What’s Cooking–homemade chili

I’m on a mission, to find good, nutritious, filling meals that don’t break my bank.  I cannot believe how much more expensive food is here on the Island.  I am easily paying twice what I would be paying for the same products in Idaho.  Combine that with the fact that we are making about half what we were there, and you know why I’m on the hunt.

Last night I covered a lb. of kidney beans with cold water (I cannot find my favorite pinto beans anywhere here, I’m seriously contemplating buying from an online source and having them shipped here, otherwise, how am I going to make authentic Mexican food without pinto beans…I ask you!?) in my medium sized pot to soak overnight.  Today, I drained and rinsed the beans, then covered again with fresh cold water and am currently cooking on medium-low heat.  They are starting to smell DELICIOUS!  Note:  I learned years ago that you don’t want to add salt until they are completely cooked, for some reason, salt keeps them from getting good and soft if you add it too soon.  I’ll salt them later.

In another pot, I am browning 2lbs ground beef, two chopped onions (not too fine, I like the taste and consistency they add to my chili), salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I hardly ever measure when I do this, I just add it till it looks right, then add a little more garlic.  I’ll separate this into four parts, use one for my chili, and place the other three parts in the freezer for subsequent meals.

To the pan with my seasoned hamburger, I add a large can of crushed tomatoes and a packet of taco seasoning mix.  Eventually, I plan to be making my own spice mixes again, but for now, I can’t afford to purchase all my spices needed at once, so I make do with pre-made mixes.  I also add crushed red chilis, for a little heat.  When the beans are soft, I’ll add half of the pot to my chili mix, and use the other half for bean and ham soup.  Both meals are high in protein, taste great, and most importantly, are budget friendly.  The chili can be served as a meal in itself, served over rice, french fries, or used to make chili macaroni. 

I, Me, Mine

I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth.  I’ve been “settling” in…that’s the easiest way to describe it, but doesn’t quite do justice to the adjustments being made to a new country, new job, new home…missing the old, and desperately trying to fit into the new.
I’m hearing little God whispers in my ear again.  I’m trying hard to listen to them, it’s been awhile since I really felt like God was talking to me.  Ya know the dynamic of getting a new car, and suddenly it seems EVERYONE is driving the same kind of car?  Upon our move here-in the midst of financial struggles, there seems to be a similar dynamic in place.  Often, I will happen upon an article, a television blurb, or a discussion that centers on poverty and the Christian’s duty to the poor.  I’m having my heart and mind stretched in ways I didn’t realize they could be stretched.  I’m challenged by something I thought I knew that is coming home to me in a deeper understanding—a heart-changing “knowing” that everything that I have is provided by and on loan to me from God.  It is not “mine”, it is meant to be held with an open hand, and made available to anyone who needs it.  This changes the way I look at “my stuff”.  If God had need of any of it to support my neighbor, how tightly do I hold it?  Is it available to assist, or do I close my fingers around it and use it only for myself, my wants/needs/gratifications?  I am ashamed when I ponder the contrasting images of the loud and proud Pharisee faithfully tithing his percentage alongside the poor widow, humbly giving her all.  I’m awed by the way God has used others to assist us, to bless us, and to teach us:  An unbelieving family member apologizing for not being able to provide beds, but opens his home, refrigerator, and wallet to help, even in the midst of his own financial struggles;  A check in the mail from a friend who is unaware of our deep need, but obeyed a God-whisper to send a gift to a friend; A bag of potatoes from a downstairs neighbor who “is allergic” to them; I could go on and on.  Why am I afraid of holding that open hand, when I have myriads of examples of providence and deep love of God?  Why am I afraid of tomorrow, when I know it’s the same God that holds that day in His hand that I see providing for me today?