I have a beloved hobby that's been renewed: riding horses. As a working student at a local-ish horse farm, I have tasks such as mucking stalls and the indoor riding ring, picking hooves, grooming, tacking up, turning out and bringing in horses, and many other jobs that might need assisting such as massaging a sore horse and keeping another still and calm while his sprain was taken care of. In exchange for my work, I'm becoming trained to train, and to be a "horse professor." The woman who owns and operates the farm has a very natural connection with her animals - she tries all homeopathic methods first, uses reiki and other such methods for sore horses and does her fair share to treat the environment right.
I've been riding a Percheron - a breed of draft horse who spent his time working as an Amish plow horse before being welcomed to the spoiled life of a riding horse. I've ridden him bareback and with my eyes closed (a method to train me) - now that's an experience! For training, I've worked in-hand with a fussy gelding who's known for being a bit of an ass on most days. Overall, it's an incredible experience and I'm happy to have found my place there. You can even find me singing along to my "favorite" country songs while working and riding...and even in the car...shhh ;)
Now, onto the food! When people think of horses, they often think of cowboys and campfires and all of the rustic meals that have been part of that lifestyle. With the cool air coming back, I wanted to make a big pot of chili. This is a great meal for me because I can make enough for dinners, lunches at work and even some to freeze for later. Somehow, I managed to lose the recipe (or, more like the "outline") that I used when I made chili last autumn and winter, so I started over today.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I'm not one for following perfectly measured out recipes, so this one won't be either. It's up to you to make those decisions based on your own tastes.
The base: 1 pound of ground white meat turkey from locally raised birds - no antibiotics or growth hormones.
Everything else: 1 smallish bell pepper, 1/2 a jalepeno from my garden, 1 clove garlic (minced), a few slices of onion (minced), 6 oz. ca of tomato paste, 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes, paprika, chili powder, olive oil, 1 can of small red beans.
Extra: Brown rice and shredded colby-jack cheese.
Every other time I've made chili, I let it simmer for hours in a crockpot. Today I felt like being a little more involved in the preparation, so I opted for stovetop cooking.
1) First, I cooked the turkey in a medium frying pan and set aside.
2) In a stock pot, I sauteed the chopped onions, garlic, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper in a little extra virgin olive oil until the onions were soft, but not browned.
3) After the veggies were cooked, I added the meat and sauteed a bit more together, then added the cans of beans, tomato paste and diced tomatoes.
4) I added dashes of paprika and chili powder, stirred, then covered the pot and let all the ingredients simmer while I cooked my rice.
5) When the rice was finished, I scooped some into my bowl, added a serving of chili, stirred together and topped with shredded cheese. So filling! I like mixing rice in with the chili because it adds another texture and really extends the meal to provide more servings. You don't need as big of a serving of the chili if it's going to be mixed with rice. It also means you may not have to buy as much meat - something that could certainly save a big family a few dollars. When brown rice is used, it adds an extra nutritional component that the meal did not have before.
My chili was so darn hot that it cracked a beautiful piece of pottery one of my friends gave me (the outside is a pretty metallic blue glaze). I'm really disappointed - it's been a favorite pasta and salad bowl since I received it. Since I can't bear to part with it, I'm sure it'll find a recycled use as some sort of catch-all bowl somewhere else in the house.
What did I use from my shopping trip yesterday? Turkey, onion, bell pepper, cheese, rice and red beans. Now I have a few more lunches or dinners already made!