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I first time made this chili I served it to two meat-loving men, who both couldn’t believe that it was vegan. The first recipe attempt was spot-on, and I had to be sure it wasn’t a fluke. Attempt number two is very similar to number one, with some minor changes: changed the type of oil and reduced it from 3 to 2 Tbsp, increased beer from 9 to 12 oz (simply because it makes more sense, and I was making it at 11 a.m. on a Monday, which, even for me, is too early for a drink), corrected an error in the preparation method, increased cooking time. My S.S. preferred this attempt over the first.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, medium dice
1 red bell pepper, medium dice
1 green bell pepper, medium dice
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup textured vegetable protein
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
12 oz beer of your choice (use gluten-free beer to make the recipe gluten-free)
1 28-oz can peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 4-oz can fire-roasted green chiles
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Saute until soft, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, soak the textured vegetable protein in hot water. Drain, and then add to the pot along with the paprika, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Saute for 2 minutes.
3. Pour in the beer and reduce by half, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen the bits.
4. Crush the tomatoes and add to the pot, along with the beans and green chiles.
5. Cover the ingredients with water (about 1 quart). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until thick (chili will continue to thicken as it sits).
6. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with sliced scallions (optional).

DSCN0786

The result? Very tasty, not as spicy as last time. Increase cayenne pepper to 1 tsp, but otherwise this one is getting close to where I want it to be!

Hamden, Connecticut doesn’t spring to mind when I think of great places to have a meal. In fact, Hamden, Connecticut doesn’t spring to mind when I think of anything, really. In the past few months, however, I’ve been spending a good chunk of time there, and thankfully, there’s MiKro.

On Whitney Avenue, in a small shopping strip of sorts, you’ll find this little beer bar wedged amongst a UPS store and a pizza joint. The beer selection is wealthy yet manageable, the menu is sophisticated but not pretentious, the barkeeps know their stuff, and the food—oh, the food. I can easily say it’s the best food I’ve had in Hamden to date, and I don’t see it falling from that position.

Head to MiKro and order one of these:

And once you get to this point:

Order another.

Well, not much, really. Greasy food is typical, beer is mandatory.

I have come to accept that football is now a part of my life, and I’ve actually begun to enjoy it. Sundays should be dedicated to slothing around and enjoying the final respite from the work week, preferably in your underwear.

Football is the perfect excuse to do pretty much nothing all day, and for that reason alone, I welcome it into my life.