Wednesday, January 27, 2010

32.0 Winter Scenes of Chili

Starring Erin & Mike and Adam & Josh
Filmed on Location in Beautiful Downtown Sellwood
Soundtrack: Blues and Boogie Shoes by Keene Brothers

"Hey, lost and hungry hustled souls"

2009 closed like a swollen eye. Like my eye. Swollen from sickness and a perhaps existential irritation. Dark days, mon frères et soeurs, but indeed the dark is moot without the light. And so 2010 burst like a lightning violet into this history! The fever was gone; the clouds, while still here (where would they go this time of year?), held silver thicker than their linings.

“Swollen” is not a great word to pepper into an article food. Also, I’m not sure you’re using that French correctly.

Yeah, I don’t speak it. Plus I write a cooking column and have precious little knowledge of the culinary arts, as well. So, obviously, ignorance is no barrier for me. I take you now to the scene of the first ITSK of the year.

To begin with, Adam is happy. He is able to use his pink cast-iron pot. It’s visually stunning and just a hint of the brilliant hues of this delicious winter meal. Only it’s not really a winter meal – it’s a meal for all seasons! (I picture diners lined up around the block, chanting “We want Thomas More!”).

Really, a Robert Bolt reference?

Ah, the voice of reason!

Tis the season for the reason!

Buzz off, will ya? This is taking too much of a yule tone. As I was saying, a sprinkle of all the seasons spices this meal.

Which is?

Chili, I guess. Though it’s more like a stew. Maybe even a soup? You could call it…

Oh, here we go…

… a “chewp”! Sort of like when TV Guide can’t decide the tone of a program and calls it a “docudrama” or “dramedy”. This is sort of an edible docudramedy.

So Erin and I are over at Adam & Josh’s, the Sellwood Kitchen Satellite Diner. The cats are outside, the dogs are in the way and I am in the low red mock crushed velvet chair, doing my part – staying out of the kitchen, documenting the proceedings. A&J’s kitchen draws its inspiration (and indeed many of its artifacts) from the 1950s (the Tupperware/Kitchen of the Future/Atomic Palate age). If I ever fell asleep in their kitchen…

Fell asleep from wine.

Fine. But if I did, I’m certain I’d dream of Play-Doh and Colorforms and the candy case at Farrell’s. Now add to this the luminous colors of butternut squash (Erin’s chopping up 2 lbs of it), bell peppers, onions, even a jalapeno! The house smelled so comfortable (yes, it can) that I dozed off in mine comfy chair. Then six cloves of garlic, like a snap of smelling salts, slapped me from sleep. Josh’d begun the batter for the corn muffins. “I’m supposed to beat these until frothy,” he says. For some reason, we all laughed.

I wondered, “Is one nurtured on corn bread “corn-bred”?

You must’ve been born in a corn maze.

Why do you…? Oh, very funny. While the chili…


… cooked in Big Pink, the muffins rose in the oven. We adjourned to the den to watch some “Harry Potter” DVD special features (this is not exactly the Algonquin Round Table).


We’re at the dining room table, chili ladled into bowls, muffins split and buttered.

“This is a colorful meal,” says Adam.

“I don’t see color, so… it looks like a pot of gray,” announces Erin.

Four slurps. A pause… Another triumph! Hearty, fresh! But not heavy. Warming without sweating. We’re all satisfied with this first ITSK meal of the year.

Wait, why do you call it “4 Seasons”?

I can’t remember exactly. At the time, we were certain there was something seasonally encompassing about the meal. Try it. You’ll know what we mean. Make it for a loved one on Valentine’s Day. It’ll warn your heart and sweep away those gloomy winter blues!

Erin’s Intro: It’s vegetarian (have we ever done that before?), it’s gluten free, it’s filling, healthy and pretty to look at. Add a mouthful of excellent pumpkin cornbread muffins, and follow up with a nice long nap. It’s the perfect winter meal! Thanks for saving the column this month, Adam! Here’s to you, friendship, and totally inappropriate dinner conversation.


Extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin, chili powder, and ginger
Salt and pepper
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 red pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, diced
3 cups V8
1 cup broth or water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbs honey
Fresh lime and cilantro

In a large heavy pot on medium heat, add extra virgin olive oil, garlic, onion, seasonings, celery and peppers. Cook about two minutes. Next add the beans, tomatoes, butternut squash, honey, V8 and broth or water. Cover and simmer. Let cook for about one hour, stirring occasionally, and adding more broth or water if desired. Before serving, squeeze in ½ fresh lime juice. Serve topped with sour cream or cheese (or both) and fresh lime.

The “In the Sellwood Kitchen” cast and crew can be contacted at: