Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tossing and Turning

The spirit has infinite facets, but the body
confiningly few sides.
There is the left,
the right, the back, the belly, and tempting
in-betweens, northeasts and northwests,
that tip the heart and soon pinch circulation
in one or another arm.
Yet we turn each time
with fresh hope, believing that sleep
will visit us here, descending like an angel
down the angle our flesh's sextant sets,
tilted toward that unreachable star
hung in the night between our eyebrows, whence
dreams and good luck flow.
your ankles. Unclench your philosophy.
This bed was invented by others; know we go
to sleep less to rest than to participate
in the twists of another world.
This churning is our journey.
It ends,
can only end, around a corner
we do not know
we are turning.

by John Updike from Collected Poems 1953-1993

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Turkey Chili With Kidney Beans

Makes about 3 quarts, serving 8 to 10

You may wish to serve the chili with lime wedges, briny black olives, diced avocado, sliced scallions, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or crumbled feta cheese.

1 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces
12 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4 – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds 93% lean ground turkey
2 (15 -16 ounce ) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, with juice
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 cinnamon stick
table salt

1. Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed nonreactive Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add half the turkey; cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add beans, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, raisins, bay leaf, espresso powder, cinnamon stick, and 2 teaspoons salt; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
3. Remove cinnamon stick. Pat remaining 1 pound turkey together into ball, then pinch off teaspoon-sized pieces of meat and stir into chili. Continue to simmer about 40 minutes longer, stirring occasionally (if chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until turkey is tender and chili is dark and slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and cayenne pepper. Serve with lime wedges and condiments if desired.

***There is very little that we know for certain about the origins of chili. Historians believe it was made by very poor people in the United States and that it most certainly did not originate in Mexico.
**The espresso powder gives the chili a nice depth of flavor
*Dividing the meat in half and adding one batch at the beginning of cooking and the second an hour later, insures a chunkier texture.

Recipe by Cristina Paul

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

This week's bone to pick: I went to one of those new-fangled ATMs that scans checks immediately - no envelope needed! I've always been quite suspicious of "time saving technology" because I waste far too much time looking at blogs on the internet and trying to figure out why my iPhone isn't syncing podcasts from my iTunes... blah blah blah. Anyhow, since banks are doing sooooo well during this total financial fuck-fest, I thought, hey, why not put just a little more trust in them? Needless to say this "time-saving" technological wonder of an ATM did exactly the opposite of save me time and worry. It ate up a check without processing it, returning it, or giving me a receipt. Now if this happened in a foreign country like Italy or Russia, I don't think I'd mind so much. These are fabulous places where people are not frowned upon when they drink (more than just one drink) midday. Unfortunately, this is AMERICA! So I could not drink at work to set my mind at ease after pressing a bazillion numbers when being prompted by a computer's voice. After being tossed around an automated system more circuitous than a talking parrot's brain, I am now twiddling my thumbs waiting for Obama to come up with a solution (just kidding). It is kind of funny though how absolutely every issue my friends, family and coworkers currently have is one that they believe Obama has direct power to change.