Chewing my keyboard

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A very nice chilli

The poster is finished, submitted (1/2 an hour before it needed to go to the graphics department) and I'm just worrying incase it'll come out on A0 alright. Oh, and the fact I still have to do all the numerous preparatory tasks I didn't do yesterday...

In the meantime, here is a very nice recipe for vegetarian chilli loosely remembered from the Times on Sunday Style supplement. Ingredients are for a single portion.

Take 2-3 sticks of celery, 2/3 of a pepper, a small red onion, 1/3 of a fresh chilli, some parsley and a garlic clove. Chop finely and gently stir fry for a few minutes.

Add 1/3 of a tin of chopped tomatoes, about 1/3 of a tin of mixed beans and approximately 1/3 of a 'tin' of water.

Simmer gently for ~20 minutes until thick. Serve in a warmed tortilla.

To add extra flavour use more chilli, 1 tsp of cumin seeds and some lemon thyme. I am unsure if I'm allergic to cumin (it's either cumin, coriander or tumeric) and I couldn't find any lemon thyme.

I used organic vegetables from Fresh & Wild although if you make this *not* in March you may be able to find some ingredients at a farmer's market and the farmer's market stuff will probably be better (despite not being organic). The environmental and purported health benefits of this is a happy byproduct to the taste factor (some sprouts I got from the Bristol farmer's market were lovely). My mum has her whole garden, 2 greenhouses and a rooftop glasshouse conservatory turned over to produce growing so I grew up with things straight out the garden... and I find most vegetables from Sainsburys taste as if the contents of the packet is made out of the same material as the packet (this isn't just confined to vegetables - their margarine lasts for about 2 years and tastes of zero). The vegetables seem to have been *plasticated* within an inch of their life - looks nice, tastes of nothing in particular.

In short, use good quality produce and the chilli will have a gentle, subtle flavour that is faintly spicy but not overpowering. Most processed 'chillis' taste as if someone has upset about 6 tablespoons of chilli powder into them, probably to cover up the fact that the remainder of the ingredients have lost any vestiges of taste.

Food issues are always difficult. On the other hand, I'm not entirely sure that the whole 'poncy middle class muesli eating types whittering on about organic/locally-produced food which the poor couldn't afford' stereotype is strictly true. Take my chilli. It costs me about £3.64 per portion (for 3 days). If you imagined adding 3 £0.50 pots of yoghurt to that (to add to the tortilla) you could probably stretch my 1 portion between 2 [women - men eat loads]. It would then cost £2.14 per portion. If you bought some stuff from a farmer's market it would be even cheaper (I bought an entire stalk of sprouts that I couldn't get in my fridge for £1.12). Total production time for this meal was around 30-40 minutes in total.

Now think of buying a microwaveable chilli in Sainsburys and it'll be about £2.49. It'll take about 10 minutes to prepare (probably 5-7 minutes cooking time). Please don't tell me most people have such hectic lives that they can't afford an extra 20 minutes out of their life on an evening to chop some veg... And if you do have such a hectic life, in my experience (as someone who patented the 'have so little time to eat I am cycling whilst eating' approach to life) you must be so stressed out of your mind that your immune system will be shot to pieces meaning you'll catch everything going and, to be honest, you're unlikely to be satisfied with your life if you're that stressed however much you're earning so... maybe it's trying to tell you something.

Apparently the swizz is that:

'Supermarkets have fostered the notion that we have no time to cook. These days, if you still make time to cook fresh food from good-quality raw ingredients, you can be made to feel you are a loser, pottering away in the sleepy backwaters of modern life. Supermarkets like us to think that cooking is the first thing that can be cut from a busy home/work schedule, with no negative effects whatsoever. This is because supermarkets make far bigger profits from selling us value-added processed foods than they do from straightforward raw ingredients. There is only so much you can charge for a potato, even an heirloom, hand-scrubbed variety. But transform workaday spuds into low-fat gratins or Louisiana potato skins, and the sky's the limit.'

Perhaps there aren't all these people combining raising children, charity work and 15 hour days working for Morgan Stanley after all...


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