This afternoon was very dull outside so I spiced things up inside by grinding up some dried chillies.
I grow hot chillies every year for several reasons.
* they are easy to propogate from seed
* they look attractive in the garden with bright green leaves and gorgeous red fruit
* we love a bit of spice. I cook a lot of curries, fried rice, spicy noodles and often add a bit of chilli to everyday dishes like steamed silverbeet, chicken stir fry and so many more to give them a bit more oomph.
Chilli plants, being from the tropics, obviously like some heat to get going. I have just pricked out this seasons plants but won't subject them to the current cold temperatures outside so they're still languishing under the heat pump right now. When it is warm enough to plant them outside it takes a while for the flowers and fruit to form but it is so worth it. And when those chillies are formed they will last a surprisingly long time on their little bushes - we picked the last of ours only two weeks ago.
There are several ways of preserving your crop. You can freeze them raw and whole or, like the ones in my photo, you can dry them and then grind them into flakes or powder to add some depth to your cooking.
If you are reading this and thinking "No way, I don't like spicy" just try a little to start with. A pinch in your next batch of cheese scones, a light dusting in your next meal of fried rice, a 1/4 teaspoon with the same of garlic in your next stir fried vegetables... I truly believe chilli lifts food flavour to the next level.