Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Soft-boiled eggs

I like my fried eggs over easy—whites set, yummy yolks hot and runny. Occasionally I like that hot, runny yolk without the crispy edges of a thin white. Sometimes, I like the white thick like in a hard-boiled egg, but still want the liquid gold in the center. I even have an egg topper, a couple of egg cups (I used to use footed shot glasses), and some demitasse spoons to fit out the ritual of eating soft-boiled eggs. I know that it’s a little fussy, but I find it fussy in a good way. Like a tea ritual, it slows me down and forces me to savor and appreciate a single egg, eaten in tiny spoonfuls straight out of the shell, lightly salting and peppering as I go.

This procedure I got from America’s Test Kitchen, who developed it so that they could reliably soft-cook a single egg or a dozen. It relies on the temperature of steam to cook the egg(s) and the quick recovery time of a shallow batch of water when a variable number of cold eggs are introduced into the mix. They recommend five and a half minutes, but even with jumbos, I prefer 5:15. They also use a saucepan or somesuch, while I use a skillet with a tight-fitting lid. I think that they want a taller steam area, but I find that the shallow steam bath works just fine for me.

  • Choose a cooking vessel with a flat bottom that is large enough for the number of eggs you want to soft cook to fit lying down with lots of room around them. It doesn’t matter if the sides are straight or sloping, so long as the flat area works and the lid is relatively secure. I normally use a Le Creuset 6" skillet, which has pouring spouts that leak steam, and it works fine so long as I cover it. I can’t think when I have ever cooked more than two eggs this way, so the small size works for me.
  • Put in enough water that it will come about halfway up the eggs you are going to put in later.
  • Cover (so that everything in the equation gets nice and hot).
  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a vigorous simmer.
  • Carefully but quickly add the cold eggs.
  • Recover and watch to make sure that the steam starts running out the top again.
  • Set a timer for 5¼ minutes.
  • Carefully drain and run cold water over the eggs.
  • Put the eggs into cups, open the tops, and enjoy!
So that’s my riff on the ATK recipe.

Hard-Bolied, easy peel eggs

Forget the salt, vinegar, and/or baking soda in the water. The key to easy peeling hard-boiled eggs is shocking them in an ice bath. The key to solid yolks without any green around them is the amount of time cooking, which is controlled marvelously well by using retained heat no matter what size eggs you’re cooking. The procedure I learned from my mother-in-law was to put eggs into tap water, bringing the water to a boil, removing the water from heat, and letting it sit covered for eighteen minutes. Even this has now been simplified by the use of an auto-shutoff electric kettle.

  • Put as many eggs as you want to hard-boil into an electric kettle. Mine does 1-6 in a single layer, but I’ve cooked as many as twelve with no difference.
  • Cover with tap water. I like about an inch over the top of the highest shell, but (as with all of this recipe) it’s pretty flexible.
  • Turn on the kettle
  • Wait for it to boil and then click off.
  • Set a timer for 18 minutes.
  • Prepare an ice bath large enough to quickly chill all of the eggs you’re cooking.
  • When the timer goes off, drain the eggs and 
  • dump them into the ice bath.
  • Agitate to thoroughly and quickly chill the surfaces of the eggs.
  • Pull the eggs out of the cold, then smack and roll them on the counter to break up the shell.
  • Slide the completely shattered shell off the egg under running cold water.
That’s it. It has not failed me even one time. I look forward to the entire flock of deviled eggs made to look like chicks this Easter. I’ve always hated all that peeling in the past, but now it’s easy as π.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Object Lessons: Another Oxford Comma

Widely reported. I chose to lift this article from NPR as it has fewer extraneous annoyances. The original article is linked to the title below.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Oxford Comma: Great For Listing, Pontificating, And Winning Court Cases

March 16, 20171:24 PM ET

by Colin Dwyer

Surely, Oakhurst Dairy would have done well to heed the immortal words of the ‘80s hair band Cinderella: “Don’t know what you got (till it’s gone).”

The milk and cream company based in Portland, Maine, likely never appreciated the serial comma — also known as an Oxford comma — so much as it did Monday, when the lack of that little curved stroke cost the company an appeals court ruling that centered on overtime rules for drivers.

Specifically, the ruling in favor of Oakhurst delivery drivers came down to Maine state law, which dictates that the following activities are not subject to overtime protections:

    “The canning, processing, preserving,
    freezing, drying, marketing, storing,
    packing for shipment or distribution of:
    (1) Agricultural produce;
    (2) Meat and fish products; and
    (3) Perishable foods.”

The trouble rests with “or.” The presence of that tiny conjunction without a comma as a companion makes for some muddled meanings: Is “packing for shipment or distribution” exempt from overtime regulations? Or are both “packing for shipment” and “distribution” exempt?

These aren’t idle questions for the five delivery drivers who sued Oakhurst, because as Quartz notes, “the drivers do distribute, but do not pack, the perishable food.” In other words, one interpretation of the law’s list would make the drivers eligible for overtime pay; the other would mean they won’t get those extra dollars for extra time on the job.

Enter the appeals court judges. In the opinion, 1st Circuit Judge David Barron writes that the lack of a comma renders the whole phrase too ambiguous to agree with Oakhurst — and the district court that originally ruled in its favor — that the drivers don’t get rights to overtime pay:

    “The District Court concluded that, despite the absent comma, the Maine legislature unambiguously intended for the last term in the exemption’s list of activities to identify an exempt activity in its own right. ... But, we conclude that the exemption’s scope is actually not so clear in this regard.”

Even making allowances for the fact that Maine’s legislative style guidance eschews the Oxford comma, Barron argued that the ambiguity of the sentence “must be construed liberally” — and so adopted “the drivers’ narrower reading of the exemption.”

Case closed ... for now, at least. With the district court ruling in favor of Oakhurst reversed, Quartz reports the case can now be heard in a lower court.

Now, as adherents of the great and terrible AP Stylebook — which also eschews the Oxford comma — we must admit the moral of this story flies in the face of everything (or one thing) NPR’s own sentences stand for.

But we offer the above fable as a reminder that every punctuation mark deserves a fair hearing, a glimpse into the glories of grammar(,) and a quiet rebellion against the tyranny of copy editors everywhere.*

*Just a joke, NPR copy desk! Please don’t break out the red pen.

Note from the copy chief: While NPR does generally follow the AP Stylebook, we on the copy desk take a more liberal approach in deciding when a series is complex enough to warrant the comma’s use.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The final note from the copy chief puts me in mind of the sage advice from the original, non-Burchfield Fowler’s on the split infinitive.

In all fairness, the judge’s ruling does not rely on the ambiguity being entirely caused by the missing comma. As the Quartz article and others note, there is also the fact that all of the other elements in the list are given as gerunds (canning, processing, … packing), while that final action putatively meant to be exempted from overtime pay (distribution) is not. I would say that what won the drivers their appeal is the lack of both the serial comma and the parallel noun form.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Update, 21 March:
Mary Norris’ New Yorker article from half a week ago (St. Paddy’s Day, actually) reports that there is also a third grammatical element at issue in the ambiguity, asyndeton.

Judge David J. Barron’s opinion in the case is a feast of subtle delights for anyone with a taste for grammar and usage. Lawyers for the defense conceded that the statement was ambiguous (the State of Maine specifically instructs drafters of legal statutes not to use the serial comma) but argued that it had “a latent clarity.” The truck drivers, for their part, pointed out that, in addition to the missing comma, the law as written flouts “the parallel usage convention.” “Distribution” is a noun, and syntactically it belongs with “shipment,” also a noun, as an object of the preposition “for.” To make the statute read the way the defendant claims it was intended to be read, the writers would have had to use “distributing,” a gerund—a verb that has been twisted into a noun—which would make it parallel with the other items in the series: “canning, processing,” etc. To the defendant’s contention that the series, in order to support the drivers’ reading, would have to contain a conjunction—“and”—before “packing,” the drivers, citing Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner, said that the missing “and” was an instance of the rhetorical device called “asyndeton,” defined as “the omission or absence of a conjunction between parts of a sentence.”

Read the rest of that article. It’s quite nice. And note that the paragraph quoted above contains a link to the actual opinion.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mrs. Moore’s Chess Pie

This recipe is from Marion Brown’s The Southern Cook Book, published by the UNC Press in 1951. Our dying copy was printed on very acidic paper in 1961 by Pocket Books, Inc. (NY). I can not tell you what page it’s on; it seems to be somewhere between pp. 327 & 332, but most of the pages have fallen out and been stuck back in at some point, and their corners are badly foxed.

In my earlier, rapid-metabolistic, pre-diabetic days, I penned above this recipe the words “(MOORE) FILLING!!),” but numerous experiments by Dr. SWMBO over the years have shown that scaling the recipe monkeys with the pie’s ability to set properly, so if you want more (or “moore”), just make another pie. The procedure here at The House of Chez Casa now involves using the smallest metal pie pan we have in the house (not one of the stoneware nor one of the glass plates) and cooking it on top of a pizza stone in the bottom of the oven.

Here is the recipe, word for word. I have only changed the formatting:

This “just about perfect” Chess Pie appeared in the first edition of the Burlington Episcopal Church’s Soup to Nuts some years ago, and by popular demand in the revised 1947 edition. At the request of many, I am again using it—it never fails to win applause.
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ egg shell of milk
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs, unbeaten
  1. Mix together the white and brown sugar and flour.
  2. Break the two eggs into mixture,
  3. add milk and vanilla.
  4. Melt butter and pour in last.
  5. Bake in a slow (325-degree) oven in uncooked pastry shell. If baked around 30 to 35 minutes it is better than if cooked fast.
When done it will look puffed and yellow; when cooked it falls into rich jelly-like consistency.
[This mixture makes delicious little tarts. Put tablespoon in each uncooked pastry shell, bake as above. Serve with whipped cream.—M. B.]
Mrs. S. I. Moore, Burlington, N. C.

I will only add here that the whipped cream is necessary. This is a very sweet pie, and the richness of actual cream that has just been whipped very much enhances the experience by cutting the sweetness and adding a contrasting texture. Don’t bother with non-dairy whipped toppings or even semi-dairy spray junque from a can. Open up a carton of whipping cream, toss it into a vessel with some vanilla and a bit of confectioner’s sugar, fire up a beater, and whip that stuff. It’s quick and delicious.


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Baked Beans

The basis for this recipe appears on p. 392 of our 1981 edition of the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book. Since SWMBO can not digest muscle protein, we do not put actual bacon in it, and we start with vegetarian pork & beans. Also, our proportions are a bit different. Here is what we did for Sunday brunch last weekend:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Put a heavy skillet on the stove to warm up.
  • Quarter & slice one medium red onion.
  • Sauté the onion in about 3 Tbsp. bacon lard at least until translucent if not until caramelized.
  • Stir together:
    • the onions,
    • 2 28 oz cans of Bush’s vegetarian baked beans,
    • ¼ c. ketchup,
    • ¼ c. brown sugar,
    • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, and
    • 2 Tbsp. prepared mustard.
  • Bake in a 9 x 13 pan for 90-105 minutes at 350°F.
  • If everyone can eat meat, this would be the time to cover with about ¾ lb. of crisped & crumbled bacon.
  • Let stand for a few minutes before serving.
This looks like a lot when you start, but I think that for seven adults and five kids we could have made even more.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Egg & Cheese Casserole

This recipe appeared in a Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church cookbook under the name “Jean Corey’s Egg Casserole” and with the recommendation that “this casserole has become a tradition and a favorite for the Thursday morning Women’s Bible Study spring brunch.” Here at the House of Chez Casa, for a large brunch we sometimes make two: one with breakfast meat (sausage, small ham cubes, vel sim.) and one vegetarian.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Beat 10 eggs in a large bowl & set aside.
  • Melt 1 stick (8 Tbsp, ½ c.) butter in a saucepan.
  • Stir in
    ½ c. flour
    1 tsp baking powder, and
    ½ tsp salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to the eggs & mix well.
  • Add
    1 lb. shredded cheese (Jean’s recipe calls for Monterrey Jack; I prefer a very sharp cheddar),
    1 pt. small curd cottage cheese (I often have to make do with a 12 oz. container), and
    8 oz. large green chiles, drained, diced, seeded (Jean also rinses for a milder flavor; I often just open diced chiles, strain them & dump them in).
    • Optional breakfast meats (often a tube of breakfast sausage, scrambled up ahead of time) should also be added at this stage.
  • Pour into a 9 x 13 pan.
  • Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes. (Jean’s recipe calls for baking 30 minutes and no rest. I think her oven may run a bit on the hot side. We have made this in three different ovens, and all of them needed 40 minutes to set and then a rest.)
  • Serve with salsa.
That’s it. It’s always a crowd pleaser. And it’s even better with the sausage!

Michelle’s Meatloaf

This started as a simple recipe cut from a box of Quaker Oats. The Doctor has made a couple of changes, all for the better.
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Combine well in a large bowl:
    • 1 lb. ground beef (preferably ground chuck)
    • ½ lb. ground pork
    • ¾ c. uncooked oats
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • ¼ c. chopped onion
    • 1 c. salsa (look for something gluten free to make your friends happy)
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  3. Press into a standard 8x4x2 loaf pan (ungreased)
  4. Top with the rest of the salsa (½ - 1 cup by measure (be careful; some salsas are jarred by weight instead of by volume))
    If you want a more BBQesque topping, mix the remainder of your salsa with ¼-½ c. brown sugar before spreading on top of the loaf.
  5. Bake at 350ºF for about one hour.
  6. Let stand/rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
Enjoy!

Monday, June 08, 2015

Curried Chicken

(This family-favorite recipe clipped from a magazine by Margaret Hamilton and passed on to my m-i-l Bobbie Thomas Boone Craig was Dr. SWMBO’s favorite chicken back when she could still digest muscle protein; the proportions are those Bobbie used to feed 8 rather than those from the online version. Total cooking time: 1 hour)

PARTY-PERFECT CHICKEN

6 Tbsp. flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger (I used fresh, peeled & sliced thin, then processed into the dry)
2 fryers, quartered or 8 breasts (I used a mix of thighs & breasts)
6 Tbsp butter
Combine flour, salt and ginger in a paper bag. Melt butter and roll chicken in butter one piece at a time in paper bag and shake to coat well. Then arrange chicken, skin side up. Bake uncovered in hot oven (400 degrees) 20 minutes or until beginning to turn golden.
PREPARE CURRY GLAZE:
1 medium red onion, chopped 
6 slices cooked bacon, finely diced (I used 1/3 lb raw, chopped and spent a long while caramelizing it & the onions together before adding the rest) 
2 Tbsp. flour (I added the flour to the browning onion & bacon & let it convert before adding the broth)
1 can condensed beef broth 
2 Tbsp. curry powder 
2 Tbsp. sugar 
2 Tbsp. coconut flakes 
2 Tbsp. applesauce 
2 Tbsp. catsup 
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Then simmer uncovered, stirring often, about 15 minutes or until thickened. Spoon about half of glaze on top of chicken to make a thick coating. Bake 20 minutes. Spoon on remaining glaze and bake 20 minutes longer or until chicken is tender and has turned brown. Arrange on a bed of parsley rice to serve.

Lady & Pups' Magic 15-Second Creamy Scrambled Eggs

(Original recipe & procedure below.)

This is a great recipe, y’all, this adding starch and butter to the eggs. One brunch, we scrambled about 20 eggs, had about 3 eggs’ worth left over, put them into a container and refrigerated them. When we reheated them three days later, they were still fluffy.
  • Choose a heavy-bottomed pan/skillet whose diameter will let your beaten eggs stand 1/8-1/4” deep when they start to cook.
  • Place the pan on low heat.
  • Set aside 1 Tbsp butter per egg.
  • Put 1/2 Tbsp milk per egg into a mixing bowl.
If I’m preparing a dozen or more eggs, I use a stand mixer. Otherwise it’s a regular mixing bowl and a whisk.
  • Into the milk put a mounded 1/2 tsp of cornstarch per egg and
  • whisk/mix until smooth.
  • Beat the eggs (yes, 1 egg per egg) into the milk/starch mixture.
  • Toss the butter into the pan. It should start sizzling immediately. If it doesn’t, turn up the heat. Either way, your going be standing here stirring constantly for the next little while.
  • Pour in the egg mixture and start stirring. At first, it’s going to look like there’s way too much butter in there. Don’t worry; it’s going to get absorbed.
  • When the eggs are almost set, cut the heat (gas) or move the pan to a cooler surface (electric), quickly stir in S&P to taste, and plate. The eggs should still be slightly wet looking when they hit the plate. They will continue to cook in their own heat for a couple of minutes.

Proportion chart:

# of eggs
Butter (Tbsp)
Butter (other)
Milk (Tbsp)
Milk (other)
Cornstarch
1
1

0.5

rounded 1/2 tsp
2
2
1/4 stick
1

1 heaping tsp
3
3

1.5

scant 2 tsp
4
4
1/2 stick
2
1/8 c.
2 1/2 tsp
5
5

2.5

1 Tbsp
6
6
3/4 stick
3

3 1/2 tsp
7
7

3.5

4 rounded tsp.
8
8
1 stick
4
1/4 c.
1 1/2 rounded Tbsp
9
9

4.5

scant 2 Tbsp
10
10
1 1/4 sticks
5
scant 1/3 c.
1/8 c. / 2 Tbsp
11
11

5.5
1/3 c. +
rounded 1/8 c.
12
12
1 1/2 sticks
6
3/8 c.
1/8 c. & 1 tsp
13
13

6.5

scant 3 Tbsp
14
14
1 3/4 sticks
7

3 Tbsp -pinch
15
15

7.5

3 Tbsp
16
16
2 sticks
8
1/2 c.
3 rounded Tbsp
17
17

8.5

3 1/2 Tbsp
18
18
2 1/4 sticks
9
1/2 c. + 1 Tbsp
3 1/2 rounded Tbsp
19
19

9.5

scant 1/4 c.
20
20
2 1/2 sticks
10
5/8 c.
1/4 c.
21
21

10.5
scant 2/3 c.
rounded 1/4 c.
22
22
2 3/4 sticks
11
2/3 c. +
1/4 c. + 1 tsp
23
23

11.5

1/4 c. + 2 tsp
24
24
3 sticks
12
3/4 cup
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp

In Lady & Pups’recipe (below) you might notice that there is a fudge factor built in for the amount of starch one uses. 1 3/4 teaspoons starch for 3 eggs is NOT three times the 1/2 + 1/8 tsp per egg. The first measure comes to 14/8 tsp for three eggs; trebling the second gets one 15/8 tsp for three eggs. It works out to a rounded 1/2 tsp per egg.

Also, the recipe assumes that there are three eggs per serving. I prefer 2 eggs per serving, while Dr. SWMBO’s preferences average out to ~1.5 eggs per serving (depending on what else she’s having). When we’re entertaining, I start with an estimate of 2 eggs per adult, 3 per teen, and 1 per toddler. Thus the chart above.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lady & Pups’ Magic 15-Second Creamy Scrambled Eggs


Author Notes: “A thickening agent is the answer to the previously-thought-impossible scrambled eggs fantasy,” Mandy @ Lady and pups writes. “Speed, and creaminess, all together.” You'll notice that this calls for a lot of butter, so just to be safe I tried the recipe both with and without the cornstarch, to see how much was really just the goodness of the butter. Without cornstarch, the eggs were good but tougher, the butter more free-floating. And I've found that even if you skimp on the butter, the cornstarch has dramatic effects. Adapted slightly from Lady and Pups. (less)Genius Recipes
Serves 1



  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk (1/2 tablespoon for each egg)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons potato starch or cornstarch (1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon for each egg)
  • Salt to season
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 tablespoon for each egg)
  1. First, crack 3 eggs into a medium bowl.
  2. Then, in a separate cup or bowl, evenly whisk together the milk and cornstarch until it's lump-free (don’t mix them directly with the eggs or you’ll get lumps).
  3. Add the milk and cornstarch mixture to your eggs, and beat until smooth. Season with salt.
  4. Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat until hot, then add the butter (should sizzle right away). Wait until the butter’s melted and bubbly, but before it browns…
  5. Add the beaten eggs. Wait for 3 seconds without stirring anything, until the edges of the eggs start to bubble up…
  6. Then remove the skillet from the heat (yes, remove!), and start stirring the eggs, making 1 full circle per second… 1, 2, 3….
  7. 4, 5, 6, 7…8, 9, 10, 11…(If you use a mini skillet instead of a large one, it may need a few more seconds)...
  8. For about 11 to 12 seconds. The eggs will have absorbed all the butter, but remain partially undercooked (add about 5 seconds more to every 3 extra eggs you’re scrambling, but I wouldn’t do more than 6 at once).
  9. This is when you transfer them onto a plate. Do not wait until they look fully cooked!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Prayer from Thomas Merton

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
 

But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust You always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

— from Thoughts in Solitude

Monday, November 24, 2014

Award winning vegetarian chili

Once upon a time I was asked to be one of six judges for a fund-raising chili competition. It was a fund raiser for an aquaponics project to be implemented in Haiti. The event was called the "Haiti Hoe Down."

Not content with cleansing my palate with water between servings, I brought a couple of mini bottles of scotch, which greatly amused my pastor, one of the other judges. I poured a mini bottle into a glass of water, and swished dutifully before and after each small tasting I was served. I then filled out my ballot, which had numerous categories (spiciness, balance of flavors, texture, &c.).

The thing is, Dr. SWMBO was not supposed to have entered anything. She had made a batch of vegetarian chili for her own self, knowing that if she didn't provide a veggie entree, no one would. But someone noticed her crock pot in a corner, unlabeled, and entered it into the competition.

It won first place.

And there were lots of great entries.

So here is her recipe, stolen from her blog post:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chili Recipe

So, I’m finishing up responding to a few friends' blogs and, in doing so, had to reveal the heretofore secret identify. Figured I’d better get around to adding some old draft posts to the blog. In doing so, I’ve also been re-reading those drafts.

Anyhow, in one recent post I mentioned my internationally famous (eaten and appreciated by folks from the US, the Netherlands & Haiti), Prize-winning (1st prize in the 2001 Haiti Hoedown Chili Cookoff, 2nd place in 2002) Vegetarian Chili recipe.

Here’s the recipe, as I sent it out after the 1st cookoff. (If I can ever make the picture upload feature work, Iʻll post a "Before" picture of the ingredients.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Subject: Haiti Hoe-Down Chili recipe, as best as I can reconstruct it
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 22:12:29 -0400

I’m sending this recipe to [Izzy] to pass along to folks who might be interested. I will say that I am floored at having won a chili cook-off without using meat!-- but my strategy of bribing the judges must have been successful.

All measurements are incredibly inaccurate and approximate. I was in a bit of a hurry and mostly dumped in spices and ingredients until things looked right. Just like you cannot step into the same river twice, you can probably never make the same pot of chili twice--there will never be the same combination of left-overs and ingredients in the kitchen. [Note: this might look a bit green owing to the broccoli and the colors imparted by the curries and turmeric.]
“Vegetable”-tarian chili
Sauté together in 2 Tbsp. Extra-virgin Olive Oil until onions are tender:

  • 1/3 cup minced garlic
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • Sprinkle over these 3-4 Tbsp. Boston Kitchen brand Cajun Seasoning
Pour into crock pot:
  • 28 oz can Progresso tomato puree
  • ~1/2 cup mild salsa (Taco Bell brand, left-over from Taco Bell taco-kit.)
  • 2 15 oz. cans El Ebro Frijoles Negros (Black beans, available from Mexican stores)
Heat at medium setting.

Cook in large pan or Dutch oven in 1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil until well-heated:
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded carrots (or any amount left-over in freezer)
  • 16 oz. package frozen chopped broccoli (make sure to chop it small if all you have are just broccoli "pieces". You want the broccoli nearly unrecognizable.)
  • 6 thawed and crumbled Garden Burgers (***I’ve now tried the meatless crumbles. Tasty, but they don’t soak up the liquid as well.)
Put all vegetables into tomatoes and bean mixture in crockpot. Add spices, 2-3 vigorous shakes at a time, stirring and tasting until blend seems right. It helps if you misplace the chili powder and then compensate by adding curry and other spices to get the flavor right before you finally locate the chili, and then go ahead and add the chili powder after all. Spice measurements were extrapolated from looking at what was left in the jars. Tbsp. does mean tablespoon; it’s not a typo.
  • 3 Tbsp. Mild Indian Curry Powder
  • ~4 Tbsp. Hot Madras Curry Powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Ground Turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp. oregano
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Valle del Sol (Whole Foods brand) Chile Powder (***Chipotle powder wasn't readily available when I made my first batches of this. It’s an OK substitute, but far less is needed for "general audiences".)
  • 1/3 cup raw minced garlic-added at the last minute (***just before serving or driving to the chili cookoff) to minimize the time the garlic gets cooked.
Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water since the Garden Burgers soak up lots of liquid. Heat chili to hot in crockpot, and then simmer at medium setting until ready to serve.
(Note from bitter experience: If you make it ahead of time, don’t leave chili cooking in the Crockpot over 6 hours--it can get a burnt taste.
***2010 Update: It’s OK to leave in a large crockpot, especially one with a "warm" setting, versus an older, smaller pot with only High and Medium settings.)

Serves 5 judges (1 Dixie cup each) and a line-full of Haiti Hoe-Downers. I don’t know if it freezes well, since there weren’t any left-overs.

Enjoy.

Recipe (c) House of Chez Casa, Durham, NC, 2001.