Saturday, October 9, 2010

Modular Cooking

My mom made the best chili.  She used real beans, usually a combination of pinto and kidney. She'd pick through the beans to make sure there were no rocks or other foreign matter. Then she'd rinse them a few times, put them in a huge pot, add water, and get them boiling.

She didn't soak them. Mom was a bean heretic. 

Next, she'd add all kinds of stuff. Chopped onion, bell pepper, canned tomatoes, real garlic, oregano, other seasonings, and hamburger. 

She didn't brown the hamburger first, the way recipes tell you to do. I guess she was a hamburger heretic too.

Like most of Mom's cooking, chili was an all-day affair.  Real food requires real cooking. And real cooking requires real time. Lots of it.

I don't have entire days to devote to cooking.

I have minutes. 30 here, 15 there.  I have to cook in modules.  It goes something like this:

Week one: Brown 2 or 3 lbs of hamburger with onions, garlic, and other seasonings. Place in two containers, label with the date, and freeze them.

Week two:  On Sunday morning, pick through about 1.5 lbs of black beans.  Rinse, drain, add water, and set aside to soak. Shower, dress, go to church.  After church, drain the beans, add water and seasonings, and put them on the stove to cook.  Eat lunch, then do laundry and other Sunday afternoon chores while the beans cook. When they're done, package in several containers of various sizes and freeze.

Week three: Take 1 package of hamburger and a large container of beans out of freezer to thaw. Run a bunch of Saturday-type errands.  About 1/2 hour before dinner, dump the black beans and hamburger in a 3 quart pot. Add 1 can organic tomatoes, 1/2 can organic tomato paste, the last of the pre-chopped Trader Joe onions, some dehydrated garlic, oregano, chili powder, cumin, celery seed, and whatever else strikes your fancy.  Add more garlic.

Voila. Easy, healthy chili. And, it only took three weeks to make it.

Garnish with a few blue corn tortilla chips and call it dinner.

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