Every once in a while, we human beings are bold enough to take an idea, a possibility, a “what if” or a “hmm, could we?” and allow it to germinate in our mind, to take us over, to use us and pull us into creation mode. Then, if we’re crazy enough, we begin to speak our idea aloud—we tell other people, they tell other people. And before we know it, we are wed to the thing, we are given by it, we find ourselves sitting at the kitchen table (right, Julie?) in our pajamas, working and working but the work almost doesn’t feel like work. Or at the very least it feels like the right kind of work to be doing.
For me, I find it’s all too easy to watch the news, to read the paper, to look at the world and think “I wish I could help,” to feel deeply for the suffering of others and then put that all aside and move on. But not Julie van Rosendaal. She created something, a beautiful something, something I am very proud to be a part of:
Inside this cookbook, you’ll find recipes and gorgeous photographs from some of the best chefs and bloggers on the internet, a group in which I’m honored to be included. While the book was put together in record time (just under three weeks!), it’s lost absolutely nothing in terms of quality. Preview a handful of the pages online; they’re gorgeous.
You can purchase the soft cover edition for $25, the hardcover for $50. Every penny raised from sales will go straight to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, via the Canadian Red Cross & Doctors Without Borders.
I think the Blog Aid cookbook would make a great birthday, housewarming, wedding, Mother’s or Father’s Day gift. Or just buy it as a statement of faith, a vote on the side of hope and good work, a testament to the fact that one woman’s idea can become food in a child’s mouth, medicine for a wounded man, glossy cookbook pages you hold in your hand.
GAME-DAY CHILI (among other Superbowl food ideas)
I hardly ever make chili the same way twice—depending upon what’s in my pantry, spice cabinet, freezer, & fridge, all kinds of meats and seasonings have made their way into the pot. Don’t be afraid to mix meats—pork, venison, beef—and change up the type of beans you use (if you use beans at all). If you have a crock pot or slow cooker, now is the time to drag it out! It serves perfectly for chili-making. Don’t worry if you don’t have one, though, you can still brew up some perfectly good chili the old-fashioned, stovetop way.
Every chili has some “signature moves”—mine are dark beer, cinnamon, & a little cocoa powder. All three of these do a little something to the flavor…you can’t pinpoint what you’re tasting, but it tastes good. Mushrooms may seem like a strange ingredient, but they bump up the “meatiness” quotient of the chili without you actually having to add meat at all. Control the heat to match your own preference, and bear in mind that big pots of chili usually get hotter after a day or two in the fridge!
2 lb. ground sirloin
1 cup chopped crimini or white mushrooms
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano or 2 minced jalapeño peppers (if you like/can handle the heat!)
1 T cocoa powder
1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. cinnamon
4 cups beef stock
1 dark beer (I used Negra Modelo)
1 28-oz. can fire-roasted, crushed tomatoes
2 14-oz cans kidney beans (but only if their presence won’t offend your sensibilities)
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 dried ancho chile (you could certainly use another type)
a few dashes of liquid smoke
potential accompaniments: white rice, spaghetti, tortilla chips, Fritos, cornbread, cheddar cheese, sour cream, scallions
Mix all of the spices in a small bowl. Bring a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, then brown the meat, in batches if necessary. As you cook the meat, add in some of the spice mixture to each batch.
Once the meat has browned, transfer to a crock pot or large, heat-proof bowl. Drain most but not all of the accumulated fat—swirl in a little vegetable oil, then sauté the onions and garlic for a 3-4 minutes before adding the carrots & mushrooms.
If using a crock pot or slow cooker, once the vegetables are soft, add them to the beef. Pour in all of the remaining ingredients and cover, cooking for full cycle or at least two hours before serving. Check for spices & salt.
If cooking on the stove, return the meat to the pot and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least an hour before serving. Check for spices & salt.