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The Minimalist Cook
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Reenie yesterday treated everyone to the recipes , from her own cookbook, for a banquet (well I'd call it a banquet) she's planning. I was reminded of something I wrote about my own culinary efforts:

I'm feeling a bit queasy right now. Maybe it was that bowl of my special chili I ate last night. "Special" as in ingredient challenged. While I like to reduce recipes to their essentials, I think this time I might have gone too far.

To appreciate my philosophy of minimalist cooking, you need to understand that (1) I hate cooking and (2) my taste buds are defective. I can pretty much tell pizza from yogurt, as long as the light's on. It follows therefore that the simpler the recipe the better and my taste buds are none the wiser.

Even for people with a normal sense of taste many of the ingredients in recipes have got to be useless. You'll see “add a pinch of lemon salt”. But who is going to taste a pinch of anything?

That's where I start, removing all the pinches and half teaspoons. Invariably, after I do so, whatever I've cooked tastes the same as before. Then I try removing something else.

With the chili, the ground beef was the first thing to go when Mary and I went vegetarian. The salt and pepper followed. And who needs cumin in chili? Tomato sauce and a can of chopped tomatoes is surely redundant. And without the tomato sauce which could be a bit sour the sugar wasn't necessary.

I ditched the chopped jalapeño since I could just add extra red pepper flakes for heat.

I still had to chop green peppers, onions and celery -- until I ran across little tins of chopped tomatoes with zesty chili peppers. That also allowed me to forget the red pepper flakes. Onions give me gas anyway.

So I've finally reduced my chili to a can of kidney beans, a can of tomatoes, a can of chopped tomatoes with chili peppers and some chili powder. Just stir together in a pan and heat. A perfect recipe for me, aside from the inconvenience of opening three cans. Only there's just something....missing....

Maybe I'll have to start adding the ingredients back in until it tastes right again.

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