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Chillie highs – are Chillies psychoactive?

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Are Chillies Psychoactive? Seeing ‘Are Chillies Psychoactive?’ pop up amongst the usual recipes and chillie product news I usually receive in my google alerts certainly caught my eye. Especially on that particular grey morning in London, it was my first full week back at work and I could certainly do with some psychoactive cheering up.

I did some googling and found there are great discussions on certain types of forums about whether chillies have any psychoactive properties, mainly from potheads desperately searching their new high. But amongst the ‘woah I got a head buzz’ comments there are people who say they’ve experience some good feelings from eating chillies. For example this from Johnhasahottub:

‘I was a little down yesterday morning. Then for lunch I had some vege parcels from “Little Saigon” with a good helping of sliced chilli. It was rather tasty but well out of my league on the chilli scale. I felt the hurt but was also washed over by a feeling of wellbeing and tranquility.’

Further digging revealed that a so called ‘Psychoactive’ brand of chillie peppers had been pulled from the shelves in the far-east after officials in Hong Kong found it contained traces of THC (the chemical also found in Cannabis). To the delight of teenagers everywhere, it went back on sale shortly after when further studies found no traces in the product.

But there is obviously something in Chillies which people find so appealing, as evidenced by the huge chillie community which is spread across the world. So what is it in Chillies which is creating these effects?

Well it turns out its not what’s in Chillies that causes these effects but rather the bodies reaction to the hotness of chillies. When you eat Chillies endorphins are released. These are the body’s natural pain killer and give you a brief high, the same effect you feel after exercising. The rush of endorphins mixed with the physical sensations of eating Chillies; flood the brain with senses and a feeling of wellbeing. The hotter the chillie the more endorphins released, which explains why people get addicted to hotter and hotter chillies.

There are other health benefits gained from eating chillies. They are anti-pyretic; eating Chillies causes you to sweat which in turn lowers body temperature. This is one of the reasons they’re so popular in hot climates. Capsicum thins mucus and clears the sinus has also been extracted for use in pain relief creams, helping people suffering from Arthritis and Shingles.

Probably the most exciting effect of eating chillies is their aphrodisiac qualities. As well as making you feel good, the release of Endorphins stimulates the nerve endings, quickens the pulse and heightens the body’s sensitivity.

All of which explains why eating Chillies is an extremely pleasurable experience!

Chillie growing in Palma

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Wow it’s been a while since the last time I posted, I have to blame work (can’t wait till my work is just chilling and growing chillies!) My chillies have come on leaps and bounds. This summer weather has been so fortunate for British chillies growers, my chillies are absolutely thriving in the conservatory.

I’ve been lucky enough to have spent the last week in Palma for work unfortunately! But nonetheless it was a lovely trip. The weather was just ambient enough to wear summer clothes without it being so hot it’s uncomfortable.

The pace of life out there is completely different to the rat race I run every day in London. I spent the day working in beautiful cool offices with big shuttered windows thrown open to the world. And the in the evening I explored the small cobbled streets.

I am incredibly jealous of my work colleagues and fellow chillies enthusiasts, who told me how they grow their chillies all year round on their balconies. The winter weather isn’t quite warm enough to get chillies all year round but by late April/early May they will begin fruiting.

I’ve now resolved to live in a climate warm enough to grow chillies on balconies! Preferably a balcony like this….


How I got my chillie seeds

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Working in the type of job I do often results in people sending you lots of free stuff often completely unrelated to what they’re selling. The idea is that you’ll be so impressed with their random yet clever marketing campaign you’ll remember their name forever and purchase their goods/services. This is called Guerrilla Marketing.

Over the years I’ve been sent coffee, puzzles, sweets, had my office coated with random door hanger-thingies but the best thing I got was Chillies seeds! If I recall, about four years ago they were sent by some design agency and the link between them and Chillies was they produce red hot ideas or something.

They must have arrived at a pretty dull moment because I decided I’d grow em’. I figuring no one else who received probably even bothered and what a waste that would was. I had an empty plant pot on my desk doing nothing as a colleague had drowned my old desk plant while I was on holiday. I bought some compost from Woolworths (when it was still open, god rest its soul) and without paying any attention to how to grow them (I don’t think they even included instructions on what to do) I threw the seeds and the compost in, placed it on my sunny window sill and forgot about them.

I used to grow many things when I was child (I was one of those kids with their own ‘garden’ mainly made up of pansies and daisies, with random veg thrown in) but beyond planting a few herbs at uni I was a growing things novice.

Luckily Chillies are hardy and my third storey, floor to ceiling windowed office was more than hot enough for chillie growing which meant that all 10 plants germinated.

Impressed with life’s ability to flourish despite adversity I was instantly hooked and soon the ten little plants grew taking over mine and colleagues desk, sparking a ‘gardening in office’ craze. (Which I will tell you more about later – have ever tried to re-pot ten chillies plants in a sanitised office in the middle of Croydon? It’s not easy)

Can I remember the name of the design agency? No, did I even visit their website? Probably not. But I have had literally of hours of joy out of growing these little seeds.

So, the moral here is either make sure your marketing is relevant so customers can recognise who you are and what you do, or don’t just bin thing instead try something new.

Teriyaki Tofu

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Growing Chillies, like growing anything, is made up of brief exciting moments such as when you see your first shoot or first fruit appears, followed by long periods of not much activity.

Theres not much to do except keep watering, making sure they’re all ok and waiting, waiting for something to happen. So to keep the excitement up, I have been trying out some recipes involving chillies to get some practise in before I have them coming out my ears!

My vegetarian sister was coming over this Sunday and I had promised her a nice Japanese meal out somewhere but I’d spent the last three nights in different restaurants and fancied some food at home.

I love crispy marinated Tofu but have never had much success getting the plain shop-bought Tofu to crisp up until I tried coating the Tofu in flour just before frying it.

So this is my recipe for Teriyaki Tofu and Noodles, Its super quick and tasty!

Ingredients

40og Plain Tofu

1 Pak Choy

1 Pepper

75g Mange Tout

75g Baby Sweetcorn

5 Spring Onions

4 Shitake Mushrooms

1 Red Chillie

1 Clove of Garlic

Plain Flour

Small chuck of Ginger

Dry Noodles or Straight to work if you’re lazy like me!

For Teriyaki Marinade

2 tbsp Sake

4 tbsp Soy Sauce

4 tbsp Mirim (or Rice Vinegar)

2 tbsp of Sugar

Prep time: 50 mins (including 30 mins of Tofu Marinading)

Cook time: 10 mins

What to do:

Mix together the Teriyaki marinage ingredients together in a bowl and add the chopped Tofu pieces, cover and set aside for 30 mins.

Chop and prepare the remaining ingredients. If you prefer less of a kick from the Chillie then leave the seeds out, I like my food spicy so I always leave them in!

Pour some of the flour onto a plate or bowl, coat each chuck of Tofu in the flour and set aside. Keep the leftover marinade.

If you’re using dry noodles, heat a pan of water and add the noodles now.

Stirfry the Spring Onions, Ginger, Garlic and Chillie until the Spring Onion is soft. Add the Pepper, Pak Choy, Mange Tout, Mushrooms and Baby Sweetcorns and stir-fry for a couple more minutes.

In another pan, heat some oil until quite hot. Add the Tofu and cook quickly until brown and crisp. Once cooked add to the stir-fry with the left over marinade and noodles.

Stir, heating everything through and serve!


Glorious sun!

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We have been blessed with beautiful weather this past week with temperatures up in the mid 20s. I love this country when it’s sunny, it seems like the whole world is in a good mood and everyone thinks of excuses to be outside. This means sitting in the park, bbq’s and alfresco drinks.

It’s also perfect chillie growing weather – which is not always guaranteed in this country! My chillies have been flourishing and most are growing their second leaves.

Lucky chillie with it’s extra leaf has the advantage over the others and is well ahead in the size stakes.

Is it possible to bred it’s genetic mutation and create a new super chillie with three leaves to begin with?

Anyone have an idea on how to breed traits??

Right I am off to enjoy the sun!

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Winners and freaks

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Winners and freaks

After three weeks of staring at lifeless mounds of dirt my chillies are up! They had a slow start as I under estimated how warm the ‘conservatory’ is so had to relocate them by the radiator on dining room table.

I was starting to doubt these seeds as they were the third generation from some seeds I was given a few years ago, so I was wondering if anything at all would happen. I’d lost the seeds I’d saved and had to scrounge some spare ones my sister. Now she wasn’t sure if they were red pepper or Chillie seeds, so even though she’s 98% sure they are chillies there could be a chance that these guys turn out to be their capsicum cousins. In which case I’ll probably rename this blog Peppitastic and carry on!

Chilliwinners

Here they are, first leaves coming on strong and signs of second leaves already appearing. I am going to leave them in the seed tray for a couple more weeks, watering regularly and occasionally feeding them. I have also been putting them in the sun – when its out! – and moving back by the radiator at night to give them a good start.

Now while most of the seedlings look strong and normal there are two who are already singled out as – er different. One has come up with three leaves, one normal leaf and a dual Siamese leaf – a freak of nature just like a four leaf clover. I don’t usually name plants (plants don’t have names!) but this one has to be called Lucky.

 

Another has come up with practically no leaves at all. I’m not sure what happened to them but it has nothing but one stumping half leaf. Other growers would probably get rid of this loser and concentrate on the winners but I like a challenge.

You can hardly see anything but that green dot is a chillie

I wonder if these two genetic freaks are a result of inbreeding my chillies for the past couple of years? And if it would be a good idea to buy some proper seeds and freshen up the gene pool??

Lets go!

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It’s that time of year again Chilli-growing season. I’ve been growing my own chillies for the past 3 years now and this is the first time I have a garden and more importantly, a warm south facing conservatory to grow them in. I say conservatory but it’s more like a plywood shack, which glass panes and a corrugated plastic roof (my engineer boyfriend said ‘uhoh’ the first time we went in it). When the sun shines, it can get really warm and dry, great for drying clothes and great for growing chillies.

I’m growing Cayenne, a mid-sized bushy plant that not only looks attractive but also produces great chillies for cooking.

Chillies are really easy to grow, you can find hundreds of articles on the best soil, containers, propagators etc etc on the internet. But like all plants, give them the right conditions they will thrive.

I am keeping it simple by growing mine in 5×3 seed tray with normal peat-free compost. I am keeping them as warm as possible while waiting for them to germinate so they’re positioned on my dining table by the radiator.

I’ve planted them in just a couple of inches of soil, not too deep to give them an easy ride. I was planning on germinating them first by putting them in between damp kitchen roll in a jiffy bag placed somewhere warm but I ran out of time.

Can’t wait to see the little fellas!

Heres a not very exciting picture!

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