In order to reach the highest heights of creativity, cooking should really be seen as if it were a kind of a travel adventure. Sometimes traveling requires careful planning and the consulting of travel books with big glossy photos and maps to entice you out of the comfort of your routine. And other times you just follow your whim and intuition and push off, hoping for the best.
I did this kind of travel recently when I decided with hardly any premeditation to go to Panama for a week in December with a friend. Now that I’m back and faced with winter’s quiet days I find myself remarking out loud from time to time, “Well, at least I pushed off for Panama. That was fun.”
My friend Rebecca heard me saying this the other day. Without missing a beat she said, “It was more like you jumped into a cannon and blasted off!”
Yes. It’s really true.
So anyway, sometimes cooking means poring over cookbooks, carefully planning a menu, budget shopping, and inviting a few select friends to come enjoy a meal.
Or you can do what Rebecca did the other night when she rang. “Come over right now! I’m making chili!” Soon there were three of us around the table as we waited for the pot to simmer. “I didn’t follow a recipe,” Rebecca said as she stirred and banged the ladle against the side of the pot. It was delicious.
Afterward we retired in front of the fire, bellies full, and tongues still tingling from the warmth of the stew. An adventure into contentment can be that easy.
Rebecca’s no-recipe chili
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 onions, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, cut into coins
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can of corn, undrained
1 can of kidney beans, undrained
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 15-ounce cans of tomatoes (crushed or peeled)
6-8 tablespoons of chili powder (yes, that’s what she says, with the disclaimer that her chili powder had been in the cupboard awhile)
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Meat (if you want it)
1/4 lb. ground hamburger
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the garnish:
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
Sour cream, to taste
Parsley, to taste
Serves about 6.
In a pot, heat up the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir until they are soft, about 3 minutes. Add carrot coins, pepper chunks, corn, kidney beans, tomatoes, and cilantro. Stir. Add chili powder, to taste. In a separate pan, brown meat and add salt. Drain and add to pot. Simmer for 45 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add Tabasco sauce, to taste. Serve hot with shredded sharp cheddar, sour cream, parsley or anything you fancy. It’s your adventure, after all.
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