Yesterday morning, I finally managed to meet up with two ladies from the American Women’s Club to check out some local riding stables. I think we all concurred on one of the two we saw and will be starting with our lessons soon. I just can’t wait to be on a horse again…it’s been too long! We got a tour of the stables, met some of the horses that were around, and learned a few interesting things during our inspection. It’s always intriguing to find out how things are done differently in other countries. In the UK, when riding a horse from a stable or going on lessons, one cannot ride alone and must always have an instructor by the side for insurance purposes, unless the horse belongs to you, of course. (Then you’re allowed to ride alone.) For a beginner or someone who is rusty, like myself, it’s actually comforting to know this, since it takes a while to establish a rapport with a new horse. But I’m sure that for the more experienced rider it could be a nuisance. In Germany, on the other hand, we were allowed to ride on our own. Yet, in Germany and the Netherlands, if you do not have a certificate with your handicap, you are not allowed to play golf! We haven’t gone golfing here yet.. so no idea how things work in that arena! Every country does things differently. That’s part of the fun of living abroad and being an ex-pat, all these quirky things we get to experience.
One of the things I don’t like about ex-pat life is having only one car. Because we are living in a big city, parking is just not practical with two vehicles. Shopping for groceries can prove to be quite an uncomfortable experience (unless one gets delivery). We usually get our bi-weekly shopping done with the car; but in between, we do shop locally, which means carrying the bags home, an ordeal that can be cumbersome. And if it’s raining like yesterday, you have to perform a juggling act between your purse, the bags, and the umbrella or simply get soaked. I opted for the latter and had an interesting hair do by the time I arrived home with all the bags. 😉
But, as I’m preparing a few surprises for my husband’s birthday next week, I decided to grab the things I needed on way home anyway. However once in the store, I got so distracted that I forgot one of the main ingredients for my surprise! My distraction was looming in the vegetable aisle, where the most gorgeous looking bell peppers I’ve seen in a while were so beautifully stacked.
They looked absolutely perfect for stuffing. So, I bought three of each colour and came quickly home to put out the ground meat to thaw. The recipe that follows is inspired by one of my mother’s, but with quite a few changes of my own. It turned out delicious; and my husband helped himself to seconds!
PIMIENTOS RELLENOS CON QUINOA – QUINOA STUFFED PEPPERS
Ingredients, for 6:
- 6 large bell peppers (I used yellow and green)
- 500g lean ground beef
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4-5 brown mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- sea salt, to taste
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
Rinse the bell peppers, and cut the tops off, leaving the stem on them. Remove the seeds. Set aside.
Place the quinoa with 2 cups of water in a pot over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, covered.
Preheat oven to 180C, about 350F.
In the meantime, in a skillet or wok, heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the ground meat and brown, cooking thoroughly. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes and spices, and cook about 3-4 minutes. Add the wine and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until the wine evaporates. Mix in the quinoa, and adjust for salt, if necessary.
Place the bell peppers in an oven-proof dish (making sure they fit snugly so they do not tip over) and drizzle the insides with some olive oil. Spoon the meat mixture into each pepper, and cover the peppers with their own tops. Drizzle with additional olive oil over the covered peppers. Place in the middle rack of oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.
We ate our stuffed peppers with a side of sautéed bok choi.
Note: I don’t like to use aluminum foil when cooking. So, the peppers got a little “burnt” on top. If you do use aluminum foil, just place a sheet over the peppers, so they do not burn. Or perhaps a sheet of parchment paper would also do the trick. I’ll have to try that next time!