Monday, August 16, 2010

attitude adjustment


That used to be me, complaining.

I told you back in June that it was getting hot in Dallas. Well, it seems now to have just been warming up for kicking our fannies come August. At 10:30 the other night, it was still 100 degrees. Nope, that's not a typo; one-zero-zero.

"Lawdy" as Papa used to say.

Although I'm in skimpy clothes at home, and our house is thankfully very cool, I still find myself mimicking Papa as I fan myself and exclaim, "Lawdy!" For effect, I usually say it more than once; "Lawdy, Lawdy!"

I love going to some of our local restaurants this time of year. I throw on my big straw hat to dash across the parking lot. I open the door and then....mercy me, I do believe I've died and gone to heaven.

There are cool tile floors, tall ceilings, maybe with a fan or two whirling. The window blinds are only slightly cracked and there's music---lots of music. Chilled drinks and firery food are waiting.

If it wasn't blistering hot outside, these places wouldn't feel the same. They simply wouldn't. See, that's the great thing about it.

So I say we all need to put on a little summer swagger, just get-over-it, and celebrate.

We do that at home by hanging chile pepper lights.

Strung across the kitchen, they greet Spoke as he pours his first cup of coffee at sunrise and they keep me company, writing into the wee hours.

Our neighbors no longer wonder about that ruby glow coming from 3906. It's become a tradition. The lights are our way of enjoying the season which, Lawd willing, will one day move us closer to fall.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 yellow bell peppers, washed, tops cut off and seeded (reserve tops)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 of a large, sweet, yellow onion, diced
2 medium zucchini, diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced on a plate to save the juice
1/3 cup of the bell pepper "tops", diced
4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
3 cups cooked white rice
a handful of wild salad greens
3 sprigs Italian parsley, chopped
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese, grated
4 to 6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano for topping

Here are the peppers before they're topped with cheese. Notice how the tomatoes turn the rice a bit pinkish.

Cook the Rice
Prepare the rice by your favorite method and keep warm.

Bake the Peppers
Wash and dry the peppers. Cut off the tops, remove the seeds and large pieces of membrane. Set the tops aside. Wrap the peppers in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degree F. for half an hour. Remove from the oven, carefully remove the foil and pour any liquid in each pepper into a small bowl. Set the bowl aside. Allow the peppers to cool.

The Saute
In a saute pan, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, zucchini, and bell pepper "tops". Season with salt and pepper, cooking until the vegetables are softened. Set aside.

Transfer the cooked rice to a large bowl. Add the vegetable saute, tomatoes and their juice, pine nuts, salad greens, parsley, red pepper flakes, and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fill and Bake
Press the rice into each pepper, filling to the top. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Top with additional cheese and bake on a parchment lined pan for half an hour in a preheated 350 degree oven.

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