Friday, January 6, 2012

Full of Beans

Vegetarian bean chili. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Funny how your identity can get so wrapped up in a name. I was born Lucy, named for my grandmother Lucille, and have endured every Lucy joke imaginable. “Aw, Ricky” is a standard remark when I’m introduced to new people, which is much better than lame jokes revolving around Charlie Brown. It’s taken me awhile to feel comfortable in my name; although it is a perfectly lovely name (it means “light”), it just seems to come from a different era. And I guess it did – the grandmother for whom I was named was born in the 19th century.

All this doesn’t really explain why for Halloween last year I dressed up as Lucille Ball for my daughter’s school’s Pumpkin Festival. I’m not so much into costumes, but a few years ago, gave into my daughter’s pleadings and purchased a "Lucy" costume, complete with red wig and navy and white polka dot dress. It remained in the closet for five years, until the Fabulous 50’s themed Fall Festival and the parents’ costume contest. I pulled the costume out the closet and tried it on – one baby later, and it still fit fine, miracle of miracles.

Lucy as Lucy. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
The event was a Trunk or Treat, where we decorated our minivan with garish and ghoulish decorations and gave away candy to trick or treating students. They all called me “Lucy” – people I didn’t even know calling me by my name. Imagine my surprise when I won the award for Best Parent Costume.

That was last year, and this year, I decided to give the costume a break and enter the chili cook-off instead. Trying to carve out a crowd-pleasing niche, I settled on a vegetarian chili, full of beans and spice to remind you of what chili is all about. Chili is a meat-centric dish, and it takes a lot of tricks to compensate for the missing beef. This chili has an Emeril-worthy kick in the kisser, and it’s loaded with texture and flavor from the beans.

I like my chili with a side of cornbread and a sprinkle of rat-trap cheddar. If the markets have particularly luscious-looking avocadoes, I’ll use the chili as an excuse to make my minimalist guac and spoon a dollop in the bowl of beans.

Lucy Ricardo's Full of Beans Chili

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
1 red or orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
¼ cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 cup water
½ vegetable bouillon cube
1 or 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
5 (15.5 ounce) cans kidney beans (2 dark red, 2 light red, 1 white – cannellini)

1.     1.   In a large Dutch oven, heat oil. Add onions, bell pepper, chile powder and cumin. Cook until the vegetables are soft. Stir in garlic, tomatoes, water, chile (s), salt and bouillon cube. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes.

2.    2.    Drain and rinse the canned beans and add to the chili. Let cook for another 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite chili accompaniments – sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, chopped green onion, a spoonful of my rockin’ guacamole.

Ths story is party of #LetsLunch a monthly Twitter party on a given food topic. Check out the other fabulous stories submitted this month from writers around the world:

Cathy‘s Chunky-Style Cowboy Chili at Showfood Chef
Charissa‘s Clean Out Refrigerator Night Cassoulet, A “Frenchified” Chili at Zest Bakery
Ellise‘s Chicken Tinga Chili at Cowgirl Chef
Emma‘s Dave’s Chili at Dreaming of Pots and Pans
Felicia‘s Low-Concept Vegetarian Chili at Burnt-Out Baker
Grace‘s Chinese New Year Chili at HapaMama
Karen‘s Hawaiian Chili at GeoFooding
Linda‘s Smokin’ Hot Vegan Vaquero Chili at Spicebox Travels

Pat‘s Miso Chili Con Carne y Wasabi Sour Cream at The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook

TText and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.


ATigerInTheKitchen said...

LOVE that picture and that chili looks delicious! For Halloween next year, I want to see a picture of you dressed as Lucy, re-enacting that famous grape-stomping/wine-making episode! That's my favorite...x

Felicia said...

Awesome costume, Lucy! I doubt Lucy Ricardo could have cooked up anything this spicy and interesting, though -- she probably would have set something on fire!

linda @spiceboxtravels said...

Fantastic, Lucy! I can see how you won that costume contest. Cheryl's favorite episode is mine as well; I second the request.

charissa (zest bakery) said...

I definitely am no stranger to growing up with a difficult name. I love the name Lucy, though. Glad you've finally made peace with it! :)

Thanks for sharing the recipe! I am definitely a fan of the chili with beans.

The Teacher Cooks said...

I love the addition of the adobo sauce. That smoky flavor is just wonderful.