Joie de Vivre

How to Bottle Summer

For me, one of the best things about summer is about the heat. I have a great way to preserve it, or to be more precise – bag it.

I grow extra peppers and put them in gallon freezer bags, right off the plant without washing them. A quick rinse when they come out of the freezer is enough to thaw them before cooking. This is one of the things that gets me through the long, cold, dark days of winter.

Joie de Vivre

Pop’s Ceviche Recipe

Cover to letter.

My father was born and raised in Panama. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and eventually came to the states. At some point in 1961, he wrote home and asked for a recipe for ceviche, a favorite side dish/appetizer in Panama. It came on a lovely piece of stationary, shown here.


Ceviche is originally from Peru, and there are variations of it all over South America. It’s spicy and actually quite refreshing during the hot summer months.


Here’s how to make it:

  • White Onions
  • Capers
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 10-12 limes
  • White fish, shrimp, octopus (more below)
  • Parsley
  • Jalepeno, habanero, Jamaican pepper or similar
  • Celery (optional)

Finely chop the onions, peppers, parsley and fish. Mix evenly in a bowl with salt and capers and then add to a mason jar or similar. Squeeze lime juice into jar until all ingredients are covered. Cover and refrigerate.

Ceviche Cookin'

I tend to leave it in the fridge for at least three hours, but it’s safe to eat when the fish is white (and/or the shrimp turns pink). Ideally, it will be served chilled shortly after the fish is “cooked.” The citric acid in the limes causes the seafood to become pickled, and cooks the fish without heat. It works.

TIP:Did you know that you can clean a grill with a lime? I cut them in half and scrub mine with them – they cut through the grease and grime faster than Mr. Clean can shave his head.

I’ve had ceviche in Panama, and Pop’s was just as good. In Panama, the fish is corvina (white sea bass or a similar croaker) . Corvina can actually mean many varieties of fish found in the region, but they are salt water varieties. If you make ceviche with fresh water fish, it’s a good idea to freeze it first, because fresh water fish can carry parasites not found in salt water fish. Safety first! I’ve made it with shrimp, orange roughy, talapia and others. All delicious.

I consider this recipe one of my family treasures. I hope you enjoy it.

Joie de Vivre

Holy Hellfire Sandwich!!!

The big haul from the garden this year has been peppers. I have lots of jalapenos, a cayenne, and multiple varieties of the habanero. The peppers I grow seem to alternate in intensity each summer. Last summer? Super wimpy peppers. The one before that? The hottest Jalapenos I’ve ever eaten. I was delighted to learn that peppers freeze really well – I have 8 gallon sized zip-lock bags already, and no end in sight. I am harvesting a bowl full of them every other day.

Bowl of peppers

I’ve been making a sandwich most mornings that goes like this:

1 fried egg (sometimes with cheese)
1 toasted whole wheat muffin (or just wholegrain toast)
2 jalapenos, with seeds, chopped
1 or 2 habaneros with seeds, chopped
1 dab of ranch dressing

I add the peppers to the egg while it’s cooking, so they are fixed in the egg white. The vapor from the pan can be a little intense. And so can the sandwich, but that’s what makes it fun.