04 October 2009

Saturday Night Supper

I love the idea of reviving Sunday Night Dinner as family time (family being JD and me and Henry, the lab) but with our schedules, it can be hard to make that happen on Sunday. So sometimes it's Saturday Morning Breakfast, sometimes it's Monday Lunch. This week it happened to be Saturday Night Supper.

Autumn has Arrived here in our lovely Pacific Northwest. This translates into damp, cold, raining-almost-every-day, ickiness. Chili Sin Carne and cornbread sounded just right.

I'm pretty keen on convenience foods but I also like actual food, too, so I decided to use dried beans. (Don't forget to sort them carefully for debris. I did that and still found a bit of gravel right before I put them on the stove - yikes!) I used two cups of pintos and one of red beans. I brought them to a boil, turned them off and let them sit for an hour. I rinsed them and boiled them for about another hour. When I was ready to use them, I dumped that water out, too. I also like to toss in a piece of kombu when I cook them. It's a type of seaweed that helps with, uh, being polite after eating beans. (I think not using the water in which the beans were cooked probably diminishes the nutrients but that helps with the politeness factor as well so I feel it's a worthwhile tradeoff.)

I chopped up a yellow onion. Is it me or are onions less tear-inducing than they used to be? I'm not sure I want to think about the genetic engineering that might be involved....

I know, I know: I'm holding the onion all wrong. I'm supposed to have my knuckles against the knife blade or something. That just makes me think of skinned knuckles with onion juice on them - ow, ow, ow!

I sauteed the onion over low heat in olive oil. My favorite is Santini Premium Extra-Virgin from Trader Joe's. It has such a lovely rich scent when it starts to heat up the pan. (I'm still not sure how something can be “extra” virgin, though. It either is or it isn't, right? Maybe it's oil with a chastity belt?)

After the onion cooked for a bit, I added two packages of ground beef substitute from Morningstar Farms.

(I swear I don't work for any of these companies. I just find it helpful when I read recipes that have specifics and I try to do the same.)

I sauteed the onion and ground non-meat mixture until it browned a little and dumped in one can each of tomato paste, tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Then I tossed in my standard chili seasonings, clockwise from top, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and oregano.

I generally use what can only be described as “some” of each. Maybe a teaspoon. Or so. Look, pick any cookbook you want and I guarantee it will contain the phrase “season to taste” so don't expect any more from me. Okay?

I also used some (ha) salt and pepper and a little sweetener to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. (I frequently use Splenda these days for the diabetic in my life.) I stirred all that in, made sure the heat was on low and let it simmer while I worked on the cornbread.

I pulled out my trusty 1953 edition of The Joy of Cooking and assembled the ingredients for the cornbread.

You might notice that the egg carton states “Vegetarian Diet”. Why do they have to specify that? What else would they eat? I have a serious bird-phobia and the thought of carnivous chickens is probably going to keep me awake tonight. Or give me some really messed up dreams.

I put the cornbread batter into the oven, checked on the chili and found it needed more seasoning. You might even say I seasoned it to my taste.... In this case, it needed a little more salt, Splenda, chili powder and some of the New Mexico green chile I have stashed in my freezer (Thanks, Mom and Dad!).

When the cornbread was done, I plated it like so with some Frank's Hot Sauce on the side (because I don' t have enough heartburn in my life).

My first thought was to sign off with “¡Buen apetito!” But Chili whether Con or Sin Carne is really more Tex-Mex than Mex so...Dig in, y'all!


  1. hey there!

    I stumbled upon a blog, where I stumbled to your blog. Just wanted to let you know that chickens are omnivorous by nature and it's nothing to be afraid of. Eating bugs, worms, and kitchen scraps certainly gives them lots of 'meaty' food. My girls certainly love grapes as much as they love meal worms. Don't be afraid, it's totally natural :-)

  2. Thanks! That's good to know - especially considering we are probably going to add chickens to our little farm operation come spring. I told JD that if he'd take care of them, I'll cook all the eggs they lay. I can probably feed them through the wire :-)


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