Who We Are

The past few years, the area where I live, Crawford County, Ohio, has seen a wonderful explosion of younger families who are embracing the joys and challenges of living off the land. Because of them, amazing things are happening which have been embraced by our community. Farmer’s markets have been created and on-farm stores have opened. Families dedicated to growing organic produce and naturally raised meats are meeting the public’s needs for locally raised foods. And at the heart of this movement are the women.

Ohio Country Journal is my attempt to share the essence of farm life, focusing on, but not limited to, women. My goal is to bring you into our circle of friendship by inviting you to share your stories and experiences with us. You don’t have to be a full time country woman to benefit from joining us; you just have to be you.

The full-time country women featured in Ohio Country Journal are an inspiration to anyone who dares to follow her dreams, whether it is to live in the country or to bring the country life-style to their urban neighborhoods.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Soup of the Week: Chili con Surprises!

Here it is, the first day of a ‘normal’ week, and for that I am truly thankful. Holidays are nice, of course, but ours are made even more hectic because two birthday parties are tossed in the mix. Mondays are typically busy for me as this is my errand/grocery shopping day as well as tidying up the house from the weekend. To make the day go smoothly, I usually make soup because we can have it for both lunch and dinner.

This morning’s work included taking pictures for the Galion Inquirer while I was out and about in slushy snow in slightly above freezing temps as well as gathering facts about Northern Cardinals for the nature column I’ll be writing this week. If ever there was a perfect Monday for soup, this is it!
Chil with pumpkin puree and barley for extra nutrition
Today’s soup du jour is chili. I am not going to post a recipe, as I am sure that everyone has their own favorite way to make chili. What I am doing is sharing a few “surprise” ingredients that you may want to try. First is pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!). I add a cup to the soup, but if you are going to try this, you may want to start with less. Pumpkin does not seem to affect the flavor, adds extra nutrition, and makes the chili a bit thicker. Another unexpected additive is barley. I had some already cooked, so I added a cup. If you are using un-cooked, begin with ¼ to 1/3 cup as it really expands when cooked. Quaker Quick Barley is a good one to try. Again, barley adds extra nutrition while adding some bulk. Probably the most surprising of all is cinnamon. I used 1 teaspoon of Penzeys Vietamese Cinnamon, which seems to make the chili a bit sweeter. Since I don’t add sugar, it works out just fine.

The spices vary each time I make chili. Along with regular chili powder and a bit of turmeric, my favorite combo is Adobo spice and Arizona Dreaming from Penzeys. The Adobo is smoky and the Arizona Dreaming is a nice blend that has a sweet note.

Both cinnamon and turmeric are said to be healthy spices that we should eat more of, so I sneak them in whenever possible.

University of Illinois Extension lists these nutritional facts about pumpkin:

Pumpkin Nutrition Facts
(1 cup cooked, boiled, drained, without salt)

Calories 49
Protein 2 grams
Carbohydrate 12 grams
Dietary Fiber 3 grams
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 1.4 mg
Magnesium 22 mg
Potassium 564 mg
Zinc 1 mg
Selenium .50 mg
Vitamin C 12 mg
Niacin 1 mg
Folate 21 mcg
Vitamin A 2650 IU
Vitamin E 3 mg

Just about anything that you want to know about barley can be found at Barley Foods , which says that barley is a nutritional powerhouse, and for good reason! Check it out J

These ideas are not limited to chili; vegetable soups in particular benefit from having pumpkin added. What will you come up with?

Marcheta *Chasing the chill with souped up chili

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