Vegetarian Chili
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

...or how to feed a family for under $5 on the fly in 10 easy steps.

1. Look at the clock. Realize that it is noon, and not only is there no meat thawed, you have no idea what to make for dinner because of an accident involving a Sonic Route 44 Lemon Berry Slush, inadequate cup holders, and your menu plan for the week.

2. Open pantry and stare. Consult handy list of meals that can be made using pantry ingredients; decide you are "just not in the mood" for any of those healthy, nutritious meals.

2a. Open freezer and stare. Briefly contemplate the 6 lbs. of bacon end pieces. Would it be possible to just cook that and eat it? This is the South, after all. Perhaps cooking up a mess of collard greens to go with it would make it count as a meal? Snap out of reverie with the realization that cooking 6 lbs. of bacon will doom your diet to failure, and you are only on day 2.

3. Get sidetracked swapping laundry, making lunch, putting children down for a nap, tending the nursling, and mopping the floor.

4. Realize it is now 12:45 and dinner is still a blank. Go to various cupboards and stare. Stare harder - maybe Alton Brown will materialize and whip something up while teaching your children valuable science principles. Realize AB isn't coming, but spy an 80 oz. can of crushed tomatoes anchoring the pantry in case of earthquake. (Hey, it was $2.88 at Sam's Club, and I probably *will* use it!) Notice large shelf bulging with beanery of all types, mocking you from plastic bags and recycled peanut butter jars.

5. Decide that vegetarian chili fits the bill as filling, diet friendly, cheap, and most importantly, available.

6. Get crackin' on the beans. Rinse, pick over, then bring 2 lbs. of pintos to a boil. Boil 3 minutes, then let sit for 2 hours. (Notice that the package says boil 1 minute, let sit 1 hour. Life gets in the way sometimes.) Now the beans are pretty soft.

7. It's now 4 pm. Cut up one large onion and two carrots in a fine dice. Or just whack at it with your chef's knife, whatever works. Get a big pot. Look at 80 oz. can of tomatoes. Get a bigger pot. Drizzle in some olive oil, add carrots and onion, cook for a few minutes until onions are soft and yellow.

8. Add beans and 3 cups of water. Boil for 5 minutes or so. Test beans - they're just the right firmness. Add crushed tomatoes. Look at pot. Add some water. Add seasonings (chili powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder.)

9. Realize you are out of milk, and ask husband to watch pot while you leave. Have a good time shopping.* Go to teacher store and buy dinosaur stuff. Notice that the children's consignment store is having a clearance sale and buy the baby some church clothes. Hit The Pig**. While wandering the cheese aisle, contemplating the merits of mozzarella vs. pizza blend, realize it is now 6 pm. Hightail it home.

10. Make this cornbread as a side dish. Eat and enjoy!

* My town has the Stripmall of Silly Housewife Bliss. There is a Piggly Wiggly, children's consignment store, an Education Station, Dollar Tree, Goodwill and a Tuesday Morning all right next to each other and sharing the same parking lot. The only thing lacking is a Starbucks or a Chocolate Factory.

** Hit the Pig, v.: Southern colloquialism meaning to shop at the Piggly Wiggly Supermarket. Martha Sue hit the Pig to buy some oxtails to cook with her mess o' greens and grits.

For more tips, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/23/2008 07:39:00 AM | Permalink | |