Thursday, October 11, 2012

Autumn Food

(Guest post from Kristy...)

What better way to cheer on your favorite sport team or political faction this autumn than to rustle up a nice steamy pot of vegan chili and cornbread?

My first ever attempt at the Fresh Corn & Scallion Cornbread from Appetite for Reduction hit the spot. I'm pretty excited about the cornbread, which didn't require any unusual ingredients, and popped with fresh corn kernels and green onion. When I make it next I'll sneak in some jalapeno (because that's how I roll), but otherwise this was an excellent basic recipe, with surprisingly little oil and salt.  And let's be honest, what is cornbread if not a luscious, savory cake?

The chili... well, everyone has their own chili recipe, and on this occasion it was a kitchen sink affair ("everything but the..."), so I don't think it reached the soaring heights of chili nirvana, but I will share one super tip for cooking dried beans, since dried beans are the cheapest, lowest in sodium, and also produce the least waste. 'Old school' conservative cooks tell you to soak overnight, but it's not essential. Bean moderates will tell you to pour boiling water over the dried beans then let them soak for an hour or so, then proceed.  I, my friends, am a card-carrying legume liberal, and I will tell you there is no need to soak at all! Just rinse the beans well, cover with a lot of water, and start cooking. Once you get the water to the boil and bring the heat down a notch, add a dash (half teaspoon, maybe) of baking soda.  I can't credit the tip, which I've seen in a few places, but it really works to soften the water, and take the last bit of toughness out of beans. I was always unable to duplicate the melt-in-you-mouth creaminess of restaurant beans, but now I can! It's magic.  Okay, now I sound like I have some weird bean obsession. 


  1. I usually just soak for 30 minutes with baking soda then change water and begin boiling...your recipe looks divine!

  2. Chilli + cornbread is such a good meal - yum!

  3. Looks delicious! Another trick I like when making chili or other tomato-based bean dishes is to cook the beans with the liquid, veggies and spices and so forth to the consistency I like, and add the tomatoes toward the end -- the acid helps them keep their shape.

  4. Kristy and Claryn are both chemists. The soda helps soften the skins; the acidic tomatoes at the end keeps their shape as she said. America's Test Kitchen is my back-up.

  5. Great tips, and explanation! Thanks for the comments.