the slow cooker bean & vegetable chili

Mmmmm….I used my slow cooker for the first time this weekend. On the menu – a bean and vegetable chili!

I’ve been trying to eat a lot more meatless dishes lately; it’s part of my campaign of self-improvement: learning to cook and eating better. My food choices are improving, but I still have a preference for beef over chicken or fish! I love all the bad things in life, it seems πŸ™‚

Beans are a filling alternative to meat that doesn’t have an odd name to tweak my food OCD (quinoa? QUINOA??), so I snapped up a bunch of dried beans the other day. I would have gone with canned, but from my experience, fresh foods way outrank canned foods – and cost less, as well! I’m not sure what all these varieties I’ve purchased are, but I’m going to research – and hey, I could always make a 3 bean salad.

I meant to have the chili finished by Saturday evening, but I didn’t realize that cooking beans was such a time-consuming process. When I woke Saturday morning, I goofed off until 1 or so, and then read how to cook beans (the chili recipe only said “cook beans according to package instructions”). Oops. And so then I soaked the beans for four hours, and simmered them for 90 minutes.

Preparing the vegetables to sautee, I watched many youtube videos on β€œhow to mince garlic” and β€œhow to chop bell pepper.” By the time it asked me for dice potatoes, I shook my head, did something more similar to mincing, and threw them in the pan.

Mincing rather than dicing wasn’t the only change I made to the recipe. Because I like my food spicy, I added a jalapeno pepper to the vegetables, and also threw in an 1/8th teaspoon of my favorite “ghost pepper” sauce – that is just slightly more than I will use in a normal dish, but considering this was going into a large crockpot, I assumed that it would spread out.

a sauce pan with tomatoes, potatoes, red bell pepper, jalapeno, onion, and garlic in it

the final prep step before I put everything in the slow cooker – I needed a bigger pan! I did a lot of stirring and turning over

I woke up this morning and immediately tasted my creation. Success! It was very well flavored – except – well. It wasn’t bland, for sure, but there was no hint of spiciness whatsoever in my chili. I grabbed the bottle of ghost pepper sauce, filled a teaspoon, threw it in, and stirred. I’m assuming the results are going to be much more spicy than before – maybe too spicy for some, but that is what sides like cole slaw and cornbread are for.

conclusion
I have a lot of chili! I’m definitely glad for my freezer bags – tonight, I’ll be dishing this out and stacking it in the freezer for those days when I simply don’t feel like cooking. I’m looking for more recipes like that, so if you have any “frozen dinner” recipes, please share!

I think next time, I’ll definitely add more chili powder and other assorted spices. It had a full taste, but I wanted bolder flavors. Any suggestions as to what I could add? Is one jalapeno enough, or should I add 2? I picked up a habenero bbq sauce (another local production) the other day that I think would add a delicious flavor to this – but I think I’d want it to be in a chili with meat.

Read on for the bean & begetable slow cooker recipe

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the domestication of thedorkygirl

I can’t believe I don’t have sea salt.

With all the trips to the fancy schmancy markets that I’ve been taking – though not, as of yet, the actual farmer’s market (tomorrow maybe??) – you would think that while there I would think to myself, “Hmm, I need to buy some sea salt.”

The problem is that I have never in my life thought to myself that I needed sea salt – until 5 minutes ago when it showed up, inexplicably, in the recipe for a baked potato (350 for 60 minutes, or 400 for 45; I couldn’t remember). Olive oil – check! And I’ve been eying up the other oils in the aisles, as well, wondering what they’re used for, how they taste, and if they’d spoil before I had a chance to consume them.

(“Avoid the ones that say organic,” I remind myself every time I’m in the vinegar & oil aisle. “They may ‘taste better,’ but pasteurization is SAFER.”)

I lack sea salt, apparently, and I’ll have to purchase that some time, but probably not until I’ve taken it upon myself to ~explore with ~spices. I purchased cumin in a tiny little baggy today, and it smelled delicious, and basically I understood why there are spice racks out there that would take up every available inch of countertop space in my kitchen.

I am no where near ready to explore with spices. Ahahaha no where!

my adventures in cooking

  • I can make a salad. Sort of. I throw together a decent salad that I don’t mind eating with dinner 3 or 4 nights a week.
  • I can make asparagus in several forms. I love asparagus. I prefer fresh, but I have to save that for when I have people over or I feel like eating 4 stalks of asparagus every night for a week, because, honestly, the bundles are much too large! But the frozen and canned are just not the same.
  • I put lemon in and on everything. I really want a juicer, you guys, but I can’t find a basic one that you do by hand 😦
  • I like garlic. A lot. This is new to me! I especially like “garlic expressions” vinaigrette, which is basically as if somebody said, “Okay, make an oil that can go on ANYTHING. ANYTHING.”
  • I like onion! I’m apparently allergic to onion (certain varieties). I eat it anyway.
  • I learned how to make a smoothie. Yum! I had like 4 smoothies this week, and I’m pretty sick of them. Seriously, folks, this is something which I had to google and prep myself to do ahahaha.

My freezer is stocked with fruits and vegetables for the ‘lean times’ when I have no money to spend on fresh fruit and vegetables to play and experiment with. Also frozen veggies are awesome when I’m baking chicken, cos I’m assured that it will not dry out if I throw some frozen carrots on top.

Speaking of chicken – I’m learning to cook chicken. Well. What I mean to say is that I’m experimenting, but I haven’t looked up any recipes yet, because I’m not yet quite sure how best I like my chicken and which is the method I am most proficient at cooking it. I have had chicken, rice, and veggies several times this week because I give up halfway through brainstorming and just experiment with different layering combinations.

Tomorrow I make BEANS! I’m making a bean and vegetable chili in my crockpot! It’s going to be glorious, and I’m going to have tons leftover, so I might fill up some ziplock bags and freeze it, & then I know that I will have chili for when I am broke & can’t afford to experiment.

Take a look at my jalapeno pepper ❀

A picture of jalapeno pepper in the foreground; onion, garlic, and bell pepper in the background

I’m really excited about the chili I’m making!

I’m going to try to post more here. ABOUT MY DOMESTICATION and also about getting fit (which I am not at the moment), quitting cigarettes (it’s terribly easy to quit – this is like my 5th time quitting), and possibly giving up caffeine as part of my detox so that I can stop taking anti-histamines (which are screwing with my appetite).

Oh yeah, ps – I am seasoning my cast iron pan. Which I did not know you need to do, but then again, the cast iron pan my Bummy has is older than I am, SO OBVIOUSLY IT IS WELL SEASONED.