Friday, May 6, 2011

Thoughts of food - it's a daily event

I'm not one to consider carrots in chili, but doesn't this look too good to believe?

I wonder if these are anything at all like the ones at Red Lobster.

Now, put two and two together - seeing this made my stomach growl!
My mother was a foodie. She loved cooking, eating, grocery shopping, farmer's markets and the Amish Market. She was a cook who could recreate almost any recipe she took a liking to. She loved sharing what she made with those around her. Nothing pleased her more than feeding a guest and having them ask for seconds. In her mind, someone who cleaned their plate and still wanted more was a "good eater".

I, too, am a foodie. I come by it naturally. Food was discussed regularly in our home. Meal experiences were part of the overall experience of traveling, so they either enhanced or detracted from any trip we took. Unfortunately, I didn't inherit her natural ability to put meals together. Just her appreciation for a good meal and the pleasure it can bring.

That said, my cooking has improved in recent years. Although I'm a bit of a lazy cook (OK - more than just a bit), I can put together a reasonably tasty meal that will impress even the most skeptical of dinner guests.

My son and his family had been staying with us for a while and I hadn't had to cook regularly for more than two people in so long, it became a bit overwhelming for me (whereas, my mother always cooked for 6-8 people even though there were only three of us!) I just didn't want to touch anything in the kitchen. One night, my son made spaghetti and meat sauce. The next day, I finally decided it to take my turn.

I say I decided, but that decision didn't come until around 4:30PM. I hadn't thawed anything in preparation and really didn't have any solid idea what to make until I looked at a few recipes online for chicken (I remembered seeing chicken breasts in the front of the freezer). Chicken Paprika sounded good, but my family tends to have frequent aversions to almost anything I like that's "foreign". So, I decided I'd make chicken and broccoli.

I knew we didn't have any cream soups left, but I also knew I had a quart of chicken broth tucked away. I figured a bit of broth combined with some milk and a thickener might just work out. As I was looking for the broth in the pantry, I found a box of generic "rice-a-roni" for chicken and decided that might just be the missing ingredient I needed. I pulled out the chicken and the broccoli from the freezer, the rice mix and the chicken broth from the pantry and the West Bend 4-qt cooker from the cupboard and began putting it together. In order to be sure I had enough rice, I also added some plain white rice to the pot.

I cleaned up the kitchen, kick-started the dishwasher and came up to the computer to see if there was anything I could do while that was cooking. That's when I saw the "recipe of my dreams".

I have a soft spot for chili. Mom made it frequently, I make it (albeit differently than she did) and I enjoy it over French fries with cheese more than I should. But, this.....this caught my eye and just about took my breath away (most likely because I'm hungry and ready to eat, but hey - it worked).

It was a post on Facebook that I clicked on to go to the website in order to see more about this particular recipe. It just sounded spectacular.

The website is Smitten Kitchen, but the recipe is from the now defunct Gourmet magazine. I will include a link to the page where the photos are with the recipe because I don't want to take credit for something that isn't mine. But, let me tell you - this is the first time I have seen a chili recipe with carrots and, believe me, I think I'm going to like it! When I make it.

I agree with some of the comments added by the Smitten Kitchen blogger regarding cutting the carrots into small dice rather than leaving them as slices. It just seems to me that the flavors would meld better if they are smaller pieces, even not having tasted it yet. I had considered posting the recipe here, but instead I will only post the link to Deb's website because it would be unfair to her if I shared the recipe (despite its probably being available elsewhere on the web for me to discover) without making sure people got to see her site where I found it. I know it's not the only recipe she has tried, so if it helps increase traffic to her site, I'm all for it.

Here is the link to this wonderful looking (and hunger inducing) recipe with full credit to be given to Smitten Kitchen and Gourmet magazine:

I hope you find it as appetizing as I did and that you will tell me if you try it before I do so I know how it turned out!

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