Cookout prep

Things I made or will make tonight: an ordered list.

  1. Vegan baked beans – another 2 hours to go, though I may not make it that long
  2. Pickled red onions
  3. Vegan chili
  4. Diced onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes
  5. Cole slaw
  6. Horseradish aioli which, if it turns out, will knock another item off my 25 Recipes

All of these things and more will be available as hot dog toppings at tomorrow’s birthday cookout. And for those concerned about my health (and by extension, their health) – don’t worry. I washed my hands about 100x.


1025 Braised Beans on Toast

I have a weakness for interesting vegetables at the market.  Sometimes it works out marvelously – like with fava beans this summer, or Brussels sprouts last winter.  Sometimes it’s just unfortunate, and then we end up eating something weird because I feel guilty about wasting food, especially food that looked so interesting! I’m going to call tonight’s dinner a draw.

Tongue of Fire Beans

Tantré had these guys listed as Tongue of Fire beans – closely related to Cranberry beans or Borlotti beans, all of which are cultivars of the Cargamanto bean from South America.  I just knew they were very pretty, and that fresh beans didn’t require quite as much work as their dried counterparts, though perhaps more work than their canned friends.

After scouring the net for a simple preparation, I hit on braising them, then serving over toast.  One recipe called for up to 90 minutes and a quarter cup of olive oil.  Another used canned beans and needed 10 minutes plus much less oil.  Rancho Gordo was for once no help.  I aimed for something in between.

I drizzled about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in our 3 quart enameled pot, then added a couple of cloves of minced garlic and the beans, shelled, rinsed, and cleared of debris.  I tossed them around a bit, then added a couple of diced tomatoes and a cup or so of water, a bay leaf, and a generous amount of salt and pepper.  On went the lid, and the pot simmered away for the better part of an hour.  I stirred occasionally and added half a cup of white wine about halfway through.  When the beans were soft and cooked through and the liquid almost gone, I killed the heat, warmed up some Italian bread, and served the lot as somewhat fancied up beans on toast with a bit of Ortiz tuna on the side.

A fine dinner – filling and with lots of protein – but not necessarily worth repeating.  We ate it right up and had some bacon chocolate later.

Braised Cranberry Beans
Polenta with Tomato-Braised Beans from Cooking Light

0913 Vegan Chili

I had a damned good cup of chili at Monk’s Kettle, and that, along with Tina’s enthusiasm for her new slow cooker, inspired me to make chili tonight. Well, last night and today, really, as I did all of the prepwork in advance and just dumped a bunch of stuff in the crockpot this morning, leaving a VERY BIG NOTE for Shane to please please pretty please turn the crockpot on when he left for work.

We came home to the hearty aromas of chili. You’ve gotta love walking in the door after a long day and having dinner already done, right? Much less a dinner that smelled and tasted as good as this one. I don’t have a precise recipe, but what I did went something like this:

1 cup dried kidney beans
2-3 medium carrots, sliced into coins
1 bell pepper, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 cups crimini (or white button) mushrooms, washed and halved
2 cups diced tomato (1 14 oz can or 2 medium tomatoes)
A hearty spoonful each of: tomato paste, cumin, and coriander.
2 dried chilies, chopped, or 2 tsp red pepper flakes
A generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper

Prep your vegetables the night before. Put your beans in the crockpot and cover them with water. Do NOT turn the crockpot on. Go to bed and get a decent night’s sleep. In the morning, drain and rinse your beans, then put them back in the crockpot and add the rest of the ingredients. Add enough water to barely cover everything. Turn your crockpot on LOW and go to work or otherwise pass 7-8 hours.

We didn’t have any cheese or sour cream or yogurt on hand, but all of these things would be good over your chili. I would recommend cornbread or white rice under your chili, or spaghetti if you’re from Cincinnati. Again, none of these on hand, but we made it work.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
Photo by flyzipper, whose chili recipe looks damned good as well!

0819 Garden-Fresh Snack Dinner

Snack Dinner
Shane’s favorite grapes, which I included in our wedding vows because it was important to me to remember. Golden beets from our garden and the market plus a couple of huge sweet garlic cloves, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic, then wrapped in tinfoil and roasted at 375 for about an hour. Green beans from the market, but Szechuan pickled by me.

Snack Dinner
Sopressata. Sharon Hollow goat cheese with garlic and Tellicherry pepper, a $5 impulse buy. The last of a loaf of Italian bread, and a handful of tiny cherry tomatoes that sprung up by surprise in our garden.

Snack Dinner
Green beans from our garden, quickly blanched. Cucumber and radish freezer pickles, also from our garden.

Snack Dinner
All in all, a glorious spread.

0307 Chili, Two Ways

I’m a big fan of having people over to watch the Oscars.  I’m also a big fan of meals that can be made in large quantities (and vegetarian!) without too much difficulty.  Chili is one of those meals for me, which is why I’m a big fan of the Oscars and chili combination.

For the last few years, I’ve rarely strayed from what I like to call The Best Damned Chili I’ve Ever Made.  It’s good stuff – really good stuff – but I wanted to try something new.  So, for the meat eaters, Jamie Oliver’s chili con carne.  Niman Ranch ground beef sauteed with a puree of onions and garlic, then simmered for an hour or two with tomato, kidney beans, and a cinnamon stick, among other things.  It smelled amazing and tasted even moreso.  For the non-meats, I adapted a recipe from Hooked on Heat, long ago scribbled down in my black book.  I couldn’t find veggie crumbles at the store, so I used some veggie meatballs sauteed and smushed up with the onion, tomatoes, beans, and garlic.  The flavor wasn’t a knock-out, but it was hearty and delicious.

Everyone has their favorite chili toppings/bottomings – there are “traditional” chilies up to five ways (chili plus spaghetti, shredded cheese, diced onions, and beans).  Our friends brought delicious cornbread, cheese, and a killer punch – oh, and an array of desserts IN ADDITION TO our ice creams.  I’m disappointed that we didn’t have more leftovers, as I could’ve happily eaten all of this all week long.

Chili Con Carne from Happy Days with the Naked Chef
Chicken Chili with Black Beans from Hooked on Heat (except made vegetarian)