The Nostalgia is palpable in the house tonight. The fire was crackling, adding cozy notes to the Christmas music playing in the background. Songs that have been retired for a year danced through the room. The familiar notes of them pulling a beautiful ache of sentiment from my heart. We assembled the Christmas tree and the lights were switched on. Multi colored, radiant dots, climbing up the tree. They twinkle as you walk around the tree. One by one, we pulled out the ornaments. Picking out our favorite ones and putting them on the tree, in a half an hour the tree was completely dressed for the season. Outside, through the dark of the night, the snow sparkled, kissed by the light coming from the living room window. I love Christmas time. This year, I am way behind on preparations. But that just means that I get to spend some time completely immersed in the Christmas buzz of town. To the right is a picture of our christmas tree this year. Yes, I like food enough to have an entirely food ornament themed tree.
Today, I got done with all of my “must do” projects in time to cook. The heat of the stove was heavenly. I made one of my favorite things, black bean chili. I’ve become obsessed lately with homemade beans. I soak them right before going to bed and leave them to soak overnight, boiling them to perfection in the morning. Chili warms your soul in the wintertime. Because of this, I want you to have the recipe. It took me 4 years to perfect it. Now, it is officially perfected. So consider it my early December gift to you.
Teal’s Unbeatable Vegan Black Bean Chili
Tbsp. whole cumin seeds
1 onion, minced
1 large red bell pepper (chopped)
1 green bell pepper (chopped)
9 garlic cloves (crushed or diced)
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp. olive oil ¼ tsp. cayenne
1 Tbsp. Salt
6 cups of cooked black beans (or mix of beans if prefer)
2 cups of water
1 lb. tomato marinara sauce or crushed tomatoes
1tsp. dry oregano
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Opt. Cooked brown rice (for under the chili) and vegan cheddar cheese for garnish.
Toast the cumin in a large pot over medium heat for about three minutes, tossing often until they are fragrant and seem dry. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, chili powder, cayenne, salt and oil. Cover with a lid, stirring often until veggies are getting tender, about ten minutes. Stir in the beans, water, marinara or crushed tomatoes, oregano, lemon juice and corn. Bring to a boil, reduce hear to simmer and cook about 35 minutes. Remove from heat when it seems done. Serve over brown rice, topped with vegan cheddar. This is an A+ recipe. You will love it.
Food is the one unanimous language that we speak. It unites us instead of divides us. I am looking forward to the day that we can all live healthy lives without taking our energy from other living things. I love the idea of life that does not need death to sustain it. Until that point, I will appreciate food and what food does for people. I wish I could feed everyone. It is my favorite way to love other people. That’s another reason why I love the Christmas season; everyone uses food to show love to one another. My neighbors are finally used to it now. The first year I moved in, I cooked Christmas rum cakes and candies for everyone on my street and they looked at me when I was standing on their porch with the goodies like I was trying to poison them.
One year ago today, My husband flew here from London to be with me. We have not spent one day apart since then. The thought of it makes me feel sentimental. I remember walking towards him across the parking lot in the airport, having only a hope for what was to come. I could not have guessed then that this is where we would be today. I did a good thing last year, risking it all for the promise of love. Regardless of how hard relationships can be at times, I would advise people to take risks in the name of love and never regret it. No matter what a relationship turns into, love is never a bad idea. And you never know, you might just do something thinking it might be a mistake, and have it turn out to be the best decision of your life. After you’ve crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s, sometimes life is just about winging it and hoping for the best. When all is said and done, none of us came to this life with the intention of living carefully. So many people make nothing spectacular of their lives, just so they can arrive at death, safely. I decided long ago that kind of life was not for me. That was also a good decision. A decision that has led to more scrapes and bruises, but also more meaning and wonder. And as a result I have learned that a person who doesn’t risk anything, risks everything.