My wedding dinnerMy husband asked me an interesting question yesterday.  He asked “why do you love to cook so much?”  The easy answer is because I love to make other people happy.  People just get happy when they eat good food; many of my happiest moments involve food and the people I love.  You can cook a wonderful meal for a group of people and rarely does it not bring them together laughing and happy, even if it’s for just that hour or so.  He responded “so you do it only for others?”

Well the truth of it is that “yes, I do it mostly for others but it’s also for me.”  I don’t know how many of you know chefs or other people who really love to cook but I can tell you that most of us would not get up and cook an elaborate meal for ourselves but we will make that effort for anyone at almost anytime of the day (unless I’m in a bad mood).  Instead, when it’s just me at home, I pull out some leftovers or grab a bowl of cereal and milk.  It’s the rare occasion where I will cook a meal for myself and if I do it’s something like throwing a potato in the microwave for a “baked potato” or frying up an egg with toast.

It’s not that I don’t eat well or take care of myself, it’s just that I don’t go to that much trouble for me.  Maybe I’m wrong to not spoil myself like that but there’s something about cooking for just one that just isn’t the same as when I cook for others.  If I want fine cooking for me, I go to a restaurant and get someone else who loves to make others happy to cook it for me.

The rest of the answer is that I love to cook because it uses all my senses and my creative skills.  The combining of beautiful ingredients that I picked out into flavors that wake up the mind and the body with the wholesome goodness.  Cooking awesome food is an art and I get to reap the rewards of that art when I watch people enjoy it. I love to watch people relaxed, enjoying the food I’ve cooked, the smiles on their faces.  It means for a brief moment in time, I’ve managed to take their minds off their worries and they are present in that moment rather than being lost in all their worries and the heaviness of life.  Food brings people together in a way most other things don’t.  So yes, I cook for others but I also cook for me, the artist.

So there, you have a brief deep moment to view into the head of a cook who loves to bring out the flavors of life in food.  Now let’s move on to roasted red peppers.  Roasted red peppers are simple goodness that take just a few easy minutes to prepare.  They can be used as themselves in sandwiches (they would be great and add another flavor to Roasted Eggplant Sandwiches), on pizza, in pasta sauces or in hummus or dips.  Roasted red peppers are very versatile and the uses are only limited by your imagination.  They also taste better and are cheaper than those in the jars you buy when homemade.

Roasted Red Peppers

  • Turn on the Oven Broiler or Heat up the Grill to medium high heat (either works well).  Position the rack in the middle of the oven.
  • If broiling, line a baking sheet with foil and lay the peppers on it.  If grilling, lay the peppers directly on the grate.Red Peppers
  • Place in the heat source until the pepper skin blackens then turn the peppers to an uncooked side.  Use tongs because the peppers get hot.  Do until you have completed the entire pepper.
  • Enjoy the smell of the peppers cooking, this really is one of the best smells in the world.
  • If you happen to be doing hot peppers indoors, make sure you use the vents to blow the air out of the kitchen.  It’s best to do hot peppers outside because breathing in the air of the roasting hot peppers can burn your eyes, throat and sometimes the skin on really sensitive people.
  • Once the peppers are done, remove from the pan or grill and place in a plastic bag (I use leftover grocery bags, a way to recycle).  Seal up the bag and leave the peppers sitting in it until they have cooled down or for at least 30 minutes. This causes the peppers to sweat and release their skins easily.
  • Remove the skins and seeds.  You are now ready to use your peppers.
  • For short-term shortage: place the peppers into a glass jar (I use recycled pasta sauce jars) and cover with olive oil. You can store in the fridge for one to two weeks.  Use the flavored olive oil in other dishes, don’t throw it away.
  • For longer term storage: Wrap each pepper into wax paper (allows the pepper to release after frozen) and place in a one-quart freezer bag (will hold several).  Then freeze!

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