I vividly remember the struggle. Grandma versus the 7-year old me. It was fried rice of some kind and I was done. Didn’t want to eat another single bite. I must have also been sassing because I distinctly remember the livid “You will not leave this table until you clear your plate” decree which really stung coming from gram. As I’ve gone on to lead a productive life, I’m pretty sure I ate the offending rice, but the “finish your food” mentality has stuck with me.
My grandma lived in Belgium during World War II and food was always scarce. I remember my mom telling me a story about a very young grandma being sent to a farm to sneak a side of bacon home on her back and being told not to deviate from the path for fear of land mines. Now, I could really be messing up that story, but the impact remained: In America, my grandma was obsessed with food.
Here’s what you do:
1. Gather all the veggies in your fridge and chop. I had 1/2 an old onion, an almost-too soft zucchini, a bag of just about done stir fry veggies (broccoli, carrots, bell pepper) and some mushrooms. Chop into chunky pieces. I lean towards bigger chunks myself. Oh yeah, don’t forget the garlic. I smashed 10+ cloves and yes, I’m serious.2. In a pot or dutch oven, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions for about a minute, then add the garlic. Saute for another minute or so.
3. Add the veggies that take longest to cook e.g., carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms. I add one or two at a time (depending on quantity) so that the whole stir fry stays hot.
4. Keep adding yummy veggies and stir often!
5. Add beans and liquids. Since I was aiming for chili, I added two cans of diced tomatoes (with juice) and two cans of beans. Next time, I’d add one more can of beans I think–pre-mashed for some added thickness. At this point, you could also go soupy and add broth.
6. Add 1/2-3/4 cup red wine and spices. I used chili powder, coriander, thyme, cayenne sauce (sriracha), salt, pepper, cilantro. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the veggies are cooked. Season to taste.
7. Garnish with cilantro, sour cream and cheese, if desired.
* Despite my dislike of food wasting, I also despise less than pristine produce or anything that may be close to expiration. I’m terribly afraid of food poisoning and will not risk it!