Monday, October 8, 2012

Cashew Chili

It's happened again. Our dining room has been overtaken by a seemingly harmless, yet actually quite bothersome everyday object - MAIL. I can barely see or use my cute writing desk as one of the mail heaps has landed there. That pile has also cascaded to my desk chair and also to the floor next to my desk. And, of course, the dining room table is the home of many small mounds that I have moved around and "organized" into some groupings that made sense to me at some point - magazines to be read, catalogs to be looked at, items that need to be addressed, etc. I try to keep up with it daily - putting unwanted items into the recycling bin, shredding pieces that I don't want in the trash, but I go away for a week and/or let it get away from me for even a short time and BAM! I'm completely overwhelmed by mail.

I have a pretty high tolerance for domestic disorganization, but there's something about mail clutter that really gets under my skin. I think it's because I didn't ask for most of that mail. I order one thing on line or donate money, and the next thing you know I'm getting a catalog from that company and several other "related" companies or funding requests from similar non-profits to the ones I gave to. I got a catalog this summer from Restoration Hardware that was enormous. It rivaled the Sears Catalog of days of old. That one I used to look forward to, the Christmas one anyway, so I could peruse the toy section looking for wish list items to send to Santa. The reaction I had to the Restoration catalog was very different. I was extremely angry and I wanted to pick up the phone and call to let them know just how irritated I was that they would send me this giant book that I now had to dispose of. I have never bought anything from that store in my life, and more importantly, it is a huge waste of resources. This made me never want to buy anything from them in the future.  I didn't end up calling them, but I still feel as annoyed by their delivery.

It's these overwhelmed times that spur me into action. To my right is a pile of instructions on how to go paperless for several businesses I'm newly associated with. After that, I will go to the Catalog Choice site and ask them to stop delivery of all the catalogs I am currently receiving. This is a great non-profit organization that is there to help us with reducing clutter, helping the environment and protecting privacy. I believe in their cause and donate money to them regularly. I first used them to put a stop to credit card solicitations. I used to get at least one a day. Here's the site and I highly recommend you use them. They make it very simple.

I need to get back to cleaning up, but first I will leave you with a new chili recipe I tried, given to me by a friend at work. Her dad made it and won a chili competition with it! It's not a chili with a lot of heat, but still has a lot of flavor. The cashews and the raisins are meant to "take the bite out of the tomatoes", I'm assuming from an acidity perspective.

Cashew Chili

2 to 3 cups cooked kidney or pinto beans (I just used one can of each)
2 medium onions (the recipe calls for 4, but I thought this seemed like a lot)
2 red or yellow bell peppers chopped (the recipe calls for green, but I don't like the flavor, nor can I digest them)
1 carrot chopped (this was an addition I made, not necessary)
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 or more cloves garlic, mashed
1 tspn dried basil
1 tspn oregano
1/2 tspn chili powder
1 tspn ground cumin
1 quart canned tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 to 1 cup cashews, chopped
1 handful raisins or 1 tblspn molasses
1 tspn sea salt
1/4 cup (more or less to taste) cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

1.  In a big soup pot, over medium high heat, stir fry the onions, peppers, celery and garlic for a few minutes.
2. Add the basil, oregano, chili powder and cumin and stir constantly for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and juice. If whole tomatoes, break them up with the back of your spoon.
4. Grind in black pepper and add bay leaf. Stir in cashews and raisins and salt. Add carrots, if using.
5. Bring the soup to a simmer and stir it now and then for about 20 minutes.
6. When the chili is at desired consistency and vegetables are tender, start adding vinegar a little at a time, tasting along the way and adding more as necessary.

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