Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cozy Rainy Day in the Kitchen

Katie and I spent a cozy day together in the kitchen, the rain swirling in grey mists outside. Aunt Jenny and Aunt Anna recently gave us some recipes to try: a vegetarian black bean chili, jalepeno biscuits, and in a Winnie-the-Pooh birthday card for my 30th, a recipe for honey cake. Today was the perfect the day to fill our home with homecooked, soul-satisfying yummy yums.

We began with the honey cake, which was a revelation to me in the flavors it layered: honey, cinnamon, coffee (I used decaf of course, being pregnant), and orange. I could predict various combinations of those flavors working well together, but could not have imagined them harmonizing so well all at once. Our whole house smelled of honey and citrus as Katie and I sang and played.

The black bean chili may well be one of my new favorite dishes. I love black beans, for starters. There is barely any fat (a few tablespoons of good olive oil) at all in the chili. All of the flavor derives from cumin, cinnamon, and chili powder, along with seasonal orange zest and juice from two lovely ripe oranges. Some diced tomatoes, garlic, and onion round out the flavor profile. I served it with a dollop of lowfat plain yogurt on top, the coolness a welcome juxtaposition to the hot and spicy chili. Katie liked it, as well. She loves complex flavors. And I loved the aroma of orange cooking on the stove and complementing the notes of the honey cake.

As an accompaniment, we made biscuits laced with jalepeno cheese. The liquid in the biscuits is supposed to be half and half, but I had some heavy whipping cream remaining from another recent use, and so I went all for it. Flaky, golden, rich, and delicious, the biscuits were melt-away tender with just a hint of bite.

Oh how I adore good, savory, heartfelt, nourishing food. I made Bill a chicken breast to go with his dinner as he needs different proteins. But for me, the vegetarian chili---hearty, robust, healthy---is just what my body has been craving. Thank you to Aunt Jenny and Aunt Anna for sending along such delicious recipes!!!

Before heading to the market this morning, we took joy in finding all the evidence we could find of an early morning rain. Katie found wet streets, mud, water droplets on leaves, a puddle, and grey sky. We also looked at the footprints our shoes made on the driveway after being on the wet grass. Nature has so many lesson plans already built-in: I love it!

I have never suggested these carts to Katie, because I love being able to see, kiss, touch, and talk with her directly as we traverse the market and so I always put her in the front of the cart. However, Katie saw a row of these on our way into the store, and entirely of her own initiation, she asked to drive one around today. I never would have predicted that she would want to, but she loved it. Such a cart is good for multiple children, as I realized, so they might be handy in the future. :-) Difficult to manuever though, for the mommy.

The honey cake recipe is inside the birthday card from Aunt Jenny and Aunt Anna. I was showing it to Katie, and then we continued our measurements.

Well, time to get this wrapped up and to get myself ready for American Idol. Was it just me, or was the premiere really hilarious? I laughed out loud several times...
Hope all have had a beautiful day and found happiness within.