Tuesday, March 13, 2007

For the love of tomato paste

Given the improvements in the condition of my medical problems, my doctor has me decreasing my medicine and trying out foods that have been forbidden for about two years. I drank some mango green tea two nights ago and found it immensely pleasurable . . . though it also kept me up extremely late given that I have mostly ridded myself of a caffeine tolerance.

Earlier in the evening, I made a quick chili topped with cornbread. It was incredibly delicious. I could have eaten four bowls of it (could have, but didn't). It was so tasty to me because, well, it was good (my husband ate two helpings), but also because I have so sincerely missed being able to consume things that contain the rich-tasting, cancer-fighting goodness of tomato paste. I’ll be thrilled to eat all the leftovers. I do have to be careful, though; while my body can take small amounts of formerly forbidden foods in occasional meals, it is easy to overload myself and make myself sick.

For the chili I made, I just used Bear Creek Damn Good Chili Mix. (Amusingly, they have different packaging with “Darn Good” on it in Kroger these days.) It’s so simple, healthy, and delicious; you just add 2 jars of tomato paste and 7 cups of water, boil it, and you’re good to go. I also add about a tablespoon of dark brown sugar when I make it. The only problems with it? 1) it has animal fat in it, so even if you make it without meat it’s not truly vegetarian (which doesn’t really bother me, but I know it would bother some of my completely vegetarian readers); and 2) the beans are cooked from dehydration, so whatever nitrogen they are kicking out stays in the final product, potentially causing you to have gas after the meal. (That’s why you normally soak dried beans, dump the water, and then cook them in fresh water.)

I love that chili mix and it’s easy, so I used it. I made the cornbread topping by heavily modifying a recipe I found on allrecipes.com. I loved the final product, though I’ll use less sugar when I make it again and have reflected that in the recipe I’m giving you.

A note on this cornbread: it is not Southern cornbread; it is sweet rather than savory. Southern cornbread has its place, but I think a strongly flavored chili works better with a sweet cornbread than a savory one. Yum.

Soooo Tasty Sweet Cornbread

2/3 cup regular flour (I use a mix of 2/3 whole-wheat and 1/3 white in everything I do)

1 1/3 cup cornmeal (I used some very grainy cornmeal from our CSA–YUM.)

1/8 c. sugar

3 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/4 c. honey

1 egg

3/4 c. milk

1/3 c. vegetable oil

1 c. corn kernels (thawed from frozen, cooked 3 min. from store-bought fresh, or straight off the cob from garden-fresh)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Stir in honey, egg, milk, and vegetable oil until combined.

Fold in corn kernels.

What I did then was pour most of the chili into a very large, deep casserole dish, sprinkle a layer of cheddar cheese on, and drop the cornbread mix by large spoonfuls into the chili mix. Then I let out an expletive: my cornbread topping was sinking into my chili! I baked it anyway for about 25 minutes, and luckily, the cornbread surfaced and baked up nicely . . . as you can see below.

I intended to serve the chili and cornbread with a salad, but I had had a crazy day and was short on time, so we just ate it by itself. I figure an unbalanced meal once in a blue moon won’t kill us.


1 comment:

Sarah said...

That chilli looks so yummy! I will have to try it before it gets too warm out!