Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Mom's stuffed peppers
I was hungering for my mother's stuffed green peppers, I'm not sure why. As a kid I didn't like them all that well, but the adults did. Especially my father. After Mom died Bonnie would make them for him on New Year's Day.
So I called her the other day to ask her how to make them. And she told me how she makes them, and it's a typical family recipe because you can use this or you can substitute that. There's a lot of different ways to stuff a pepper, but I wanted to recreate Etta Lou's. And Bonnie Lou's.
Bonnie and I were trying to talk but the cell phone reception between Hedgesville, West Virginia and Steamboat Springs, Colorado was sketchy. "You're breaking up, Sis; I'm losing you." "Yeah, you're cutting out too." Anyway, I think I got the gist of the recipe, and the next day she emailed me with some clarifications and possible substitutions.
I love family recipes because they keep us connected in a sensual, visceral sort of way. Just the smell of them cooking evoked a rush of feelings. The memory of our mother's stuffed green peppers is something my sister and I have had in common since childhood and will share until we die. I'd like to pass the memory and tradition on, but truthfully the next generation will likely have their own.
I made them tonight for Bob. Probably not exactly the way my mother made them, or my sister. But I made them with love and left-overs, and we both enjoyed them, Bob and I. We ate them outside on the deck after dark, under the stars. My father would have liked that, I'm sure.
Mom's stuffed peppers for two:
I used ground pork, about half a pound.
bread crumbs and bulgar (I had bulgar on hand, heaven knows why. What could I have possibly made with bulgar? Anyway, it's optional. I think my mother used a little oatmeal for filler.)
salt and pepper; pinch of oregano or other Mediterranean seasoning.
a tablespoon of tomato sauce and a squirt of ketchup (This was a result of my own indecision about which to use.)
minced onion -- about 1/4
I added a handful of left-over cooked rice to help hold everything together.
2 green peppers washed,and hollowed out.
Parboil the green peppers for about ten minutes.
Place in baking dish smeared with olive oil.
Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl, then fill the peppers with a spoon. Cover top with a dab of tomato paste, or a slice of tomato. Add a little water to the baking dish, maybe a quarter cup.
Bake in a slow oven (325-350) for an hour or until the green peppers are wrinkled with some brown streaks and the topping is nice and brown. I actually cooked mine 1 hour and ten minutes. (It's pork, not sushi.)