About a year and half ago, give or take a few weeks, I sat myself down on my big, comfy couch with a cup of hot chocolate and a super cozy blanket, candles flickering in the background, I am sure. I had a decision to make. Have you ever noticed that successful folks seem to be passionate about (mostly) just one thing? And so become really, super good at what they do? Well, I felt torn in two between decorating and cooking. I do love them both equally. Both are creative, fun and a great way to express myself.
In the end, I chose cooking, put my decorating adventures on the back burner and let the pots do do all the talking instead of the walls. The biggest deciding factor being that cooking is an everyday event, I would never get bored, I can start a new "project" with every new dinner and still never ever run out of things to do and learn. Cooking has not let me down. There are days, though, I think I may never eat again since the house smells of food far too much. Weird? I know... but smell seems to satisfy my hunger rather often.
And that is exactly when design and decorating comes back to mind, I simply can not help myself. I'll never stop loving this fun and very much personal expression of personality. The way I see it, you may spend money on golf, I spend my hobby money on creativity. In the end, we are both satisfied.
So the question remains, can I do both? Perhaps I can, since I'll be in the kitchen singing my song around 4pm without a doubt in my mind that food excites and satisfies me. And on those days where leftovers abound, and the pots enjoy a day off, I'll trail off to my next decorating project.
And what better place to get back at'er than the kitchen?
I keep a folder with inspiration photographs, do you? They all seem to go in one direction as of late. I like to call it 'industrial chic'. And so, my bare, boring, once green walls are finally receiving a little more of my character... a perfect balance of old and new. (Is it ironic to update a kitchen with 80's panelling? I think not, when I go back to my inspiration shot, above.)
I feel rather lucky that my love enjoys the process as much as I do.
Still, in the midst of it all, I made this oh-so-yummy Chili and served it with homemade spinach pasta. The photo really does not do it credit. But I suppose we all have our limits?!
TIP: wear plastic gloves when handling hot chili peppers, or wash hands well with soap and water if you do touch the chilies.
Roast Beef Chili serves 4 - 6
3 pounds round beef roast, cubed (pick one with not too much marbelling or connective tissue)
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
2 onions, diced
1 large sweet red pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
10 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 tbsps tomato paste
1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
1 tbsp grated unsweetened chocolate
2 hot red chili peppers, seeded and hand-torn
2 tbsps whole coriander seeds
2 tbsps purchased chili powder
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp white sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 medium size can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
fresh cilantro leaves
First make your chili powder:
In a dry skillet, toast the hot red chili peppers with the whole coriander seeds over low heat until fragrant, shaking the pan so they don't burn.
Now put these in a blender or coffee bean grinder and pulse until you have a fine powder. Add the remaining chili powder spices, sugar and salt.
Season the beef cubes with plenty of salt and pepper. Set a large pot over medium - high heat and add about 3 tbsps of olive oil. When the pot and oil is very hot, add the beef and stir until brown.
Mix in the onion, red pepper, jalapeno, and garlic.
Stir in the chili powder you just made.
Add tomato paste and San Marzano tomatoes, crushing tomatoes with the back of wooden spoon.
Now add the chocolate. (Think depth of flavour...mmmmm)
Add enough water to just cover the beef and simmer, UNcovered, until the meat is fork tender and comes apart with no resistance, about 2 hours.
Grab two forks and pull beef cubes apart, as little or as much as you prefer.
Stir in the drained red kidney beans, taste and season with salt and pepper.
Simmer for another 30 minutes, covered if already reduced to a thick consistency, stirring occasionally.
Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro leaves.
Serve as is, or over pasta (this cuts the heat for the kiddos), corn bread or just a bunch of shredded cheddar cheese.