Habanero pepper. Whole. (Optional)

Margaret squinted at the temperature readout. “It’s 85.3 degrees out there.”

We were in Palm Desert, California, in our motorhome, vegging. (I’m still not quite sure how to spell that.) Having driven down from Canada less that a week ago, we were enjoying the warmth and sunshine, but the warm weather was still a bit of a shock to the system.

“I don’t know that the point 3 really makes much of a difference,” I offered.

Sure it does. Every little bit makes a difference.”

I’m not big on too many decimal points. I prefer the broad brush approach to life. You know, “That’s close enough.”

IMG_6560What I was really thinking about was dinner. What to make. Margaret had suggested a peanut chicken stew. I haven’t made that… forever, and it sounded great. Inspired by traditional west African groundnut stews, it sounded perfect for dinner today. A dish with a little heat for this warm day.

Easy to make, rich chicken flavour laced with a spicy peanut sauce full of tomato and veggie goodness, smothered over rice. How could it not be the right choice for dinner.

Problem is, I haven’t made it for a while and my recipe notes are packed away somewhere in a storage unit 1500 miles north of here. Thank goodness for the Internet. Ideas galore. (I never really follow recipes exactly. I use them to get a general idea of proportions and to get ideas and inspiration.)

IMG_6555Spicy is the key here. But just how spicy? A little tingle on the tongue? I like my spicy dishes to bring out just a little bit of sweat on my cheekbones. (Suck a little air over my tongue, then hit it with a little splash of chilled white wine. Ahhhh, perfect!) Maybe that’s too much for today.

Some recipes called for cayenne, some for freshly ground black pepper, and one for a whole habanero. Ooh, scary! I take one look at a bin of those spicy little terrors and I run. I settled for a serrano (seeds taken out) and some cayenne.

“More cayenne,” said Margaret as she sampled a spoonful dipped from the bubbling Dutch oven. “Maybe we should have used a scotch bonnet.” (Scotch bonnet is an alias for a habanero pepper.) Maybe I shouldn’t have been such a wimp. I could have at least left in the serrano’s seeds.

Margaret launched into remedial action. “I think that cayenne is bogus. Too domesticated in any case.” She sighed. The sambal oolek came out hiding from the fridge. She glanced over at me as she stirred in ingredients. “Every little bit makes a difference.”

Mix, mix. Stir, stir.

IMG_6558The end result? Here we are.

A fabulously rich (not too spicy)chicken-y vegetable infused stew with cauliflower flowerets served over a fluffy heap of rice with a side of broccoli slaw drizzled with Asian dressing. Heavenly!

I know that the leftovers are even better the next day. (I can hardly wait.)


Here’s the recipe that inspired me today: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/african_chicken_peanut_stew/


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