Everyday-for-the-rest-of-my-life chili!

It’s really just called white chili. Or maybe it’s white bean chili? There’s no tomato sauce or chili powder so it’s not one big pot of spicy hot redness. But it does have a kick to it.

This is so freakin’ easy to make and addictively tasty that I’ve already made 3 batches in the course of 2 weeks. We served it to guests, packed it for lunch, and are now enjoying it for dinner. It’s so flavorful!

The star guests:

  • Great Northern beans (5 15 oz.-cans or roughly 4 cups of dried beans or a little less than 2 lbs, cooked)
  • Garlic – 5 to 6 cloves
  • 2 large onions diced
  • Cooking oil
  • 2 cans of diced green chili
  • Vegetable broth – one box
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1.5 tsp cayenne powder (or more)
  • 2 cups dried TVP (texturized vegetable protein) (or use a package of frozen)
  • 2 chopped Jalapenos (optional)
  • 2 diced tomatoes (optional)

I use cannellini beans because I couldn’t find dry great northern beans. The original recipe calls for great northerns. I used to think they were the same but they are not. Cannelini’s are a little bigger.
IMG_0324-001I soak before cooking beans if I plan ahead. Otherwise I just cook the shit out of it without soaking. This time I did the latter. Stir fry the onions, garlic, and fresh jalapenos until the onions are soft. IMG_0326

Add tomatoes if you want (it won’t turn the chili red). And canned green chilies.
IMG_0336Add the spices. IMG_0345

Add the TVP.
IMG_0348And the beans. IMG_0349

Basically put everything into the pot.
Simmer for 30 minutes.
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The beans make the chili thick and the vegetable broth and canned green chilies are enough to salt the whole dish.

Serve with nutritional yeast, diced avocados, and corn chips if you want.

If you have a slow cooker, this works really well. After browning the onions, just dump everything into the cooker and leave it all day. My slow cooker is too small to fit everything so I just cook it on the stove.

Fall Squash Simmer

I love fall squashes. When the season comes around, I always end up buying 2 or 3 at a time and then woefully regret my greed when I’m hauling them home because they are heavy.

  • 2 Acorn Squash (or any fall squash) – peeled and cubed
  • 2 big onions – diced
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic – chopped/minced/whatevered
  • Salt/Pepper – easy on the salt, generous with the pepper
  • Turmeric – generous
  • Water (2-3 cups)
  • Oil

Stir fry the onions, garlic, and salt in oil for a few minutes.
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Add pepper and turmeric. IMG_9878

Add the squash.
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Add the water

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Simmer until the squash is soft.

Sauerkraut!

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut
Another microbiology project in my kitchen. This time, I made sauerkraut. It was surprisingly easy. Easier than kimchee. I love kimchee but it’s more involved, so after a few rounds of it, I stopped doing it. Then I went on to kombucha which is super easy. And now, I introduce to you, red cabbage sauerkraut!

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

  • Sea salt
  • Filtered water
  • 1 head of red cabbage
  • 1 red onion – Optional
  • 6 or so cloves of garlic – Optional
  • 3 carrots – Optional

I chopped and rinsed the cabbage.

Chopped the onions

Flattened the garlic cloves a little (just to break them)

Cut the carrots into sticks.

 

Massage the cabbage in 1 tablespoon of sea salt.  Crush it a little as you work the salt in.  You can let it sit out after massaging it to see if you can get some water out of that.  I was too impatient.  I just packed it all in the jars and added extra salt water to cover up all the vegetables.  Don’t oversalt or it’ll taste too salty.  Leave it in a dark place covered with a paper towel or something and then let it ferment.  I thought it would take weeks but one week was enough for me to smell the sourness.  The top layer started to get moldy because it floated above the water.  I just scooped it out.  The stuff in the brine is perfectly fine and it tastes tangy and delicious.  Then after a week, when it smelled sour, and I took care of the moldy pieces, I put the lids on and refrigerated them.  They are very crunchy and delicious and bright pink!!

So next time you get yourself a head of cabbage and aren’t sure what to do with it, ferment it.  It’s easy to make and very easy to eat.  I just ate a bowl of it by itself just now.

Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast

My kitchen has been sort of a microbiology laboratory with random fermentation projects that I get in and out of. I haven’t made any kimchi or natto in a while, but am currently growing a SCOBY and making kombucha.

A crunchy granola coworker brought me a bottle of fermented tea drink called kombucha, that she made at home. It was fizzy, mildly sweet, and a little fragrant. Very delicious. Then she told me how she grew her own SCOBY at home and provided me with a couple of jars to serve as my mother. And now I have my very own baby SCOBY.

First Fermentation
Here’s what I did.
Brew black tea.
Add a bunch of sugar. (I didn’t measure, but it was more than I would add to my tea if I’m drinking it myself. This is food for the yeast)
Wait for it to cool.
Rinse a clean glass jar with white vinegar. Pour out the vinegar.
Add the black tea and mother kombucha in the rinsed out glass jar.
Cover it with a paper towel and rubber band it on.
Put it in a dark area (warm part of the house).

Mine are sitting in a cabinet above the fridge. And even after a few days I could already start to see little wisps of the yeast. After a week, I had a thin layer of SCOBY. And at week 2, I started my second ferment.

Second Fermentation
Pour some of the kombucha into a jar (I’m using an old kombucha jar from the store), add a little fruit juice (maybe a ratio of 5 to 1 or so). Leave a little room for it to expand (fizzy air from the yeast). Put the lid on tight. Stick it back in the dark warm shelf for 2 to 7 days. Refrigerate and then done!

I’m currently at the second fermentation stage. I just have 1 jar. If this works out, I’ll be sipping on some by this weekend.

Furikake

I’ve been making this Japanese rice seasoning for my lunch boxes for the past couple of weeks and now I can’t not have it! It’s super easy and very flavorful over rice. It’s salad dressing for your rice basically.

  • Nori. Many sheets of nori. The kind you get to make sushi. I usually do 12 sheets at a time, and a batch will get me through a week.
  • Lots of roasted/toasted sesame seeds. I’d say for 12 sheets, I probably used 1/2 to 3/4 cup of seeds?
  • Salt. I think I put in a teaspoon.

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Roast the nori over your stove. Electric or gas is okay. Just toast the nori on both sides.

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Cut the sheets into quarters or eighths or whatever, enough to get them into your food processor (a blender would work too I think). Add the sesame seeds and salt.

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Blitz.

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Pour them in a glass jar to store. I keep the jar in my freezer as well as my packages of nori.

Sprinkle it over rice. I like to add (apple cider or rice) vinegar to my rice too for more flavor. I look forward to lunch everyday so much now, I generally eat it by 10.

Plantain Lumpia

A friend from work made banana lumpia for me a few years ago and they were so delicious I still think about them from time to time. I’m not a fan of desserts but these weren’t overly sweet and had a crispy outside and soft inside. I don’t have banana at the moment. But I happen to have lumpia wrappers in the freezer and 3 semi-ripe plantains. So I’m going to try making these into plantain lumpia.

  • Lumpia wrappers
  • Plantains
  • Brown sugar
  • Frying Oil

Cut the plantains into thirds. Then cut the pieces into quarters, length-wise.
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Wrap in lumpia with a little brown sugar.

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Wet the edges to help it stick.

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Fry.

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I actually only made a few with sugar. The rest I made plain and they can be enjoyed with ketchup and sriracha.

Burdock

If you like bamboo, you’ll probably like burdock.  It’s fibrous and crunchy. At the store, it looks like a long root. Kinda’ like a 3 foot long brown furry carrot or parsnip.

Burdock

Peel it by scraping it with a spoon.

Chop it into matchsticks.

Cook it with a little oil, soy sauce, and sugar. Add toasted sesame seeds at the end.

Natto

Natto is Japanese fermented soybeans and is traditionally eaten at meals with rice. I’d never really had it much before but have heard that it’s pretty healthy and I’m always looking for new things to try or better yet ferment. It’s a science experiment in the kitchen basically. Anyway, I quickly realized it’s not that easy to find, after searching through a handful of Asian markets we finally found one that carried it. So when I finally got some, of course that became my starter fungus/bacteria to make my own fermented soybeans.

Natto
Add some of the natto goop to a little bit of water and mix that into steaming hot cooked soybeans. Then put it in a yogurt maker to grow the bacteria.

Natto
It only takes a day to get tasty fresh natto. I refrigerate it before eating. It’s good to mix in any food. Like last night I had some with my noodles. Or I mixed it with my rice and Thai food. The packaged natto comes with a packet of Japanese mustard and soy sauce. That’s good too.

I’ve read a lot of sites that describe natto as something super strong and pungent. I haven’t found that to be the case. It’s soft with a mild nutty soybean taste. The only slightly annoying thing about eating it is the stringiness of slime that seems to coat the beans. I find that it gets all over my mouth. There’s no neat way to eat it. Just have a napkin handy. Yum yum. I’m glad I finally found something to give my yogurt maker a second life. It’s been sitting in storage for 7 or 8 years I think.

Dumplings with store bought wrappers

I made these a couple of weeks ago.
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For this batch I used a food processor to blitz the crap out of everything to make the filling. It was a lot softer but it worked. I’m okay with either.

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  • Carrots
  • Taro root
  • Shiitake
  • Cilantro
  • Onion
  • Scallions
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Tofu
  • Tofu shreds
  • White pepper
  • Soy sauce
  • Ginger
  • Cooking wine
  • Sesame oil

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I boiled some and steamed some. I like them boiled but the steamed ones seem to hold together better.

Store bought wrappers are much more convenient and seem more right. My rolled out whole wheat and oat flour wrappers tasted a lot doughier.

Dumplings with handmade wrappers

It’s snowing pretty steadily outside and accumulating too.  I steamed some dumplings to warm up the house.

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Filling:

  • Napa Cabbage
  • Chives
  • Scallions
  • Cilantro
  • Tofu – frozen then defrosted (to make it spongy)
  • White pepper
  • Soy sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Mirin
  • Cooking wine
  • Sesame oil
  • Grated:
    • Garlic – 3 cloves
    • Lotus root – 1/2 cup
    • Ginger root – 3 tablespoonsite pepper

    Chop everything up finely and stir it up.

    For the wrapper,
    IMG_1546

  • Whole wheat flour
  • Oat flour
  • Water

I tried rolling it out and cutting out circles versus dividing them into balls and rolling them out one at a time. I found it easier to roll out smaller circles one at a time. It’s just easier to handle small pieces of dough.

Then, get to wrapping!
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When I had a good number of them, I started steaming batch 1 while I made a second batch.
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I used napa leaves to line the bottom of the steamer. Then arranged the dumplings inside. Once the water boiled, I put the steamer on the pot.
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20 minutes and then gobble gobble.