Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sarah's Dan's Mom's Lentil Soup

First, I want to talk about my friend Dan, who is, in case you're wondering, most definately THE MAN. Dan and I met a few years ago when I was working at a coffee shop. It wasn't until the past year or so that we have become friends. I LOVE to talk food with Dan, well, because...Dan knows food. Dan knows more about food than anyone I've ever met. And if Dan tells me to cook something, well, I'm going to cook it, no questions asked.
Dan is actually the one who got me thinking about starting this food blog. His blog is and if you don't subscribe to it, do it NOW. My blog is mostly about cooking for myself, but his covers a wide range of food topics including cooking, restaurants, food preparation, travel, and local fare just to name a few.
Dan re-posted his mother's Lentil Soup recipe the other day included in a blog about combining food and fond memories. His post brought back thoughts of all the ladies in my family crowding in the kitchen to get Thanksgiving Dinner on the table; or the long hot summer afternoons I would spend alone with my grandmother in her kitchen while we strung beans from her garden, and sang songs while a pot of applesauce simmered on her stove made with the apples picked fresh from her backyard.
This soup is every bit as good as Dan says. It was a perfect welcome meal to the Fall season. Thanks Dan.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's Getting Cold, Make Some Chili!

The World Chili Cookoff took place right here in Charleston, WV this past weekend. Although I only made it to Sunday's red chili festivities, it was a day full of fun with good food and great friends. Mia & Tim (the Dorsey's as you all know them) and I met over at Rachel Cox's house for pre-cookoff bloody mary's. When we arrived at the Appalachian Power Park where the cookoff was taking place, Rachel happily informed us that she had V.I.P. tix waiting for us at Will Call which meant some free sampling tix and FREE BEER. Yay! Thanks Rachel!

As soon as we walked in the gates we saw our friends E and Slim, and well let's face it, who's not happy to see the Blackhursts? Beers all around, we headed towards the tents on the baseball field, and started immediately sampling. Some of the contestants had leftover green chili from the day before, so it was nice to have some variety. I didn't meet anyone from a foreign country (WORLD cookoff?), but I did meet some nice folks from Massachusettes, Colorado, Illinois and South Carolina. I made sure to ask each of them how they liked Charleston, and did not get one negative response. The girl from Colorado said, "the rolling hills are beautiful"...well yes I suppose compared to the Rocky Mountains they would indeed seem like hills to her. Everyone I talked to also said how friendly everyone from Charleston was, and what a nice place it was to visit. A big shout out goes to my friend Samanta Carney for organizing such a great high profile event for West Virginia!

We also ran into our friends The Dailey's (Megan and Matthew), which I was especially happy to see because they had their two awesome kids with them Victor and Alexander, who are growing like weeds...what are you feeding them Megan? :)

After the cookoff we all headed over to "the porch" at E & Slim's, which then turned into "the back patio" with the firepit ablaze. After a few more beers for everyone, the firepit was not the only thing "ablaze". We had our own little hot pepper eating contest right in the backyard...and I guess if I had to declare a winner it was Tim Dorsey, since he was really the only one who entered. First a whole fresh jalapeno, then a whole fresh cayenne, then E brought out a dried GHOST CHILI (the hottest pepper on the planet). It was all in good fun, but I'm sure Tim is still spitting flames as I type this. Hope you're feeling ok today Tim. All in all it was in fact a great day! Now onto the food...

Chili is not hard to make. There aren't a thousand ingredients. In fact, chili is one instance where less is definately more. As long as you have good ingredients and some time, it's a simple one pot meal that will last a few days for dinner or lunch. Plus chili always freezes really well.

Brown/cook 1/2 lb to 1lb LEAN ground beef in 2 tablespoons olive oil

Add, 1 Onion diced and 2 cloves garlic chopped

Cook down about ten minutes til the onion gets soft

Add 1 cup organic beef broth and two cups tomato sauce

Deglaze that pan and get it to a nice bubbly simmer

Add one can petite diced tomatoes, and beans of your choice (for this batch I used an organic tri-bean medley mix of kidney, navy and black I think)

Add about 4-8 tablespoons chili powder (depending on how "chili" you like your chili) and two tablespoons Emeril's Essence (I told you I love this stuff)

Cook the chili down to a nice thick consistency. The longer you cook it, the better it will taste.

Call some friends and serve it up with some bread, cornbread, etc...whatever your fancy.