Productive Procrastination

I'll Do That Later - 3C Undeclared
Posted on: September 23, 2017

Welcome to Productive Procrastination with your host “I’ll Do That Later”. One of the things I was most scared for when I went off to co-op in Ottawa out of first year was cooking for myself. I had a very cushy meal plan at St. Jerome’s and I had almost no experience cooking anything but pasta, eggs and baked goods. What on earth was I going to make myself??
It was after I cooked myself chili for the first time that I realized not only is cooking delicious and satisfying, it’s addicting and … a great way to procrastinate! Pretty soon, I began to get inspired. At work I would read food blogs and find new creative things to cook. At home, I started to grow my spice cabinet and make things that I’d only ever made from frozen. Who knew meatballs don’t just come from IKEA’s food section?
So, when I came back to school, I started to use cooking as a creative way to… misuse my time. This series will feature some things that I just love to make and maybe you will too! Today’s first episode is about my first foray into the wilds of the kitchen: chili. Sorry vegetarians, this is meat-based, but beans could be swapped for beef at any point in the recipe or just life in general.
First things first you want to start with your ingredients. You are literally going to cook the crap out of your ingredients so these absolutely can be anything hiding in the back of your fridge or freezer or out of dented cans in your cupboard. Of course buying fresh ingredients is much more time-consuming, and if you really want to commit and be absolutely sure all your ingredients are the best they can be, hit up the farm. Meet the cow, pick the veggies, and breathe in that fresh farm air. Alternatively, there are some ace places to buy everything you need for this recipe in the Waterloo area. There’s Dutchie’s, which I recently discovered has amazing deals and it’s mostly all Ontario-grown, and of course St. Jacob’s is always a good time and has all of the fresh foods.
What you need (but not necessarily):
Ground beef, ½ an onion, 1 pepper, some garlic, 2 cans of beans, large can diced tomatoes, chili powder, frozen peas or canned peas or really any veg you want, salt, pepper, and oil.
You may have noticed this list is not especially explicit. Chili is one of those fantastic foods that you can put almost anything in, in whatever proportions you want, and it will taste fantastic.
Chopping Block
Alright, this is where much of your time will be spent on Productive Procrastination. First you want to chop the onion and pepper into small chunks, and then mince the garlic. Safety goggles are recommended for this dangerous onion task. Alternatively, running your hands under cold water works to stop you from tearing up. The water, however, can do nothing to help you recover from the crushing grief of an upcoming assignment; on the bright side, crushing the garlic with the side of your knife makes it easier to peel and chop. It also releases that garlic aroma into the air which will make you feel like a legit chef but makes your hands stick to the knife. As you struggle to extricate your fingers from the sharp blade, know at least you are not struggling to extricate yourself from a calculus problem.
Let’s Get Cooking @ the stove.
This is the fun part, time to turn on the heating element and burn away the bad memories of tomorrow’s assignment due date. Since beef takes a while to brown, you should really have started this before the chopping, but we’re eliminating efficiency from this process so just go right ahead and ignore this part until you’re all ready to start frying up your veg and then realize what a silly and time-consuming mistake you made, just like taking engineering.
I like to brown the beef with water because I’m cheap, you can also brown with oil if you’re super bougie. When that’s done and you’re feeling this process is less fun than it was when you started half an hour ago, it’s time to put the onion into the pot with some oil, or better yet butter! Garlic actually cooks faster than onion, so let that onion get a little transparent before throwing in the pepper and garlic. This is going to smell fantastic, and you could just stop here, eat the mess at the bottom of your big pot and call it a day. But you’ll also likely find it makes you feel unsatisfied with your dinner and perhaps slightly sick.
At last it’s time to add everything else. No order required, just throw it all in. Obviously you need to remove the food from the cans; they tend to explode under pressure. Also you’ll likely want to rinse those beans and chickpeas before you put them in, but perhaps you like that strange bean sludge that comes in the can. My recommendation for chili powder is the more the better, make that pot as fire as the mixtape you always joke about but will never make. Honestly though, why doesn’t anyone actually make a mixtape?? Too much false advertising.
Bring your pot to a boil, then reduce the heat down to low, cover and let it simmer. The longer it simmers the better, and I generally cook it for 1.5 hours. But since you really should stir it every 30 minutes or so, the most pragmatic thing to do is to set a 30 minute timer and sit down to a few episodes of Buffy – my personal favourite TV show to accompany chili on a fall evening.