Happy 2014, everyone!
We’re off to a bitterly cold start here on the East Coast, and I’m just starting to get back into my normal routine after a busy holiday season. We’re thawing out from our -3 degree, 25-minute walk, which required layers upon layers to protect my body. Pup didn’t mind, of course. But frostbite isn’t a joke, I read multiple places! For my legs, two pairs of socks, running leggings layered under lounge pants with thick JMU sweatpants worn on top; to warm my core, a long sleeve shirt, fleece, sweatshirt and winter coat; thick gloves on my hands; a knitted scarf around my neck, with a running headband over my ears, a fleece hat, my coat’s hood pulled up and another wide scarf wrapped across my face.
The next few weeks will be just as hectic as the last three, so I’m thankful to have this morning to slow down, cuddled in a blanket, Rachel nesting in the rug nearby.
We’ve cooked plenty lately, including lots and lots of Christmas cookies such as my Grandpa’s favorite, Lebkuchen, a German spice cookie; the most decadent cinnamon rolls that perhaps I’ll share one day, for the added pounds are worth it (next Christmas?); a delicious hot cheesy black bean dip from Brown Eyed Baker; my favorite butternut squash and caramelized onion galette; finally the challah from Baking with Julia; an incredible tomato-vodka pasta that even lifelong tomato-and-onion-hater Tom thought wasn’t horrible; and a Mark Bittman very-veggie chili that’s kept me full and warm the past few days. (Recipe at the bottom.)
Grandpa oversees the cookie cutting and baking, and gave the finished treats his bite of approval.
And over the holidays, we spent lots of time in cold places: Ice skating, the ICE exhibit at National Harbour, playing in a little snow with pup. Also during Tom’s stay, we visited two cideries–Castle Hill Cider in Keswick, and Blue Bee Cider in downtown Richmond–and Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg. We saw lots of friends and family, and hosted a little goodbye/birthday/holiday party, too, for a group of JMU pals that’s rarely all together.
Thank goodness for buckets to hold!
Now, it’s time to bundle up once again–with tights and leggings under pants and a few extra pairs of socks–and head in to work. A container of this chili will warm me up come lunch time, hopefully, and hopefully, you too. Stay warm, friends.
Chili non Carne
From Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook
Note: It’s chili. You don’t have to be precise, and it’s okay to even forget an ingredient or two. It’ll still turn out fine, and you can always just add hot sauce. Unlike other chili’s, this one is very vegetable-heavy, with as much eggplant/zucchini/carrot as beans. Try experimenting with other veggies; sweet potatoes could be good, for instance. Bittman’s original recipe also includes 1 pound of meat.
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large or 2 small eggplants, cubed
1 zucchini, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup quartered mushrooms or a handful of rinsed dried porcini (I had dried portabellas and shitakes on hand)
1 (or more) fresh or dried hot chile (like jalapeno or Thai), minced (I completely forgot to add this, and splashed hot sauce on at the end, but next time, I’ll be sure to include)
1 tablespoon cumin, or to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine, include their juice) (I used 1 can fire roasted and 1 can plain diced)
4 cups (or more, if you misread it to say 4 cans) cooked or canned beans: kidney, pinto, garbanzo, black, or whatever’s on hand, drained, liquid reserved
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish
Serve with: cheese, sour cream, green onions
Put a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and heat up the oil. Add the onion, garlic, red peppers and tomato paste, and let the mixture brown a bit. Stir frequently so it doesn’t burn. Cook about 3 minutes, until soft.
Add the vegetables, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften and become fragrant, adjusting the heat so that nothing scorches. After 10 to 15 minutes, the vegetables should start to brown a bit and dry out.
Add the chile, cumin and oregano, and stir. Add the tomatoes with their juice and enough of the bean liquid to submerge everything (use some stock or water if you don’t have enough). Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat so it bubbles steadily. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary, until the flavors have mellowed, 30 to 40 (+) minutes.
Add the beans and more liquid if necessary, and cook a little longer. Taste, adjust seasonings.
Garnish with cilantro, cheese, sour cream and scallions, as desired. Enjoy.