Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Attempting Chili

So Food Network has taken over most of my TV watching. I think it started when I got bored in lab and decided to watch Hell's Kitchen (the US version) on Hulu while things were stirring (which isn't on Food Network, but it involves food and that's close enough, damn it), then finding the US version of Kitchen Nightmares on Comcast On Demand, but that wasn't so much instructional from a culinary standpoint and more "Gordon Ramsay's going to yell at some more stuff, humiliate people, and make you feel better about your personal housekeeping because hey, you don't have rotting food and disgustingness everywhere, hopefully". That led, slowly, to watching reality shows about cooking that actually involve "making food taste good" as part of the show concept. I stopped short of actually using any of the programming for instruction (though Alton Brown tempted me, with his seductive, alluring approach and hairstyle). But I think it might have shaken up the part of my brain that whispers "You should cook something other than frozen pizza. It's sort of like chemistry. You could probably not screw it up too badly."

Usually, I gleefully ignore that part of my brain, rip open another flattish cardboard box, preheat to 400 (without looking at the dial, so engrained is that in my muscle memory) and resign to another night of DiGiorno (if I'm feeling ritzy). A few days ago, however, I got it in my mind to try my hand at a chili. A few notes as to my thought process here.

First, I decided on white chili. I always assumed I wouldn't like chili in my childhood (I think because I have an intensely negative reaction to the idea of kidney beans which may or may not be tied to the urban myth where you wake up in a bathtub of ice). White chili, or at least the recipe I used, uses "Great Northern Beans". They're great! It's right there in the name! That's pleasant. So, that was settled.

Secondly, for being a chemist who's used to changing the size of whatever reaction I happen to be working on (and currently working on scale-up at a process development plant), I sure have no concept of when a recipe's too large. The five (!) cans of beans should have clued me in. Now, I'm sure chili keeps for at least a day, and I did have the foresight to buy some containers so that I don't have to buy lunch tomorrow, but my word. There's so much chili.

Third, and this has nothing to do with the chili, but Wikipedia claims that DiGiorno's website makes a claim about "having been around for over ten years". Which is great, and I'm certainly no expert on the fast-paced world of frozen pizza brands, but going back ten years only gets you to Toy Story 2. Or the second Austin Powers. And given my own concerns about how quickly time is passing, I'm going to maintain that those were pretty much yesterday, and "over ten years" is not something to brag about.

As for the actual chili, it turned out pretty well. And now I own cumin and cayenne pepper, so I'm planning on doing this again. When my "endless-cans-of-beans" budget is back up.

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