08 May 2010

Shredded Turkey Chili Mac

This is healthy comfort food at its best, not to mention a great way to utilize leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. But since this is so delicious you won't want to make it just once a year, I recommend purchasing and slow-cooking a frozen turkey breast the day before. For an extra health boost, buy organic.

Shredded Turkey Chili Mac

2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves - chopped fine
2 - 35 oz. cans of stewed, crushed tomatoes
2 - 15 oz. cans of kidney beans, undrained
1 small can of tomato paste
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 cup chicken or turkey stock
1 tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional if you don't want a lot of spice or add more if you prefer your mouth to be on fire)
1 tsp. oregano
1 tbsp. kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded, cooked turkey
1 - 3 tbsp. of sugar to reduce the acidity (opt.)
16 oz. of organic whole wheat or brown rice macaroni

In a large 8 quart pot, heat oil over medium high heat and cook the onion and green pepper, stirring till golden brown (about 5 minutes). Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes and stir for 2 minutes. Add more oil if needed.

Add tomatoes, paste, stock, beans, oregano, salt, pepper, and turkey. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Salt to taste. Add sugar. While the chili cooks, make pasta as directed. If you prefer to eat the chili without the pasta-- go for it!

Garnish with shredded low fat or soy cheese or a dollop of lite sour cream.

Mobile Home Heart

We all know the cliched phrase "Home is where the heart is." You've probably come across it painted or sewn into a decoration at craft fairs or home deco shops. Most of the time we say it without thinking, the phrase itself representing comfort for us during a time of inconsistency or when we uproot our lives. But have you ever really thought about home?

Lately, I've ached to renew our life in an urban environment. This past week I watched Cinco de Mayo come and go while I hatched a plan to whip up Chicken Chilaquiles as a celebration of my husband's Latin heritage. My excitement grew at the thought of trying my hand at an authentic ethnic dish and gathering the exotic ingredients. One problem: nowhere in this ridiculous Wisconsin town did they have a Mexican grocer thus I would need to drive a half hour north to find the nearest one... hopefully. And so my plan came to a crashing halt. It was this small, seemingly insignificant incident that reawakened my yearning for the city and access to more culture. My mind began reeling with thoughts of new places, old haunts, changing scenery, and eventually I landed on my inability to attach myself to one particular place.

I grew up in the same suburb and house my entire life; in fact, a coworker at my former job was shocked when I chose "What was your first phone number?" as a security question for an online account. "You remember your first phone number?!" she blurted, a mixture of shock and admiration at my impressive memory. Of course I do. I spent 18 full years in that town and yet have no love for the place-- I think it boring, generic, and for me, a prison. Overall, any suburb holds little appeal for me as I've never found one filled with variety and excitement, only small-minded prejudice and drunken escapism. Please don't misunderstand, I love returning to see my family but if my parents and friends sold their houses and moved I would never return to the place. Even the house I grew up in lacks a sentimental hold on my heart-- actually it doesn't look anything like it did while I still lived there and rightfully so, my mom has done such a great job changing the interior of the house and herself.

When college arrived, I moved to downtown Chicago and spent 6 wonderful years discovering a new world, new people, and new self. Chicago and its people (but mainly God) dragged me out of my self-conscious shell and into a world of fun, intelligence, and humor. I have a lot of love for the city, but no attachment. When I leave a place I am excited for the new adventure rather than sad about memories. And now I am in Wisconsin, a lovely place with some great people yet I can't wait to move on. I can't help but feel like I have no home.

This was the struggle in my head and my heart. At first, my lack of sentimentality caused me to wonder if I'll ever find my place in this world and somewhere to settle. I fear having children because for myself children symbolize sacrifice and settling, and while both are noble, at the moment they're not for me.

Even more than children, I fear ownership of property. Once, my uncle was discussing apartments versus houses, claiming that paying rent is equivalent to throwing money away while a home is an investment and earns collateral (this was before the housing market tanked, by the way). While logically I cannot disagree and understand why my peers clamor to buy duplexes and homes, in my heart of hearts I know my soul would whither if shackled to property, especially since I haven't found a place in which to live for the rest of my life (and I may never find one). The commitment to owning a home is worse than children-- at least they're mobile. Unless you have GOBS of money to own homes in every land you've ever admired, you get one house that requires tons of maintenance-- it's an investment of both time and money.

Thus, through this pondering I've come to realize I have a Mobile Home Heart. I carry the memories - good and bad - in a heart eager for exploration, discovery, and giving love to both new places and new people. I have such affection for this world and its potential, and therefore my heart must continue searching for possibilities. However, I admire people who build homes and raise families, secure in the knowledge they are where they belong. Hopefully I'll find that security, but I will always have a thirst for adventure.

01 May 2010

Aduki Bean Stew

Aduki Bean Stew

You'll have to pardon the recipe as it's from a British website and thus has British measurements. (and yes, this is a picture of the actual stew I cooked)

200g Aduki Beans (I used small red beans because I couldn't find aduki beans)
1 onion - peeled & finely chopped
1 wheat free vegetable stock cube
2 carrots - peeled & thickly sliced
4 Tbsp fresh cervil - chopped (I never did find this and the stew was still great!)
1 leek - washed, trimmed, & finely sliced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
250g curly kale
Half a butternut squash - peeled, deseeded, & cut into chunky pieces

Presoak the beans for 12hrs. or overnight in water. Drain the beans and rinse well. Place in a saucepan of water and bring to a boil. Boil hard for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse well.
Return the beans to the pan with a Liter of cold water.
Add the stock cube and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the vegetables, cumin, and turmeric then simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.
Add the kale and cook for a few minutes until just tender. Sprinkle with cervil.