It wasn’t intentional, the vanilla part.
My family is in a state of stress and upheaval this week; one sister sick and mothering 2 toddlers while her husband writes his medical exams today, my other sister always busy as a single mum of 3 and full time teacher with extra heaped on her plate right now, and my parents have decided to move, which requires a mass exodus of the contents of their house as well as assorted repairs in preparation to list it.
I decided that everyones’ lives could be made easier by the arrival of dinner on their doorstep, and I needed to spend some time with W. I pulled some ground bison out of the freezer and we made a big pot of chili.
As you have likely witnessed, Willem loves to cook. He pulls up his stool and helps me chop, and leans in to stir the pot. This time, while I was at the sink ridding my hands of their garlic smell (rub your fingers over the bowl of a stainless steel spoon while running it under cool water), W pulled a 1L jug of vanilla (yes, I sometimes use the artificial stuff; I do a lot of experimenting and need to ration my Madagascar vanilla bean paste and the fancy bottles my friends bring back from Mexico. Also, sometimes it just doesn’t matter that much) out of the cupboard and upended the whole thing into the pot. A full jug of vanilla.
Fortunately, we were still at the browning the onions and bison stage, so I dumped the lot into a colander, rinsed it, and put it back on the stove to finish cooking. My damage control seems to have worked, save for a lingering hint of vanilla on the finish.
Chili is easy; I never measure the stuff that goes in. First, brown a pound or so of ground bison (far leaner than beef, with more protein and half the fat) and a chopped onion in a drizzle of canola oil until the bison is no longer pink and the onion is soft. Throw in a few crushed cloves of garlic for a minute.
Dump in a large can of diced, stewed or plum tomatoes, a drained can of kidney beans, a can of brown beans in tomato sauce, a tin of tomato paste, a few glugs of salsa, a couple heaping spoonfuls of chili powder and one of cumin. Salt and pepper, maybe a small spoonful of cocoa or pinch of instant coffee, to add color and depth. I think that was it. Simmer for a couple hours; it’s always better the next day.
The quinoa cookies were a test for an article on camping food I’ve been working on for Alberta Food for Thought magazine, and they turned out quite wonderfully, actually. I have a few gluten-free friends who might be thrilled with them. Quinoa flour (available in bulk at Community Natural Foods) is grittier than wheat, rice or oat flours, but bakes up into a nicely crunchy cookie that is higher in protein than other grainy cookies. Expect them, obviously, to taste like quinoa.
Chocolate Chunk Quinoa Cookies
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups quinoa flour
1 cup oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2-1 cup chocolate chunks or chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1/4 cup dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots
Preheat oven to 325°F.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla and until smooth. In a medium bowl, stir together the quinoa flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and stir by hand until almost combined; add the chocolate, nuts and dried fruit and stir just until blended.
Roll the mixture into balls a bit larger than a walnut, and place on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Flatten each a little with your hand. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until barely golden around the edges, and set. Let cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool – they tend to be crumbly while still warm, but firm up as they cool.
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies.
Per cookie: 190 calories, 6.5 g fat (3.4 g saturated fat, 1.7 g monounsaturated fat, 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat), 29.8 g carbohydrates, 21.6 mg cholesterol, 3.3 g protein, 2.4 g fiber. 31% calories from fat