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20 October
world's tastiest chili, i kid you not
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We made a brilliant chili on Wednesday night, inspired by a recipe my dad gave me that I promptly forgot.

It's better than your average chili, seriously. It's all wholesome and stewy.

Ingredients (serves 2 for at least 2 meals, plus nachos): 1 can black beans, 2 cans dark kidney beans, 1/2 pound of some sort of meat or meat-like product (cubed-ish), a bunch of green onions, 1 red pepper, 1-2 fresh tomatoes, any other veggies that sound good, 2 cans of tomatoes, cilantro, a small amount of lemon juice, a lot of ginger, chili powder, nutmeg, paprika, a large clove of garlic (minced), salt and fresh pepper, 2 tablespoons of cheap white wine, 2 tablespoons of V8, 1 rather large pot, a lot of grated cheese. If you buy extra cheese, tomatoes, and veggies, you'll have leftovers to top nachos later.

Start by cooking your meat (pork, steak, or some solid soy product like tempeh will all work well), garlic, some black pepper, and about 1/3 of the bundle of green onions, chopped up, in a couple of tablespoons of cheap white wine and equal amount of tomato juice or V8.

When that's browned, reduce heat to a high simmer and pour in your canned tomatoes and two of your cans of beans - DO NOT DRAIN YOUR CANS before you dump them in the pot. Add as much chili powder and ginger as you like, and more garlic. If you've picked out veggies that need to really stew (potatoes, broccoli, etc.), throw those in, too. Cook for an hour or so. Stir a lot.

Chop up your fresh tomatoes and pepper or other soft veggies you gathered. Throw them in the pot, too. Add some lemon or lime juice and a whole lot of cilantro. Nutmeg goes in now, too, as can some more ginger, and the next 1/3 of your green onion. Keep stirring. Cook for another hour, or longer if you want thicker chili with less identifiable ingredients.

Serve in bowls topped with cheese and some portion of your remaining green onion. Save remaining ingredients and appallingly large amount of chili for nachos later.


17 April
meat or not salad
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At work lately, there's one cafeteria station that seems to focus on the meat salad. Taco salad, funky asian noodle salad, mystery pico de gallo salad. All with chicken, which I don't really do. But they look so good! I've gotten them chickenless a few times.

On a related note. We've started making variations on this fatoush-based recipe on the grill, which is unbelievably tasty and summery. We'd eat outside if it weren't for the eight inch of pine pollen all over everything. Pollen Day has lasted all week this year.

Ingredients: meat of your choice (pork or tuna, in my case) or heatable cheese or tempeh, feta, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, grapes, plus lime juice, basil & garlic, olive oil, lime juice & the white wine left over from some party.

Basically, you mix the liquids and spices, soak the meat or meat-like product in the mix, grill it and the grill-friendly vegetables, then mix in everything else in pretty bowls. You can make it all Tex-mex or slightly Sunday brunch by varying the fruit, spice and cheese (and leaving out the olives). And all your food's in one bowl, which makes this easy to make for any number of people, especially one or two.


06 April
no, i'm not insane. but i do cook.
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I've subtly insinuated a "recipe" category into this blog. I know this is mostly a vehicle for talking about politics and things I think are wrong or right with the world, but I also like food.

And I cook!

We make up a lot of odd little recipes at our house, and I figured it'd be nice to collect some of them. I'm sure as hell not going to write them on cute little cards in the kitchen - they'll end up soaked in oil or something. So, here they are. Some that I made up, some that my partner did. All tasty, and mostly pretty cheap.

And I won't cook anything that takes more than a half hour, so if you ever decide to some variation on one of these at home, you'll at least know you get to eat soon.


05 April
martha stewart is evil goat cheese
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My mother buys Martha Stewart's magazine, and I always end up reading it when I visit my parents. This is one of the few recipes touted as "easy" by the Martha Stewart empire that actually is - well, easy.

Ten minutes, max. I swear.

Ingredients: 1 log of soft goat cheese (chevre), at least 2 different types of fresh herbs, salt and pepper, olive oil. Oh, and crackers or bread - unless you feel like eating this with a spoon.

Make sure your goat cheese is pretty cold and decidely log-shaped. Martha will tell you to warm it to room temperature, but she's a liar. Room temperature goat cheese is like melted play-doh. Ick.

Chop up your herbs, relatively finely. I use basil and whatever else is in the house, and this always ends up tasting the same - so, whatever herbs sound good to you. You need about 1/8 the volume of herbs as you have cheese.

Roll your cold cheese in the herbs, patting the green stuff into the cheese slightly as you go. Add salt and pepper if you like. Put on a plate, and drizzle with olive oil (touch you, you're drizzling olive oil, you chic thing!). Arrange artistically with light-tasting crackers or bread.


02 April
hybrid wontons
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These wontons are a mix of two or three different semi-traditional recipes I learned from my friends' multiracial families when I was a kid. The meat filling is a Latin take on the filling for Filipino lumpia.

Ingredients: 1 lb ground beef, 1/2 a small cabbage, 1 lunch-sized package of baby carrots, package of 50 wonton wrappers, whatever's in your spice collection, liberal doses of soy sauce. You can substitute extra cabbage or 2 boiled, chopped up potatoes for a vegetarian version.

Brown the meat. While cooking, throw in appalling quantities of soy sauce, red wine, and the herbs of your choice. I use pepper, garlic, ginger & sesame seeds, but anything vaguely Latin or Asian would work.

Chop up the carrots and cabbage very finely, then toss them in with the meat, too. Add more of your liquids and seasonings. Cook until the cabbage is translucent but still slightly crispy.

Let the mixture cool, then fill wontons. I generally gather the wonton wrappers (think of those little origami "fortune tellers" from grade school) instead of folding them, since that makes for more full dumplings. Deep fry.

I often serve this with a cold sauce made by combining 2 parts soy sauce to 1/2 part lime juice and 1/2 part good (balsamic or rice) vinegar.


08 March
macguyver fondue
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I fell in love with a fondue restaurant last fall. This is a problem - fondue restaurants are expensive, and we can only afford to eat at this place for special occasions.

So, awhile ago we bought a cheap pot for meat fondue, which also led me to discover a great, inexpensive way to do chocolate fondue.

Ingredients: chocolate chips (slightly fancy ones, like Ghiradelli, are best - but even generic ones will do), a splash of some sort of liquer, and something to dip in your chocolate.

Put a small ceramic bowl in half a pot of water on your stove. The bowl needs to not be floating in the water, but still be at least 1/4 submerged. Heat until the bottom of your bowl is uncomfortably hot to the touch, then pour in chocolate chips. Add liquer (amaretto fades into the chocolate chips nicely, but just about anything will do, depending on what flavor you want to add). Stir slowly but constantly until chocolate is melted. Your "fondue" will stay melted for about 15 minutes - eat fast!


14 January
dessert is back
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I've seen three different pizza companies advertising three different free desserts with your pizza since coming home tonight. [We keep the television on during most of our waking hours - being of that generation of latchkey kids who did homework in front of the television, we're more productive at other tasks with noise and color in the background.] And it's only 7:30!

Most fast food and takeout places have always offered some form of dessert, but the fact that the pizza places are eagerly inventing new desserts and advertising them loudly (as part of the pizza wars, I suppose) indicates a rekindled enthusiasm for the dessert experience.

I heartily approve. I don't exactly approve of the cinnamon pizza, but I like the idea of dessert - of eating fully for the pleasure of eating and extending the time you spend in your dinner partner(s)'s company. It's a sign of a healthy attitude towards food - neither as the enemy or the savior, simply as something to enjoy.

It's a good thing I renounced my fatness in that last entry. I mean, a fat person admitting to liking dessert? Appalling! A sure sign that I'm a crazed eating machine.


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