Stuffed Red Peppers
As we were standing in the doorway to leave their apartment, my mom turned to me and asked where the woman was who had been sitting on her couch. “Do you mean me?” I asked, knowing it had been me sitting on her couch. “No,” she said. “Who was it? Wasn’t there someone else here?”
When people ask me how Mom is doing, I’m not always sure how to answer. The instantaneous forgetting is worse than it used to be. She’s mostly convinced Daddy is her father not her husband. Yesterday she guessed that her son Simon (who is arriving on Friday for a visit!!) was 25-years-old. (Should I mention here that I’m turning 50 this year, and that Simon is a youthful 48?) It is becoming harder to reconcile that sweet-natured, simple-minded woman as being my mom. And yet, Mom is still herself. And she’s mostly happy. So I say she’s doing well. Which is the truth. We walked through town yesterday in the wonderful sunshine, accomplished a few errands, spoke to friends she met in the streets, and even sang some songs as we walked. When we got home, Mom of course wanted to make tea even though we’d just had coffee in a café. We joked that there was no milk, then sang that song, “No Milk Today,” by Herman’s Hermits. We laughed and hugged and danced around the living room.
Then it was time for me to catch my bus. It makes me ache that she doesn’t want me to leave. “No!” she says, “you just got here.” I tell her I’ll be back next week and that I’ll call when I get home (oy va voy if I forget). So, I gather all my things, get some extra amazing hugs and kisses, and I’m out the door. Even if we did nothing special, even if our time was spent wandering aimlessly or talking in circles, I made Mom happy.
Dinner that night was a bit of a complicated affair. I think I used four different pots and pans to put it all together. But I just had to buy all those beautiful red peppers.
Red Peppers Stuffed with Meat and Rice
Maybe this dish is a metaphor for life—lots of complicated twists and turns that end up as one spectacular whole.
4 large red peppers
½ cup water
1½ lbs (500 gr) ground beef or chicken
1 large onion2-3 cloves garlic crushed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup cooked rice
1½ cups tomato sauce
1 cup crushed tomatoes
½ cup tomato paste
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp granulated garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the top off each of the peppers, clean out the seeds, then steam in 1/2 cup water until they turn bright red (approximately 10-15 minutes). Remove and let cool. If you don’t have prepared rice, cook ½ cup rice in 1¼ cups water in a small pan until the water is absorbed. Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic and fry in oil with the ground beef until the meat is cooked through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix rice into meat dish and set aside. In a bowl, combine crushed tomatoes and tomato paste with spices. There is no need to cook the tomato sauce before using.
To assemble the peppers, stand peppers in a baking dish. With a small spoon, spoon the meat mixture into the pepper’s cavity, making sure to tamp it down to get as much in as possible. When all four peppers are stuffed, pour on tomato sauce and bake in at 350° for approximately 20 minutes. Enjoy!