Chilly Anyone?

Ahhh, I’m so punny. No, really. Because jokes about cold are always funny when you live in Chicago, I had to go with this title.

Anyway, I hate chili. I have always hated chili. I don’t like kidney beans, I don’t like spicy foods, I don’t like chili powder, I don’t like the texture, the taste, the anything.

However, last week when my in-laws were visiting, my father-in-law wanted to cook us his chili. And they’re my in-laws. So I couldn’t very well say no, especially since I have such a terrible reputation for being ridiculously picky about food. (For the record, I’m not picky about food, and I will always try a bite, but I’m not going to eat a ton of food I don’t like, and if I have a say, I like to be the one cooking (so I can avoid things like chili) or helping to decide what to make.) So, I made rice on the side and determined to eat a small helping and fill up on rice and never, ever complain.

Here’s the thing though–it was really good! He used pinto beans instead of kidney beans, and didn’t use chili powder at all. What a difference! I guess one might say that those changes make the dish not chili at all… but who cares?! I didn’t have to lie when I said that I enjoyed it!

It also meant that when I came across a chili recipe in a magazine (Real Simple), I actually looked at it. And then I bought the ingredients. And then I cooked it. And it was delicious! I liked changing the ground beef to ground turkey in the recipe. The turkey adds extra flavor while providing a similar texture. There was a generous amount of cumin in the dish, but not so much that it overpowered it. And while I still omitted the chili powder, I did substitute some chipotle hot sauce from Kullervo’s Christmas hot sauce gift set. And, like my father-in-law, I also replaced the kidney beans. In this case, I used a can of pinto beans and a can of navy beans (both drained and rinsed well, of course, so that dinner didn’t taste like a can).

I served the chili with rice and with a French loaf, and basked in the praise as Kullervo raved all night about how delicious dinner was. All in all, culinary success!

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Hobbies

When Conner and I first got married, I felt like I didn’t really have any hobbies. I’ve always loved to read–more than your average person–and loved watching movies, but those didn’t feel like hobbies. I wanted to create something, or have something to show for my time. So, with Conner’s encouragement, I decided to find something.

I started with cross stitch. I did that for quite a few years, found it relaxing, and loved the final product. We still have one of my cross stitches hanging on the wall. Here’s a picture of it:
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Then, I got myself a teach-yourself-to-knit kit. I ignored it for a couple of years (haha!). When we moved to New York I pulled it out again (maybe I found it when I was unpacking), and decided to give it a whirl. My first attempts were abysmal–I thought I was purling, but was really just knitting wrong. My first square was ugly, at best, but a good experimental piece.

I’ve continued knitting, with more and less vigor, since then, and have lots to show for it. Socks for Conner, a major scarf, a pretty scarf, an ice cream cozy, an ice cream pint cozy that turned into a hat when it was too big for ice cream, a few purses, hats… I love knitting, I love reading about knitting, I love yarn, I love yarn stores. I’m a knitter.

I also took up photography. Almost two years ago, I got a great bonus at work, and spent it all on a Nikon D50. For my birthday that year, my dad got me another lens for it for my zoom shots. I’ve since bought two additional cameras and have a great time taking photos and videos of everything. I was fortunate enough to be able to take the photographs at a wedding. Two of the bride from the wedding:
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I also love writing. And cooking.

So, these days, my problem is that I don’t have the time to do all of my favorite things to do. And this is while I’m on maternity leave! When I go back to work, I’m only going to have less time for the things I love. And I’m not sure what to do about it. I’m working on socks for Conner. I have a ton of photos that I’ve taken and want to go through, edit, and post online. I want to create my portfolio. I want to cook more–especially now that Hazel’s on solids, I want to make all of her food like I did for Oliver.

I am so blessed to have so much in my life.

More Mockery

Lest you think I only mock other people, considering myself superior to others, I will share some of my recent kitchen foibles.  Mostly because I think that my own stupidity was funny. 

Friday night, Conner and I had our good friend W over to hang out.  I decided to surprise Conner by making a bisque, and bought all of the ingredients ahead of time (like, Wednesday or Thursday–for once I was on the ball!).  It was to be a corn and red pepper bisque, and sure to be delicious. 

Friday came and I was scurrying around the apartment like a madwoman, having procrastinated tidying up to the last minute (after Oliver’s nap).  I had to start the bisque, clean the kids’ toys, sweep, do some dishes… But I did it.  The toys were put away (stuffed into Oliver’s room where nobody would see them), the clean laundry was hidden (in Conner’s closet–no time to fold the clothes).  The dirty laundry was hidden (in my closet, so we didn’t confuse the baskets).  The dishes were cleaned (I didn’t cut corners there). 

I sat Oliver down to eat his dinner, and began to prepare the ingredients for the soup.  It was then–and only then–that I realized that in our NYC apartment, I only have one pot.  And it’s a 2.5 or 3 quart pot.  Certainly not big enough to make soup in.  After about 10 minutes of panicking and trying to figure out what else I could make that would dazzle W (she’s really fabulous and worth dazzling), I realized that I could halve the recipe.  Phew!  Disaster averted.

Then it crossed my mind that we only have two real bowls.  Our ‘fully stocked’ kitchen did not come with bowls, and when we first moved here we only bought one for each of us.  After all, we have plenty of bowls at home.  This was a problem.  I considered serving dinner straight out of the pot and pretending that it was some hipster way of eating, but I rejected that as being a bit too weird to be believable.  I considered having Conner stop and buy a bowl on his way home from work, but he was already running late. 

I settled on serving my soup into what can only be considered a deep plate.  Seeing as how I’m not a huge fan of the spicy and the soup contained more than a little cayenne pepper, I wasn’t going to be eating a lot anyway. 

So, disaster averted.  Fun was had by all on Friday night.  But I’ve learned my lesson: don’t just read recipes ahead of time… think about what you’ll need to cook the food in the recipe, and what you’ll need to serve it.