Vegetarian chili or something

Posted on

I do not aspire to be a food blogger.  However, at some point I had some idea about putting stuff up on this website that somebody might find useful. One night recently I made what we call “chili,” and thought I’d try my hand.

First of all, having read Wikipedia’s entry on Chili con carne, I think I should probably include a disclaimer at the start: this chili has no meat.  It has beans.  It has tomatoes.  It has no fresh chilis.  We like it.  So there.  Without further ado, here is the experience of making my “chili.”

Chili one

I only had the thought of taking photos for this after I’d started, so here is a picture of some things in a pot.  They are olive oil, cocoa powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, onions, and slivers of fresh ginger.  Oh, and I almost forgot: paprika.  I’ve never seen the point of paprika but we have lots so I usually put some in.  Also, I wouldn’t let a lack of fresh ginger stop me from making chili.  I’d just use powdered ginger which is always at the ready in one of the two wooden spice racks we bought from Argos, prepopulated with herbs and spices, because they were cheaper than empty spice racks anywhere else.  This was years ago and we still haven’t run out of cumin. There were two bottles per rack.

Chili two

Here are some mushrooms, washed.  I won’t get into whether other people should wash them or not. But how can rinsing them possibly cause them more trauma than hacking them to bits and dumping them into a pot with spices and hot(tish) oil?  And then dumping a pile of squished tomato on top.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let’s take a break to admire my knife.  It’s fantastic.  Look: it says “professional” right on it. OK, on to what happens next.

Chili three

Hey, what happened to these?  I thought that knife said “professional” on it!

Chili four

Here are the mushrooms in the pot with the other stuff.

Chili five

The same thing, only stirred around a bit.

Chili six

Action shot! +400 food blogger points!  (I don’t know what these points might be or whether 400 would be a lot, so please disregard the preceding statement). About here is where I realize I took this shot in portrait orientation, which is idiotic for a blog post with lots of pictures in it. -400 food blogger points.

Chili seven

Action shot two!  I like this one better than the previous one.  That last one is somehow not very appetizing.  Oh, and what this is a picture of is a bottle of passata being dumped in there.  According to the label, it’s made of crushed tomatoes and salt.

The next part is crucial and a bit complicated, so please pay attention.  First I open a can of organic red kidney beans in water, no salt added.  Then I open a can of not-organic red kidney beans. I put the organic and inorganic kidney beans together and rinse them thoroughly with water (what else?). Put the whole subtle mixture of organic and non-organic beans into the pot.  Aside: anyone who took organic chemistry in high school must find the sound of “organic” food less wholesome than the people who coined the term thought it sounded.

Chili eight

Get ready for some more action!  Kidney beans are about to cascade impressively from the steamer into the pot.

Chili nine

Come on, kidney beans.  Let’s see some motion.

Chili ten

Oh come on.

Chili eleven

OK, they’ve all managed to teleport themselves into there. Next comes a can of organic chopped tomatoes.  I used this because I had it.  Canned tomato halves or canned whole tomatoes have also been known to work for this.  I have not tried substituting fresh tomatoes but I suspect the result would be rather different.  I didn’t take an action shot here.  After stirring a bit, I discern that the balance of organic to non-organic kidney beans is off, so I open another can of organic.

Chili twelve

Chili thirteen

Bet you thought this was the same pair of pictures as before.

Chili fourteen

I just realized I didn’t mention there’s a small fire under the pot.  Feel free to use your usual method of making stuff in pots hot; resistive, radiative, and inductive heating have all been known to result in nice-tasting chili.  Trying to cook anything on one of those stoves with solid elements has been known to put me off my food, but that’s a different issue.  Nice puddle I made on the stovetop.  Matches the splatters of olive oil and cocoa on the wall.  I find I have a real talent for food blogging.

Now, here’s the key to the deliciousness of the chili: maple syrup.  Dribble a couple of tablespoons in there.  This will take the edge off and add a certain je ne sais quoi.  Don’t leave out this step or you’ll ruin the whole thing!

Just kidding.  Actually, I never used maple syrup before that night.  I also took no action photos to prove I even used it this time.  I’m really not sure I could tell I used maple syrup and not brown sugar, which is what I usually use.  In fact, I’m not entirely sure what would happen if you used white sugar.  But that’s a line I don’t want to cross.

I wonder, idly, how many recipes there are that use maple syrup, cocoa, and ginger all at once.  It’s not even dessert. Hmm, I suspect the combination might be conspicuous in a dessert.

Finally, it’s customary to add a bit more cumin, regardless of how much is in there already.

Chili fourteen-and-a-half

Let it bubble on low-ish heat for a while and then put into bowls, shred some cheddar or red leicester on top, and nuke it until the cheese melts.

Chili fifteen

Ta-da!  It turned out pretty good, even if you don’t like the picture.

That all adds up to:

  • a splash of olive oil
  • most of a medium-sized onion
  • a small handful of diced ginger root
  • a couple tbsp cocoa
  • cumin — a bunch of shakes, and then some more
  • cayenne pepper (or any powdered hot stuff)
  • paprika

All fried up together, then

  • some mushrooms
  • a bottle of passata
  • three cans of kidney beans
  • one can of tomatoes
  • some maple syrup or sugar
  • more cumin
  • cheese to shred on top

Unless I added it up wrong.  But it’s pretty flexible.  I used to use a bunch of different kinds of beans but I don’t need that kind of complication in my grocery shopping anymore.  Bubble it all together for a while, then put in bowls and top with shredded cheese.  Microwave for delicious meltiness.  Incidentally, I don’t put any salt in the chili because I know there will be enough salt in the cheese.