There’s a box sitting on my driveway. It’s a big, heavy box and it arrived this morning. I know what’s inside, but I’m still having a difficult time restraining myself from tearing off the wrapping. There are only a couple of hours to go now before our builders will be lifting it into the kitchen …
It’s 3 pm on January 20th, which means it’s Cooker Day! Although there will be a couple of days or so before the electricians return to work their magic, I’m excited about seeing my new Rangemaster Induction cooker for the first time. I’m hoping that we will soon become very good friends.
I don’t want to give the impression that I’ve fallen out with my old cooker, however. It has served me faithfully throughout my tentative steps into the culinary world. It was there at the beginning, nearly four years ago, when I was first faced with the daunting prospect of taking over cooking the evening meal from my husband. It has reliably tilted its oven shelves so that my cakes sport a characteristic slope, and I’ve come to recognise its quirky hot spots. Yes, I am truly grateful to my old cooker for all that it’s taught me. It’s just that … well … it’s time to say goodbye now.
Last night, in thanks for our old cooker, I made again one of the first ever meals I prepared for my husband. Although he may not remember this, it was around the time of a Valentine’s Day many years ago. I was a complete, total novice at cooking and I chose what appeared to be a tasty recipe from our Good Housekeeping recipe book. It was originally a veggie recipe, but I converted it into a husband-friendly, carnivorous one by simply substituting minced beef for the diced aubergines, courgettes and peppers.
Here it is, cooking for the last time on our trusty, Glen Belling cooker.
The recipe was a hit and I’ve made it many times since. It’s lovely in both its meat and vegetable incarnations (as my veggie Mum will attest).
Before I stumbled upon this recipe, I have to confess that I had never really enjoyed chilli con carne. I don’t especially relish the prospect of crying over my food, and every previous chilli I’d tasted had left me snivelling into my handkerchief. The mix of cinnamon, coriander and lemon juice in this recipe gives the chilli a depth of aromatic flavours that goes well beyond the usual ‘can-you-stand-the-heat’ attitude with which I’d formerly associated the dish.
And so, as our builders struggle to carry my solid Toledo 900 up the kitchen steps and through the doorway, please raise a glass with me today as we welcome the new chapters in our lives and bid farewell to the old.
Chilli con carne (adapted from Good Housekeeping)
235g can red kidney beans
235g can black-eye beans (or you can use dried beans, but you’ll need to soak them etc)
salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 tsp dried crushed chillies
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp mild paprika
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 lb steak mince/ground beef
15oz can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp lemon juice
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
Heat half the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, chillies and half of the garlic. Cook and stir for 10mins until the onion is softened.
Add the paprika, tomato paste, cumin seeds, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Keep stirring.
Stir in the mince and beans. Cook for 5 mins, then add the tomatoes and about 1/4 pint of water. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for about an hour.
Meanwhile, whisk together the rest of the olive oil, lemon juice, remaining garlic and coriander. Set aside to infuse.
Before serving, stir the coriander mixture into the cooked chilli and check the seasoning.