Vegetarian Chili with Homemade Sourdough Bread: January in Guildhall, Vermont.

IMG_2287A snowy day in mid-January. The perfect time to spend a weekend day alternating between a good book in front of the woodstove and in the kitchen, concocting a lovely vegetarian chili and some scrumptious sourdough bread.

I’ve been a vegetarian for decades now. During the initial transition time to a vegetarian diet,  I learned that some things just didn’t work without meat, and I cut my losses.  But I wasn’t ready to give up on chili.  Still, I could never find vegetarian chili quite as satisfying as I had during the  carnivore period.  The chili usually resembled and tasted like a soup or  gruel, lacking density (or perhaps simply, carbohydrates.)

But a few years ago, when I was Town Clerk and looking for a vegetarian chili recipe to satisfy both meat eaters and veggies among the election day volunteers at the Town Office, I found this!

The recipe–from Martha Stewart– involves the usual array of vegetables and kidney beans,  but also features chick peas and bulghur. The bulghur is the real miracle-worker here. While simmering, it expands, thickens the chili into a stew-like consistency, and makes it utterly satisfying. Here’s the recipe:  Vegetable Chili

Last week, I got a hankering for homemade sourdough bread.   Earlier in 2012, I’d finally thrown away my sour dough starter.  After several years, even with replenishment, it was simply getting too tired for the job. But rather than buy starter from a commercial outlet, I decided to create it from scratch myself, which is a surprisingly simple enterprise. All I needed to do was throw together some honey, yeast, water, and flour, and let the mixture ferment in a closed container near a warm spot–for five days. Voila!–beautiful, pungent sourdough starter! (Note that you can even create your own starter without yeast–it just requires a longer fermentation period, in order to capture the wild yeasts in the air.)

Today was the end of the five days and I used my new starter to bake two loaves of crusty French sourdough, recipe courtesy of the great Bernard Clayton, Jr.

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