Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Squirreling, or, a New Law of Physics

Fall is the time of year that you find holes in your garden beds and your potted plants, presumably because squirrels are busily burying their winter stores and hence the title of this post. (Although, I must say that I think the holes are their digging efforts to find loot to bury, because otherwise why is there nothing in the holes and why are the holes not covered back up? At any rate, that theory negates my title so let's dismiss it. Moving on...)

A few months ago Jon and I bought a chest freezer. We debated over what size to buy: for our needs now or big enough to store our future garden haul? Should it be self-defrosting? How important is it to have a drain? Is it Energy-Star compliant? We finally settled on one and once we had it home, I learned a new law of physics: if it is empty, it will be filled.

Partly because the empty freezer stared back at me with the same hollow loneliness that I sometimes feel since moving, and partly because I have nothing better to do than to spend my evenings in the kitchen, the freezer has begun to fill. Every recipe I make is in triplicate and the leftovers are vacuum-packed in Food Saver bags. I'm barely halfway to a full freezer, but not for lack of trying.

Tonight I made French Lentil Soup, but to the recipe I added chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, and a dash of soy sauce. Each bowl was garnished with a dollop of sour cream.

Earlier this week I made massive amounts of Black Bean Chili. The recipe has been in development for the past 10 plus years I have been making it.

Black Bean Chili
Serves 4 - 6

1 cup dry black beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp each of cumin, paprika, cilantro, oregano
½ tsp red pepper (more or less to adjust heat)
½ tsp salt
¼ cup red wine or red wine vinegar
1 cup macaroni noodles, al dente
1 28 oz can of high quality chopped tomatoes (Muir Glen, Parmalat)

Cover black beans with several inches of water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until barely tender, about 1½ to 2 hours. Check often. Do not overcook.

In separate pot, saute onions, peppers, and garlic until tender. Add spices and saute for 1 minute. Add red wine or red wine vinegar and saute for one minute. Add tomatoes and cooked beans. If consistency is too thick, you can add some more tomatoes, tomato sauce, or black bean cooking liquid. Simmer for ½ hour or until beans are fully cooked. Meanwhile, cook noodles until al dente. Add to chili, adjust spices if necessary. Serve with grated cheese and crushed crackers or cheddar Goldfish on top. Sour cream optional.

Like freezers, empty hearts must too abide the laws of physics. Eventually, mine will fill again.

**This post is dedicated to my friend Tricia, from whom I received a pointed email this morning titled "Two Questions". It said: 1) Have you read A Primate's Memoir? 2) When are you going to post on your blog? (Incidentally, I think the original version of this recipe came from one of Tricia's cookbooks!)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. Your recipe is very close to mine, but I think I add a lot more of everything so we can also freeze it. I also add a yellow pepper when available. We only add the noodles to the portion that isn't frozen. Yum. - Tricia

Liz said...

That chili recipe sounds delicious. My eldest son loves black beans so I might give this one a try. We don't have a big freezer though so I'll have to figure out how to cut down the portions.

Kate said...

The recipe as shown is only one batch. It would be the perfect amount for a family of four, with probably just enough left over for you to take to lunch the next day!

Anonymous said...

I'll have some of the Lentil Soup now, Please, a big hot piping bowl. mom

Liz said...

Okay, I made the chili last night and it was a huge hit! Thanks, Kate!