Recipe: Fuck You, It’s Chili

May 07

Because of actually stewing the tomatoes like some kind of hippy, this recipe takes too much effort to be an actual “Fuck It” recipe*. However, since its key ingredients are two things that purists — or as everyone else calls them, joyless dicks — insist should never be in chili, namely beans and tomatoes, I’m calling this Fuck You, It’s Chili, because fuck you, it’s chili.

Fuck You, It’s Chili

Ingredients:
5ish fresh tomatoes. If you have some in the fridge that are about to go weird, this is a good way to use em up.
Spices for stewing the tomatoes. I don’t know, oregano or some shit? I use Penzeys Frozen Pizza blend and maybe some Cajun seasoning.
1 15-ounce can black beans. Or whatever that is in metric.
1 15-ounce can chili. That’s right, we’re putting chili in chili. Because I cook for vegetarians I use Trader Joe’s vegetarian chili. Use whatever floats your boat. Hell, throw in a can of Dinty Moore beef stew if you want to. Because fuck you, it’s chili.
Chili spices. Whatever chili spices you have lying around. I recommend Penzey’s Chili 9000 because if you don’t like that you fail at taste buds.

Directions:

1. Boil water in a big ol’ pot. While you’re waiting for it to heat up, cuz that shit takes forever, prepare a bowl of ice water. This is a good way to use up that weird clumpy ice that always clogs up the ice machine. Why does that happen anyway?

2. Once the water is boiling, throw the tomatoes in for one minute. Just one minute. Let em roll around a bit.

3. Fish the tomatoes out (not with your hands!) and throw them into the bowl of ice water.

4. Peel those tomatoes! It should be easy now, because of that boiling-icewater voodoo trick. How does it even work. Throw away those peels, they’re gross.

5. Chop those tomatoes! You’re not going for precision here, Iron Chef. Just make em into chunks. Throw out the gross stemmy bits.

6. Put the chopped tomatoes back in the pot (you did empty the water out first right? Do it. Clean your drain.) on medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Simmer means it’s vaguely bubbling. Come back and stir it whenever you remember there’s a pot on the stove.

Okay that’s the hard part done! Now for the easy part:

7. Throw in the canned beans, canned chili, and spices. Do it.

8. Heat, stirring a bit, till everything’s nice and hot.

9. Eat that fuckin’ chili! Maybe with some “garlic powder and hot dog buns” garlic bread or something.

There you go, a nice warm main course that’s halfway between actual grown-up cooking and college student lazyness. I’m typing this up during step 6, incidentally.

* Recipes of mine that take mad shortcuts or require minimal effort fall into the category of “Fuck It” recipes. Such as my renowned “Fuck It, It’s Nacho Night”. As noted, taking the effort to peel and stew tomatoes is not Fucking It. But let’s face it, canned tomatoes are nasty.

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What I’m Drinking: Cold Brew

Sep 05

One of the downsides to brewing your own hot coffee in the morning is that it requires measuring, filling, and operating equipment before you’ve had your coffee. This leads to all kinds of bleary-eyed brewing mishaps, like forgetting to put the espresso in the machine before brewing a shot (guilty), forgetting to put water in the machine (guilty), forgetting to put something under the spout to catch the coffee (oh so guilty) … it’s a recipe for disaster.

Well, have no fear because there is a delicious solution to this problem, and it’s called cold brew.

The deliciousness just radiates through your screen. Stainless steel press optional.

The deliciousness just radiates through your screen. Cat bed on the table is optional. (photo courtesy of my wife)

Now, this is not the same thing as iced coffee, which is generally brewed hot like regular coffee and then cooled down. Cold-brewed coffee doesn’t involve heat at all! And in fact, in some ways it’s easier to make than traditional coffee.

Here’s the basics: you mix ground coffee and room-temperature or cold water, you let it sit overnight in your fridge (or on your counter, depending on the temperature), and in the morning you just need to filter out the coffee grounds and your coffee is ready to drink! It’s the sun tea of the coffee world. It comes out just as strong, and even a little less bitter because the interaction between the coffee and the ground beans is different when no heat is involved.

If you Google up some instructions on cold brewing, you’ll find there’s a bunch of different ways to get the ground coffee out of your cold brew. But to me, this is a no-brainer. There’s already a piece of equipment perfectly suited for brewing and filtering coffee: a French press!

Here’s how I brew my coffee every day now. It’s adapted from this recipe on The Cooking of Joy — Joy deserves the credit for all the inspirational deliciousness.

 

You need:

  • a 32-ish ounce French press
  • 3/4 cup coarse-ground coffee beans (get decent stuff, and if someone else is grinding it for you tell them it’s for a French press)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 3 cups water

Instructions:

  1. Put the coffee beans, brown sugar and cinnamon (if you’re adding them) in your French press and stir to combine.
  2. Add 3 cups water and stir well.
  3. Give it a minute or two — a lot of the coffee will float to the surface — then stir well again.
  4. If the shelves on your fridge are tall enough, place the lid on the French press with the plunger juuuust resting against the top of the coffee. Otherwise, cover the press with plastic wrap or something.
  5. Put it in the fridge and leave it overnight. 8 hours minimum, 12 may be better, try not to let it go 24.
  6. In the morning take the press out, put the lid on if you haven’t already, and slowly push the plunger down as far as it will go.
  7. Pour your coffee, add ice and/or some kind of cream if you want, and drink! Makes enough for 2 or 3 glasses.

Not only is this straight-up delicious, but the bulk of the work is done the night before, when you’re not groggy and caffeine-deprived. All you have to do to get your fix in the morning is push the plunger and pour!

If it’s too much for you to drink in one morning, no worries — you can keep the brewed coffee in your fridge for a couple of days. Just make sure to pour it out of the French press so the brewing process stops. And for heaven’s sake empty the grounds out of your press and rinse it right away. Coffee grounds grow mold like whoa if you let them.

So go ahead and give this a try. If you’re anything like me, it’ll soon become a daily part of your morning routine.

 

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The Bland Rolls of Blandness

Nov 22

In my last post, I mentioned that my Thanksgiving menu included Pumpkin Pull-Apart Rolls. This is one of my favorite recipes — they’re easy to make and they come out perfect and delicious.

Basically you mix all the ingredients, let the dough rise for an hour, make them into balls and stick them in pans, let it rise for another 40 minutes, then bake. Having mapped out my cooking down to the minute for today, I noted the two easiest options for baking — do everything the night before, or do the mixing the night before, stick the pans in the fridge to slow the rise, then throw them in the oven while the turkey is resting (it’s tired, poor thing). For simplicity’s sake, I decided on making them last night.

So there I was, balling up the dough and putting it into the pans. As I pulled out the canola oil to brush the tops, I thought to myself “Hmm, why wasn’t this out already? I thought there was oil in the dough …”

Realization dawned. I looked at the recipe, and yup. I had gotten so spaced out watching my Kitchen-Aid dough hook do all the wrist-breaking work for me that I had completely forgotten to put half the ingredients into the dough. Salt, sugar, and oil.

They rose perfectly fine, or I would have realized earlier. There was no way I could just mix those in at that late stage. So I decided to put them in the oven anyway and just see how they came out.

Result: Pretty much the blandest rolls ever. Texture is fine, they’re not dry or burned, they just … don’t taste like anything.

Lucky for me, I had enough materials to make a second batch. So I got up early this morning to get that rolling, and the first batch is going into the stuffing, where it can steal the flavor from butter, onions, and spices.

There was also the matter of a late-night turkey advice phone call to my mom (“How do I get the doojobbies out of the middle if it’s still mostly frozen?? What’s this big fleshy thing under the drumsticks? How do I get the wire thing off?”) but hey, it’s only my second Thanksgiving.

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Eat all the eats!

Nov 20

For most of my life, Thanksgiving dinner has been lovingly cooked by my mom, for my immediate family plus whatever strays we happened to pick up. Last year, sometime during the summer, my dad tactfully observed that they hosted a fair number of family dinners and barbecues, and wouldn’t it be nice if someone else hosted something for a change.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was volunteering to host Thanksgiving at my place. And despite small emergencies like the cat coughing up Lovecraftian horrors the night before, I managed not to eff it up completely. That may have been a tactical error, because now I’m pretty much on the hook for Thanksgiving until the end of time.

This year I started pondering the menu partway through October. By the beginning of November I had a menu planned out. Two weeks in advance I got the turkey and a bunch of the ingredients. Once my brining plans were finalized I got the rest and mapped out my time with military precision. I’ve got one oven, two slow cookers (one on loan), a five-burner stove and a fridge so big I keep feeling like I should attempt no landings on Europa.

On the pretense that you care, here’s what’s on the menu this year:

And while everyone is watching me fret around the house flailing over food, we’ll enjoy some crockpot Maple Pumpkin Spice Lattes, made with my self-concocted pumpkin pie spice.

And the best thing? The turkey carcass goes home with my parents. No weeks of leftovers for me!

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