Recently in Recipes, Main Dish Category

Earth Tone Chili


I got this recipe from my sister, who positively raved about it--said it was one of the most delicious things she'd discovered in her stake's Relief Society cookbook. I was pretty excited to try it, both because she was so enthusiastic and because I could tell from reading the recipe that it was economical, nutritious, easy and different.

I've made it twice, and I'm a bit disappointed. Not that it's bad; it's yummy enough; it's just not yummy. Still, I'm sharing it here, because it's economical, nutritious, easy and different. Also, it's relevant at this time of year, because it's a decent way to use up some leftover turkey.

I've changed the name, however, and a few details. The name in the RS cookbook was "White Chili," to distinguish it from red or green chili, I assume. But those names refer to the color of the chili used in making the stew, not the color of the final dish. This chili uses green chili, and it isn't white; it's beigish. But "Beige Chili" doesn't sound at all appealing, and "Earth Tone Chili" has, at least to me, a certain charm. So here it is.

Avocados Again


I love avocados. I love them just about every way I've tried them. I love them in guacamole and milkshakes. I love them in this very easy appetizer a woman from Japan once served me:

Slice an avocado into thin but not-too-thin segments. Fan out on a plate. Douse in soy sauce, then sprinkle liberally with freshly ground pepper. Provide toothpicks for spearing.

I also love them in sandwiches. When I lived in Iowa City, home of the marvelous New Pioneer Co-op (which was only one of the many reasons it was much easier to be an almost-vegetarian there than in NW PA), I liked ordering the vegan Rock & Roll Avocado Tofuwich (scroll down to find this sandwich). I tried recreating this sandwich myself, and made an acceptable substitute. And then I just started making avocado sandwiches.

Currently my favorite sandwich is this:

Avocado and Jam Sandwich

two slices wheat bread
raspberry jam
one half of an avocado
white cheese of your choice; I used swiss for a long time but currently prefer a nice sharp cheddar

Spread the raspberry jam on one slice of bread. If you want to melt the cheese, put it on the other slice. (I melt the cheddar but didn't melt the swiss, mostly because the swiss came in big slices but the cheddar I buy comes in little wedges and the slices fall off the bread unless I melt them.) Mash or slice the avocado up and spread over the cheese if melted or on the other slice of bread if it's not melted. Sprinkle cinnamon liberally on the avocado. Smash both sides together and eat.

The flavors are all fairly strong but they blend together well. It's really good. I think I'll make one right now.

Sylvia's Taco Filling


A couple of weeks ago I got a profound hankering for tacos, so I went to Wegmans, bought all the ingredients, then headed home and started cooking. I was browning the ground beef and thinking about the fact that although I try to avoid eating meat, sometimes it can't be helped because sometimes I just need tacos, when it occurred to me that I could substitute some sort of textured vegetable protein for the hamburger in this recipe and it would turn out just fine--and that I already knew this because my friend Matthew and I did precisely that while I was visiting him last November in Brussels.

My mother made sure her young children got plenty of protein: we had meat--usually red--at almost every meal: bacon for breakfast, some sort of beef for lunch and dinner. Nowadays I eat less meat each week than I used to eat each day. Considering how carnivorous my upbringing was, I think I could use the slogan of those old Virginia Slims ads--"You've come a long way, baby"--but instead of raising a cigarette casually to my mouth as a sign of my very admirable and enviable progress, I'd be holding a bowl of spicy tofu and vegetables, contemplating the meal with glee.

I am opposed to meat consumption on so many grounds: it is very expensive to grow the food to fatten animals for slaughter; farm waste, ranging from manure to offal, is a significant source of pollution; most animals raised for meat in the US are treated very badly while they are alive; and last but certainly not least, in order to eat animals, you have to kill them. The only reason I'm not opposed to meat is that I really like the taste of beef, but I keep hoping that will go away.

Beef in Guinness

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I'm not a vegetarian. I wish I were. I feel about vegetarianism the same way St. Augustine felt about celibacy when he made his famous prayer: "Oh Lord, give me chastity, but not yet." I really want to someday really want to be a vegetarian.

In the meantime, I try to limit my meat consumption to a meal or two a week. This is in sharp contract to my upbringing, where we had meat at least once every day--often at every meal. That much meat isn't good for you, and it's really expensive, and it's hard on the environment.

One easy way to limit how much meat I eat is to avoid cooking it for myself. I'll order it at restaurants, but except for a very few things I sometimes just have to have, my cooking is meat-free.

One such exception involves a recipe my friend Matthew gave me five or six years ago, for Beef in Guinness, which he, being British, found in some British cookbook. He passed it on to me because he knows I love both beef and Guinness. I also really like hearty peasant fare, and that's exactly what this dish is. I make a big batch once a year, in the fall, and either invite someone over to share it with me, or else freeze the leftovers so I can enjoy it in future weeks, or both.

Here's the recipe, in case anyone is interested.


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