Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chilly Enough for Chili

Fall was snappin' at our toes this weekend for sure. I really can't say I'm happy to see the warm weather go, but I do admit to ringing my hands in glee at the thought of all the yummy comfort food the cold weather brings with it. It's really a weird seasonal thing that happens - like bears hibernating - I feel that chill in the air and I just want to cook! I can't contain myself, as the days get shorter my little chef's wanna be brain turns to cooking and baking and and...I can't control myself - somebody help me!!! Is there a pill I can take to stop this constant urge to - to - to - to COOK!!!!!

Heavy sigh, hangs head in shame. Ya right. I've resigned myself to the fact that this year ain't gonna be the year that I overcome my addiction to fall comfort food. Not gonna happen.

So, now on to the good stuff. I was thinking soup of some kind, but M had a much better idea - Chili - mmmm. Personally I hate beans, I have some rather nasty childhood memories of the "You'll sit there until it's gone" nature. Suffice it to say cold beans for breakfast - blesch. Now I can tolerate a black bean as long as its all hopped up in an Asian dish or a nice spicy black bean soup - I make a mighty fine one too, hmm maybe next week (furiously scribbling a note to self). But plain old regular beans I got no time for. Baked beans? Even less.

But, if you try to pass chili off on me WITHOUT kidney beans I will pitch a sizable fit. Odd right. Ya, I think so too but there it is. And let me tell ya those weirdos that put pasta in chili - well, what the heck are they thinkin? I mean I love me some pasta - but that's just wrong!

My mother made chili from scratch - stewed the beans herself and all. To be honest I would stew my own beans but my mom's recipe - neatly printed on the side of the molasses jar - has been lost. You would think the molasses folks would have kept that recipe there for like ever...So, having attempted it -once and only once - I opted for the canned method. Me, I dump a mean can let me tell ya. Like I always say - why mess with the pros right - there is no shame in using a well prepared commercial product. Besides who's got 12 hours to make stewed beans?

So this here chili is my rendition, not too spicy this time, but if you want more zing add one of those little cans of green jalepanos that you get in the ethnic section - zoom. It has a nice deep warm flavor, not too hot, not too beany - you know how I feel about that - and nice and meaty.

To cheddar or not to cheddar - that's up to you - sometimes we do sometimes we don't. This time I opted for a change, and I tried Ina's cheddar jalepano corn bread - granted it was a last minute thought and I skipped the jalepano and the green onions 'cause I was out of both. The bread was nice - cooked up beautifully like the recipe said, but overall I was disappointed - it just wasn't corny enough. The cheddar came through okay, but if I make this again I will double the salt - it seemed really lacking. I might also cut the flour in favor of more cornmeal. Still, it was hot and cheesy and went nicely with the chili, which of course was the star.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Update on the Diet

Well, September has almost gone and I have taken the trip to the lab for my blood tests to see if this whole NutriSystem thingy has really done the job I was hoping for.

Before I reveal the results, let me thank Quest Diagnostics of Leominster Massachusetts for introducing me to several shades of blue which I never thought the human body could produce. Ya know, it's a wonder how they can give some dracula wanna be a sharp object and turn them lose on an unsuspecting public! This lovely photo was take 3 days after my blood draw. My arm swelled like a baseball and hurt like heck! Many darker more interesting hues were revealed over the next week or so. We are now 12 days out and it is still black although the square footage has reduced by about half. BUT IT STILL HURTS like the wickedest bruise I ever had.

Once when I was a little kid my brother and his friends came up to me and asked "wanna hurts donut?" I, being a stupid 7 year old - who only heard DONUT - made the fatal mistake of saying yes. They commenced to smack me on the arm a bunch of times laughing like lunatics and saying "Hurts Don't It!!!" The result? The wickedest bruise I ever had! Anyway, I would gladly offer a dozen said donuts to the sadist at Quest - you know who you are.

So, results - drum roll please - my cholesterol is down 38 points - LDL down 39 points, HDL up 8 points. I am in the safe range again and and my risk factor is something less than half a percent.

Thank you NutriSystem!!!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Three Of A Kind

So M asked me to make a cheese cake for the last something-or-other at the sportsman's club. Doesn't really matter what it was for all I heard was BAKE - any excuse to bake!! Yippe! Yay, hurray I get to bake - and no guilt added 'cause I have to give it away! So-o-o-o cool!!

Well, of course it had to be my famous white chocolate cheese cake - no problemo...then I heard that I was supposed to feed 33 plus MEN. Panic stations - eek - 33 MEN with manly appetites - that's like 3 cheese cakes. That means lots of oven time!

I decided to cook one one night and 2 the next - well, I learned a few valuable lessons when I tried to cook the two. First - my new oven IS NOT big enough for 2 10 inch springform pans in a water bath. Second, convection doesn't work for cheese cakes!! Even if they are jammed into an ill fitting water bath!

Once I realized placing the racks in the proper positions (racks placed in thirds and cakes staggered) for convection baking was browning my oh so delicate edges I chucked the whole idea dragged those bad boys outa the oven, tossed the water bath and just cooked them in the middle of the oven on the same rack - perfect. Nice and creamy. No further heinous browning and no cracks.

Word to the wise ladies. If you have a tried and true method for making cheese cake - DON"T IMPROVISE!!!!