Jacob and I have been settling in nicely, if not altogether gracefully. I have so many mosquito bites, my legs look like a couple of measles victims. If I had any calamine lotion I would take a bath in its glorious pink syrup. And no more outside for kitty until she’s fixed. We don’t need any teenage pregnancies up in hurr. On her last daily romp in the backyard, Sita managed to squirm through a hole in the fence and spent the next 15 minutes taunting me from behind our neighbor’s cabbages. Eventually Jacob took pity on my hand-wringing misery and walked around the block to retrieve her. Our neighbor, an adorable wisp of a white-haired grandmother, offered us a standing invitation for pickled beets.
For the past few weeks, when I’m not nesting down in our new home, I’ve spent the majority of my time finishing out my studio. I am beyond thrilled about this little space. All mine, tralala. The studio is accessed via an outside staircase, making it all the more private. My very own sanctum sanctorum. It is a single room, about 8 feet wide and 26 feet long with a comfortable window seat at the end opposite the door. When we arrived, it was bare drywall with one of the worst mud and tape jobs I’ve seen. Jacob diligently re-mudded nearly every seam, ripping out the old tape and starting fresh. I then sanded and re-sanded until I resembled a Russian teacake and the walls were smooth as a baby’s bottom. We’ve since primed, painted and await the completion of the tile and lights. So very excited! I will post some photos when it is finished.
With our budget a bit tight, I’m going to keep my first tasty posts relatively simple. To that end, here is a recipe for the current incarnation of our favorite chili. It ousted my last batch for the top slot. We’re fickle that way. Jacob begged me to hide the pot when my father came to visit. It was that good. As ever, I fully support you in omitting or experimenting with different meats and veggies.
Our Favorite Chili
- 2 ½ cups dry black beans, soaked and cooked (undrained)*
- ½ lb ground dark meat turkey
- 1 chicken (or other) sausage, sliced into half rounds
- ½-3/4 cups chile paste, plus reserved soaking water **
- 1 ½ cups crushed tomatoes (we like fire roasted)
- 1 ½ onion, roughly diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large bell pepper chopped as you like
- 1-1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 2 heaping tsp. paprika
- 2 heaping tsp. garlic powder
- 1 good sized bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped into thin rounds
- Juice of 1 large, or 2 small limes
- 1-2 Tbsp. Tapatio (or your favorite hot sauce)
- Sea salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Splash of soy sauce
- Splash of olive oil
In a large, thick bottomed pot (I use my 6qt Le Creuset stock pot) set the beans to warm over low heat, adding additional liquid if necessary.
Using a large frying pan or skillet, preheat a liberal amount of oil and add the diced onion. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, until translucent and tinged with gold. Add the garlic and continue to cook until onion begins to caramelize (heat should be low enough that garlic does not burn). Add the turkey, sausage (if using), and a splash of soy sauce. Cook until meat and onion begin to brown, remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, chile paste and spices to the beans. Continue to simmer over very low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirred regularly and adding small amounts of the reserved chile water if necessary. Add the onions, meat and green pepper and simmer until the pepper begins to soften. Now add the lime juice, green onion (reserve some for garnish) and Tapatio, stir well, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Allow to cook until flavors have mellowed, or as long as you can stand not eating it. Finally, remove from heat and stir in the cilantro, reserving a small amount for garnish. Enjoy with cornbread or tortillas and top with the cilantro, green onions and cheese if desired – our absolute favorite is a nice goat cheddar as the farmy flavor combines in drooling perfection with the nutty sauce.