Tag Archives: Gardening

Easy Pickled Banana Peppers

14 Aug

So as most of you know, I expanded my vegetable garden this year from one planter to two.  In the past the only kind of peppers I have grown were bell peppers (of which I don’t even like).  I love them when they’re red, yellow or orange, but once they turn green, I’m out. 

This year I planted 4 other varieties, one of which was yellow banana peppers.  My taste buds tend to gravitate toward the spicy, pickled, vinegar, garlic… must be the Italian in me.  Anyway, I put yellow banana peppers on every sandwich I eat.  So it just made sense to try and grow them myself. 





They start out oblong and yellow on the plant, and eventually become funny looking fellows.  I had no idea they’d get all curly.  Once I picked them and brought them in the house, I found after several days they started to turn orange and then red.  Pretty cool.



Now what to do with them?  They didn’t really taste very good in this raw state.  At least it wasn’t the flavor I was looking for.  I went online and found several recipes to help me pickle them.  Quite a few called for celery seed and mustard seed, but of course I don’t have those in my spice cabinet, so I searched until I found a recipe that included only the ingredients I had.  I know I could have just gone and bought the other ingredients, but why not just try this one? 

The recipe called for 2 pounds of peppers.  My goodness, how many plants do they have?  My plant typically yields about 2 peppers at a time.  Because I didn’t have as many peppers, I adjusted all the other ingredients to suit my crop.  Like I always tell you, it’s your kitchen, your rules.



 7-8 peppers, varying in color (because they were varying in how long they’d been sitting in my kitchen)

4 cloves of garlic (sliced in half lengthwise)

¾ cup water

¾ cup white vinegar

2 tsp salt



  1. Wash the peppers, cut off the tops and remove the top section of seeds (it’s like a ball)
  2. Slice the peppers into rings of whatever thickness you prefer
  3. Put the rings and garlic pieces into a glass jar that has an airtight seal when closed (Mason jar, etc.) 
  4. In a small saucepan add the water, vinegar and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat
  5. Remove from heat and pour over the top of the rings and garlic
  6. Use a butter knife to move the peppers around to remove air bubbles and get the peppers and garlic submerged in the liquid
  7. Seal the jar and set aside on the counter overnight – the peppers will fade in color a bit
  8. After 24 hours, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks



After they had been in the refrigerator for a full day I thought I’d give them a try.  And I really loved the way they looked; red, yellow and orange all swimming in the delicious pickling juices.  Everyone getting along.  I wasn’t sure what to expect taste-wise though.  Would the flavor be just like the ones I buy at the store?  Would it be better?  Worse?  They were pretty darn good, I must say.  My daughter’s first thought was they could use more “bite”.  I already know what you’re thinking…  Maybe if I’d used the mustard or celery seeds it would have provided that extra spice.  Don’t misunderstand, my batch is good, they have a nice tangy flavor, they’re just not hot.  Do I need this batch to be hot?  Absolutely not.  Now bring on the sandwiches, I’ve got peppers to eat!


Roses are red…

21 Jul

People say roses are about the easiest flower you can grow.  I used to think those people were delusional.  I never had the kind of success others did and always figured it must be my soil, my brown thumb, my roses themselves, etc.  Today I would agree that roses are pretty darn easy but it’s taken me many, many years to come to that side of thinking.










The other day I talked about the importance of watering your garden.  Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that you must cut back your roses.  I know, I know everyone knows that, right?  It’s not that I didn’t know it; I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  You see, I’d look at the beautiful roses and wonder why on earth would I cut it back?  They were so pretty.  If I cut them for vases, the bush would be bare.  Who wants that?  What if it doesn’t grow back?  What if I don’t get any more blooms?  What if I kill it altogether?  I was haunted by the what ifs… so I did what I always did.  Nothing.










I was told repeatedly the only way for them for flourish was to cut them back.  But did I listen?  No.  For years and years I did it my way and you know what I got?  Rose bushes that didn’t thrive.  Want more proof of my insane stubbornness?  Right outside my office is the most incredible rose garden.  We have approximately 1,000 rose bushes and 50 or so rose trees in as many different varieties as you can imagine.  We even cultivate our own varieties.  Suffice it to say, we’re no novices.



Every week I watch the groundskeepers cut the roses, and I usually walk over to take a few stems to put in a vase to brighten up my office.



Every February I watch them cut them back to about a foot tall.  Because we all know the first rule of rose care is pruning.  But was I practicing it at home?  Still no.



It wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally bit the bullet and thought I’d see what all the fuss was about. I was willing to sacrifice every rose bush in my yard in case this newfangled idea fell flat when I practiced it.  And then, just like magic my roses bloomed!  And not only did they bloom, they were plentiful.  Huh, must’ve been some kind of miracle.  Amazing what kind of magic happens in my yard when I take the advice of experts.  Maybe they’re on to something…



Today, I have about a dozen different varieties of roses in my yard.  I cut them back heavily each new year and continue to cut them throughout the year.  It still pains me to cut back something that’s growing and seems to be doing beautifully.  I have to remind myself that the rose wants me to cut it.  It needs me to cut it.  Sometimes it’s begging me to cut it.




I’m cheating it (and me) if I don’t.  Feeding it, watering it and giving it sunshine are just not enough.  Every once in a while it needs a good haircut just like I do.  Now when I go outside if I look close enough sometimes I think I see them smiling at me.  Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe it’s just a little of that garden magic.  Either way, I’m smiling too.

My Two Professors

18 Jul

I love to garden.  It’s more than a hobby, it’s a passion.  It’s something I enjoy not simply because it’s relaxing and gives me a sense of accomplishment, but I’m always learning something new.  I like that.  With a yard the size of mine it’s a full-time job.  Unfortunately I already have a full-time job, so until someone’s going to pay me to tend to my own yard, it is what it is.  I guess it’s a good thing I love being Out There.

I’m fortunate enough to have two people that help teach and guide me.  First, my friend Monique (who I’ve mentioned a few times here before).  She’s my go-to when I don’t remember the name of a plant, or how to care for it.  She tells me how to feed it and when.  She’s taught me a lot; most recently that plants need water.  I know, I know we all know that, right?  It’s not that I don’t water my plants, but with a yard my size and so many different varieties of plants, shrubs, flowers, trees, vegetables… it’s hard to know what needs what.  And how often.  She came over recently and said one of my vegetable gardens needed more water.  So, I increased the water and just like Samantha twitching her nose, everything starting growing taller and fuller.  Huh.  Interesting, I thought.  She might be on to something.  And if you haven’t checked out her blog before… please do so.  Visit her Little Yellow House.

The second person is my aunt Nancy.  And while she may not have the formal training Monique does, what she knows comes from a lifetime of experience and let me say she’s a natural.  I usually leave her house with some sort of cutting even though I remind her that my house is where her plants go to die.  She just laughs and says she has faith.  The bad news is I’d be scared to count how many have actually died.  And when I tell her about the corpse, she just gives me something else and says, “Okay, there’s no way you can kill this one”.  Yikes, no pressure!  The good news is my yard is also full of beautiful plants that were originally hers.  What a lovely tradition and what a blessing she is in so many ways.  Another nice thing is that I don’t have to share her, she doesn’t have a blog.  Yet.

I started writing tonight because I wanted to post some pictures of my flowers and yet somehow I got on the topic of the learning side of what I love.  When we learn, we grow and we always want to keep our minds stimulated.  Whether it’s through music, literature, nature or formal education, it’s what we need.  I hope I’ve inspired you to learn something new today.  You decide what it is. And then I’d love to hear about it.  Now Get Out There.

First Harvest

5 Jul

So I’m finally seeing the fruits (or vegetables in this case) of my labor.  I still have quite a few other veggies that I’m waiting for, but in the meantime, here’s a little snapshot of what I picked yesterday afternoon.



We have straight neck squash, an Ace tomato, jalapeno peppers and sweet banana peppers.

Any suggestions on how I should use them?  Maybe you have an old family recipe or a newly discovered one you’d like to share.  I’m always looking for new ways to cook things and tantalize our taste buds. 

Stay tuned… we still have peas, beans, eggplant, cauliflower, corn, more tomato varieties, zucchini, lemon cucumber and a few other peppers that need to do their thing. 


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