Birthday Blanch

Today I turned another year older. Normally I’m not a huge birthday person – I have a really special kind of inability to accept presents gracefully. Of course, my fabulous husband, family and friends helped me feel special for the twenty-somethingish time (so much love!), but this year I wanted in on the fun. It had to be something new, a challenge, but something that couldn’t end that badly.

Blanching. That’s weird. Yeah, I know, but it was a means to an end. Blanching was the only thing standing between me and stuffed peppers. The stuffed peppers I would need for the World Series week of lost sleep ahead of me, when cooking just wasn’t going to be the priority and a week’s worth of take-out didn’t feel like the solution.

So blanching. Today. It had to happen.

I went to the supermarket and bought the peppers to blanch and stuff; bought the meat, nuts and veggies to stuff them with; and bought some other treats to celebrate the day (when apricot preserves are on sale, forget it, it’s done).

For those of you who blanch regularly – or have blanched even once before – you know this isn’t exactly rocket science. It’s boiling the peppers for a set period of time and then dropping them in cold water to stop the cooking before the peppers become a squishy mess that make it impossible for you to put anything inside of them without completely falling apart. Since peppers aren’t exactly inexpensive, since I needed to count on few good meals, and since it was my birthday after all, I really, really wanted to avoid mushy peppers.

With a bit of faith and a reliable timer, I boiled the water and dropped the peppers in one by one. Then I held my breath and, naturally, thought of all the ways things could go wrong. Meatloaf, I told myself, would at least be a way to repurpose this meal if all else failed. No one would be the wiser for it!

At this point, I’m happy to report that blanching was a huge success. The peppers didn’t fall apart. In fact, with help from my oven, they turned into beautiful, stuffed future-dinners less than an hour later. A Birthday Blanch for the ages … or at least for the age I’ve just turned.

And one more thing – to be clear, only because I love my husband – Let’s Go Mets!

Ryan Vale McGonigle

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