Tuesday, January 29

scrapyard chili - a rat style essay

Homemade vegetarian chili has always been one of those meals that feeds my belly and my heart. Definitely one of my favourite comfort foods. I normally make chili from a combination of food scraps and staples from a last minute dash to the grocery store or corner gourmet market.

This scarpyard chili recipe, inspired by my year of the rat 'illuminations', is all about using up 'dated' freezer veggies, abanandoned-squishy-lookin' veggies in the far corner of the crisper, cupboard excess, and leftovers.

In order to maximize your time, and most importantly your cooking enjoyment level, give yourself three days to prepare this chili. Hear me out, and you'll see the humongous benefits to the long prep time.

Here's how this recipe came to be:

Day 1
I opened the cupboards to declutter. I grabbed two bags of legumes that had outstayed their welcome: a 450 gram bag of organic green lentils; and a 450 gram bag of organic red kidney beans.

I dumped the whole bag of lentils in a large pot and covered them in water; I dumped the whole bag of kidney beans in another large pot and covered them in water.

Next I made room for these two pots in the fridge, where they stayed overnight. The longer the soak, the less time they need to cook.

Day 2
Dumped the legumed water from each pot; washed the kidney beans, put them back in the big pot, added water up until the max line, added a fistful of sea salt, put the lid on and brought them to a boil. Once they boiled, I turned the heat to low and simmered them about 40 minutes. I use to own a pressure cooker which cuts your time down to about 15 minutes!

Once the kidney beans had cooked and were soft, I ladelled them out into a strainer so I could re use the hot water for the lentils (remember, I'm a frugal/enviro nut rat). Since the water had already boiled I simply put the lid on the pot, simmered the lentils for about 20 minutes, then they too were cooked.

Dumped the lentils ontop of the drained kidney beans, quick rinse then put them in a big pot and back in the fridge until the next day.

Day 3
Ramsacked the freezer, crisper, cupboards and top of the fridge. Once everything was on the counter I put the timer on, it was 5:34pm, by 6:07pm beautiful chili was being ladelled into dinner bowls!

This is what was done:

poured 3 tblsp of oil in a large pot
heat oil on med then added 3 chopped onions (the ones that had no hope in hell of surviving one more day)

once onion was translucent added 1 medium potato, diced small (this potato was part of a trio, and she needed salvation)

after a couple of minutes added 1 large zucchini, diced small (she was fresh, I love biting into fleshy veggies in my chili)

after a couple of minutes added 3/4 roughly chopped yellow pepper (poor thing had almost shrivelled into a skeleton) and 5 roughly chopped large garlic cloves (kind of rough lookin' dudes)

after a few minutes added 1 large carrot, which I grated using the large grate side

after another minute or so added 796ml/28 fl oz can of crushed tomatoes, plus 2 tblsp sea salt, plus 1 tblsp cumin

raised heat to high until sauce began to boil, once it boiled turned it down to medium and added 9 cups of the red kidney bean and lentil combo, plus 2 cups of frozen green peas, plus 2 cups of frozen corn, plus half a large can of frozen tomato paste, plus 1 or 2 cups of water.

Once it was bubbling I turned it off, had a taste, sprinkled a tiny bit more sea salt over it and dug in.

Splitting the tasks up over a three day period will give you a sense of accomplishment that only cooking from scratch can.

If you love to cook, you know that you can add more stuff, less liquid, meat, shredded cheese, even more legumes, more spices, leftover soup, stir fry, in fact, anything that you don't want to throw out. You probably don't need my recipe because you've winged your own kick ass chili creations. But I'm sure you'll appreciate my goal which is to share a recipe that I created out of the abundance in what 'seemed' like bare cupboards.

If you don't think cooking is fun, or get stressed by cooking large batches of food you've come to the right place. I'm not here to judge, I just want to help those who are looking for ways to use up food products before buying more.

I'd be delighted to help anyone make copious amounts of a their own signature scrapyard chili. Please leave a comment with your questions/concerns, and I will gladly help you.


Amy Turn Sharp said...

I am so making this style chili this weekend! Thanks babe!

Jamie said...

I love how your vegies are "she's", and your garlic, "dudes".

I loved seeing this post because I have totally become Miss Frugal and am inspired how others are being frugal. I love creating from what we have-making sure that our cupboards and fridge are bare and there is nothing going to waste. Some of it might not taste as good as other things, but I feel so satisfied doing this and knowing that we are getting the nourishment that we need.

I posted this, but Penny said her prayers before bed last night and pleaded that ALL of her food will ALWAYS taste good. She's been really bummed out by our meals lately. Tonight I'm making tofu balls from Jessica Seinfeld's children's cookbook, "Deceptively Delicious".