Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Chili on the brain!

In about 3 weeks we will be holding our annual Chili Cook-off! I love this event, not just because I am the event coordinator, it is I LOVE chili. One of my favorite things to have on a cold winter day.

Right now, I have 16 people making a big ass crockpot of chili and I most likely will be the only meatless one. That is okay because there are a few people that want vegetarian, but I am out for something else. I want to WIN....mooohhhhaaaaawwww (that is my evil laugh) However, in my thrist to win, I am getting obsessed to have the BEST meatless chili. I want to win to PROVE to people you don't have to use the flesh of a poor defenseless cow or pig to make chili! I want people to say "Damn! That is good chili!" and when they find out it doesn't contain meat they say "Really?! But it is so good?!" You bet your boots! So I am on a mission. This chili has to be as close to possible to traditional chili, which means it is going to have to have a meat like texture in the chili. If anyone out there reads this I am begging you for advice. What would be the best way to go? Soy crumbles? Seitan? I want to season the non-meat too and will stick with traditional spices - ancho chilies, beer (okay so that isn't traditional, I just like beer) garlic, cumin, etc. What spices blend well? These are my obsessive questions that are keeping me up at night!!

This weekend I am going to experiment, and though she doesn't know it yet, I am dragging her over to the house or I to her house to make the first sample batch. Hi Trac!!! :-)

Oh and I came up with the name of my chili.... Shock'n Y'all Chili - courtsey of one of my student workers. I didn't think the other name was appropriate - Moes and Hoes Chili. So far one of the professors has the best name: Fire In the Hole. LOL!!!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Myth?

Some say that being a vegetarian is a healthier way to eat. Is it? Ummmmmm, not right now for me anyway. As I type I am shoveling in my pie hole a delicious mound of eggplant fries. Sure eggplant is good for you! Not so much when they have been battered (what an appropriate word) and deep fried to delcitable delciousness.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Note to self...

I learned a valuable lesson last night when trying to prepare my dinner. When going vegetarian and trying to cook there are two things you should never skimp on.

1. Soy Sauce

Last night I was attempting to make a sesame noodle salad with an oriental dressing. The main ingredient for the dressing was soy sauce and the only thing I had is La Choy. Not good. Not good at all. In fact, I don't even think this was a soy sauce - it resembled soy sauce, but definitely didn't taste like it. I pitched the entire thing! Lesson learned: Buy the good stuff from an asian market. There is a difference - a big difference.

2. Food Processor

About a month ago I bought a cheapo food processor at Wal-Mart for $25 bucks. I hate it. Each time I have tried to use it, it has been a disaster. Could it be operator error? Yes. It is, but I still hate it.

There is a part that would of come in handy if I just would of read the freaking directions. Here is what happened. The lid has a spout or rather a salad shooter attachment - it is for when you put veggies down the top chute, the processor will chop and shoot the veggies out this spout into your bowl. What I didn't know is how to close this so when I make a sauce or anything else that it doesn't go flying everywhere from this spout! I know. I am an ass. So I am trying to make this dressing and it is going EVERYWHERE - it was like a scene from Hell's kitchen after a bad night of service. I tried shoving a paper towel in the shoot - nope. It was a disaster and I got really pissed. Not only did it taste like dog doo - it was all over my kitchen. I abandoned the dressing and decided to make my own! I coated my noodles with sesame oil and hot chili sesame oil, threw in some garlic and green onions and melted some Jiff peanut butter. I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted pretty good.

When my husband got home from work, I went into bitching overload about the processor! I hate it , I want a better one, this one is like a possessed demon and it hates me as much as I hate it, bitch, whine, bitch, whine. As he patiently listens to me, he walks into the kitchen, roots around to find this tool that slides in the slot that blocks the hole. All the while giving me this look of "if only you would look". Smartass.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Not today

Yesterday was supposed to be my bronc scope. Bill and I get to the hospital, check-in and they put me in the ward where it was hopping!! I mean it was busy and almost all the beds were full. Anyway, at the beginning of the week I started getting congested with a scratchy throat. It most likely was the combo of the weather change (sinus) and the smoke it the house, which always gives Bill and I stuffy noses. Since I couldn't take any medicine for the symptoms, the doctor came in and decided not to do the procedure. Smart man! :-) He didn't want to risk the possibility of me having a cold and pushing the germs in my lungs to make things worse so they let me go. They didn't have to ask me twice!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My girl is home

Lyssie and I on the couch with her censoring herself :-)

Today I brought Alyssa's ashes home. Even though it was extremely sad, it was a big relief. I know it sounds weird, but I feel better now, at peace.

Say Ahhhhh

Tomorrow is finally the day to find out about my poor little lungs. They will go down and take a peek at the little nodules they found several months ago. I have to say I am very nervous because the procedure entails them putting a tiny scope down my nose and/or throat down to my lungs!! Just thinking about it makes me want to pass out. All I got to say is they better damn well give me a heavy dose of sedation! I have been working on a cold or it might be sinus or it might be I have been breathing second hand smoke, but I have had the sniffles and a sore throat. I won't be disappointed if they can't do the procedure.

My procedure is at 10 a.m., and I have to be there at 9 and it only takes about 20-25 minutes to get to the hospital. My mother suggested we leave at 6:30 a.m. What the hell?? 6:30! Ummmmm...no.

Monday, September 04, 2006

To My Best Friends (you know who you are)

Thank you.
Thank you for caring.
Thank you for making me laugh so hard I cry.
Thank you for making me cry.
Thank you for making me mad.
Thank you for making me feel grateful.
Thank you for keeping me on the right path.
Thank you for hurting along with me.
Thank you for your patience.
Thank you.

Could it be?

Saturday I invited Trac and Andrew over for dinner. One reason is that Bill and I really enjoy their company, and two, why would I want to suffer alone in case my vegetarian dinner took a nose dive right in the toilet. You know you only share really bad food with really good friends.

Okay, so the menu included: Chunky avocado salsa, sweet potato & pinto bean chili, and apple crisp for dessert. I have never chopped, diced, cubed and minced so much produce in my life. I even have a blister on the side of my thumb (I say proudly, chest puffed out, chin held high). Trac brought over polenta for the chili and soy ice cream for the dessert.

Earlier that day I threw a pot a meat chili on the stove for Bill because I knew there was no way on this God's green earth he was going to eat the sweet potato chili...and I was right.

Trac brought her three pups over for a play date. Cosmo and Angus had the BEST TIME EVER. Cosmo's favorite game was going up and down the stairs like the neurotic dog that we have come to know and love. We counted at least 13 trips. This is the first time I have ever seen Cosmo with somewhat of an expression. Angus, their fox terrier was having a blast bouncing around and investigating every nook and cranny of the house and trying to figure out where the cats were hiding. In their secret safe domain my dear Angus. Mal, found his favorite bed in the family room and just chilled.

Back to the menu. I served the avocado salsa and it was pretty damn tasty! I am feeling hopeful at this point. Then I pulled out the chili. And you know what? It was delicious. There was no vomiting, there were no tears of trying to force down a mouthful of crap. No I am shocked. Could it be that I am turning into a cook? Maybe? Possibly? The sweet potatoes turned out perfect - not mushy like baby food, but soft with a tineey bit of firmness and the spices were very nice. We didn't need the rice with the chili like the recipe called for, but we had Trac's polenta and it was great with the chili. The salsa AND the chili turned out great. Now I am feeling cocky -- mostly due to the wine, not my cooking. I pull out the apple crisp. Wholly Mary Mother Of Earth it was out of this world (in my humble opinion). It was hot, sweet, and crispy with the soy ice cream melting all around so you get that hot and cold all at the same time. It damn near made me wet myself it was so good. Again, this maybe due to the wine, but hey, this is the first all homemade meal from start to finish that people didn't want to hide pieces of food in our plants or retch. It is always a good feeling to serve a non-retchable meal.

Bascially this long blog is to prove the point that these recipes are so easy, that if little old me can make them there is help out there for all those people afraid to go vegetarian for fear of having to cook. It is possible.

Courtsey of the Clueless Vegetarian cookbook

Chunky Avocado Salsa

2 lrg ripe avocados
1 sm. red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
1 med tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp salt

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and peel them. Dice the avocado flesh and dump it into a bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients, and toss to combine without mashing.

Sweet Potato and Pinto Bean Chili

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 med. onions, chopped
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup vegetable broth
2 med. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
2 19oz cans pinto (or other beans, drained and rinsed)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crumbled dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne (or more like me to taste)
1/2 cup chopped frest cilantro

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add the onions and cook, stirring, over med. heat until the onions are soft - about 5 mins. Add the chili powder and the cumin and cook for another minute or so. Add the vegetable broth and teh cubed sweet potatoes, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, until the potatoes are almost tender - about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with all the juice from the can, the beans, salt, oregano and cayenne. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then let simmer until the potatoes are completely tender - about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the chopped fresh cilantro.

Serve with rice or corn bread.

Fruit Crisp

Since it is apple season here in CNY I had picked a sweet (jersey mac) and a tart apple (granny smith) for the crisp, but you could use any type of fruit.

6 cups prepared fruit
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup flour
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a large bowl, toss the fruit with the sugar and cornstarch. Dump in a greased 8-9 inch square baking dish.

In food processor or in a bowl with a fork or pastry blender, combine flour, butter and margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix and mash until the mixture becomes moist and crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the fruit in the baking dish. Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and topping is browned.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Spare some change?

The Farm Sanctuary's Walk For Farm Animals in Los Angeles is September 30th and a fellow animal lover meesh from The Eph Word will be walking to support the sanctuary!!! If you can please think about going to her sponsorship page here and throwing in a few bucks. It will make you feel better, really it will. It did me.

And to my dear friend who donated money in Alyssa name. Thank you. That was a wonderful surprise to see her name and for a cause that she would give 4-paws up for.