Tag Archives: chili peppers

Todays Harvest Basket 9/6/28

Today’s Harvest Basket September 6, 2014

Potatoes, peppers


Potatoes and peppers

Potatoes and peppers

Clearly, the potatoes are not grown to help us through the winter. This is my third year attempt at growing potatoes. For one pound of seed potatoes, the return was 7 1/2 pounds.

It’s my best yield so far. Uncle Ebb came to the rescue and  helped figure out what went wrong last year. I left the potatoes in the ground too long. The year before that produced only a hand full of potatoes.

So I am getting better. Who knows what yields I’ll get if I actually pay attention and regularly fertilize and water them?

Growing potatoes in a bag makes for an easy, back saving harvest.

Growing potatoes in a bag makes for an easy, back saving harvest.

I used this bag to grow potatoes. It was sitting on the ground and a few of the roots grew through the bag, down into the soil. The potato plants were drawing moisture from the ground.

If all the conditions are just right, I could expect to harvest 10 pounds of potatoes for every pound of seed potato planted. That is a guideline in row crops. Who knows what to expect using a grow bag fabric planter?

I like to grow varieties that are available to gardeners and not usually found in grocery stores. These, I think, are Yellow Finn potatoes. I’m hoping the yellow potatoes will  fool me into using less butter.

Potatoes are the fourth-largest food crop in the world. (After rice, wheat, and maize.) This is an old European gourmet variety. They are said to have a buttery, sweet, yellow flesh.

The grow bag allows for excellent drainage and aeration. Plants respond much like they do in raised beds. You can start plants earlier than you can sow directly in the ground.

These fabric bags also last a long time. I’ve used it for three years with a variety to crops and It shows no signs of wear and tear.  It will be in service next year.

Golden salsa, made with yellow tomatoes.

Golden salsa, made with yellow tomatoes.

Oh, by the way, those lovely peppers are a variety of jalapeno that are supposed to be milder than the original. Still, half of one is enough for my canned salsa. Since I started making our own salsa, we use a lot more of it.

Jeff says that is because I make such good salsa. But it’s probably because of the roasted garlic, peppers and tomatoes. It’s an extra step, but it makes for a richer and sweeter salsa.





Grow your own Chili Rellenos

How To: Make Chili Rellenos

Patsy Bell Hobson Patsy Bell Hobson is a garden writer and a travel writer. For her, it’s a great day when she can combine the two things she enjoys most: gardening and traveling. Visit her personal blog at http://patsybell.blogspot.com/ and read her travel writings at http://www.examiner.com/x-1948-Ozarks-Travel-Examiner.

Chili rellenos are one of my favorite Mexican restaurant foods. Last year, when I had a bountiful crop of mild chilis, I attempted to make chili rellenos. I never got the hang of it. The best I could do was make a greasy, cheesy mess. I did become a master at charing peppers.

The cook at El Acapulco Mexican Restaurant in Cape Girardeau, Missouri showed me the secret. Ramon Soriano Cruz is the cook at El Acapulco. He shared the secret about how to make chili rellenos from scratch..

Ramon had already blackened, peeled and stuffed the peppers. That is how the restaurant is able to serve chili rellenos in less than an hour.

Gradually add flour to eggs a little at a time. Five egg whites are beaten until stiff.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

My lesson started after the whole peppers were charred, peeled and stuffed. At this point the chilis were frozen. Ramon began by rolling the frozen chilis in flour and set them aside while making the batter.

Chili Relleno Instructions

Separate 1 egg for every chili. Beat the whites until stiff then sprinkle in flour to the egg whites as they begin to stiffen. With Ramon’s expertise, he mixed an unmeasured amount of flour into the eggs—I think a scant ½ of a cup of all purpose flour. He set aside the batter and rolled each frozen pepper in the flour again.

Then, he used the kitchen’s deep fryer to cook the chilis. At home, heat cooking oil 1- to 2-inch deep in a big frying pan to about 375 degrees.

Hold the chili by the stem, dip it in the egg batter until well coated. Use a rubber spatula to help spread batter if it doesn’t cover the entire chili.

Ramon Soriano Cruz can serve a full restaurant. The sauce served over the chili is a mild seasoned tomato sauce.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Gently place the battered pepper in the hot oil, carefully turn the chili until it is well browned. You can cook two or three at a time, just don’t fry so many that it lowers the temperature of the oil. As each chili is browned, place it carefully on the plate. Ladle heated tomato sauce, over the pepper. Serve with beans and rice.

Once the beans and rice are on the plate, a quick zap in the microwave insures the complete meal is served steamy hot.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Look for ancho or poblano pepper seeds or plants. Find seeds and plants in most of the seed catalogs. Wait on the last frost date in your area and hold off for another week or two before planting peppers. The seedling and plants do not like wet feet.

Thanks Ramon!
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Resource: El Acapulco Mexican Restaurant; 202 South Mount Auburn Road; Cape Girardeau, MO, 63703.

1. 2. 3. 4.

1. Chips and salsa with happy hour Margarita.

2. The cheese stuffed pepper should be completely melted. If not, a few seconds in the microwave will heat it through.

3. Removing the stem from the outside of the pepper, the seeds, (where the heat is) insides of the pepper were removed bef0re it was stuffed.

4. Handsome volunteer model, “discovered” in El Alcapulco Restaurant in Cape Girardeau MO.

Chili Weather

Patsy Bell HobsonPatsy Bell Hobson is a garden writer and a travel writer. For her, it’s a great day when she can combine the two things she enjoys most: gardening and traveling. Visit her personal blog at http://patsybell.blogspot.com/ and read her travel writings at http://www.examiner.com/x-1948-Ozarks-Travel-Examiner.

Chili herbs and spices are easy to grow in the heat of my full-sun zone 6 garden. However, it is the impending snowstorm that has gotten me to start thinking about chili. As you page through the seed catalogs this winter, consider growing a salsa garden or a chili garden. Peppers are colorful enough to plant in a full-sun flower bed—not for the flowers, which are usually small, white and unremarkable. The foliage can be lush and the color variety of the peppers ranges as wide as the heat levels.

Nutrients in peppers depend on the variety and maturity. Both sweet and hot peppers are high in vitamins A and C. If you make your own chili seasoning, you will get many levels of taste and a lot less salt.

Chili con carne ingredients change according to the region and the cook.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Start with ancho chili peppers, the key ingredient in chili seasonings. These rich and flavorful peppers have very little heat. I buy whole, dried peppers and crush them in a plastic bag for pepper flakes. The best way to crush any kind of dried pepper is to place them inside of a heavy plastic zipper bag. Then, smash the dried peppers.

Use gloves when working with peppers. Even the slightly hot peppers can burn. I can’t say this enough: WEAR GLOVES. If you don’t have gloves, put your hands in plastic produce bags or plastic zipper bags.

Capsicums are what make spicy dishes hot. Add chipotle, cayenne and/or jalapeno to the ancho in chili to give it spice and heat. Start with just a little hot pepper. It’s easy to add more heat later.

1-4-2010-1 1-4-2010-2
Left: Dried poblanos (Capsicum annuum) are used in chili.
Right: Fresh and versitile, poblanos are used to make chili rellenos.
Photos courtesy
Wikimedia Commons

If you want to grow your own chili peppers, look for poblano pepper seeds or plants. Green anchos are stuffed and used to make chili rellenos. These triangular peppers are the dried version of the poblano chile—the most common dried pepper in Mexico.

To make your own chili powder, start with ground ancho chili pepper. Add cumin and Mexican oregano. Then, add onion and garlic. I use fresh onion and garlic because it is readily available, but you can use garlic and onion powder. Finally, add hot peppers to taste.

Here is a salt-free chili seasoning mix. This is a guide. Add more or less of any ingredient to make this your own special chili powder. With the rich flavors of your own chili powder, you won’t miss the salt.

Chili Seasoning Mix

• 3 tablespoons ground ancho
• 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano, dried
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne

Some chili recipes include tumeric, dried mustard, thyme, cinnamon or paprika. So don’t be shy—chili is an easy dish to experiment with and learn about the depth and flavor of herbs and spices. Original Texas-style chili contains no beans or tomatoes, so be creative.

We will talk about other traditional Mexican herbs and seasoning to plant in a salsa or chili garden. Be on the lookout as those catalogs come rolling in.


How to grow peppers:

AgriLife Extension
University of Illinois Extension

Pepper seeds and plants:

The Cook’s Garden
Renee’s Garden Seed

Chili spices:

Penzeys Spices

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