Yup, it’s pepper time at the Taco household! My yearly foray into the world of gardening starts the first weekend of February with the planting of pepper seeds destined to become lovely pepper fruits for salads, salsas, dinners, powders, and the odd pepper jam. You have to plant hot pepper seeds way before everything else (aside from onions which also get seeded around this time) because they take a while to germinate and the plants grow rather slowly in the “cold” temperatures of the house (A pepper plant does best between about 80 and 95 degrees, and I’m not paying for that gas bill). By the time they go out in the garden (Early to mid June) they’ll only be 6-8 inches high. Once they hit the hot weather in July, though, they tend to finally take off and go crazy.

Two years ago was my first pepper harvest, and I’ve still got loads of peppers ferreted away here and there from that harvest (mostly pickled and frozen).

Here's a small sample of my harvest from 2010.

I’ve also got most of last years harvest tucked away as either dried or frozen peppers. Granted that last year I got roughly half as many peppers due to a short growing season and poor germination rate, but still, I’ve got a lot of peppers hanging out. Something like 10 pounds or so, and most of them so hot it would make a grown man weep.

I powdered a bunch of them so I’m not really in the need for more of that, and I’ve got a baggy of dried peppers for when I start getting low on powder. My wife doesn’t like her food as spicy as I do so many of my super-hots don’t get used in daily cooking. So what’s a boy to do?!

Well, two things really. First, this year I’m growing out mostly mild verieties. I’ve got a few of my super-hot varieties mixed in, for sure, but my garden will be largely dominated by medium, mild, and sweet peppers. Lots of Serrano, Jalapeno, and Ancho seeds were planted in my basement seeding tray this year.

But still, what does one do with all those stored chilies? Well, today I may have found my answer: Sambal Oelek. I love this stuff (normally I buy it in the plastic jar with the green lid) and use it quite often. I’ve decided that I’m going to give this recipe a try in order to thin out my pepper ranks a little. Granted, my version of this paste will likely be way more hot than the commercial version, but I think I might be more prone to using up my peppers if I had a handy sauce that I could just splash on whatever I want to heat up.

Hopefully the cat won’t get too interested in the plants as they grow… I may have to tactically plant some nip to keep him distracted…

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

NOTE: Apparently Food.com is having some server trouble this morning. My link does point to a real recipe, but it isn’t working right now. Most of the recipes on Food.com aren’t working right now either. Hopefully they’ll get it sorted out before too long.