Saturday, May 21, 2011

Celebrating Summer with Good Intentions Chili

I’ve been wanting to blog since Wednesday, when it was my first official day of summer. It seemed, however, the Universe had other plans. I spent Wednesday moving out of campus housing (which I thought I had until Thursday, but then the RAs came and said I was to have moved out four hours ago), thanks to a friend who’s working for the Burt-man, driving one of the company’s delivery vans. By Thursday, I had made a great meal, but was too tired to do anything but take a photo or two. On Friday, we were expecting a great family friend to stay with us for the weekend, so I had to haul all of my unpacked college life into my bedroom and clean as thoroughly as eight hours would allow.

Naturally, I had to cook something fantastic simultaneously, but the consequence of crashing was not how I envisioned my first days back home would be like.

For the majority of the past few days, I’ve been in the reality between the waking and dreaming worlds. My head ached, my stomach and digestive system were topsy-turvy and tender, and I found myself lying on my stomach just so I could sleep through the discomfort. I was sneezing, lethargic, and all I wanted to do was curl up with the cats and read a Neil Gaiman classic or cook. When I cook, I feel more than useful; I feel needed, a respected member of the household, contributing to those who come under our roof in search of comfort and love.

Cooking, as I’ve discussed, is more than science, but a combination of magic and art and time that can have a repeated outcome if done properly. Cooking is just as therapeutic to the one in the kitchen as it is to those eating the meal. The emotions and mindset you have while preparing a meal is just as important as the individual ingredients going into it. A meal made with good intentions, with love and happy thoughts, tastes significantly better than a meal made with someone who puts their bad day into their food.

Trust me, you can taste the difference.

The reason why I love soups and stews, specifically the chili I’ve known since I was a toddler, is because you can turn it into a meal filled with so much love that whomever eats it will feel a sense of belonging and ease. For each bay leaf or garlic clove or individual spices I use, I like to think of something that I feel the household wants and needs. As I drop ingredients into the pot, depending on the day I imagine with all my being whatever comes to mind: prosperity, a happy home, inspiration, and countless others. By the end of it, not only will the meal taste amazing, but also I feel so much better than I had when I started. 

Good Intentions Chili

16 oz Ground turkey (or whatever ground meat you have on hand around that weight)
1 tbsp. Olive oil
1 Red onion, coarsely chopped
15 oz (1 can) Black beans, drained
15 oz (1 can) Pinto beans, drained
28 oz (1 large can or two regular cans) Diced tomatoes
8 oz Filtered water
2 oz Cabernet Sauvignon (or any other dry red wine)
1 Red bell pepper, finely diced
1 Green bell pepper, finely diced
2 Medium carrots, peeled and sliced into small pieces

For the Spice combination:
1 tsp. Chipotle powder
1 tsp. Cumin powder
1 tsp. Paprika
A pinch of Saffron
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
1/4 tsp. Sweet basil

Pour the olive oil (or whichever oil you prefer) into a large pot over medium-high heat.
Place in the ground meat and, with a wooden spoon, stir and break apart the meat until completely cooked and separated.
Add the spices to the meat until thoroughly mixed, and then add the remaining ingredients.
Cover the pot and let sit over medium heat for at least an hour (I like the smokiness of cooking it for a period of 3 – 5 hours).
Garnish each bowl with your choice of sour cream, cheese, diced onion, avocado, or all of the above.

Serves 4 – 6 people.

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