Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Lo interesante de las 'madamas'

Hace unos días atrás me percate de algo sumamente interesante (bueno, por lo menos para mí).

Existen un buen número de leyendas entrelazadas entre la comida y las 'señoritas de la noche'.

En una vida pasada, en un trabajo pasado, mis compañeros de trabajo y yo les conocíamos como 'trabajadoras sociales' (dado a que, en cierta manera, cumplen con un 'servicio social').

Sin entrar en un dialogo intensivo sobre los orígenes y los precipicios morales que conllevan a esta 'antigua profesión', veamos las comidas 'íntimamente' ligadas a estas personas (utilizo el femenino, porque de a memoria no conozco ninguna comida asociado con un 'prostituto', aunque probablemente si existen. Si saben de alguna, por favor comenten en este espacio.)

El plato más famoso nombrado por estas ilustres damas de la noche es Penne (o Spaghetti) alla puttanesca. Aunque su origen es tema de discusiones extensas en el internet, las leyendas tienden a asociar a este plato de pasta con las prostitutas de Napoli (Italia) quienes, o utilizaban el plato para alimentar a sus clientes, o formaba parte de su dieta.

En el mundo de los Ajíes, tenemos a Madame Jeannette, de la familia Capsicum Chinense. Este ají es oriundo de Surinam, en Suramérica. Según va la leyenda, su nombre viene de una prostituta de Brasil (que hacía en Surinam, nunca sabremos). Tengo una pequeña plantita de MJ creciendo en la oficina, y espero poder probar de sus frutos (lo digo sin morbo).

¡Es más!

A lo mejor me da por cocinar Penne alla Puttanesca en el verano y añadirle un MJ para darle sazón.

Hmmm...No tengo más ejemplos...

Quizás son solamente dos que existen en este mundo nuestro. Simplemente el hecho de haberlos encontrado me causo gran interés, pues sigo con la incógnita del porque se les ha nombrado de esa manera.

En una noticia completamente separada, un tío mío ha puesto fotos de mi infancia en su página web por motivo de mi unión con Almapaprika.

Claro está que no pondré estas fotos en este espacio, ya que pretendo mantener la poca dignidad que todavía tengo (que no debe ser mucha luego de hablar incesantemente de comida y prostitutas).

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

He Bangs, He Bangs

He moves, he moves.

He apparently comes out of the closet...after everyone has known for nearly a decade.

Still, well done to Ricky Martin, most famous of the members of Menudo (what ever happened to that group, anyways?).

Here are the pics I took last Friday. I've been procrastinating as usual, so posts have been few and far in between.

I should take the moment to say many thanks to Marcio, as the seeds have just arrived today in the post from Brazil.

I am most grateful (and a very happy bunny)


This is the Chocolate Habanero Pod. All three seem to have slowed down in growth. Little things, but I will still bet my non-existent house they will be hot!

Madame Jeannette (I always misspell this one. Mon Dieu!). It is doing brilliantly.

Booyakasha! The Trinidad Scorpion is looking handsome!

The Barrackpore 7-pod. Slow to grow, but steady.

Aji Umba Red, also a quick off the blocks grower.

The Black Nagas! Yahoo! Two of the three seeds germinated. I just have to make sure they grow strong.

The Purple Corn (Maize Morado) in their new pot. A bit tight a squeezy, but it should hopefully help later on when they have to pollinate to produce ears of corn.

I need to take photos of the hydro peppers...

Friday, 26 March 2010

I am the Angel of Muesli!

Don't ask why I've put that as the title...

...oh, all right!

I can't really remember the song 'Angel of Music' from Phantom of the Opera (if that is the real title of it), so I remember it as 'Angel of Muesli'.

Which I think is only fair, since there is a Catholic patron Saint for Television (actually, there are THREE), so why not have a Guardian Angel for Swiss breakfast cereals?

Speaking of Saints, it is a telling statement of the power of being able to attract top figures from other countries when the English can hire out a Turk to be their patron (George), the Irish can hire out a Welshman (Patrick), and the Scotts can hire out a Jordanian (Andrew).

Only the Welsh have a 100% Welsh Saint (David).

But given the fact that they export saints effectively (see Patrick), Welsh saints must be like Italian Football coaches...

Went to see 'I love you Phillip Morris' with Almapaprika yesterday (yes, a rom-com). I have to admit that while an entertaining film, I was taken aback by the explicit sexual content of the film.

Guess it just means I'm an old (Middle-aged) prude who needs to watch more TV on Fox...

To his credit, though, Ewan McGregor makes for an endearingly innocent and camp gay man.

Jim Carrey...well...different story.

Now, going back to the topical discussion on Chillies:

I've taken new pics today, which I plan on uploading at the weekend. All the little seedlings are going strong.

The C. Annuums are really taking off!

Both the Ring of Fire and the Thai Dragon are starting to distance themselves growth wise from the C. Chinenses.

The Trinidad Scorpion, Madame Jeannette, Royal Gold, Aji Umba Red and Barrackpote 7-pot are doing really well.

And Guess what?

Two of the Black Nagas germinated!

I had put off answering this until such a time as they germinated: Mr. Arboc, as soon as these babies start producing pods, regardless of the colour, I shall send you some seeds. Maybe a pod even, if the post allows it.

Now I've at least got two little seedlings to watch over.


Good stuff, that!

The Roselle is busting out of the little plastic-bottle greenhouse, and I've had to transplant all of the Maize Morado onto a much larger, 'Final Pot' where all three can grow. It will need extra compost, which I shall buy at the weekend (thinking about Miracle Gro). I shouldn't have any problems with pots this year, as I have a healthy supply of large pots for the plants.

But enough of my mindless babbling.

I'll get the pics up soon.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Long Weekend...

I thought I would have had more time over the weekend to do some updating on the blog, but unfortunately I ended up helping out at the Pokey-Slashy competition being held at uni.

It was loads of fun, though. And I took lots of photos (which went straight to their facebook page). I always like helping out at competitions.

But I digress.

Here's the update of photos I promised from last weekend:

The first Chocolate Habanero pods

It's two new brothers

The Roselle doing really REALLY well!

The same can be said for the Trinidad Scorpion

The Barrackpore 7 pod may be small, but it's still haging on. I hope it grows strong.

The home of all the seedlings. If the growth is as good as it has been this week, I may have to cut all of the dome tops off.

Monday, 15 March 2010

A New Level of Weird...

A co-worker of mine just pointed a news report from the BBC about a blind dog that has it's own guide-dog to get him around...


You read correctly.

A blind dog (Canis lupus familiaris)...

...with it's own guide dog (Canis lupus familiaris).

Personally I would have gone for a guide ferret, or a guide gerbil.

But to each his own...we humans on this planet are reaching new and fantastic levels of unnecessarily weird ('No, Mr. Lapinski, there are no guide dogs left. Lassie XXIII took the last one.')

I tried a spot of gardening (pruning mostly) at the weekend with the blueberries in our balcony. Only two remain from the three I bought. I lasted about 20 minutes before the cold wind forced me back inside. That balcony is good for growing only Scottish Heather or other shrubs that grow in inhospitable terrain.

There goes the climbing rose I bought on Sunday, then...

I also realised an interesting thing from reading other blogs of chilli growers.

Most of them post entries once a month or so. I seem to be the only one who 'waffles on' endlessly about completely unrelated topics (guide dogs, anyone?)

I do hope I don't bore people with non-chilli related filler.

I also attempted to re-create my fantastic Mango, Peach and Naga chutney...only to change it dramatically by using Plums instead of Peaches, forgetting to use the 500g of Tamarind I had NEXT TO THE PAN, and having funky looking frozen Nagas (I have no idea if they were usable, but they looked really mushy and 'icky' when defrosted), which meant I ended up using chilli flakes.

I shall post the recipe and photos later on in the week.

As I predicted, the nice weather at the weekend meant more Chocolate Habanero pods. I counted two more this morning, with possibly another two forming. The Naga Morich is starting to look like it might be producing a pod or two, but I might curtail that to allow it to grow some more after the heavy accidental pruning in winter.

The rest of the seedlings are doing really well, but the Ring of Fire Cayenne is at least one leaf ahead of the rest. Annuums are definitely faster growers than chinenses. The Trinidad Scorpion is also growing at an impressive rate. I've had to tie down a few of the ridiculously leggy seedlings (one of the Royal Gold and one of the Red Squash), but other than that they seem to be OK.

Nothing yet from the Black Nagas...

I'll post some more pics later in the week.

We're scheduled to be in double figures temperature wise this week for the first time since November!


Friday, 12 March 2010


This has been far too nice a week.

Therefore, seeing menacing rain clouds as I left work this afternoon could only mean one thing:

We are returning to service as usual for this city.


But what a week it has been for the plants! They are growing so well, I am once again being filled with a wee bit of joy:

This is one of the windowsills currently being used for plants and seedlings. The Rocoto Rojo has been put on top of the radiator because my co-workers wanted to be able to move the blinds more freely, and it seems to be liking it's new spot.

Chocolate Habanero Flower
This is one of the many Chocolate Habanero flowers. If temperatures stay stable this weekend, there might be one or two pods, but I won't hold my breath.

Rocoto Rojo
The Rocoto Rojo. It looks so nice, I only hope it does better than it did last season and give more than two pods.

Chocolate Habanero
The one Chocolate Habanero pod currently growing. Small, but HOT!

Trinidad Scorpion
The Trinidad Scorpion seedling growing strong. I'm really happy all of the seedlings at work are starting to do better.

Little Elf and Ring of Fire
Cayenne Ring of Fire (left) and Little Elf (right) in the hydroponics at home.

Naga Morich
The new growth on the Naga Morich.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Hydroponics...Home Style!

As I mentioned earlier, I recently decided to finally put all those little bits I had bought since last year to make a hydroponics set for chillies.

So, here's a step by step guide to the wonderful world of DIY hydroponics.

I should warn you, though, that this is a purely experimental design, and there is every possibility that it will be a complete flop!

But then again, it might just work.

Part of the fun is finding out.


Right, first things first. You'll need the following stuff:
-Some gloves (protection first!)
-A good, well lit work surface
-A large bucket or plastic container
-Some empty, clean, used plastic soda bottles
-Some air tubing (the kind you use for aquariums)
-Air Stones (Ditto)
-An air pump (yup. Aquariums)
-A few splitter valves
-Some LECA (Light Expanded Clay Aggregate, though really, what you need is some medium for the plants to grow)
-A Sponge
-A pair of scissors
-Some chilli seeds (key item here, otherwise you might not grow anything)
-Some water and nutrients (also key)

Except for the water and nutrients, the rest of the items are down here:


So, grab your bottles, and cut them down the middle, about 75% of their circumference so that you can open and close them without having two bottle halves. The bottle will become your individual container for the plants.

Then cut small holes at the bottom of the bottles (this is important for drainage)

Insert one of the air stones into the bottle, preferably by punching a hole through the side of the bottle (since if you try to run the air tube under the bottle, it will either not be stable, or you'll restrict air flow to the bottle).

Take the bottles, and fill them with LECA up to the cut off point. Then place all the bottles into your container. Then, take all the air tubes and connect them to the splitter valves.

Grab a sponge, and cut it into small segments. Punch a small hole in the middle of each sponge (the seed goes in there)

Place a small segment into each bottle, so that it sinks into some of the LECA.

Add the seeds!

Add the water and nutrients, so that if fills up about a third of the container (or if you've got a larger container, fill it with about two-three inches of water. You don't want to flood the bottles with water. The air pump and the air bubbles created by the air stone will move the wather via the LECA slowly but continuously up to the sponge).

And presto! one giant contraption built to grow (fingers crossed) some chillies.

This Chilli's aquaphonic, it's stereophonic, it's HYDROPONIC!

Finally got around to making my 'homegrown' Frankensteins Monster of a hydroponics kit at the weekend.

Mr. Arboc, if you're reading this... pretty much takes me out of the 'El cheapo smackdown'...might explain why I've not re-visited the thread in the forum...


As an exercise in 'build your own', or DIY as the Brits call it, it was loads of fun, though.

Even Almapaprika was left agape!

She was amazed at my craft, though what she saw was a mess of air hoses and valves feeding into a bucket with a lot of little plastic soda pop bottles filled with LECA (Light Expanded Clay Aggregate) and with a little sponge in the middle.

But I shall explain this home made kit when I get a chance tonight (and when I can upload the 'how to' photos.)

It was an amazing and beautiful weekend over here, with not a cloud in the sky, and it has continued thus far today.

Shame Saturday night went down to -6 Celsius.

But other than that, perfect growing conditions!

I re-potted (to the little plastic soda pop bottles) and brought to the office:

2x Jamaican Hot
1x Aji Brazilian Starfish

The only chillies left at home now are one Royal Gold and one Fatalii. These should be moved tomorrow.

There are a couple of other seedlings left, but I have a feeling those will not make it, due to the fact that they have been in the dark (in a cupboard) for too long.

It's a shame, really, but it is down to my own incompetence.

The sunny weekend did marvels for the ones at work!

The Royal Gold there, as well as the Ring of Fire, and the surviving Trinidad Scorpion are all starting to show true leaves.

Heat and sunshine.

The best combination for plants.


On a separate, but final note:

I can guarantee England won't win the World Cup. This may sound a bit harsh of me (I like the team and all), but here's the reason why.

As I walked past the neighbourhood next to our flat, I had to cross a large group of children (probably a dozen or so between 10-15yrs old) who were playing football. As I passed by, I overheard a couple of them say (and for this, use your thickest Steven Gerrard or Jaime Carragher accents) 'Try and knock his hat off, lad!' Here I thought to myself

'Great. Bludgeoned to death by a bunch of teenage miscreants and their footballs.'

To my surprise (I say surprise because this is the country that invented the sport), three balls were kicked in my direction with my back turned to them (someone has just asked me if I own a Chillies count?)...

...not a SINGLE one actually achieved what it was intended to do.

The closest one hit my bottom...

...from a poorly placed chip rather than a powerful volley.

And I wasn't running away.

I was simply walking at a normal pace.

The poor kids were left with nothing more to say than

'Could you kick the ball back to us?'

Which I did.

When I finally walked up to it.

Now, from a coach's standpoint (I coached football for a few years), their accuracy was just atrocious, and their ability to put a ball into open space or deliver a good cross non-existent.

Which leads me to this final though:

If a dozen malcontent miscreants who obviously do nothing more than pick on people who wear trilby like hats (why? beats me...or so they tried) and who seem to play football ALL THE TIME can't grasp basic footballing concepts like the ones I mentioned above in order to hit a target, how much hope do their overpaid and equally underdeveloped counterparts going to South Africa have?

If I expect these children to deliver, then moreso their elders!


Friday, 5 March 2010

Life, Death, & 'Black Nagas'

It was a mixed day today.

The second Mustard Habanero seedling, as well as one of the two remaining Trinidad Scorpion seedlings and the lone Aji Limo Rojo have all died. The little things were all just limp inside their little plastic bottles.

I thought it might be the bottles themselves, but every other seedling in a bottle is doing fine (in fact, some are doing really well, like the Ring of Fire Cayenne).

Nonetheless, their little plastic bottles were recycled for good use.

I recently 'bit the bullet' (as it were), and purchased untested 'mutant' seeds from a vendor (chillipepperpete), who was selling a rare oddity called:

The Black Naga.

(waits for sporadic 'oooooooh!...aaaaaaaah!')

Apparently a single plant in a Naga Morich field in Nagaland gave a harvest of Black Naga pods, and Mr. CPP was able to get a hold of some the pods and seeds. He sold them on his e-business for £2.00 for 10 seeds, which is about average for the cost of seeds (and cheaper than another seed vendor was selling his 'Mysterious Yellow Bhut Jolokias' for).

They cost exactly the same as his regular Naga Morich seeds, so I surmised, if they end up producing regular pods, at least I did not pay over the odds, and I'd have some more Naga seeds.

I also bought a bottle of his 2012 hot sauce, which has 'Smoked Bih Jolokia', as well as habaneros. I am looking forward to tasting it this evening, and posting a review about it, if anyone is interested (Lutra Lutra, this is the same company that made Dragon's Blood, so this ought to be interesting).

I am anxiously awaiting some seeds from two different parts of Australia and from Brazil, though I fear the Brazil one might have been lost in the post... :-(

Customs officials do not look kindly to seeds being sent in the post, it would seem...

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Some Photos

Pictures speak more than words.

Here's some I took yesterday (and this morning).

The Datil's new growth after moving to a sunnier place.

The seedlings in their new 'bottle greenhouses'

The First Pod of the Season! a Chocolate Habanero.

Roselle's first true leaves just coming out.

New Naga Morich growth & flowers

Maize Morado! Getting ready to be transplanted soon.

Ferris Wheel near home.

Aji Lemon Drop Seedling germinated in the remains of a decaf tea bag. It works, but the root did not want to dig into the tea.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Que xopa, fren?

He decidido que esta adición al blog será en español, o lo más cerca al español posible dado a que siempre fui un estudiante de 3.5 en mis clases de gramática.

El blog es un espacio cibernético en el cual comparto mis ideas y experiencias, a veces de mi vida, a veces de la vida de mis plantas de ají, aunque hay veces que creo que mas me la paso quejándome como un amargo octogenario quien encuentra imperfecciones en todo lo que ve.

Pero no soy siempre así (simplemente soy un quejón).

El escribir en español es un buen ejercicio para mí, ya que no lo practico lo suficiente. Participo en discusiones en un blog de arquitectura, lo cual me ayuda un poco. Pero con mis hermanos y amigos en Ají-Chombolándia, siempre hablo Espanglish.

Me he dado cuenta de que hay un grupo nuevo de seguidores del blog provenientes de mi país, lo cual me alegra mucho, y pone mayor énfasis en la necesidad de tener un mejor balance en el contenido.

Aun así lo más probable es que el contenido sea en su mayor parte en ingles, pero con interesantes anécdotas y puntos de importancia en español.

¡Una buena noticia!

Hoy, mientras revisaba las plantas en la oficina, encontré el primer ají de la temporada. Se trata de un Habanero Chocolate (Chocolate Habanero, valga la necesidad de traducirlo), lo cual significa que la temperatura nocturna en la oficina ha sido lo suficientemente alta para polinizar las flores.

Chocolate Habanero Pod-ling

Algo interesante (bueno, por lo menos para mi), en mi país, mucha gente planta ajíes (el Aji Chombo, pero ejemplo), sin conocer los requisitos de temperaturas para la propagación de la planta y de polinización.

No hay necesidad, ya que la temperatura en Ají-Chombolándia es mas o menos constante, y casi siempre dentro de los parámetros necesarios.

Pero como Ají-Chombolandes viviendo en el Reino Unido, y teniendo que lidiar con las estaciones (primavera, otoño, invierno, verano).

Hago una breve pausa: acabo de tener que utilizar el español para dar mi primer regaño en el trabajo. Un grupo de estudiantes estaba intercambiando carnets estudiantiles para ingresar y egresar del edificio (algo no permitido), y al acercarme a uno y preguntarle en ingles si ese carnet le pertenecía, me respondió ‘I speak no English’, por lo cual procedí a explicarle cortésmente (lo mas cortés que puedo) las reglas del juego.

Primera vez que hago esto.

Mi identidad secreta ha desaparecido… (Siempre prefiero lidiar con el público en ingles. Ahorra problemas con los jefes).

Pero regreso al tema del ají. En donde vivo y crezco los ajíes, el ‘agricultor’ debe tener conocimiento de estos temas climatológicos para garantizar una buena cosecha.

En lo personal estoy sumamente alegre de este primer fruto, ya que simboliza, para mí, el inicio de la primavera en estos lares.

Y mas importante aun, ofrece la posibilidad de que tengamos ajíes para el ceviche que serviremos en ‘la unión de los ajíes’ entre Almapaprika y este humilde servidor.


Monday, 1 March 2010

Two sides of a coin...or 'cheek to cheek'

How appropriate I finish writing the title of this blog as someone drops a hand full of coins on the floor in front of me.

My flat is a zoo. Well, that would more accurately be the 'the people living in flats in building opposite ours.'

We've been in that flat for nine months now, and I've already been flashed or mooned TWICE.

Sadly this has not been the sort of male, hormone-induced fantasy where the other human being prancing around in the buff is part of the 'Swedish bikini team' (it's a 90's American thing. look it up).

Nope, the 'exposers' were blokes.

Non-too sightly ones at that.

The first such instance occurred one Saturday morning (so traumatizing was it that it has been etched into my memory), when a group of what I can only describe as YOBS (English thing. Look it up), decided to continue whatever alcohol and drug fuelled party they came from in their own flat. At one point, I look out of my living room balcony door to discover one said shaven headed, pasty white gentleman is nearly hanging from the balcony railing while dancing to trance music (if you can call that dancing), with nothing but a can of beer to hide his shame.

This past Saturday, however, it was the person opposite our flat, who opened the blinds to his bedroom, and proceeded to moon us as he put on his underpants. Why someone walks around a house wearing nothing more than a grey sweatshirt (hoodie) is beyond me.

Again, as per usual, Almapaprika missed both 'encounters with the arse kind'.

I went with Almapaprika and some friends of hers to watch 'Swan Lake' recently. It was an all male production (well, all the swans were played by men) much acclaimed in London and other places. I must admit that I am not a Ballet 'Afficionado' per se (I'll attend a showing more for the music than the prancing around), and found myself drifting off at points. But it was entertaining (the 60% or so I was awake for), and dare I say it, quite hilarious at times.

My man flu continues to besiege me (probably why I fell asleep at the Ballet), now filling me with so much phlegm I am a mere day away from speaking fluent Dutch (Nee, Mario! Nee!).

I have brought to the office today the following seedlings:

1x Fatalii
2x red squash

The sun and the radiators are working wonders with the plants. The Rocoto Rojo has grown two new branches that are already a good 4-5 inches long. The Naga Morich, Chocolate Habanero and Datil all also show a lot of progress in new growth, though I am worried the Orange Habanero and the Caribbean Red Habanero may end up not making it.

I am half tempted to buy some Blossom Set spray to help the plants produce pods though the temperatures might not be ideal, though I feel it's a bit like cheating (but then again, so are heated beds...), if only because I'm still reminded of the near hundred flowers both Fataliis gave last year and the ONE pod that came from all that...