Adventures in Cooking, Part 1

I am, by no means, a professional chef.  I don’t think I’ve got what it takes to be able to work in a professional kitchen, no matter what I may have dreamed once upon a time.  I wouldn’t even make it into the first round on Masterchef.  However, I do enjoy cooking and baking and I come from a long line (on both sides) of fantastic home cooks.

My paternal grandmother was the person who started me on my life-long love of sweets.  She’d been a baker and had worked in a bakery in Van Nuys for many years before she retired.  While I like to think that younger me wasn’t a particularly picky eater, I did (and still) have definite food preferences.  The biggest lesson she taught me when it comes to cooking is to at least try everything.  And I mean everything.  At least once in your life.  If you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but you can’t say you didn’t at least give it a shot.

So, with that in mind, I turn to the internet in search of recipes.  Last night’s dinner was an internet recipe and one I plan on having make a regular appearance at the dinner table. Hearty Turkey and Bean Chili from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. Pinterest directed me to her site and, I have to admit, I’m kind of in love with it.  So many choices and varieties and don’t even get me started with how thorough she is in the Great Cookie Experiment.

But yes, last night was a chili night and it was to die for.

The instructions called out using a single pot but, for me, that rarely works for for browning my meat.  Yes, it’s less to clean that way, but what’s one more pan to the bunch?  So I nearly always brown in my large frying pan and then transfer to another larger pot (in this case, a stock pot) for cooking.

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One of the things I really enjoyed about this recipe is that it give a full, traditional chili taste without being overly complicated.  My mother has a chili recipe that she defaults to and, while very good, it takes nearly twice as long to put together as this one and three or four times as long to cook.  With this recipe, I simmered for a little longer than the minimum 15 minutes, but only so my ratio biscuits would be hot and ready when the chili was done.

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The next time I try this recipe, I believe I’m going to add a different kind of bean.  Kidney beans always do well, but I’ve never been overly fond of black beans.  A garbanzo bean might do well in here, but then again, I’m a garbanzo bean fan.  I add them into a lot of things.



When it was done, I added a little shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.  The chili has a great texture and full flavor without those things, but the sour cream, when mixed in, gives it a very nice, thick, satisfying consistency.  Again, your mileage may vary, but I love soups and stews like that.



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