The autumn weather has been out of whack this October. We’ll have 94 degrees Fahrenheit one day, then 53 the next. There will be long stretches of rain and drizzle, then a day or two with snow showers. We’ve had a lot of the dreary side of fall and fewer of the charming bits of it.
This is one reason why I dragged out the Crock Pot to prepare a batch of home-made chili. There are few foods that enhance a changeable autumn day the way chili does. It’s hot in two ways, and substantial in satisfying, healthy ways.
While the chili simmers, I like to bake a pan of cornbread. The blended aromas of the two foods make the house smell like home. There’s nothing like this combination to whet the appetite in a primal way. When both foods are ready, I like to place a square of cornbread at the bottom of a large soup bowl and ladle enough chili to cover the cornbread. With the addition of a side salad, the meal is complete. I like a creamy, yogurt based dressing on that salad.
I’m vegetarian but my boyfriend is omnivorous, however, he loves to eat vegetarian chili. He especially likes the chili that substitutes lentils in place of meat in the mix. There are several recipes for this chili, I usually go on the Web and search for a variation I haven’t tried yet. When I want a more conventional tasting chili, I add a package of supermarket variety frozen faux-meat crumbles about an hour before the chili is done simmering. I preheat the faux-meat in the microwave before adding it, so the cooking process won’t be interrupted.
I’ve invited some guests to have lunch at noon today, so I need to make sure I have all the ingredients on hand for the chili. I bought a medium-size Vidalia onion yesterday and some extra tomato paste. Jonathan and his girlfriend claim they have never eaten vegetarian chili before, so they have agreed to have some bowls full with me. Jonathan is the kind of guy who will try anything but the girlfriend warns that she’s a picky eater.
I’m serving the chili, cornbread, and a side salad. For desert, I bought Jonathan’s favorite ice cream–rocky road. I’m hoping they both enjoy the meal.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this snippet from singer-songwriter John Prine. “When I turned 40, I invited Johnny Cash to my party, even though I knew there was gonna be 200 people roasting a pig and wild as can be. He didn’t come, but the next day, I got a bowl of chili he’d made and a note that said, ‘John, I’d love to come to your party, but that would mean I would have to leave my house.'”