All I want to do is eat pizza and watch the DNC. I first wrote the preceding sentence as watch pizza and eat the DNC, evidence of my near voracious level of excitement for the past three days of political fanfare. After months and weeks of tragedy, a small respite in the news cycle, at least. A celebration of hope. I haven’t ever before felt so energized to start conversations, to ask uncomfortable questions, and, yes, to listen to politicians politic in my general direction. There’s an urgency to it all that has filled me with both dread and excitement.
To go with your DNC-related dread and excitement (or your general weekend festivities), I bring you the cilantro pesto pizza with garlicky roasted tomatoes, corn, and burrata. It’s a cut (due to length, not flavor) from the cilantro chapter of the Kale & Caramel cookbook, which will be organized by herb and flower (and in print exactly nine months and two days from now!). I think we can live with the cut, especially if it means we get to make the pizza imminently.
But back to the DNC. I’ve loved every moment of the live stream, loved being in the safety and joy of Twitter having a #DemsInPhilly hastag-gasm, loved dropping in via Periscope.
Hello from New York! It’s a balmy 80º at 8 am, and I’m already dreading this afternoon’s sweatfest. It went from near-winter to dead-of-summer overnight here, and I’ve arrived just in time for the relentless heat. Initially I’d planned to write to you from the plane ride over, but instead I became unduly engrossed in a House of Cards bingefest—a show I’ve resisted since its beginning. Five hours of episodes later, I emerged from a power-hungry tv intoxication into a stunningly beautiful sunset landing at JFK.
I used to spend weeks at a time in New York while I was in college—Grand Central Station was just an hour and a half, $11 metro ride in from New Haven. We’d come in to see a show at BAM (the Brooklyn Academy of Music), or to go to an exhibit, or simply to remind ourselves there was a dusty, grimy, humanity-stricken world beyond Yale.
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with New York—my friend Ben still makes fun of me for emphatically pouting, “This city is antithetical to my being,” as we sat in traffic one brutally hot Indian Summer in the early aughts.
1 Onion, chopped (can be purchased pre-sliced in most grocery stores)
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can of corn, drained
1 can of tomato sauce or tomato paste
1 12oz can or bottle of beer
2 cans diced tomatos with green chiles (or one can green chiles separately)
1 package taco seasoning
3 chicken breasts
Shredded cheese (optional)
Sour Cream (optional)
Crushed Tortilla Strips (optional)
Pour everything into your crock pot, placing the chicken breasts at the top. Cook on low heat, covered, for 5 hours. Remove the chicken breasts and allow them to cool. Shred them with a fork and return them to the crock pot, stirring in. Cook 2 more hours. Garnish with cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips.
As written, the recipe gives you a rich, satisfying chili with a heavy malt taste. It’s also super easy to modify!
You can adjust the spice by using mild or hot taco or chili seasoning. (McCormick sells them in little premeasured packages, so easy.) Or, add a few shakes of hot sauce.
Any beans will work! Don’t be afraid to mix and match. White beans? Cannellini beans? Whatever you’ve got, just toss it in!
The beer will cook off, leaving behind taste but no alcohol. Gluten free or beerphobic? Substitute 12 oz of your favorite broth. (Also, if GF, make sure your tortilla chips are corn with no cross-contamination.)
If you’re adventurous, have fun experimenting. A lighter beer will be lighter and more hopsy, while a dark beer will be very heavy and malt-flavored. Or just use up whatever’s sitting in the back of the fridge…
Speaking of leftovers, if you have stale tortilla chips, this is a great way to use them up.
Vegetarian/Vegan, substitute ½ a cup of rice for the chicken and cook for 7 hours straight. This will give you a thicker, heartier soup.
Experiment with the amount of liquid! More liquid = taco soup, less liquid = chilli.
Also fantastic garnished with a spoonful of red or green salsa, or fresh cilantro. The truly ambitious can make a cilantro pesto for a garnish.
With sour cream but no cheese, this comes in at roughly 215 calories per serving.
Dinner with my older brother’s family. (Jedi training.)
It’s not for the quick tempered. There’s always a lot of chaos and shouting. My 3 nephews like to be loud as they vie for their mother’s attention. That’s another story that I won’t drone on about here, but is a good bit of information to consider.
My brother and his wife have been making an effort to eat meatless 4 days a week. It’s a step in the right direction for them. One of the twins is about 15lbs overweight, the other is type 1 diabetic. The change of diet will be good for them all. He had a new recipe that he was ready to showcase and invited the family’s token vegan over. That’s me. It was delicious. Some fried eggplant dish with loads of Thai basil and cilantro pesto-ish sauce. Outstanding in every sense.
Of course, the fat twin cried that he couldn’t eat because he didn’t like it without tasting it. This kid will sneak snack food at every chance. Everyone else was enjoying but he wanted a cheese sandwich and potato chips. Two this that he was sure he could get away with eating. His mother started to cave. I decided to intervene or interfere. Told him to taste the sauce. If he didn’t like it I would get up and make him a sandwich. He liked it. Problem solved.
After we all finished eating, I went into the garden with the twins. Their brother went inside to watch football. These two boys are so different from each other and are extremely good when their mother isn’t present. They do like to talk over one another so I decided to see if I couldn’t lead them through an easy mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation. I avoid any religious specifics with any child in the family other than my own daughter. The level of amazement I felt as they both sat there and silently listened to me was through the heavens. Taking their deep breaths and holding still is not something I expect out of 9 year olds.
We finished up in the garden as my brother switched into some running gear. Took our sweet time running through his neighborhood, down to the park, along the creekside, past the old town, then we spun around and did it all in reverse. He asked about what we did in the garden. Explained it to him. He was more surprised by the twins behavior than I was. He’s aware of our differences in opinion but took no issue in it.
We returned to his house and were standing in the drive talking when my sister-in-law came out to ask about what was said to the boys. I told her about it. She said that she figured it was something like that but the twins had said, “Uncle Dan is teaching us how to be Jedi knights.” Whatever it takes to get them on the right path, right? I know that I never said anything about Jedi. Now the boys want me to come over every night to teach them. After much discussion with their parent, I will be leading them through meditation on either evening of the weekend. Hoping that the adults will take to it as well.
This hearty, warming and deeply flavorful lentil stew is a great way to use up frozen tomatoes, or blemished overripe ones that have been sitting on your counter too long. And since it’s clean-out-the-freezer time of year, I’ve been scrambling to use up a whole assortment of random things from the freezer lately to make space for the bounty that this new growing season is about to bring. There’s oh, only about a gazillion jars of pestos (garlic scape, basil, cilantro pesto, you name it we have it), bags of salsa verde, tubs of rhubarb sauce… But the most space-consuming of all are the giant ziplock bags filled with tomatoes that we hurriedly shoved in there last fall.