There are two ways to look at a new recipe. First, if it looks perfect and you have all the ingredients, there is really no sense in changing unless you try it. Second, recipes can be a very good starting point to take you where you really want to be with a few modifications. Now in the case of Italian Vegetable soup I stuck pretty close to the recipe because I rarely cook vegetarian meals and fault most vegetarian meals served to me as not appealing because of a lack of flavor, texture or appearance. This meal was a winner and I’m glad I stuck to the recipe.
In the case of The Black Bean Brown Rice Chili from jenfongeats both necessity and habit forced some changes. First I liked the ingredients and presentation of the meal, but I rarely cook ham because of the size you have to purchase. Now as discussed elsewhere, I have Spam in my hurricane supplies and out of necessity, I’ll eat most anything if I’m hungry enough. So the first change was to substitute the Spam for the ham and I used 1/3 can or 4 oz and froze the rest in 4 oz. packages.
I really wasn’t sure about cumin until I read the ingredients on a prepared chili powder label and found that commercial chili powder is a blend of chili peppers, cumin and garlic. The recipe called for garlic so that was no problem and I threw a small portion of scotch bonnet in the pot.
The final change is something that simply isn’t logical. I taste tested it and it was great but it wasn’t red enough. I had won prizes in chili cook offs for vegetarian chili and the one thing I learned is if it ain’t dark red it can’t win. Since paprika is not a bold flavor, I added ½ tsp to the pot to get a redder color.
1/2 onion chopped $0.15
4 oz Spam $1.30
10 oz can of Black beans drained and washed $0.90
1/2 of a15 0z can of crushed tomatoes $0.50
1 chicken bullion cube in 12 oz water $0.20
1/4 cup brown rice $0.20
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
thin slice scotch bonnet pepper
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp paprika
This is simply an all in the pot recipe and stir before serving or whenever you feel like tasting it. The cost and calories weren’t too bad particularly when you consider there was more than enough for two meals. Total cost was under $3.50 and total calories about 800 with an incredible 560 from fat. However, that’s for two meals.
Well it was fantastic, even the Spam tasted good and I’m sure that by using vegetable broth and getting rid of the Spam this would win as a vegetarian chili in a cooking contest. I might not make this again because the fat calories in Spam are deadly, but come the revolution or another hurricane, I’ll have a tasty meal to share as a case of all the ingredients was already in my pantry.
I might point out, I survived for two weeks without a grocery store and almost six weeks without electricity so a good knowledge of revolution foods is a necessity in the Caribbean. This is a small price for me to pay while all my friends and family continue to have fun in the snow which I will never miss.