Eating Alone

30 Aug

It doesn’t feel like three months have passed since I graduated college, but they have, their passing seemingly hastened by my hope to enjoy those last, few weeks at home. After a drawn out, gloomy uprooting, I have transplanted to the Midwest (St. Louis, specifically) where, if all goes well, I will leave smarter and more extensively degree-d. All it will cost is five years, and possibly my soul.

The familiarity of working in a lab is strangely juxtaposed with unfamiliar sights of a new campus in a new city, 1,000 miles from home. Classes haven’t started yet, but I’m sure that once they do I won’t have the time to spend 40 minutes prepping chili, or make an additional trip to the store for fresh jalapenos. Instead it will be a lot of crockpot-ing and more than occasional take-out: both holdovers from my undergraduate years. What’s different is cooking and eating alone.

I have never lived alone before, barring one year spent in a single on my college campus. I don’t like to reflect on that period much, particularly culinary-wise. There was a lone, disgusting kitchen shared between us all, which I ventured into rarely, and then just for microwavable pot-pie purposes. Otherwise it was turkey and provolone on a whole-wheat pita.

My other years were spend with family and friends whom I could rely on to eat, if not always appreciate, my culinary (mis)adventures. Now it is just me, and a cat who is only reliably interested in canned tuna and butter. I have complete reign of the kitchen, free to eat as unhealthily and exotically as I please, yet I’ve found that eating alone is not very inspiring. This blog is, for the most part, a promise to a friend and means to keep in touch. It is also a promise to myself: to cook, to explore St. Louis, and to cook some more.

I wanted the first recipe I posted to be meaningful, a feeling I generally associate with known ratios of sugar, butter, and flour. Instead I opted for something familiar (and healthy). I’ve made chili dozens of times before, though never quite this fancy. I also don’t generally follow a recipe, just meat + beans + tomatoes + SPICES. Loads of spices. This recipe was inspired by hours of reading every chili recipe I could find which included sweet potato: an unorthodox additive, but one that had been sitting in my fridge for a while. It was a veggie on the verge, and I’d hate to let something so delicious go to waste.

Thus, the Franken-chili was born/created. It’s pretty delicious (IMHO), if not traditionally chili-tasting. This recipe makes quite a few servings, those servings being very large. Hopefully as I get better at eating alone, I’ll also get better at cooking for one. And in the meantime: LEFTOVERS. Enough to eat for a week, and freeze for the cold winter months.

The final spread

Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, diced
3 small yellow onions, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 lb ground turkey
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tbsp. Chili powder
1/2 tbsp. Paprika
3 tsp. Cumin
2 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 sweet potato
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, rinsed
1 15-oz can pinto beans
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste (I added 2 tsp. each)
Hot sauce to taste (I added 3 tbsp. of Chipolte Tabasco)

Heat oil in a pot. Add peppers + onions + garlic and cook until fragrant. Add ground turkey, mash and cook until almost cooked through. Add can of tomatoes, cinnamon, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, cumin, bay leaves, and balsamic. Let cook while peeling and dicing sweet potato. Add sweet potato, red kidney beans, pinto beans, and chicken broth and cook until sweet potato is tender. Add salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Devour. I had mine with a dollop of sour cream and a piece of cornmeal flatbread I made following this recipe.


One Response to “Eating Alone”

  1. BellaBallestra October 24, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    Hey! So, I believe way back when, before I had forgotten I’d even started a blog, I was going to use reading yours as a reward for posting in mine…that went really well.
    But I made this delicious sweet potato and black bean chili stuff the other day! mainly because pretty much only edible things in my apartment were some cans of veggies and sweet potatoes…but delicious!

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