Tuesday, January 15, 2013

You got Chili in my Cornbread...

So it is Tuesday - one of the days that the schedule in our house requires that dinner be ready to go at 4pm - or else chaos reigns supreme after all the afternoon activities are wrapped up.  I wish I could say that I am always on top of things and my kids never eat dinner after 7pm, but alas, that is not always the case. Today I am determined that our life will follow the routine - for if it is so, life is so much easier.

When I am in the kitchen these days I find myself imagining what to write about next.  Today, I was in the midst of preparing a super simple, from a can, sort of dinner that often gets bumped into the Tuesday lineup.  I was thinking about the recipe and thinking that no way would this ever make it to the written page.  It's too easy.  It's too low brow.  It reeks of suburbia.  It involves canned chili.

Whole Food's One Pot Chili Casserole
The Whole Foods recipe app has led me to some spectacular recipes.  Some are spectacularly time consuming but amazingly delicious and nutritious.  Some - like their One Pot Chili Casserole - are a God send on Tuesdays.  The ingredients for this casserole are always in my cupboard.  Occasionally I'll have store bought cornbread on hand, but more often than not I just keep some cornbread mix around or make it from scratch using cornmeal.

The family loves it.  I love making it.  It's easy, it reheats well and it often finds it's way into a thermos the next day - so it has the double bonus of being great for lunches too.

So I am in my kitchen thinking about cornbread, for no way am I going to risk the ridicule of sharing this recipe, and wondering if there is anything in my experience with making cornbread that could be of value to a wider audience.  I couldn't really imagine that I - a girl raised in farm country in the northern mid-west, a grandchild of German immigrants - could add anything to a discussion of the great southern tradition that is cornbread.  My great hint would be that if using a Jiffy mix, add a can of corn for moisture and a can of chili's for spice.  I imagine there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of recipes out there like that.

Suddenly - in the midst of my musing I realize that I am dumping chili from a can into my cornbread.  I managed to halt the flow at half a can.

Chli in my Cornbread!

So, here I am.  Writing a post about a recipe that I didn't think would even merit a mention wondering how this mistake is going to turn out.

This is cooking.  This is what I love about cooking.  This is why the kitchen is so much better than a laboratory - you can eat your mistakes.  And sometimes the mistakes are better than the original.

I have been told that chemists are usually exceptionally good cooks.  There are many similarities in their professions.  They both involve measuring, mixing, noting and experimenting   The skills you pick up in the lab complement your work in the kitchen, and vice versa.  Mistakes are made in both realms - and sometimes the mistakes can be eureka moments of discovery.

Cornbread in my Chili!

We'll have to wait until dinner time to see - is it "Eureka" or "Yuck" for my family today!

By the way - my secret when I prepare this recipe (or any chili recipe)is to add a can of cooked pumpkin or sweet potato.  It adds a sweetness that the kids love and pumps up the Vitamin A content.