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October: spiders and chili

October 12, 2010

Spiders are back in the Northwest.  They are everywhere–so much so that I walk out to the garden waving my shears in large arcs in front of me like some sort of loony farewell-wisher to a nonexistent cruise ship. 

 Tonight I forgot about their omnipresence and walked out the back door, directly into part of a large spider’s web.  This spider was about the size of a quarter–having just read Bill Bryson’s account of Australia, where pretty much every living thing can kill or at least maim you, I recognize that this is not large by arachnid standards.  But still.  I think I pulled a muscle in my flailing to get away from the web, channeling my brother’s typical response:  “GetOFFme!” 

Good thing the neighbors are gone for the long weekend.

Anyway, I came up with a new cooking challenge (like I need a new one?).  I have all these cookbooks that people have been kind enough to give to me, and I use a few (or a lot, depending) of the recipes and don’t really peruse the rest now that I have Smitten Kitchen and other food blogs.  So now, the cookbooks will be put to use.

The first actually comes from a Cooking Light magazine (I count those as cookbooks too).  It’s an excellent chili, perfect for these October nights.  You could make it carnivorous if you want, and I added chopped avocado to mine as garnish.  Everyone at work was jealous at my lunch leftovers.  And it’s easily freezable in individual portions.  The cornbread was from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, and was delicious.

Three Bean Chili


  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • ½ c. chopped carrot
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 c. frozen whole-kernel corn
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped zucchini
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon  salt
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 16 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 16 oz. can cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 6 oz. can no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
  • ¼ c. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 oz. shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • sour cream


Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in 4 cups water and next 12 ingredients (through tomato paste); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until carrot is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar and chipotle. Top with fresh cilantro, cheese, and sour cream.

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