Rewilding Chili

A quick-to-prepare hearty winter meal contributing to ecosystem sustainability.

1 medium / small butternut squash, deseeded, peeled with a potato peeler, and coarse grated.

¼ stick butter

1 large onion

6 cloves crushed and chopped garlic

Olive oil

1 can 16 oz. tomato sauce

1 can black beans, drained

Spices

Chicken (or vegetable) bullion

Oregano 

Chili Powder

Cumin Powder

In a soup pot, butter sauté squash, onion, and garlic until onion is clear. Add olive oil if more moisture is needed. 

Add bullion, tomato sauce, beans, and spices. Add water if it’s too thick. 

Heat till the desired temperature is reached. Top with grated cheese. Enjoy!

This one-dish meal is part of a more vigorous family food consumption commitment. It acknowledges the value of protecting wildlife diversity on planet Earth.

 

Environmentally Thoughtful Eating

 
 

 

Chinese White Porridge – Congee

When I saw this recipe in a New York Times article, I was editing my Chinese railroad worker novel. Congee, also known as báizhōu, or white porridge is a daily staple in China.

When railroad workers came to California, in the mid-1860s, they would have eaten it in their camps. In China, it was consumed in times of famine and is still served during festivals and religious ceremonies. It is also given to infants and to those who are ill.

For research and realistic writing, I had to try it!

At its essence, congee is a small amount of grain cooked low and slow with a lot of water.

Basic Recipe

1/2 cup rice – thoroughly rinsed

6 cups water

Cook low on a stovetop or in a crockpot for approximately 6 hours, stirring occasionally.

I started out skeptical. I could not imagine how a half cup of rice could thicken six cups of water! Every time I stirred it, I shook my head because it looked like nothing had changed. Then toward the end – voila!

What Happens During the Cooking Process

The grains burst, releasing starch. What results is a lovely soft textured, thickened mush or soup.

What You Add Determines the Flavor

Congee is like a blank art canvas waiting for colorful paint.

Common Chinese Additions; tripe, intestine, crab, fish, bamboo shoots, pickled tofu, hundred-year-old eggs, lettuce, and/or soy sauce.

Other grain options;  cornmeal, millet, barley, brown rice and sorghum
For additional variations, see Soothing Savory Porridge

You Might Also Try;

Sweet – raisins, nuts, and brown sugar
Savory – beef or chicken broth, meatballs, pork, shredded chicken, salmon patties, scrambled eggs, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, onions, chives,

 

Wikipedia Congee

Savory Porridge

This is a no shopping, no reading recipe. All it requires is rooting around on your shelves for items you already have – things that will thicken – and an approximation for the correct amount of water.

Examples of thickening grains; rice, quinoa, oats, bulger, and couscous

For the water to grain ratio, it’s about 2 to 1. Two cups of water for every cup of solids.

When I make this, I place the dry items in a pot, then eyeball the water to cover it.

Here’s what I included with this batch.

Quinoa blend. This thickening grain comprised the bulk of the mixture.

Since lentils are thicker than the quinoa, the cooking time was based on these.

If using a bouillon base, calculate the amount to coincide with the amount of water used.

Heat on medium, stirring occasionally.

Taste test for doneness.

*Tip: If the grains still need more cooking time as the water begins to evaportate – add more.

 

Kiwi Pie

Photo Credit: Shirley Dickard

Kiwifruit Pie

Begin with a pie shell.

Filling:
1 pkg. 8 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
2 tblsp. orange juice
2 tblsp. cream
3 cups kiwifruit (sliced thin)
Layer this, a little difficult, but works out okay
Put in refrigerator to cool.
Glaze – add green coloring (optional)
3 cups sliced kiwis, mash.
2 tblsp. cornstarch in a little cool water
1 cup sugar
Mash kiwis, put in kettle to heat, it will make own juice.
After cooked a little, add sugar, cook a little more, add cornstarch
mix quickly
It will thicken.
Cool
Put over pie.
Cool
Serve with whipped cream

Guest Post by Shirley Dickard, Author of Heart Wood
“We made the kiwi pie to celebrate our daughter’s January 1st birthday. It was yummy and such an unusual dessert. It wasn’t too sweet, which suited everyone after a long Christmas holiday. **I used a gram-cracker crust, which gave it sort of a key-lime pie taste.” – Shirley Dickard

Photo Credit: Shirley Dickard

 

Any Culture Shredded Chicken Soup

Prepare this meal in a crockpot.

*The meat will be most tender if ingredients are placed in the pot in the order listed below.

1 medium onion –  chopped

2 bundles fresh asparagus – chopped fine

4 chicken thighs

3 long sprigs rosemary

2 fresh bay leaves

4 cups chicken broth

1 16 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 16 oz can beans -drained (Choose any kind that fits with the flavor profile you are creating. (This recipe was made with cannellini beans.)

1 jar marinated artichoke hearts – chopped OR 2 tablespoons artichoke bruschetta


Cook between 4-5 hours on ‘low’ setting.

When cooking is complete, remove chicken & shred. Return meat to crockpot.

Remove herb sprigs and bay leaves.

Toppings

Top this soup with two or three ingredients from any world flavor profile. Click on the ‘Toppings’ link for more ideas

Samples:

Chinese: Hot Pepper sauce & tofu

Greek: Chopped kalamata olives & crumbled feta cheese.

Italian: Pesto & parmesan cheese

Mexican: Crushed tortilla chips, chopped fresh cilantro & sharp cheddar cheese

 

Stuffed Baked Apple (Individual)

Individual apple pies!

STEP ONE: Prepare Apple Stuffing

Simmer

1 bag of fresh cranberries with 

½ cup raisins

¼ cup chopped pecans (or other nuts)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

Cook until berries burst and most liquid is absorbed.

Add ¼ tsp cinnamon

And 5 crumbled gingersnap cookies & mix thoroughly (reserve enough cookies for the base of your apples)

STEP TWO: Prepare Apples

Place 5 gingersnap cookies in a baking pan.

Cut the center out of 5 apples

 

Place coreless apples on top of cookies.

STEP THREE: Stuff & Bake Apples

Take 5 tablespoons of cranberry stuffing, place in a separate bowl.

Add 2 or 3 eggs.

Mix thoroughly. Fill apple holes with stuffing.

Place a small slice of butter on top of the apple.

 

Cook at 350° for one hour

Remaining apple stuffing is a great addition to morning oatmeal or with yogurt or cottage cheese!

 

*If you tried this and liked it…AND concocted your own apple stuffing, please revisit to tell us about it.

Bacon – Flat, Crisp & Splatter-free

Spread bacon strips between layers of paper towels on a flat plate. (Don’t overlap.)

Microwave on high for 6.5minutes.

Check crispiness. If more is desired, cook at 2 minutes increments until it’s how you like it.

Hal Greene’s connection to the Wrysinski / Schmidt’s; Two of his sons married two of the sisters.


A byproduct of this cooking method is a heap of bacon fat-infused paper towels. Most composters agree animal fat should not go into the outdoor pile. Putting these paper towels in the garbage may attract dogs and urban adapted animals such as raccoon, coyote, and bear (in more remote areas). Since I’m always interested in alternatives other than entombing refuse in great twentieth-century pyramids, I encourage and welcome waste disposal recommendations in the comments section.

Cutting Winter Squash like Butter

Love squash, but challenged by peeling and chopping?

cut out squash cutting

Eliminate the ‘hard’ part by cooking squash first.

In a 350º oven, cook whole raw squash (stickers removed).

Depending on squash size, cook for 1 to 1.5 hours.

When it starts to smell …like squash, check for doneness.

Let cooked squash cool to room temperature before handling.

NOW it’s easy to cut and seed!

 

Greek Style Shepherd’s Pie – Lactose & Wheat Free

Meat:

Ground meat – beef & pork
1 – 2 onions, chopped
Salt & pepper
Oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, garlic powder, dash of red wine vinegar, several dashes liquid aminos (soy sauce), and 2-3 tblsp. sugar.
1 can tomato sauce
1-2 cans tomato paste
Olive oil

Over medium heat, add several tablespoons of olive to a pan. Add onions & meat, saute until done. Add spices & tomato ingredients until flavored and thickened to your taste.

Veg:

Steam at least two bunches asparagus. Remove from heat as soon as it turns bright green.

*Better next time note: cut asparagus into 1 1/2 inch sections before beginning to layer your dish.

Boil 2  – 3 lbs. of potatoes till tender. (Peel before boiling, or squeeze skin off after they are cooked and cooled). Slice, lengthwise, 1/2 of the cooked potatoes.
For the other half, use 1/4 cup chicken broth and nutmilk to mash to the desired consistency.
Add salt, garlic powder and nutmeg to taste.

Zucchini:

Slice thin, lengthwise. No precooking required.
*Note: while baking the zucchini will create a liquid. This can be soaked up, like gravy, with the mashed potatoes while eating, OR potatoes can line the bottom of the pan in order to soak up the liquid.

Pan Layering:

Coat bottom of oven safe baking dish with olive oil. Add the juice of one fresh lemon and 2-3 drops of liquid smoke. Use a fork to mix and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Add asparagus (or potatoes as noted above), then a layer of zucchini slices, meat mixture, another layer of potatoes, and zucchini slices. Top with mashed potatoes.

*Note: Dollop mashed potatoes across the surface, use moistened fingers to spread.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove covering for last 15 minutes.

 

Twirled Asparagus – Meat, Veg & Bread

 

Bacon lovers beware!

The bread strips on these twisty morsels soak up the fat making them filling and

2 bunches fresh asparagus, tough ends cut off

3 full packs of bacon (12 oz ea) – sliced lengthwise, cutting off the fatty side

1 pkg puff pastry (14 oz) – cut into 1/4 inch strips (use a floured pizza wheel)

 

 

 

 

 

Preparation:

Slice bacon.
Slice pastry.
Holding bacon & pastry strips together, twirl around asparagus.

Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Festive looking, these meat, veg & bread twirls are good warm or at room temperature.

They can be served as appetizers or as part of a meal.

 

Here’s another way to prepare and cook them.