I’m not a dull person. Ask anyone, even those who profess annoyance at me. I’m snarky, opinionated, excitable. Either relentlessly upbeat or dramatically downcast. Quirky, chirpy, zesty, pissy. You can call me many things, but you can’t call me bland.
So how is it I manage to continually create meals that are flavor-free?
Last night I found and followed the recipe for vegetarian chili, favorite weeknight fare of my cousin’s three kids. With black beans, bulgur, cumin, chili powder and tomatoes, it doesn’t sound possible that this could be anything other than flavorful and delicious, does it?
But then I get my beefy mitts on it. And somehow, all flavor is miraculously removed. I could probably make a good living working at an institutional home for the aged, cooking healthy and exotic dishes that all taste of nothing.
Here’s the recipe, which I scribbled down from a magazine clipping on the back of a sheet of paper. I followed it almost exactly…except for a few bits I’m just now noticing in the typing it out…
Barley? Not bulgur…..hmmm.
2 tsp canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chilies
2/3 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
1/4 c up water
1 can (15-ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 ounce) no-salt diced tomatoes
1 can (14.5-ounces) veggie broth
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
6 tbsp sour cream
6 lime wedges
18 tortilla chips
Heat oil in a dutch over over medium heat. Add the onions and red peppers and saute for 3 minutes. Add the chili powder and next few ingredients thru the bulgur-which-is-supposed-to-be-barley.
Here’s where I think I didn’t write something down right.
Add the water? Bring to a boil? And then I guess you add the beans, tomatoes and veggie broth? Simmer for 20 minutes, then stir in cilantro.
Serve with sour cream, lime wedges and tortilla chips. I didn’t do any of that.
Now two notes that may have contributed to a lack of flavor but which can’t account for the complete absence of flavor: I didn’t use the green chilies because I know that would kill off any chance of my kids trying this dish. And I used crap supermarket chili powder in a jar instead of the Indian chili powder I didn’t know I had in my pantry.
Yeah, and that little mix-up with the bulgur/barley. I still liked the texture just fine. If only it tasted like something.
Contrary to what I expected, the Drama Tween took one bite and handed the bowl back to me. “Not,” she said.
“Not good.” She left the room. Later she had a box of Cheese-Its for dinner.
The boy, however, ate half a bowl. I thought the appearance would throw him for sure. But apparently 8-year-olds like flavorless slop.
I ate a bowl, greatly annoyed by the non-flavor. Especially when I’d over-salted the hell out of a simple bowl of pasta just a few nights before.
I’m going to try this one again, but with a whole lot more cumin. Maybe
some coriander and tumeric thrown in there…and the Indian chili
powder. I don’t know about the barley. Maybe the bulgar soaked up all
the flavor and barley wouldn’t? How would I know this?
So there you go. Call me anything. Call me a bad home cook, even. Just don’t call me if you want anything tasty. Although there are a few Cheese-Its still around.