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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lentil Chili

Well, that’s what it sounds like if you listen to the news right now. The vast majority of Connecticut schools had cancelled classes before a single flake of snow fell. Libraries, community centers and childcare centers, all closed. Is everyone being overnervous, or am I just hard to impress? The weather channel suggests that we will get between 18 to 24 inches of snow. Is that a lot? Nah.

I can count the number of snow days I experienced as a child on one hand. This is not because I lived in sunny Southern Florida or tropical Hawaii. I grew up in the northtowns of Buffalo, NY. Snow capital of the United States! In reality, Buffalo ranks ninth among cities over 50,000. There is a town in New Hampshire that averages over 200 inches of snow per year, Buffalo averages only 93. Anyways. You’re thinking, “All that snow, now snow days?” There are reasons that all the Western New York children are constantly disappointed.

Problem #1 – Snow Plows! The Atlanta airport has one snow plow. The driver most likely learned how to plow in Buffalo. Every year there is a plowing convention held in Buffalo, where drivers learn the fine art of snow plowing. This means that the snow plow drivers in Buffalo are good at what they do, much to the chagrin of schoolchildren everywhere.

Problem #2 – Winter is long in Buffalo. Some years, snow starts falling in October and will keep coming until long into spring. There is the occasional blizzard, the ones that make the national news, but these are rare and usually only happen when Lake Erie is unfrozen. So 93 inches of snow, spread out over 5 months equals lots of snow, a little at a time.

So our 18 to 24 inches of snow might keep me from heading to work, maybe. My boots only go up to my knees, and I don’t own any snow pants (I recently destroyed a pair while tubing). Just in case the grocery stores are wimps, I decided to prepare myself a big pot of lentil chili to last me through the onslaught of snow. I’m going to enjoy my piles of snow while eating bowls of chili, knowing that if I was still in Buffalo, I would definitely be at work.

Health tip?  Eat the rainbow!  Don't eat the snow.

Lentil Chili
This was originally a slow cooker recipe, but I only had an hour.  If you would like to make this in a slow cooker, use the following instructions.  Add everything to your slow cooker, stir to combine.  Heat on low for 6 to 8 hours (I liked it at 6h45m). 

1 medium yellow onion (diced)
2 ribs of celery (diced)
2 medium carrots (diced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded and chopped)
1 small red pepper (seeded and chopped)
1 16 oz (454g ) bag of brown lentils (rinsed)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground mustard
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
Salt to taste

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large stockpot to medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add brown sugar and cook 2 more minutes. Add peppers and cook for 3 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and lower heat to allow for a gentle simmer. Allow chili to simmer for 30 minutes. Serves 6 dinner portions.
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