Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Spice Rack Challege: CUMIN!

After dropping the ball on July's Spice Rack Challenge (probably because I was thinking only about my upcoming vacation), I am ALL OVER this one. Why?

I love cumin. I put cumin on everything. Okay, well, not literally everything, but it is one of those spices that disappears more quickly than others from my collection. It seems as if I am always upending an empty jar of cumin over one of my little prep bowls and muttering "better add this to the list..."

My cumin of choice
The problem I face here, however, is what recipe to post when I use cumin all the time. I sprinkled some on the beets I roasted for dinner on Monday. I dusted my stir-fry with it last week. I toss it with grated sweet potatoes, I add it to my saag, I pat it onto chicken trussed up and ready for the oven.

I went with chili, my favorite chili, the chili recipe that came with the instruction/recipe booklet from my parents' first-ever Crock Pot, circa 1982. I received that Crock-Pot's successor (Crock-Pot 2) when my parents upgraded to Version 3.0, but I also have a photocopy of the Favorite Chili (that's really what it's called) from the original 1982 booklet. If I'm aiming to feed a crowd, I go for Favorite Chili every time. I make this for work lunch potlucks and drive my co-workers insane with the smells emanating from my cubicle as I keep the pot on low on my desk.

Favorite Chili (for slow cookers)

2 16-oz cans red kidney beans, drained
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes
2 lbs ground chuck, browned and drained
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in slow cooker in the order listed. Stir once, Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 5-6 hours.

As with many things, this recipe is ripe for editing and improvisation. I have used a pound of dry beans instead of canned beans. I've used both red and green bell peppers, tossed in a few minced jalapenos, splashed broth over it, added chili sauce for some extra can't really mess it up. It always ends up smelling amazing and tasting just as good. And it's got cumin.