Saturday, February 27, 2010

I do believe in fairies! I do! I do! Or chili. One or the other, really.

It's been an exciting few days here... in that it really hasn't, and things go on as normal, which is just fine with me! We are the new favored hub for blackbirds. I know I've talked about them a few times on here, but they're basically a constant reality of my life now. I wake up to their cacophony in the mornings, I thank heaven when they finally go quiet at night. I am nervous when I walk to the mailbox. That sort of thing.

I'm trying to get out of the house more when I'm not at work, and my first attempt at this particular experiment was meeting my new friend Stephanie for coffee on SIUC's campus the other day. I haven't really been in campus for anything more than a very terse, immediate reason since I graduated, so that was kind of fun to see how very little changes in 8 or so months.

The coffeeshop in the library still doesn't process debti/credit effectively.

I need to finish up my taxes, which of course are kind of confusing for me, but we've decided since we have so little in assets/random stuff we're going to try and do our own through Turbo Tax instead of paying big bucks to a company to do them.

See, my life is exciting. It's just a party all the time, huh?

I am continuing my experiment with leaving the house more often today, as I went out to browse Barnes & Noble with Jason and pet the No-Kill Shelter's puppies at Petco. Next week I'm meeting my friend Leo for dinner at a little place called Global Gourmet that does kind of interesting food. I've been there before and liked it, so I am hopeful/enthusiastic.

Finally finished that painting. I know I had posted it as finished, but I hadn't painted around the edges of the wood to make it look more professional, and I finally finished that. Now once we get some brackets on it, it will be ready for hanging. I have now had... four relatives and three friends of mine ask when I am going to make something for them, which is kind of gratifying, heh.

Two days ago I made delicious, delicious chili. It was actually one of the best takes on chili I have yet done. I am writing the recipe up here because whenever I talk about my delicious foods, people ask me for recipes and I always forget...

As a warning, this makes a LOT of soup. Use your big soup pot. We tend to make soup that the two of us can eat at least one bowl a day for two or three days.

2 lbs lean ground beef (I specifically buy lean)
1 medium/large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 large, long carrots, chopped
1 cup corn, drained (if you have room, one whole can is also fine)
1 can chili beans (drain only if you don't like any spiciness)
1 can tomatoes, diced (do not drain)
1 tblsp hot sauce
1/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 cup Sofrito (sometimes available in the Hispanic foods aisle, but we buy ours from an international food store. This is also really easy to make if you google recipes, it's just a tomato/garlic/cilantro/onion kind of sauce thing)
1 32 oz. package beef broth (chicken broth would also be delicious, and lighter in flavor, but I think beef goes better with the Worcestershire)
Chili powder, to taste
Cumin, to taste
1 tblsp bay leaves/oregano (either is fine) If you have whole bay leaves, just add one.
Salt and pepper, obviously
Lime juice ( I used a couple of tablespoons, just add to taste, it just freshens it a bit)
3 small cloves or 1 large clove garlic
Cilantro, chopped
Sour cream (optional)
Cheese (optional)

To make the chili
Circle the cooking pot roughly once or twice with olive oil to get a tablespoon or two down and start heating it up. While heating, chop the onion.  Toss onion bits into the pot and cook until they are transparent. Add the 2 lbs of beef.

While the beef is browning, pour your can of tomatoes into a bowl and add the Worcestershire sauce, Hot Sauce, and Sofrito. Stir together until thoroughly mixed. I actually put less hot sauce in the recipe up there than I used, because I love hot sauce. If you can get hot sauce that's not spicy but still has the flavor, it's more about the flavor than anything else. Place to the side for now.

When beef is browned, drain. Put back into the pot to keep cooking and add roughly 1/4 cup of your beef broth to aid the process, along with adding a little bit of salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook for a minute or so, then add about half of the amount of chili powder and cumin you think you'll need. Cook until you feel like adding more (seriously, that's how I do this).

Add carrots and celery, cook for a couple of minutes or so, then add the corn and chili beans. If you drained the chili beans, add a touch more beef broth at this time.

Once you're satisfied with this, add the tomato mixture (you could also add tomato paste to the mixture if you like your chili very thick) and cook until it is thickened and bubbly. Add the lime juice, stir, then add the rest of the chili powder and cumin. Add bay leaves/oregano. Pour in the rest of the beef broth. If you don't feel you have enough liquid, just add water at that point, 32 oz of broth is more than enough to get a good rich flavor/texture combination.

Bring a boil, stir, than cover and simmer for at least half an hour or until a taste test tells you that all the flavors have mixed. This soup actually gets better the longer it melds, so yay!

Serve with cheese and sour cream, if you like. Definitely add the chopped cilantro on top, it adds a whole other dimension to the flavor of the soup. We have also had a couple of tortilla chips crumbled up into it or just a flour tortilla torn into strips for mopping up the last of the liquid at the end. This is definitely a soup you don't want to waste.

This is why you don't want to waste the liquid.

In other news, I turn 24 next Saturday on March 6th and am celebrating in the most adult way possible: I am having a slumber party.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Today, I took a walk with Jason, which was lovely as it was quite sunny at the time, though it's starting to look like rain and I'm pretty sure a storm is on the way... oh yay, let us celebrate with joy the coming of spring, heh.

In any case, I finished a painting! Yay.

Acrylic on wood
2' by 11"

Thursday, February 11, 2010


The blackbirds are in the yard
they're loud today; this offbeat chorus
a couple hundred of them and
not a single one knows any of the words

As if sound alone could send off the snow and cold
Settling into their hollow bones
During the day they're begging desperately
for the weak-willed warmth of the sun to stay

Sometimes they fly, at some small startling sound
Fleeing their murdering suspicions
Bare tree bones provide no real protection but
at least it counts as higher ground

The chill sunset pulls all the heat out of me
I never had much to start
There's a drumbeat of wings at my back as I walk
I remind myself there is still a coming spring

Perhaps to make it up to us
To atone for early darkness, for ice and uncertainty
The stars tonight are so painfully clear
I can almost hear them sing

The birds have gone silent in the reaching trees
Straining to hear, we are absolutely still
Nights like these there's a whisper of God
With stars, perfect photos of a million years ago

Nights like these
I hear the whisper of God.

"I can't go outside." "Why?" "There are BIRDS out there."

For the last couple of days, my neighborhood has become home to all the blackbirds who ever existed. They live by the hundreds in the grass nearby, pecking for food. They perch in the trees. I step outside, innocently wanting to go get the mail, and look up to find them watching me from the trees.

This is getting seriously kind of weird.