Tag Archives: healthy living

chili w/out tomatoes (or winter bean soup)

There is probably a hilarious coincidence behind the English word chilly (origin ~1570) and the Spanish name of the chili pepper (~1500). Nevertheless, the irony is that chili, formed by adding lots of chili pepper to meat and beans, goes well with chilly weather.

The modern American version of chili almost always contains tomatoes, a delicious fruit to which my wife is allergic. This allergy, and our combined desire for good chili, drove us to explore some tomato-less recipes. The first step in the most promising versions began with mixing several types of beans. Obviously, kidney beans were necessary, but we were surprised to find the addition of great northern, navy, and lima beans, and even various lentils.

Once we assembled a collection of beans to our liking, we soaked them overnight. Now here I must add that in a second run of this recipe we bumped our menu by one day, and the beans soaked for an additional day. This was one of our best culinary accidents yet. By soaking the beans for one day, they begin to sprout, which leaves them tasting a little ‘green’. The second day of soaking killed this taste, and made for a good flavor. Page 495 of NT indicates that beans should be soaked for ‘…a long time’, but does not indicate if more than one day would be harmful or not, so I don’t know the impact on nutrition after a two day soak.

Anyway, we then covered the beans generously in chicken broth, and simmered for awhile on low. Next we browned some ground beef with a chopped onion and chili spices. Mixing the meat into the pot with beans, we let this simmer until we were too hungry to wait, and ate it topped generously with cheddar cheese and cilantro. We probably only let this cook for 2-3 hours total, but longer would be better. Below I’ll try to give the full recipe. One note, I prefer a very un-spicy version of chili, so if you like the hot stuff, modify to your preference.

Chili (bean soup for a cold day)

1 lb. ground beef or lamb
1.5 – 2 cups of mixed beans (navy, great norther, kidney, lima, and lentils + whatever you like)
3-4 cups of chicken or beef stock
1 onion
heaps of cheddar cheese
1 clove of garlic, crushed (optional)
Fresh cilantro as garnish (optional)

Spices:
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Directions:
Soak beans for 1-2 days in water, then drain and cook on low in broth. Brown meat on medium and onion, adding spices except basil. Taste spices when meat is sufficiently cooked, make adjustments. When meat is nearly done, add basil and garlic to the beans. After the meat is seasoned correctly (defined by you), add the meat to beans and simmer on low until you think it’s done (an hour or so).

So that’s the basic approach. This makes a good (heavy) meal for a cold day, we got about 4 serving out of these amounts. You could probably make this vegetarian style by subtracting the meat and substituting for the broth.

Try it out yourself! You have plenty of winter left to go, so you have no excuse.

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Raw Milk

When learning to cook at a young age, I was mostly interested in making dessert. The problem with desserts is that they are typically the hardest recipes to follow. Very near the top of my favourite dessert list was Tapioca Pudding. The delicious substance derived in it’s entirety from South American substances, the traditional Manioc root, Vanilla bean, eggs and milk, and the modern sugar. Since I am a baker by personality, I religiously followed the directions on the box. These instructions were, I think, intended to keep kids from making Tapioca Pudding. The first step was to boil milk, and then add the sugar. Any kid who can get past this daunting step with out scorching his mother’s pans reaps the reward of sugar headaches all day long. For almost 2 decades, this is the only context in which it ever occurred to me that one might boil milk. Oh sure, I had heard of Pasteurisation in middle school science class, but I never really thought about what it meant for milk. I just accepted Pasteurised milk as a fact of life.

I vaguely remember that Pasteurisation had saved the world from certain death, and that good ‘ole Louis had stopped the Bubonic plague or something. Maybe it was that he discovered France. Wait, that would have been History class… OK, never mind. I have no idea what he did. Except boil milk. Since then, the process of making milk drinkable is called Pasteurisation. If you want to make it really drinkable, you can Ultra-Pasteurise it. Just don’t tell Sally Fallon (or her army of young mothers) what you are up to, or they will flog you with organic bamboo reeds.

To be completely honest, I am sceptical about a few of the miracles claimed by raw milk. I have been consuming raw dairy almost daily for about 2 years now. It tastes identical the the store bought stuff, and I have approximately the same number of colds/flues as before. I will say that my teeth have fared a lot better, but even those are pretty shot this late in the game. No, I have not been cured of anything by eating raw milk in my cereal. But I have also, strangely, not died. My limbs haven’t fallen off, I have not been struck with blindness, and Listeria has yet to make a comfortable home in my intestine. Raw milk may or may not help you, but in my experience, it is safe.