I’m in a new room right now. It’s nearly empty but for this computer and the table at which I’m sitting. It’s refreshing. It’s different. The only thing that is the least bit familiar is this computer and the pitter patter of rain on the windows.
The rain was sort of a surprise this morning. It followed so closely on the heels of an entire week of sunshine here in California. I didn’t welcome it either. My body and mind were not nearly ready to let go of the warmth. I suppose, however, it’s a good thing. I needed to write and there is no better environment for this task. I know how to write in the rain. I know how to do lots of things in the rain. I’m sort of an expert at being soaking wet after living in Seattle for so many years.
This past week was wonderful. Really wonderful. Maeve slept through the night the very night we landed in this fair state. She continues to do so. I think this place agrees with her. We found her a vintage train set at a rummage sale in Sausalito. We hiked through the Marin Headlands and watched droves of hummingbirds defy gravity. We took Maeve to the playground where I used to play as a girl. She was thrilled to find a bird taking a bath in a fountain. She also discovered a brand new slide, sandbox, and swingset. And, despite a bout in the emergency room for a case of conjunctivitis, she is full of joy and wonder. There are so many new things to see and do.
I can’t say I cooked a great deal since we arrived here, but I did manage to make this chili. In fact, it’s sort of hard to believe I’m mentioning it here for the first time. This was the season of chili in our home. I am obsessed with the stuff. And, in particular, I’m obsessed with this recipe for turkey chili with white beans. Oh sure, I tried several other recipes this winter. I even tried a recipe for lamb chili. That was good. In fact, all the recipes were good. Some of them even managed to rise to the level of deliciousness. However, not a single one of those heaping bowls of beans and meat managed to come close to this recipe. What makes it so special is the perfect combination of spices. This turkey chili is spiced with hints of cumin, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Yes, cocoa powder! The white beans are mild and tender. They nearly melt in your mouth as they marry so beautifully with the hunks of lean turkey meat.
This chili boasts a wonderfully complex mix of flavors you will love. You might even thank me because this one is easy. I mean it. The ease with which you can throw together this meal is unfathomable. The pay-off is extraordinary.
The season for chili isn’t over, my friends. I’m just getting started.
Turkey White Bean Chili
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 and 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
1/4 cup chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 15-ounce cans small white beans, rinsed, drained
Chopped fresh cilantro
Plain low-fat yogurt or light sour cream
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey; stir until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon. Mix in stock and tomato sauce. Bring to boil.
Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat before continuing.)
Ladle chili into bowls. Garnish with cilantro and sour cream.