Just a self-trained home cook in an 8' x 12' kitchen honing his craft…

I will admit I have ‘borrowed’ the title of this and another recent post from M.F.K. Fisher’s 1949 classic An Alphabet For Gourmets. If you haven’t read it, add it to your library and do so. It’s quite good and thoroughly entertaining.

About 6 weeks ago, I saw Kathy Freston interviewed by Charlie Rose. Here’s a link to the interview if you’d like to watch it- Kathy Freston on Charlie Rose. I ordered her book, Veganist and began reading it. One of the things that stuck in my mind from the interview was her comment that if each person would eat vegan just one day a week, it would be equal to taking 8 million vehicles off the road in the lessening of greenhouse gases.

Shortly after beginning the book, we decided to try eating meat-less, but would continue to consume dairy, eggs and seafood, as long as they were responsibly and sustainably farmed without the aid of hormones and antibiotics and the seafood caught from the wild. Well, I am happy to say we have been vegetarian for about 5 weeks with no regrets and no one is weak or anemic as a result.

One big change is the way I read and browse my cookbooks. One of the most recent purchases before deciding to try vegetarianism was America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution. Not wanting to waste a perfectly good new book, I went to it last weekend in search of something, anything that would fit into the new eating regiment. How delighted I was to find several recipes that not only contained only plant-derived ingredients, but they sounded delicious and the pictures appetizing.

The first one I tried was the Black Bean Vegetarian Chili. I know summertime may seem an odd time for chili, but conventionality(if I may, as the late Dr. Karl Haas would say) has never been my way, so off to the market to ‘fill in the blanks’ of the ingredient list. I was always a loyal listener of Dr. Haas, whose radio program inspired the name of this blog.

The assembled ingredients.

Now, down to the business of preparation. Let’s just say your knife skills will improve after this.

Mince, mince and mince some more!

Make sure you wash your hands after handling spicy peppers! If you don’t and touch your eyes, you’ll be SORRY!

The vegetables and spices get sautéed before the cooker.

The vegetables get sautéed until soft and lightly colored.

Everything into the crock-pot ready for the overnight sojourn.

A close-up of the ingredients in the crock-pot.

Cover the pot, set on low and bonne nuit!

The next morning, the most intoxicating aroma filled the house. Remove 1 cup of the mixture and mash it, then return it to the slow-cooker with the chopped tomatoes.

Mashing 1 cup of the chili after it cooks.

After all the mincing, maybe the most difficult part of this recipe is not devouring it right away, but I wanted it to meld overnight in the refrigerator, besides, I completed it on July 4th and I thought it would have been unpatriotic NOT to have burgers for the holiday. Yes, we did, but they were veggie burgers and we enjoyed them every bit as much as we would have hamburgers.

The next day, I reheated it, added the herbage and VIOLA! Lunch is ready!

The flavors were deep, dark and delicious.

I served a simple green salad and Vermont common crackers from the Vermont Country Store and some shredded white cheddar cheese. I suppose anytime of the year is a good time for comfort food and this was wonderfully comforting not only for the palate but for the soul.

I served a bibb lettuce salad and common crackers with the chili.

Toujours, bon appétit!
© Kyle A Nelson


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