Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'm Not a Food Blogger, or a Cookbook Author...hell, I'm just cooking my own foods and feeding myself!

I love to cook.  I love talking about cooking and food, and I love writing about cooking, food and eating.  This was not always the case.  In fact last night when I was prepping some kale salad for the week I remembered not so long ago that I didn't even know how to make a salad (much less what the hell kale was).  Tearing up a head of iceberg lettuce, cutting a tomato (out of season) and drowning it all with Thousand Island dressing was pretty much what I knew a salad to be. If I wanted it extra fancy I might open a can of garbanzo beans and throw a handful of those in.....seriously, I'm not exaggerating. (ask Mark!)

Over the 7-8 years I've been blogging I've posted many of my own recipes.  How crazy is that?  In fact I post mostly my own recipes because once I learned the methods and techniques of cooking the mystery of how to put foods together was solved.  Sure, I use google to look over recipe "themes" for common flavor combinations, but at the end of the day it comes down to what I already have in my fridge or pantry.

I've practically been living on pumpkin chili!  In fact it was my best friend Fawn Friday that, kind of, introduced me to making my own chili.  It was for sure my BFF Fawn that introduced my to the
pressure cooker but that's another story!  I've been wanting to post the recipe, my recipe, but I keep making it differently each time!  Little changes from using a beef chuck roast cut up into stew size chunks, to using lamb sausage.  My latest, (today!) is completely vegetarian, including the stock! (picture below is the veg stock I made this morning)

I would feel a little guilty posting a recipe that I haven't tried completely, ingredient by ingredient, to make sure it tastes good and turns out right. In fact I'll have you know, every single recipe in The Swing I tested out in my own kitchen numerous times, no lie.  Although I use my pressure cooker to make chili I adapted a no pressure cooker recipe using canned beans for The Swing.  The point is that no matter what kind of pot you use to make your own food, your own homemade, prepared and cooked meals are key to your health (that includes a healthy bodyweight), and I believe your happiness (which also includes a healthy bodyweight!).

Okay, so where's the Pumpkin Chili recipe?  It's coming!  The hold up is that I know Kabocha squash is not available everywhere, and this "Japanese" pumpkin is a key ingredient.  I wanted to "test" the recipe with butternut squash, Garnet yam, and/or sugar pie pumpkin but good Lord that's a lot of work!  Another roadblock is that because I like to cook and I actually like food prep, that means a lot of washing, peeling (I will actually peel that damn Kabocha, butternut, red bell and jalapeno!), dicing, cutting, measuring, etc.) I realize most people don't share the love with me!  And of course I want to motivate and encourage, not suggest so much work that the reward is lost.  Let my just add one prep is not a lot of work for me.  Because I have so much practice it's fast and practically effortless.  I can cut an onion, 2-3 stalks of celery, a couple of carrots, a red bell and jalapeno before the oil in the pan gets hot! Which brings me to the next point....

I am in the habit of doing things most people don't know how to do, don't have the energy to do, or don't want to do!  Making my own stocks and broths for soups and cooking rice, beans, and grains is a big one.  I haven't purchased store bought chicken stock since I was testing out the recipes for The Swing!  (lol)  I also will use ingredients like kale stems because they are perfectly good nutrition, fiber and free!  There is really no other way to use stems of greens other than to add them to soups and stews, and why not?

So, for instance, in today's pumpkin and lentil chili I did in fact use the stems of the kale I used to make salad yesterday.  Will it make your chili taste better?  Probably not, or maybe so!  Who knows?  Personally my taste buds are not that discerning! The main ingredients remain the same.  

red bell
spices (cumin, smoked paprika, chipolte chili powder, oregano, bay leaf)
tomato (again, I use my own stewed tomatoes but you can use canned)
lentils (red and brown...can you use green?  Sure! Or the traditional bean!  Black, white, red, pinto, knock yourself out!)
stock (I use my own homemade)
Kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin)
oh, and any kind of meat protein if you want.  
beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, quail, elk, venison, buffalo, etc. OR no meat protein!
And let's NOT forget salt!  (aka, seasoning)

The measurements are roughly a matter of experience, but I will give suggestions!  Recipes should simply be suggestions!  Trust me, once you make a pot of soup, every pot of soup is basically the same!  There is rarely a pot of soup, or stew, or chili, that doesn't start out with heating some oil in a pot and adding a diced onion and then sautee until translucent!  

You don't have to be a Food Blogger, or a Cookbook Author, you just have to want to learn how to feed yourself and cook your own food!  

(and having a best friend that is a former Chef, doesn't hurt either!)


KrisR said...

I've been waiting for your recipe but had a japanese pumpkin that had to be cooked so went trolling online for a recipe. Ended up with a vegetarian black bean and Kabocha concoction that is delish from greenlitebites.

Can't wait for your version - sounds even better.

I was amazed at how quickly and softly the pumpkin cooked down.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Did you pumpkin need cooking because you were anxious to try it? Or because you thought it was going to spoil? I've had Kabocha last for months!

Interesting because what I like about Kabocha is that it does't cook down, and will stay firm if you don't overcook it.

I've made so many batches that when I get to the post (today or tomorrow) I'll write all of my experiences so you can make your own recipe! Personally I like the choice of lentils and I'll tell you why :)

Diana said...

I absolutely LOVE food prep. All I do is turn on some music and I can easily spend hours "preparing"...there's just something so relaxing and satisfying about making food.
I even put everything into little bowls, like the "big-wigs" on TV do and then when it's time to put it in the pot, it's right there in it's own little bowl....yes, I'm retarded!

Tracy Reifkind said...


That's a great habit to get into actually, especially when following a new recipe it's a must. Otherwise you forget stuff!

I have to say that drinking a glass of wine and cooking at the same time is the most relaxing to me. Since most of the food prep I do is between 4:00-6:30am drinking wine is not an option (although I wonder....), but in the late afternoons when I have no energy left drinking is the only way I can forget how tired I am!

KrisR said...

Anxious because I wanted to try it. :)

And, I think I did overcook it. I have 1/2 of it left (it was huge!) so tonight I'm going to roast it and see how it tastes without the chill spices.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Roasting it is my favorite of all! I haven't roasted any yet because I wanted to enjoy it without all the oil/fat of roasting. But like you I have over 1/2 of a large pumpkin left! And I've got a freezer and fridge full of chili!

I might roast it with some shiitake mushrooms and toss them with some baby greens, lemon (or vinegar) and crumbled cheese of some sort for a salad. I find the oil I use to roast the veggies coats the greens nicely instead of using more in a dressing....yep, that's what I'll do!