Friday, February 3, 2012

Making It Up As We Go

I wish that life came with a manual.

A really precise manual, spanning tens of volumes like an Encyclopedia set.

It would also be cool if life came with a unicorn, but I digress... Because if life came with a manual, dear readers, then we would have something concrete to spin off from, or twist to make it uniquely ours. Instead we trundle along, mostly following in familiar footsteps, shying away from the things we were told to be scared of, or sticking to the straight and narrow after a near-miss when we did try to change course.

Sticking to the known is comfortable. It can also be boring.

I took a big step off course when I decided to write for publication, then a larger step out of my comfort zone when I started to see some success. And now, while I'm not exactly at ease with publishing, I don't panic as I bob about in its peculiar gravity. I'm trying on a new genre, dipping the toes of my pen in to see if we might be a match. It's exciting, stretching parts of my skillset and requiring that I set aside others.

In the spirit of stretching, I'm giving you a recipe that practically begs to be adapted. It's a slow-cooker recipe, which in my mind makes it difficult to screw up. It's also delicious and feeds eight to ten.

Mid-post P.S. Those are pickled jalapenos peeking out of the corn muffins. They're like spicy gold, I tell you.

Two Bean Chicken Chili

1 T. vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 t. dried savory
1/2 t. coarsely ground black pepper
zest of 1 lime
1 T. ground cumin
2 T. fine cornmeal
1 C. chicken stock
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice
2 lbs chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 14-oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 C. frozen, sliced green beans
1 T. chili powder
2 T. lime juice
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 4.5-oz can mild green chiles
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)

  • In a skillet over medium heat, warm oil. Add onions and celery. Stir and cook until onion is translucent. Add garlic, savory, pepper, lime zest and cumin. Stir for 1 minute. Add cornmeal and toss to coat vegetables. Add chicken stock and cook, stirring, until boils - about 1 minute. Add tomatoes (with juice), return to boil, then transfer into slow cooker.
  • Add chicken, both beans, and stir well. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Chicken should be cooked and chili should be bubbling.
  • Add chili powder, lime juice, and all chosen peppers. Stir. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until bell peppers become tender.

This is a great recipe with which to experiment. Add your favorites. Excellent topped with sour cream and cilantro.


  1. I love the unicorn. Can I have one too? I mean, with the "LIFE" manual. I could use one. :) Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Looks delish...and perfect for wintry weather (we finally had some--snow on the ground yesterday).