Greetings Quarantine Friends. Yesterday, I went for a run, made a batch of pudding, walked the dogs at Rockefeller State Park, and spent an hour re-reading the vegetarian cookbook I’ve been writing. It was like finding an artifact on an archeological dig, written in a language I only partly understood. (Good thing I have some time to work on that.) My kids started online classes; Phoebe went for an 8-mile walk while listening to the last few episodes of The Daily, including yesterday’s interview with Gov. Cuomo. OK, onward. Today’s Pantry, Project, Purpose…
Pantry: Chili with Beyond Meat (or not)
Believe it or not, the first of many things in my life to be canceled was a veggie burger Taste Test I was organizing for Cup of Jo. We had assembled a group of experts to judge the new generation of those plant-based meats you find in the refrigerated section, like Impossible, Beyond, Lightlife, etc. (and still plan to do this — and have the general fake meat discussion — when life gets back to normal). Needless to say, though, right now I have enough fake meat in my freezer to feed the neighborhood. So the other night, Andy dipped into the stash, thawed two Beyond patties, and tossed it into a veggie chili. You can, of course, skip the fake meat, and swap in another can of beans, any kind.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (unless you like garlic more than us, in which case another clove)
dash red pepper flakes (optional or to taste)
4 tablespoons oil (olive, canola, whatever)
1 ½ cups (1 15-ounce can) cooked pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ cups (1 15-ounce can) cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (you can drain and rinse all beans in same colander)
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 ounce dark chocolate (optional, but I find this adds a depth you’d normally get from animal fat)
2 teaspoons oregano
1 bay leaf
Enough plant-based meat to make about two regular patties (if you omit, add another can of beans)
Suggested toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar, hot sauce.
Saute onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in 3 tablespoons oil over medium-low heat, until onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add beans and chili powder, turn heat to medium-high, and cook until spices get sizzly.
Add tomatoes, chocolate, and remaining spices and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat in a medium skillet. Add vegetarian “meat” and a little more salt, breaking up with a fork and cooking until it gets as crispy as possible. Stir into chili before serving with desired toppings.
Project: Easy Vanilla Pudding
Another recipe where the humblest pantry ingredients can be turned into something heavenly. I only worry that it’s too easy and it takes only a few minutes to make on a day where you have hours to kill. You’ll forgive me when you taste it, though. Make it in the afternoon so it’s chilled in time for dessert after dinner. Makes 4 small bowls.
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Suggested toppings: crumbled Nilla Wafers or gingerbread cookies, bananas, whipped cream, berries
Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan. Pour 1/4 cup of the milk into the sugar mixture, stirring to form a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk and the egg yolks. Cook the pudding mixture over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until thickened, about 15 minutes. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Scrape the pudding into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the surface to make an airtight seal. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour.
Purpose: A Book Club
Cup of Jo launched an online book club, which feels exactly right. Head over there to see the memoir you need to read and discuss with friends by April 14!
And for locals: South Church in Dobbs Ferry (343 Broadway) is collecting sandwiches for Midnight Run, the organization that delivers food to the homeless and poor in New York City. Collection is tomorrow (Friday, March 20) between 8:00 and 10:30 am. Here is a guide for sandwich making.
See you tomorrow.
The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, and connected. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what you’re up to, and how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.