Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

A Suspicious Silence

This is what I found in the wake of the suspicious silence. I guess that’s what you get for leaving a bag of groceries for 10 seconds. Did you do anything today but eat grapes? Yes, but only marginally so. I bought a carton of milk from Whole Foods on Monday and brought it home only to have it leak all over the fridge. As a matter of principle I felt that it needed to be returned to the store. They happily gave me a new carton in exchange and now I don’t have to feel bad about wasted milk and money.

I’m wrapping up the first of the dresses that I cut for Chase. It’s looking pretty good but now I’m sad that I cut two of this particular pattern because the collar is so tricky. I guess it’s not so much that it’s tricky as that it’s just fancy enough that I can’t whiz right through it. Hopefully I can finish it up tomorrow. I think finishing tonight is a little too ambitious considering that Top Chef will be on pretty soon.

Chase got an apron while we were in PHL last weekend. It’s a vintage 12th Street Cantina apron, standard issue in uniform green or at least that’s what I would call it if I was trying to sell in on ebay. She had fun putting stuff in the pockets unfortunately I couldn’t find mine to play along.

Today I forgot what day it was and so again didn’t remember to plan anything for dinner. That means that sometime around 4 I realized that I had to start cooking and hadn’t defrosted anything. I usually fall back on pasta in times like this but I made ravioli last night so I had to go with plan B. Lately I’ve been keeping Smart Ground on hand. It’s great cause I’ve been trying to work a little soy into Ben’s diet and he doesn’t ‘really’ complain about this. Chelsea made me chili with smart ground the last time I visited there and I thought it was pretty good so I decided to give it a go myself. I think I’m getting off track here. My point was that in addition to Smart Ground being healthful and not substantially more expensive that ground beef, it’s nice to have it around because I don’t have to remember to defrost ground beef and it cuts out the whole browning process so it saves time in multiple ways. I used it tonight to make skillet cincinatti chili from ATK or Cook’s I don’t remember which name is on the book but they’re essentially the same.

Skillet Cincinnati Chili with Spaghetti

2 Tbsp veg. oil
1 12 oz pkg smart ground
2 med onions
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 Tbsp chili powder
11/2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
3 c chicken broth
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1/2 lb spaghetti broken in half

In a large pot saute the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt until soft about 5 minutes. Add all of the spices and cooke for about another minute. Add the smartground and stir to coat with the spices. Add the broth, tomato sauce, vinegar and sugar scraping up any spices that are sticking to the bottom of the pot. (The original recipe calls for adding the beef back at this point and simmering it for an hour until soft.) At this point at the spaghetti, allow the pasta to soften and make sure that you have enough liquid to accommodate it. I used thin spaghetti and this all came together pretty quickly. Because I was under time constraints I kept the heat cranked pretty high to get the pot to chili consistency ASAP that meant I had to be vigilant about not letting it scorch on the bottom and making sure there was enough liquid to cook the pasta until soft. I added a splash of chicken stock about twice along the way and had to stir very frequently to prevent sticking and scorching. When the spaghetti was almost ready I added a can of kidney beans even though you’re not supposed to.

The final product was really good. Even though I omitted the cayenne from the original recipe it was still pretty spicy. We’re not sure if that’s because of the smart ground or what. Ben was saying maybe the beef absorbs some of those flavors or something. I don’t know if that’s the case but I would have to cut back on the chli powder the next time for Chase to be able to eat it. Or maybe it will have mellowed by tomorrow. Considering that it took all of 20 minutes to throw this together and it was all made in one pot I may never make Cincinnati chili the traditional way again. Who wants to boil a big ol’ pot of ground beef? Not me.

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