#HAWMC Days 9-10: The Challenger and the Chef in ME!

Day 9: The Challenger

In any challenge I have encountered in my life, the only thing that works for me is to confront it upfront and deal with it gracefully. If you have committed a mistake, then just simply admit the mistake, be sorry for it, stand up and move forward carrying with you the lessons of that mistake. There’s no use sulking. I know it is easier said than done, but it wouldn’t hurt if you seek spiritual help for that matter like what I am doing right now. I don’t say this often but praying to your God helps.

Day 10: The Chef in Me

For this post, I would like to share with you the joy I feel when I’m in the kitchen concocting meals for my hubby. He is not that easy to please by the way and contrary to my healthy eating initiatives, he on the other hand, is not there yet so I still have to once in awhile treat him to something he loves the most. Although I am not a vegetarian, I strive hard to choose what meat to eat. Actually, I am OK with organic chicken and pork and once in while eat lamb. I have temporarily ditched the beef due to its high fat content and I am choosy when it comes to eating fish.

Before I started to join the #iwantabschallenge, I cooked my signature dish especially for the satisfaction of my hubby because he’s always happy (including his barkada once) when I cooked this dish. Actually, it is not my original recipe. I got this when I watched, Everyday Exotic at TLC by Roger Mooking. He called the dish, “Okra Chili”. I liked it because he tried inject an exotic ingredient (for them), which is OKRA. Aside from that, it encourages inclusion of healthy ingredients in the dish. In fact, I envied his kitchen too because of his very own spice box. I intend to have that once I fixed my house in Rizal.

Aside from the healthy ingredients – OKRA and real spices – there are red kidney beans and cilantro in the list so all the more I find it less guilty to cook this and besides its for my hubby. I have amended the ingredients several times. This last time, I tried it with big boiled potato and cheese. Something like the baked potato being sold at Wendy’s but much better I believe.

So here goes the ingredients (amended):

Chili Spice Mix – composed of:

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, ground in a  mortar and pestle (you can also buy this grounded)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder (I prefer the real garlic – many pieces according to your liking)
  • 2 teaspoons ground  paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes and the real “siling labuyo” (about 5-10 pcs)
  • 1 teaspoon  coriander seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle (you can also buy this grounded)
  • Okra Chili (I haven’t found this here so leave it)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided (preferably coconut oil)
  • 2 1/2 pounds  ground beef
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer, divided (Cerveza Negra is the one that I use unless you have other suggestions)
  • 1 sweet onion, diced (I suggest many pieces and if you could use shallots for added health nutrients)
  • 2  cloves garlic, chopped (I suggest more)
  • 1  red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh okra, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers in  adobo sauce
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced  tomatoes (or I used cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 cups low-sodium  beef stock (I don’t use this because I just use the stock of the ground beef)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can red  kidney beans, drained and rinsed (most of the time I buy this canned because you need at least 8-9 hours soaking time if its the real beans although that’s preferred)
  • 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, stems chopped and leaves picked
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (or I used the Alkaline Cooking Salt of Organic Nutraceuticals)
For the spice mix:
In a small bowl, mix to combine the ground cumin seeds, garlic powder, paprika, chile flakes, and ground coriander seeds. Although I add more spices from the supermarket other than the ones listed here (black pepper, five spices, curry, cayenne pepper and “siling labuyo”, a variety of chili available here in the Philippines) .For the chili:
Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil (preferably coconut oil) in a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the moisture has evaporated, and the beef is browned. Drain the beef of any fat that has rendered, and deglazethe pan with half of the beer.

In a separate pot, add the remaining tablespoon vegetable oil, and add the onion, garlic, peppers, and okra, and saute over medium-high heat. Sprinkle over the chili spice mix, and the chipotle pepper, stirring to combine. Deglaze the pot with the remaining beer, and add the browned beef.

Add the diced tomatoes, and stock, and then bring everything to a boil. Place the lid over the pot, and reduce the heat to a simmer. After 1 hour, add in the kidney beans, and cilantro stems.
Keep cooking for another 30 minutes over low heat.

Adjust the chili’s seasonings with salt, and black pepper, to taste. Switch off the heat and garnish with the cilantro leaves.

The Finished Product - Okra Chili - Jofti's Style

The Finished Product – Okra Chili – Jofti’s Style

With potatoes and cheese like the Baked Potatoes in Wendy's, only that it is not fast food. We also prepared lemon water to help in our detoxification.

With potatoes and cheese like the Baked Potatoes in Wendy’s, only that it is not fast food. We also prepared lemon water to help in our detoxification.

 **What I made differently was that I put in first the shallots and garlic. Sautéd the, for only 3 minutes to avoid destroying their enzymes. I removed them after, then put them back again when the dish was about to be cooked.   I have learned this additional health tip from Dr. Jesucita Lao Sodusta, author of Health On Zero Budget.

Hope you can try this at home and remember to choose the healthiest ingredients based on your budget. This is how I do layering in my decision-making, while to some being vegetarian/vegan is the way to go, to some transition food or eating meat is still a mainstay in the diet. So the next best option to look for the most clean and reliable ingredients (which to me is organic though expensive). However, you may mix and choose for the lesser evil by increasing the natural taste enhancers – shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro, okra and of course the spices, which are very healthy.

herbs and spices

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