Life has a funny way of not turning out the way you planned. I was cruising along, enjoying life, and then it changed, suddenly. I now find myself in a new house, with new people in my life both close and at arm’s length, and on the eve of being thirty-one years old, I find myself being introspective and examining how the new future will unravel itself before me. As a result of this upheaval, and most of my life being contained to a storage unit–what little of it I managed to escape my earlier life with–I have not been cooking much.
I travel for my moonlighting job and stay in one place for my day job, and over the summer I have been across the United States and back several times and to Canada to train teachers in the art of concept-and-inquiry-based international education. I live in my bed and I live at the gym. I’m no longer the ectomorphic twenty-something who would blow over in the wind. I’m a bit beefier, and I am struggling to figure out how to build my body on a Paleo or Whole30 type of diet. Most kinesiology-based trainers over hype the importance of carbohydrates, both simple and complex, and it leaves my brain wondering “What the hell is going on here?!” I’m still searching. I try being more Paleo, but sometimes Sonic gets in my way and I fall victim to the processed slush and corn dog. I blame the “I GOTTA GROW!” hormones that arrive soon after one completes an intense resistance training workout. You want food, and you want it fast, knowing your body will burn the calories to grow your muscles, not your cellulite.
So, I leave you with this thesis – a stable life is important. Striving for your goals, both personal and physical are important. Family, if you have a few, or many, is important. I had some bell peppers in the fridge and in a burst of “I miss my dearly departed mother” nostalgia, decided to stuff them with delicious fillings and bring back some family based memories. Because I had more fillings than peppers, I also made polpette, and prepared some greens–yes, I put turnips beside this, and it doesn’t really go together, but I was out of Kale. We adapt!
Stuffed Peppers (and Polpette!)
by Jason Osborne, adapted from Momma Monkey
yield 4 peppers and 6 polpette (or 6-8 peppers)
4 green or red bell peppers
one half red onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp italian seasoning
14 ounces of diced tomatoes (a can, or 1/2 cup freshly chopped)
8 ounces tomato sauce (or your own sugo)
a pound, or so, of 93/7 lean ground beef
a few shakes Worcestershire sauce
1.5 cups cooked long-grain brown rice (omit if Paleo)
Preheat the oven to 350F and salt a pot of water that will hold the peppers. Bring the water to a rolling boil while you remove the tops of the peppers, the seeds, and the inside ribs. Blanch the peppers in the boiling water for no more than five minutes, then drain and shock with ice to keep them from turning brown. Dice the usable pieces of the pepper tops, along with the onion. While you’re chopping, mince the garlic and set aside. In a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and peppers until translucent, then add garlic and sauté for one minute. Next, add the tomato products, italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Let this go for ten minutes, stirring every so often.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg with a fork and add salt, pepper, and a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce before adding the beef and rice. Mix this up well with a clean hand. Add about half the tomato mixture to the meat and stir to combine. Reserve the other part. Lube a baking dish and place the thoroughly drained peppers upright. Stuff generously with the meat mixture and when all peppers are filled, pour the remaining tomato mixture evenly over the peppers. At this point, if there is meat remaining, roll into polpette of the size of your choosing and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the peppers for 45-60 minutes or until a probe thermometer registers at least 160F, the minimum safe temperature for ground beef products. The polpette may be done in less time, or more, depending on the size. Use your meat thermometer on those, too.