I have been talking a big game lately about how I want to cook more, rather than continue to be, well, afraid of it. In fact, my friends over at IPB Living very kindly sent me their chili recipe over a month ago and it has been lingering in my inbox the entire time. On Friday afternoon, I realized that my parents would be away all weekend visiting my brother up at school, and with that realization, my plans to go over to their house and have them lovingly provide me with something to eat went out the window.
So after work on Friday, I stopped at the grocery store and actually bought all of the ingredients for the chili. I was too lazy to make it on Friday night (plus, there was a baseball game on) so I decided to save it for Saturday. It actually worked out very well… after I spent a large portion of the morning waiting for the cable guy and then waiting for him to fix my damn internet (which had been down since Tuesday night AGAIN), I went out for a late lunch with Becky and Becky’s mom and one of Becky’s friends from college to the apparently famous Circus drive-in in Wall. It was there that I ate a monstrous burger, fries, onion rings, pink lemonade, and a strange ice cream sundae that had caramel and some sort of weird cookie shell around vanilla ice cream. Basically, that all meant that I was not hungry for dinner, at all.
Instead, I decided, what the hell, let’s just make the chili. I calculated half of the recipe (because the IPB original calls for a “very large pot” which I am not sure I have, as well as three pounds of meat and about a million vegetables) and donned my fancy little apron and got down to work.
At first, I was being admittedly paranoid about chopping the vegetables. What, exactly, does minced mean? Is that chopping it into something REALLY small, or just MOSTLY small? I’m attempting that Food network knife trick where you keep the tip on the cutting board and cut big piles of stuff all at once, and bits of onions are literally flying all over the kitchen, onto my shoes, into my little bowl of soda can tabs, it was just silly. Something about the onion flying everywhere just made me relax… because does it really matter how finely chopped these vegetables are? Not really. It’s not like there’s a test at the end, or I have to present the finished product in front of a panel of judges.
It was all surprisingly easy, from letting the vegetables soften to adding the chili powder (almost forgot to halve that quantity though!) to letting the ground turkey cook. Again, I am not sure what I was so afraid of. Another light bulb that went off for me was that I can change this recipe if I want. If I personally would like more peppers in my chili, I can just ADD MORE. !!! I know, it was shocking to me as well. But in all seriousness, I think this is something I could handle. Maybe if I start with basic things, like chili and soups and stews, I can just sort of.. figure things out as I go. (I know all of this sounds frighteningly obvious, but to me, someone who has never really learned to cook, these are all things I have to learn for myself as I go. And you know what, it’s not as bad as I thought. It’s not like I’m going to mess up the chili if I cut too many onions.)
The one last mishap was that I was so excited that I could add a beer to the chili that I forgot that I was reading off of the original, non-halved recipe, and ungracefully dumped the whole beer into the chili, rather than half of the beer. I freaked out for about a minute, and then I realized that I could let it simmer for a little longer and things would work themselves out.
Although the whole process took way longer than it may have needed to, I was much more relaxed about it because I wasn’t hungry. The fact that I wasn’t planning to eat it after I finished cooking it allowed me to just chill out. Once it was done simmering, that all changed, because my one taste to make sure it was okay turned into quite a few more.
Surprise: the chili turned out really, really well. I was perhaps a bit too cautious with the chili peppers (I went with jalapenos because I know nothing about chili peppers and I was scared of the spiciness) and the chili powder (I was so afraid of making to so spicy that I wouldn’t be able to eat it), but you know what? Now I know. I have enough leftovers to feed me for at least a week, and that is nothing short of awesome. I am so excited that I cooked something that is actually healthy AND tasty AND easy that I might just do this again sometime. (Or every week, forever.)