Hi! How are you?
Wow, I’ve been gone for a minute. I’m on spring break right now and I thought I was going to have all kinds of time to catch up on the blog… and then I didn’t. I’m really glad to be back!
A million years ago on the first Friday in Lent, I had dinner with a very old friend. We met in elementary school and then went to the same high school. We then went to different schools in college and moved on into our adult lives, staying in touch “ish” but not really. Then- we found each other again, here in Chicago! We had people in common through our jobs.
How comforting to reconnect with an old friend and still know that you don’t have to wear makeup or even put jeans on when you hang out, and to know that your friend understands the entire sentences you’re trying to articulate through one scrunched up nose and stating, “you know?” Even better is to find the transition from frozen pizza and sleepovers in the basement to spending the entire visit at the kitchen table, first eating dinner and then sitting with hands wrapped around hot mugs of tea.
My friend and I decided to get together on a Friday, as I said. My friend is a teacher, like I am/used to be/whatever. So, I knew that she was a) going to be tired and b) we needed to get together earlier rather than later because it takes about two minutes to lose momentum and fall asleep after standing in front of a room of teenagers all day long. So, we planned to get together early-ish at her apartment, and we planned that I would cook something and bring it. This was a tough decision. After all, it’s my big moment, right? I have an opportunity to cook something with lots of vegetables and other exotic things that Coach hates without having to freeze large portions of it since I’m the only one eating it or experiencing the sadness of knowing I have made something delicious and have no one else to share it with.
Then, it hit me. Awhile back, my new friend from grad school, a fellow Ohio native, gave me a recipe for vegetarian Cincinnati chili! I keep typing a certain brand name and then having to change it to “Cincinnati chili”. Decision made. A Friday in Lent=no meat. Fellow Cincinnati native=perfect. I had been looking for a time to make the recipe- for so long I looked sadly at it knowing Coach would never touch it and unable to decide if you can halve a recipe that calls for a can of two different kinds of beans without using too much valuable brain power.
Also, you can make Cincinnati chili at home that’s not vegetarian. Coach’s dad made a great pot of it that tasted just like my favorite restaurant’s without the feeling of needing to wash my face six times afterwards. My sister also made a successful batch. I know that when my mom was growing up, my grandma made Cincinnati chili with her spices in a cheesecloth.
So, after running lots of errands, on foot, in the rain, I got cooking. Sometimes this is just what it’s like on a Friday.
The majority of this recipe is chickpeas, red beans, and onions. I had a lot of carrots in mine- I’m looking at the recipe again now and I think I put in WAY more carrot than was called for. I buy baby carrots, since we eat those, so I’m always trying to guesstimate how many baby carrots would equal one regular size carrot. I think I used 9 baby carrots. The recipe calls for one medium carrot.
In order to try to achieve the same texture as Cincinnati chili (almost did it again), I put the carrots and the onions in the food processor, instead of dicing/chopping them. This made for an almost-ground-beef texture. You can see in the picture of the chopped onions and carrots that the onions on top are less chopped than the ones on the bottom.
This is because, by the time I got to the end of the onion, tears were pouring down my face. I have such bad allergies. In fourth grade, my teacher told the class that those students who had used most of the tissues should bring in more to replace them. Almost in unison, my class said, “Grace!” The allergies explain both why onions make me cry buckets and probably why I decided to become a school counselor. Although I’m not sure about either one.
After all of that chopping was completed, it was just a matter of combining the other ingredients. The chili simmered for almost exactly an hour while I did dishes, cleaned up the mess you see above, and listened to an audio book- my favorite cleaning background noise. I do not recommend audio books for cooking, though. Amos Lee is for cooking.
When your chili has simmered and makes your kitchen smell like something delicious, it should look like this:
When you get ready to take it to your friend’s house, it should look like this:
Coach and I have one car that we share, so I was riding the number 50 bus to my friend’s house. I ran into CVS on my way to the bus stop to get some pasta to go with our chili. I was carrying this Pyrex container, upright, very carefully, because I was afraid it would spill. “Do you want a bag?” the checkout lady at CVS asked me. I told her I didn’t, because I was afraid the container would tilt and leak and then dinner would be ruined, even though my wrists were aching from holding the full Pyrex container upright with one hand without burning myself and holding my umbrella with the other hand. Without responding, the woman put my Pyrex container in a plastic CVS bag. Which then made it possible for me to eat my Hershey’s Special Dark for the nine years I waited at the bus stop. I love that CVS checkout lady and her no-nonsense attitude.
Well, for now, I’m off to go pick up my kitchen knives from being sharpened for the first time. Ever. In four years. Coach didn’t say so, but I think he thinks we are going to end up in the ER tonight. Remind me to tell you about the first time I used my food processor sometime.