Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chili therapy

When I turned 30, one of my nearest and dearest gave me a copy of Gloria Steinem's Revolution From Within. It's a self-esteem book, and at that time I was in a relationship that wasn't very healthy, depressed a lot, and probably quite tiring. I love Steinem's writing and some stories at the end of the book stayed with me.

They were about creating as therapy. Painting, throwing pots, using your senses in the process of making something beautiful.

Oddly enough, she did not mention cooking, but I can't think of a better example. Cooking uses all the senses. Does the lamb look lean or fatty? Toast the seeds until you hear them pop. Does the fragrance of one spice stand out or did they all blend well? Do the vegetables feel firm under your hands? I could go on about kneading bread dough, but I think I have in a previous entry and this is about chili. This is all before you even get around to tasting things.

Guess what I did this afternoon? It was going to be tomorrow morning because I thought I was going to a write-in today, but the write-in is tomorrow, so chili today. Currently simmering on the stove I have:

  • 2 pounds of cubed lamb
  • One bulb of garlic, minced
  • 4 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes with green chiles 
  • 4 15oz cans of Goya small red beans. They smell pretty sweet.
  • 3 baseball-sized onions, chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, chopped
  • 2 T ground dried chiles (more on that below)
  • 2 T ground cumin
  • 1 T chopped ginger (there's always at least one jar in the fridge)
  • 1 dried habanero, crumbled to bits
  • 2 shakes of ground coriander
  • 2 bottles of Magic Hat not-quite-pale ale

The apartment smells fabulous, but the chili won't be ready for hours. It will simmer for quite a while, then be reheated in the morning, and it will be served with some crusty rolls. I'll try to get Nexx to comment.

When I went into my severely overloaded spice cabinet for the chili powder, I found two things that made me smile. Dried red chiles (the type you find in some of your spicy Asian dishes in American restaurants. (I am not getting into Asian authenticity here. You can't make me.) Also a bag of dried chiles de arbol. There was also cumin seed, probably from my last batch of garam masala.

So, I used my trusty spice grinder instead of the usual jarred stuff. Assuming this isn't atomically hot, I think this chili will be quite tasty.

It was certainly sensuous.


  1. That sounds amazing! I love lamb but haven't tried it in chili. Can't wait to hear the results.

  2. What does cubed lamb run you by the pound? Where I am, I could as well buy New York strip for the same money.