Winter chili: Sometimes you’re just too lazy to go to the store.

Today was very busy, and I went into it tired, which never bodes well. I got home a bit early from work, and we were supposed to write tonight, because we’re doing that now, so I put on a big pot of chili. We never got to the writing – we were both malfunctioning creatively. Fortunately, chili is comfort food, and so as we vegetated, we at least did a little something good for ourselves.

I make this sort of thing a lot, and there was never really a recipe until tonight, when I finally wrote down everything that’s in it. It’s so easy, and you probably have most of what you need already. It’s a winter chili – in the springtime, and in the summer, we’ll have vegetarian chili with bell peppers, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and things like that. This is a hearty dish making use of what’s available right now, things like the canned goods you have in your pantry and sweet potatoes. It takes a little longer than you may like for dinner on a weeknight, but it’s the kind of thing you can stick in a crockpot and cook all day, if that’s easier.

Serve this with cornbread.

Vegetarian winter chili

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped (about two cups)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, including liquid
  • 1 19 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 19 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 5.5 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 cup beer, such as pilsner or pale ale
  • 4 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • Salt, to taste

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, sweat onions and sweet potatoes in olive oil. Stir in garlic, and add canned tomatoes. Reduce to medium heat.

Add beans to the pot, and stir in tomato paste. Stir in beer, add spices and salt, and simmer, uncovered, for ten minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Here is where you may want to add something like chopped chipotle peppers, or a dose of Tabasco or sriracha or something, but I didn’t feel like it. Had a spicy lunch.

Cover, and reduce to medium-low heat. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the sweet potato is soft.

Serve hot, in bowls. This makes quite a lot, so divvy the remains into dishes to take for lunches. I love meals like that, that you enjoy in the first place, and that you can revisit later on in lunch form. It makes good sense, and it saves having to trek out into the world in search of a mediocre deli sandwich.

Speaking of excess, today I bought some burdock root. I have what amounts to eight feet of it, because I watch too much Iron Chef and am never smart enough to know when I’m outmatched by an ingredient. I’ll show it to you tomorrow – it’s a little ridiculous, and was a pain to carry home on the bus. I think I am going to pickle the stuff.

Have you any good ideas for burdock root? A Google search turned up very little information – apparently all of Japan is confused by the stuff, and only has one recipe for something called Burdock Kinpira, and since it’s been done to death, I’d like to try a new approach. If you’ve tried it and have some good ideas, let me know. I’m hoping tomorrow will be a thinking day, and that I will have my wits about me. Wish me luck.

Homemade soy milk? Not difficult, and cheaper than anything ever.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of food blogs to stumble upon, a percentage of which are beautiful and amazing and full of fantastic recipes and the percentage is higher than you think. It’s sometimes overwhelming, all this blog-stalking one gets to in pursuit of a diversion and something clever to do with all of these odd groceries one picks up because they were on sale or they were weird and it turns out one is not as creative as one thought.

One. Not me, of course. Of course. In the course of my regular stalking reading, I stumbled upon a beautiful food blog that made me want to pick up and change everything that I am. Or something like that. I found it through Tea and Cookies on Twitter – Tea and Cookies also makes me want to change everything that I am, and at this point, the thought of everything I need to do to improve is so exhausting that I think I’ll stay me, at least until I win the lottery and can afford to be someone better. Everyone notices a train wreck, and so that is what I will cling to.

Anyway, the thing is this blog, and this soy milk. Go there, and make it right now and wonder why you ever bought that crap at the market, even if it was on sale. This is so much cheaper than on sale: Using the organic dried soybeans, one batch cost me around thirty cents, and its yield was about one litre. Drink it hot or ice cold, or use it in your coffee before you head out for your weekend. Me? I’m using it in homemade chai lattes, which I am using to fuel a weekend of cookery, recipe development, article writing, and ego boosting in the form of a foodie photo shoot, which I hope to tell you all about tomorrow or the day after.

Have a great weekend!