Thursday, 29 July 2010

Photo Update Numero Cuatro

Trinidad Scorpion mature pod.

A very curious immature Trinidad Scorpion pod.

Mature and immature Royal Gold Habanero pods.

That's about it for now, but will try to get the video of Dr. J eating the Barrackpore 7-Pot uploaded soon.


Photo Update Numero Tres

Barrackpore 7-Pot. This is one SEXY looking pod. Dr. J tried half of it the day after this photo was taken. There will be a video soon!

Maize Morado! It is either producing the female tassels, or this is the first little corn cob!

Photo Update Numero Dos

From the top, clockwise: Chocolate Habaneros, Orange Habaneros, Naga Morich, Datil, Ring of Fire Cayenne, and Madame Jeannette (yep, they do look like Orange Habs, but they all taper towards the end)

Chocolate Habaneros

Orange Habaneros. The largest one there was bigger than the BIG Chocolate Habanero in the previous post. It was amazing!

All good stuff! :-)

Photo Update Numero Uno

It has been a while since I posted photos, so I shall try to play catch up.

Having said that, here are some photos from 5&6 July:

A BIG Chocolate Habanero. Un Habanero Chocolate bien grande.

A Cayenne Ring of Fire. Un 'Cayenne Ring of Fire'.

From top to bottom: Chocolate Habaneros, Ring of Fire, Naga Morich (Bottom Left), Orange Habanero (Bottom Right). El Naga Morich se ve distinto al tradicional. Esta temporada todos los ajies de la planta de Naga Morich han crecido de esa manera. Pero no crean que son menos picantes. Para nada! son lo mas picante que he probado (casi).

More of the same :-)

Update 'Numero Dos' will be up shortly.

Monday, 26 July 2010

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished


It's another one of those days.

Tomorrow, J from the office will be eating the Trinidad Scorpion pod. That should be extremely interesting.

Today I went to a Service Seminar sponsored by work.

It seems staff are not 100% knowledgeable about providing that 'Wow!' that the service industry requires (I know, I know. But Aji Chombo, you work in a LIBRARY within an 'educational institution'. It seems educational institutions are also a part of the service industry. I would feel much more comfortable if we just called them what they are: Bu$ine$$e$. Rather than sugar-coat it to the young and impressionable masses whose money we w....I mean who we seek to enrich with the knowledge and training that can only be afforded by a top class educational institution.)

But I digress.

The Seminar was all right. It was neither as bad as other people made it out to be (I was seriously thinking it was going to be happy-clappy rubbish), nor was it revolutionary enough in the knowledge it imparted to make me want to quit my sarcastic ways completely and devote my life to being the model employee.

Somewhere in the middle is fine by me for the time being.

At the end of the seminar, as I walked to the supermarket (yes, the place where they still can't tell a Spring Onion from a Tomato), I bumped into one of my colleagues from the seminar (there were people from all sorts of departments). She and her husband were helping to look for a Dalmatian pup which has somehow gotten free from the collar of their owners. I decided to walk up the street I normally walk down to (parallel to the one the dog was reported to have run up), just to see if the dog might have entered the large construction area next to it.

No biggie, I told myself. Just a fifty foot walk from the door to TESCO.

And lo and behold, in the parking lot a few feet further from the construction site:

The pup (rather large one at that).

I motioned for it to come to me, crouching down.

Predictably, the dog bolted in the opposite direction.

After running around like a headless chicken for about 5 minutes inside the little parking lot (me), the dog then ran up the road, further away from the commotion and towards a larger avenue.

I gave chase, though winded. I thought to myself:

'Surely, this dog will be disorientated and will tire easily.'


Dalmatians, it seems, are much like sharks. They need to keep moving constantly, or will turn a solid colour.

This one also seemed a bit deaf, since it paid no attention to me calling to it.

To make a long story short, it managed to jog (with me thirty feet behind) all the way to within a few feet of the building I live in, which is about five blocks from TESCO.

Only for it to turn and sprint back in the direction it had just come from.


I continued to give chase, albeit now with the impetus of a very old man with chronic pneumonia walking up a steep incline.

Last I saw of the bitch (it was a female dog, so I am within the correct terminology to refer to it as such) was its 'waggily' tail as it turned another corner on the maze of small streets in the neighbourhood near my flat.

I limped back to TESCO defeated, and with heavy cramps in both legs and oddly enough, in my right triceps (how that happened while running is beyond me).

I bumped into my colleague in TESCO, and told her what happened, and both had a laugh (mine was more a mask to hide the severe lack of physical condition and wincing pain I am in). As she left, she said:

'You know why we did this. It was because of the seminar.'

I replied vehemently:

'I would have still done it for a dog, regardless of the seminar.'

In hindsight, it sounded rather presumptuous, goodie-two-shoes of me, almost as if I was some sort of Acolyte of Francis of Assisi (patron saint of Animals), and if I have to be honest, while there was truth in the sentiment (I routinely find myself having to rescue animals left and right, though half the time I may not want to touch them. So maybe there is some truth to this acolyte nonsense), had I not asked what was going on when I bumped into my colleague, I probably would have been on my merry way, clueless to the missing canine.

So there you have it. Twenty minutes heavy jog with a rucksack (backpack), soaked jeans, a missing Dalmatian, and a Service Seminar.

And I complain about boring days.

I might invest in a Dalmatian snare for next time (and then the pet will probably be a reticulated python)...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Kids Aren't All Right

Es una tragedia ver como la juventud de hoy se separa mas y mas de la naturaleza, prefiriendo en vez la atraccion de la supuesta 'vida facil' que nos ofrecen los avances tecnologicos.

This is a particularly grating issue for me (The above rant in Spanish).

I pass by my local supermarket (a Tesco) pretty much every other day, to pick up little things we run out of in the house.

Of late, there has been an ever increasing number of young people working at the tills or 'cajeros'.

Sin duda esto se debe a la recesion economica que esta afectando a la mayor parte del planeta.

What has been shocking, though, has been the fact that over the course of the past two weeks, as I've had to interact with about half a dozen young employees (I would say they are in their late teens), I have come to realize a sad truth:

The can't tell their Leeks (Puerro) from their Butternut Squash (Calabaza).

It may just be me being my usual 'cranky old fool', but I felt really sad and embarrassed for these young people, who simply have no idea what vegetable or fruit are.

These weren't exotic fruit and veg. They were simple, every day use vegetables in English cuisine (or Welsh if you're referring about the Leeks). More importantly, they are everyday items stocked by the supermarkets they work in (Tesco, please take note of this PLEEEEEEASE train your staff to know what they are selling).

At least one of them looked at me and semi-confidently said 'This is a Sweet Potato, yeah?'.

Maybe I demand too much. Maybe I shouldn't ask today's generation to be knowledgeable of what they eat and how it is grown.

Maybe I have watched too many television programmes about people who simply don't know that food comes from a more rich, beautiful and at the same time tragic diversity of locations. That our food is part of a cycle that transcends geographic, ethnic, religious, and political boundaries, yet is inevitably bound to them.

Food is much more than simple flash packaging!

It is much more than potato crisps (chips to the yanks)!

It is life!

Go Food! (glorious food! ;-P)

Friday, 23 July 2010

Bullet the Blue Sky

Lightning-fast post (work has been keeping me busy these past few weeks):

1. The Maize Morado has FINALLY shown Cob-like growths! These would be either the female tassels, or the fully pollinated corn cobs. There are three at the moment, so WOHOO! Also, I only found this out today, but the Corn has grown so tall, it is growing INTO the office roof!

2. The Datil pods matured, so I now have two Datil pods at home. Photos of them and some of the other ones will be posted soon-ish. I plan to use the pods to make some sort of Tuna steak in Mango and Datil chutney dish... may or may not work. The plant has now gotten two more pod-lings, so more good news.

3. After weeks of having only ONE pod (which is now ripening to a glorious red) The Barrackpore 7-pod has more pods. The same is happening to the Aji Umba Red, which had only two pods, but has now got about six. The two Jamaican Red Hots have also gotten a few pods in them. This means the only plants not to have provided ANY pods so far are the two Fataliis (no surprise there) and the two Black Nagas (noooooooooooo!). The Trinidad Scorpions still has only ONE pod...which is also now ripening.

4. I am a bit confused with some of the pods that have resulted from some of the swaps for seeds. Mind you, this is also part of the fun of seed trading: you never quite know what you'll get! The Habanero Golden pods have just started a very ORANGE colour. The Madame Jeannettes have also a very ORANGE colour. I thought the first were supposed to ripen to a light yellow/gold colour, and the second ones to a deep red. Ah, well. They all look very good regardless.

5. The Brazilian Starfish and Red Squash peppers have fallen under some form of spider mite attack that has left the two Red Squash plants pretty beaten up. I don't think they will be able to survive this, and I fear I may lose the pods, which is a shame, since they are very interesting and dare I say visually striking pods. I have tried to spray them with SB Plant Invigorator, but the mites seem to be unaffected by the spray.

6. I really should get to work on that web page of mine.

7. Powdering chillies is fun, but cutting them is painful! I discovered that vinyl gloves SHOULD NOT be used for this. They tear too easily and, more alarming, suffer from micro-tears which means they aren't detectable until your fingers start to hurt. I spent three days with my thumb feeling as though it was being bitten by fire ants. And this even after using copious amounts of olive oil to wash the fingers to get the capsaicin washed off properly. I made Chocolate Habanero powder, Orange Habanero powder, and Naga Morich powder.

8. Will post photos soon! :-)

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Diversity of Life

Occasionally when growing plants, or indeed whenever you study life, you get the chance to see the intricacies of genetics at work.

One of the plants growing this season at the office is a Royal Gold Habanero. I planted and thankfully germinated two seeds. The plants have had very good, bushy growth, and unlike some of the other C. Chinenses at the office, this plant has not only flowered profusely, but produced a generous quantity of pods.

The pods in question have not been at all similar to the ones I saw on the chileman database, which is the same photo from the nursery which originally sold the plant (whether or not the nursery is the origin of the plant is unknown to me). I got the seeds from one of the forum members, so there might have been the possibility of cross-pollination (not that it bothers me much, to be honest).

The pods themselves have been 99.9% arrow-head shaped, about an inch and a quarter long by three quarter inches wide at the widest. I must be too much of a movie buff, because the pods remind me of the explosive arrowheads from Rambo III.



Nevertheless, they are quite attractive pods.

Now, I said 99.9% because the main plant, the one in full production (the second plant has only now started producing, as it was considerably smaller than the first), has produced on pod significantly different than the rest of it's brethren:


I find this amazing.


Downright cool.


How fantastic is it to watch a plant produce lovely pods all over, and then, just as a small surprise, it goes ahead and gives you one pod completely different from everything else! Genetic variation at its freshest!