Is there really any reason to stuff a bell pepper? I’m sorry, maybe I’m in the minority here, but a green bell pepper is not a craving of mine. Not for a second. But to make it a main dish? Who’s smokin’ crack around here? I mean, did people sit around in the 70’s and go, ”Man, I am starving!! I could really eat a big old green pepper stuffed with something! Anything!!” Well, apparently my Mom did, because she would serve up those things at least once every other month. I’m thinking this would coincide with a 6 for $1 green bell pepper sale at the local Shopper’s World.
Shopper’s World was the ‘70s version of Costco. I mean a really small, stupid version of Costco. There was one just up the street from our house in Vallejo. I remember there were carts … not shopping carts with the little kid seats, but carts that you pushed like at Home Depot. Yeah, that’s it, ‘push carts.’ My Mom could pile some serious canned goods on to one of those things. The only fun part about shopping at Shopper’s World was when my sisters and I would push each other around on a cart before it was loaded up with 300 Campbell soup cans and 2-for-1 green beans. We could get that cart moving pretty fast, but we’d have to dodge getting a cigarette or two in the eye. Yes, people could smoke in the aisles at grocery stores back then. The humanity!!
The Shopper’s World was located right next door to our favorite candy store, The Wagon Wheel. Yes, that was the liquor store you learned about in my last post. Treats for adults and kids alike. We knew better than to bug my Mom to let us run over to The Wagon Wheel to get our Skittles fix while she was on a shopping mission. I think she allotted just so much time in her busy schedule for shopping, and candy wasn’t on the list. There were chores and lunches and a “Days of Our Lives” episode to get back home to.
If Mom didn’t feel like loading up the wood-paneled station wagon with the four of us kids to drive up the street to Shopper’s World, she could hang out at the house and wait for the Vegetable Guy to make his rounds. There was actually a man who drove a vegetable truck around Vallejo back then so all the Mom’s could shop for fruit and veggies from the comfort of their front lawns. Our vegetable guy was a short Italian guy who wore a beret and looked like the man from one of my favorite childhood books, “Caps for Sale.”
Except our vegetable guy had a hook for an arm. He was nice and everything, and his green table grapes were the stuff dreams are made of, but still as an eight-year-old, I couldn’t get past that arm. I’d hang back on the porch when he pulled up. Which is why I probably never saw him sneak those bell peppers into the bag. Plus the fact he had us all hopped up in a green-table-grape-free-sample-stupor.
Well, I imagine by now you’re clamoring for Mary Ann’s amazing Stuffed Bell Pepper recipe. The truth is, I don’t think she really had a recipe for it. Who would create a recipe for that? I think you’re safe just to recycle the ingredients from her famous Porcupine Balls recipe for this one like she did … just prepare that slop and shove it into some hollowed-out green bell peppers. Throw it in the oven for, oh, who knows, a half hour? Then just TRY to get your kids to the table. I dare you.
If you’re still reading, and you really want to make Mary Ann’s Stuffed Bell Peppers, well here’s the fancy ingredients for Porcupine Balls that make up the wonderful innards of the peppers. You deserve it.
1 pound of ground beef
2 cups of cooked white rice
1 can of tomato soup
2 tablespoons of minced onion (or cut up a little bit of real onion to make it fancy)
Salt and pepper to taste