Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chili and a Book Review

Not to anyone’s surprise Dan got in late last night. He had a bowl of chili before bed and I had hot green tea. How that man can eat and go straight to bed is completely beyond me. But it never seems to bother his stomach or keep him up. Go figure. If I did that I would be up half the night.

For dessert Dan had to try the chocolate covered banana pops. His sweet tooth wouldn’t let him ignore them. He enjoyed the banana pops but said that the strawberry banana soft serve is just a little better in his opinion. He also recommends that you allow the pops to thaw just a little before you eat them.

When Dan came in last night he told me that he offered to go downtown Sunday and help Troy and Jason put the final touches on a loan package which needs to go out Monday. I think it is really nice that most of the guys pitch in to help each other.


No surprise to anyone we started our morning at the farmers’ market bright and early this morning. Here is a shot to show you that it was still mostly dark when we were taking the exit from the expressway to the market just before 7 am.

Our first stop is always to see Rudy (Cat’s Paw Organic) in case he needs a helping hand. Rudy had his baked goods out but the organic produce was still in the truck so we jumped in to help. He does a big business in the baked goods so those come out of the truck first. The young lady that helps him doesn’t arrive until 7 which is why he can normally use a hand unloading in the morning.

It was amazing how much more produce there was at all the farmers this week. I guess the fall crops are just starting to come in. From Rudy we got two acorn squash, two quarts of sweet potatoes, 6 beets, 3 cucumbers and a head of red cabbage.

Rudy is currently rereading “Our Stolen Future” now and commented at how accurate and ahead of its time that book was. If you haven’t read it, it is a good read. I may have to see if the library has it and reread it myself. The book is old (about 13 years) but was very eye opening for me when I read it years ago.

We also had time to talk about the book Rudy is writing about organic gardening and health. He is hoping to have the book finished in the next 12 months. I can’t wait to read it with his background in biochemistry and the focus on health and nutrition. We talked a little about our approach to health and Rudy was surprised to find out we were vegan. :-/ He told us we are the healthiest vegans he had ever met which caught us off guard. I guess it is because we focus on eating whole organic food. While this was surprising it was nice to hear. It makes me feel like I am doing something right when it comes to our health.

Next we stopped to see Pam and Paul (Calvert Farm) and pick up our first fall organic CSA share. They were also overflowing with produce this morning. We had a good conversation with Paul about fungicides and berries that was enlightening. He told us about a woman who thought she was allergic to strawberries but he convinced her to try his organic berries and she had no reaction. Apparently the fungicides that are commonly used on berries are a frequent allergen which I didn’t know. We were also surprised to hear that you can’t water certified organic produce with chlorinated water, which made sense but was news to us. It is amazing what you learn when you talk to the farmers that grow your food. That is one of the great things about belonging to a CSA and getting to know the farmers and the weekly market.

From Pam and Paul we picked up 1 pound of shitakes, 1 big leek (more dehydrated leeks), apple cider, 2 bunches kale, and ½ pound of fresh ginger.

We also stopped at Martin Family Farms for a bunch of fresh dill and cilantro and produce for my parents. Martins always has a nice selection of fresh herbs that last all week, unlike the stuff you get at the grocery store. I find they keep best if you wrap them loosely in paper towel and store them in a partially closed bag.

We didn’t buy as much produce this week because both of our refrigerators were fairly full this morning before we left for the market. There is no sense buying more than we can eat. We can always load up on more produce next week if we get through what we have now.

As we were leaving the market we noticed that the car behind us had a front tire that was almost flat and left a note on their windshield in case they didn’t know. That was our good deed for the morning along with picking up local produce for my parents.

On the way home I took a few pictures of downtown to give you an idea of city life in Baltimore.

Wonder what it is like to grocery shop when you live downtown? Here is the SuperFresh near Dan’s office. They have a pretty decent salad bar which Dan’s coworkers stop at some days for lunch. I hear the sushi they sell is very fresh, not that Dan or I have had it. But one of the guys picks that up often.

Here are a few church shots. I never noticed before how many churches we have in the city but it is a lot.

Next I took a couple pictures of houses that are typical of downtown.

Here is Johns Hopkins University which is close to our house.


It was a little bit chilly this morning when we left for the market. I was not fully functional (mentally that is) when we left the house. I threw on running pants, a short sleeved T and sandals and ran out the door for the market. Let’s just say I was not dressed appropriated for a 55 degree morning. I soon regretted my clothing choice this morning. There did not seem to be enough hot green tea in the house when we got home to warm me up. I even ended up closing the windows to warm things up, which you all know I hate to do.

Breakfast this morning needed to be hot since my fingers and toes were half numb. Both Dan and I had wild blueberry topped oatmeal this morning. We both had a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds (for omega 3 fatty acids and lignans) and Dan also had a handful of walnuts for extra calories.

After breakfast I made myself a mug of hot water with lemon to try to warm up. It helped a little but it feels like I am going to be cold all day at the moment.

Dan went back downtown to work but I packed him chili (recipe below), a romaine salad with roasted acorn squash, shaved carrot, and diced tomatoes that was dressed with red wine vinegar. I also packed some dried cranberries, cherries and slivered almonds to add to the salad. He also got frozen grapes and trail mix.

If you are wondering Dan eats throughout the day at work which is how he can consume that much food at work. He claims he has to eat in shifts in order to get it all in. ;-) Since he seems to enjoy fussing I am never quite sure which of his comments are sport of serious. However I think this one may be serious.


For lunch today we both had the chili I made yesterday. I love the complex flavor of this chili. Strictly from a flavor perspective this is my best chili yet. We both liked the texture that TVP brings to chili but since we have eliminated soy protein isolates (because they elevate IGF-1 and promote tumor growth) there will be no TVP in my food any longer. However I do have an idea to mimic the chewiness in the next batch of chili. Here is the recipe for the chili we had today:

Red Kidney and Pinto Bean Chili
Serves 8


2 cups pinto beans, picked through, rinsed and cooked until soft, cooking liquid retained
2 cups red kidney beans, picked through, rinsed and cooked until soft, cooking liquid retained
water and 2 bay leaves to cook the beans
8 cups diced peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ tablespoon cocoa powder
2 chipotles in adobo, finely minced (this will result in a mild chili)
2 red onions, peeled and minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before cooking)
1 head garlic, peeled and minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before cooking)
1 shot espresso (or 1 cup coffee or equivalent in instant espresso/coffee)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


I like to cook beans in water to cover, plus an inch and add water as necessary. That way the bean liquid is minimized resulting in a thicker chili in the end. I also add one bay leaf for each two cups of beans while they are cooking.

Once the beans are tender add the remaining ingredients and cook until the veggies are tender and the flavors have married. Ideally you will make this the day before you plan to serve it as the flavor seems to be more complex the next day.

I like to serve it over a cooked grain (brown rice or bulgur and top the chili with a fresh salsa and/or cashew crème fraiche. It would also be good with a little cashew queso on top. Chili also makes a quick taco salad. If you prefer it would be good on nachos again with the cashew queso. This is one of the things I love about chili it is so versatile.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 385.44
Calories From Fat (5%) - 17.73

Total Fat - 2.07g
Saturated Fat - 0.35g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 42.4mg
Potassium - 1841.64mg
Total Carbohydrates - 71.8g
Fiber - 18.39g
Sugar - 7.06g
Protein - 23.49g


I am not sure why I decided to add a little espresso to this but that makes a difference in the final flavor of the chili. Both Dan and liked the flavor complexity. You can’t taste the cocoa or the espresso but it makes the overall flavor richer somehow. The only change I would make is to add bulgur to the dish the next time to add a little chewiness to the dish. But other than that I can’t think of any other changes.

I am glad I made some extra chili this time so we have leftovers for a few days. With the cold rainy weather they are forecasting for the next 5 days chili will be very welcome. I can almost taste the taco salad I am going to make with these leftovers.

Book Review: "Easy Green Living" by Renee Loux

I picked up this book from the library because I enjoyed her prior book “The Balanced Plate” and I having been working on making our home as close to chemical free as possible over the last 7 years.

The book is outlined as follows:

1. Green Living is Easy
2. Green Cleaning Basics
3. 5 Steps to a Green Kitchen
4. 4 Steps to a Spic-and-Span Green Bathrooms
5. Natural Beauty: The Simple 7
6. 6 Steps to Eco-Fresh Laundry
7. 4 Corners of a Green Bedroom
8. Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs: Save Energy and Money
9. Sustainable, Ecological Home Furnishings and Materials.

What I liked about this book:

It is full of information without being preachy or overwhelming.  I like the overall tone of the writing in the book. The author makes the point that being green is not all or nothing and that everything you do makes a difference. She encourages people to start small and reminds them that green living is a process.

I also appreciate all the “recipes” for cleaning products that are sprinkled through the book. I am definitely going to be trying one of the 4 different produce wash recipes that are in the book. Additionally I also like that she produces a list of green commercial products for those that are not included to make everything themselves. I was very happy to see my shampoo listed since I agonized over which brand to buy.

The author does a nice job of explaining which plastics are hazardous or safer. She even covers the brand so plastic cling wrap and plastic bags which are safer. She did provide one tip that I wanted to share since I also do this. Never let plastic wrap touch your food directly especially fatty foods. I would also add acidic foods to the list. I have switched to glass storage containers with locking lids that are some form of plastic. Since you never know exactly what those plastics are made of I have been placing a square of waxed paper on top of the food to keep it from coming into direct contact with the plastic. This is probably unnecessary but since it only takes a minute why not do it.

Her tips on safer hair coloring were also interesting. I stopped coloring my hair about a year and a half ago. I decided it was ridiculous to buy organic produce and then put poison on my head. *rolls eyes* The author provides a list of safer coloring alternatives. I may have to check those out since my hair is a bit more gray than I would like. ;-) If I find a product that I am happy with I will let you know.

Finally the author goes into great detail about the problems with chlorine bleach. After I finished reading what she wrote I was happy I got rid of this produce in our house a few years ago. Nasty stuff that chlorine and it is accumulated in our bodies in fat. Once there is a known carcinogen (cancer causing substance). Since it is absorbed through the skin and nasal passages I think it is better to avoid chlorine.

Overall this is a really good book. I am considering putting it on my Amazon list. I have quite a few books on this subject but it is a comprehensive volume so I may have to pick this up to use a reference manual of sorts.

Later today:

Since Dan is downtown I may have to spend some time in the kitchen today. I am feeling the need to fill the house with the smell of something braising or roasting. There is just something about having a home filled with the smell of food that makes me feel cozy and comforted.  If I have time I will be back later today with another recipe or two.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend and is staying warm. Now that I have my winter socks and fuzzy slippers on I am starting to feel like I might be able to warm up today. ;- ) Talk to you all again soon.


  1. Your chili sounds tasty. It's hard to beat a nice warm bowl of chili when it's cool out. It was only 49 degrees here this morning! High of 70 and I had no idea how to really dress for the day. The big down fall of transitional seasons. Hope you're having a nice afternoon.

  2. Heather,

    Brrrr to your weather this morning. I thought it was cold here. We are only supposed to reach the mid 60's today so at least it is staying cold all day. I never really know how to dress this time of year either.

    I hope you are having a good afternoon as well,

  3. Your chili looks really good.

    So interesting about the organic strawberries - but I believe it. I have a friend who is allergic but I doubt she would be willing to try a strawberry again, she'd be too afraid of her reaction.

    Beautiful city photos!

  4. Jessica,

    I was very pleased with the flavor of the chili. :-)

    The farmer was telling us that all non-organic berries are highly sprayed with fungicides otherwise the berries have a very short shelf life and many people react to it. I had not heard that before so I thought it was good to pass along. The more I talk to the organic farmers the more I learn.

    Glad you liked the pics of the city. We have a lot of interesting old architecture if you like that sort of thing (which I do).

    hope you are enjoying your weekend,

  5. hey! i'm new to your blog and have been really inspired by your idea of intentional leftovers. i'm doing more of this myself lately and would love to freeze more soups and such. i was wondering what sort of containers you put things into before freezing? i am trying to use less plastic so am hoping for suggestions that don't involve baggies and the like. oh, and i'll be making those banana pops, stat! thanks :)

  6. Danna,

    Nice to meet you. ;-) Great question BTW I have never talked about that before. I freeze the soup in square or rectangular glass containers and once it is completely frozen I pop the blocks out and vacuum seal them in a food saver bag. I do this so they take up less room in the freezer (being square). If you are only saving single servings you can use canning jars and leave an inch or more of headroom and freeze and store the soup directly in the jar. I do both depending on the quantity I am freezing. I have not tried it but you should also be able to wrap the frozen bloacks of soup in a couple layers of aluminum foil for storage, but then you couldn't thaw it in the frig without moving it to another container first. I hope that helped.

    I had a banana pop a little while ago. The hubby is right let them defrost just a little and they are much easier to eat and have more flavor.


  7. I'm always game for a new chili recipe! Can't wait to try it...especially because there's chocolate in it : )

    And I always love your pictures!

  8. Stephanie,

    The cocoa adds a depth of flavor to the chili that is hard to describe but doesn't taste like chocolate. Sorry I don't know how to explain it better.

    Glad you liked the pics.

    hope you have a good Monday,

  9. Hi Ali,
    I like the addition of cocoa powder in your chili!
    I'll have to try it:)
    Buona giornata,

  10. hey Alicia,
    ive always wondered about people who have to shop in the city also. whenver i would drive into New York i would think about it... so many people and everyone walking then lugging all their stuff up to their apartments??
    is that you in one of the pics? :)

  11. Thanks for the book review. I'vd seen this book on Amazon and have thought about buying it. Now that I know it's good, I am going to add it to my wish list.

    It's cold here to...37 this morning....brrr. Chili will be on my menu soon. BTW, yours looks yummy!

    Beautiful pics!

  12. Aimee,

    The cocoa powder addtion was the suggestion of a friend and they were right it adds depth to the chili. I hope you like it as much as we do.


  13. Michelle,

    Shopping downtown is a bit of a pain though it isn't bad for us since we live on the edge of the city. But when we lived downtown grocery shopping wasn't fun. ;-)

    I was the one taking the pictures so I am not in any of the shots. I need to get the hubby to take a few pics of me. He is not the best photographers. ;-)

    hope you are having a good Tuesday,

  14. Michelle,

    It is a good book I can recommend other books like it if you are interested.

    Wow 37 is darn cold. We haven't gone into the 40's yet but that is coming I am sure. If our temps were as low as yours I would already be wearing boots and my winter coat. Stay warm.

    Glad you like the pics of the city. Living here I sometimes forget how pretty it is. Taking pictures for the blog has caused me to look at the city differently.



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