Sunday, Aug. 20, 2006

Dear Diary:

My plea to my three loyal readers to rescue me from the horrors of the cardboardliscious recipes I've been finding for beans and lentils on healthy eating sites has not fallen on deaf ears.

The replies open to all are in the comments but I also got some recipes via e-mail.

The spousal unit and I launched BeanStock 2006 with one of the first e-mail replies, the spicy little number below, which was sent by Toejam. I would only be half kidding when I said I picked this recipe just to see how the spousal unit would react to being told that he was cooking something recommended by a person a.k.a. "Toejam".

Right there is reason 4,152 to be grateful that you do not have to suffer the horrors of marriage to me.

Here's what we made:

Caribbean Black Bean Chili

Whatcha need:

4 cups dried black beans
1/4 cup olive oil
4 medium onions finely diced
1/4 cup minced garlic (bought a jar o' minced garlic which speeded this considerably)
1-2 tbsp. habanero peppers (couldn't get 'em, substituted chopped, seeded jalapeno peppers)
1/4 cup chili powder (I used a very spicy Mexican chili powder)
1/4 cup cumin
(Buy your spices in bulk at a health food store, or bulk food store�I got nearly half a cup of cumin for $2.25�buying it in those little spice bottles from the grocery store would have cost me over $7)
2 tbsp. sugar or honey (I used honey)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 cup orange juice
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (bought two of those little green plastic squeeze thingies o' lime juice because I am too lazy to squeeze my own. DO NOT JUDGE ME.)
3 tsp. grated orange zest
2 tsp. grated lime zest
one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
6 cups of water (I used 4 because I like my chili thick)

How ya do it:

4 cups dried black beans. Rinsed, picked over and drained. Put in a
large pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer
until the beans are almost tender. About one hour. Drain and set beans aside.

In a large pot heat 1/4 cup olive oil (of course you can use less).
Add 4 medium onions finely diced and cook for about 10 minutes until
they are just starting to turn brown. Add 1/4 cup minced garlic and 1-2 TBS. habanero peppers. Cook, stirring for one minute.

Add 1/4 cup chili powder, 1/4 cup cumin, 2 tbs sugar or honey, 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, 1 1/2 cup orange juice, 3/4 cup fresh lime juice, 3 tsp. grated orange zest, 2 tsp. grated lime zest, one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes and 6 cups of water.

Stir in the reserved beans and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to LOW and cook partially covered, checking occasionally and adding more water as needed, until the beans are just soft to the bite...about 1 1/2- 2 hours.

Adjust seasonings and top with fresh cilantro and/or sour cream and/or cheddar cheese. (The spousal unit and I used plain low fat yogurt and fresh cilantro.)

Okay, first off, I have to tell you that I had terrible misgivings about this recipe. I hate zesting because I don't have a zesting tool. I am reduced to scraping my citrus on the finest holes on my grater which always involves knucklecide. Always. It's hard to work up enthusiasm for a food that you know is going to make you bleed. Plus there is the frustration of having to mine the grater for the microscopic zest bits. Oh, and let's not forget the horror of post zesting grater clean-up.

But I love spicy food, and the allure of a recipe that uses a whole � cup of cumin, my favourite spice of all, was too great to be resisted.

Even with two of us a-choppin' and a-stirrin' and all my shortcuts, there was still a fair bit of prep time. While the pot was simmering that night I had some terrible misgivings because it smelled weird and all the citrus in it gave it a taste I didn't like.

Uh oh.

This recipe makes a lot of chili as in vat o' chili.

Uh oh.

I stuck it in the fridge overnight because I've found that a lot of one pot meals don't really come into their own until the flavours have had eight or ten hours to mingle. If that didn't work, I was going to try some fixes that Mimi suggested.

When I put the chili on the stove to simmer for a few hours mid-afternoon Friday, the beans had beaten back the overwhelming citrus note. I thought when I read the ingredient list that it would be blast furnace hot, but while this chili is nicely spicy, it's not OMIGAWD I'M MELLLLLLTING hot.

(But then, when I was saut�ing the chili and cumin in, I didn't saut� them for long because I was worried the minced garlic would burn. The longer you saut� hot spices, the hotter they become, so your mileage may vary from mine. Oh, and I like spicy food, so my definition of nicely spicy might strike you as "Oh, I think my eyes just caught fire" hot.)

I made a pot o' brown basmati rice and we ladled the chili on, topping it with a generous dollop of plain, active yogurt and a general sprinkle of freshly chopped cilantro.

I could go either way on this recipe, because citrus and beans combined just taste odd to me, but the spousal unit LOVVVVVVVES this dish. He ate two heaping bowls of it for supper and when lunch time rolled around Saturday he ate another huge bowl.

Since this is one of the few times it's not about me (and you can well imagine my bitterness over this state of affairs) the recipe is a keeper and will now go into rotation.

Even after our supper and his lunch, I had four containers' worth of chili to store in the freezer. I figure each container holds about three servings, so although there was a fair bit of time sunk into making the original batch, I now have about a month's worth of "instant" chili I can reheat at any time.


Plus, of course, I got to tease the spousal unit that he loves a recipe that involves Toejam.


There will be further bulletins as events progress


Mileage on the Marnometer: 514.25 miles. 10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck
Oh, man, but I am having a hard time building back stamina. Ouch.

Goal for 2006: 1,250 miles - 2000 kilometers

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