’t like gourmet cooking or “this” cooking or “that” cooking. I like good cooking.
~ James Beard

A Pickling Experiment

We have this great recipe for pickled carrots called Firecrackers,¬†from Alton Brown on the Food Network. We haven’t made them in a long time. I wish I had an old picture that I could have posted first with the firecracker recipe¬†and then posted this latest experiment but I couldn’t find anything in my files. Oh well.¬†Traditional firecrackers are¬†GREAT! Check out¬†the recipe and give them a try if you’re looking for something new. You can make them as spicy or mild as you’d like. If you’re like us and like the spice, then just add more spicy flavors to kick it up a notch. If you want to go more mild, stick close to the recipe and they will be a good mix of spicy and sweet.

Last night’s pickling experiment came about because we had oodles of squash, zucchini, and cucumber that needed to be cooked, or frozen, or something before it went to waste.
(Thanks again Phyllis for sharing your garden with us!)

Initially Don was thinking to blanch it all and freeze it. But then he remembered the firecracker recipe and decided we would try something along those lines.

A few other tools needed: slicer, jars, cooking pot, and lots of bowls.

Our Kitchen Aid Mandoline Slicer made slicing up all those veggies easy as can be.

We were not sure how much juice we were going to need to make so we started out by tripling the original recipe.

For the first batch of juice, we combined the following and boiled it for about five minutes.

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4.5 cups cider vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp mustard seeds
  • 4.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp chili flakes
  • 1 cup raisins – substituted in place of the third cup of sugar
  • 2 shallots – pur√©ed with a bit of the water
  • 1 diced green onion
  • 1.5 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic

While the juice did its thing, we filled our jars. We started with seven and ended up with ten.

Turned out, three times the recipe was not going to cut it either. We had to make more of the juice, two more times. In the end, we made about six times the original recipe, give or take a little since this was all so haphazard.

The second batch we doubled the recipe with a few slight changes. We didn’t use any more raisins, we already had enough of those in the jars now. We didn’t have any more shallots so we used two more green onions, diced. And rather than two cups of sugar, we only used one and 1/2.

Still, we didn’t have enough. So we pulled everything out again and made one last single serving batch of the juice. I actually missed what Don put in it because I was writing up last night’s post at the time. But I’m pretty sure it was just more of the same just in smaller quantities.

The jars have to cool before sealing and refrigerating. We like to let them sit for about a week to get good and tasty. The longer they sit, the stronger the flavor.

We look forward to tasting these in a week and seeing how they turned out. Don is confident as usual that they will be great. I’m crossing my fingers because I always worry when making something new. If they are good, we might even share with a few people. ūüôā

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson