Friday, 23 December 2011

#Occupy's One World Christmas, Five-Alarm Chili, Plus, Avoid Krampus!

To celebrate Christmas, #OccupySLC hosted a potluck dinner today at the One World Cafe, located at 40 S. 300 E. in downtown Salt Lake City..

For those of you unfamiliar with the One World Cafe and/or Everybody Eats Foundation, here's a bit-sized morsel from their mission statement:

[One World Cafe] began when owner Denise Cerreta in mid-2003 had an epiphany to serve food, let people choose their own portions and let them price those portions themselves...Because our customers choose their own prices, their portions tend to be more mindful and reflect what they actually want to eat, with the result being little or no food waste. We've realized that this makes more food available and we expect this will make the concept exportable and adaptable worldwide. 

Much like the Circle-A Cafe / kitchen operation at #OccupySLC's original base camp in Pioneer Park, OWC seems, at first blush, like a silly idealistic notion that could never survive the harsh and brutal reality of human nature for long, but it has survived - nay, flourished - for almost a decade now, a hell of a run for any restaurant, let alone one in a relatively volatile bar and restaurant market like Salt Lake.

One World Cafe has been generous to #OccupySLC, providing food, meeting space and time, etc. for quite some time now. If you feel like dropping by (again, they are located at 40 S 300 E, right near the heart of downtown but on a quiet street) and paying what you feel is a fair price for a square meal, or no price at all, or if you want to exchange labor or in-kind goods for food because you want to opt out of the money system, well, I can't think of a better way to get a taste of the good life (if you'll excuse the pun).

Speaking of which, I made my five-alarm vegan chili for the potluck today, and now I am going to teach you how to make it, which you may consider a Christmas gift, because knowledge is like shiny treasure.

Start with a butternut squash. Pre-heat your oven to 400, and while it's heating, slice your squash in half. Do this by cutting off the tippy-top and bottom so it will stand at attention on a cutting board, and slowly use a big carving knife to halve it lengthwise. Lightly brush it in oil, place face down on a cookie sheet, and bake for 40-50 minutes.

You'll want to let the squash cool before you cube it within the skin and extract the cubes, as it will be hot and fragile. The squahs goes in last, so you can perform the rest of these steps while it's roasting.

In a soup pot, saute an onion, a green pepper, and three good-sized stalks of celery in a few tablespoons of olive oil.

Once the onion is soft and translucent, add four cans of red kidney beans, two cans of stewed tomatoes sliced into small chunks, one small can of tomato paste, and two cups of vegetable broth. If you are cooking for vegans (which I was, even though I eat and enjoy meat) make sure to use ingredients that do not contain animal products.

Also, whenever using canned ingredients (which I generally try to avoid), watch for ungodly sodium levels in them, and adjust your salt levels accordingly. If you're using more than two cans of anything in a recipe, it's usually a safe bet that you don't need any more salt unless you're a salt fiend, in which case go nuts. Add a hell of a lot of chili powder - you know those four-inch-tall McCormick's containers of chili powder? Use all of one. Add a generous helping of cayenne pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste (as hot as you like it). If you don't like Tabasco, go #&%# yourself, and when you're done, use the hot sauce of your choice. Tabasco is too vinegary for some. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on low heat for about an hour. Take it off the heat and let it cool just a bit before carefully adding the squash last so it doesn't quite dissolve completely. It adds a lot of rich, creamy flavor to the chili.

I schlepped this magnificent and spicy concoction over to OWC:

Remember when I said that you can bring in-kind donations in lieu of payment for a meal (or nothing at all if you are hungry and don't happen to have anything on hand you can or would like to contribute)? OWC has a wish list up:

I can tell you one thing with certainty: if you DO contribute generously to the One World Cafe, not only will it fill your heart with holiday joy, you will avoid the most dreaded Yuletide fate of all: a kidnapping at the hands of Krampus!

According to the best Christmas legend of all time:

Krampus is a mythical creature recognized in Alpine countries. According to legend, Krampus accompanies Saint Nicholas during the Christmas season, warning and punishing bad children, in contrast to Saint Nicholas, who gives gifts to good children. When the Krampus finds a particularly naughty child, it stuffs the child into its sack and carries the frightened child away to its lair, presumably to devour for its Christmas dinner.

See? That kid should have thrown the One World Cafe a dollar or an organic tomato - it would have bought him dinner and saved him from being dinner.

In the Alpine regions, Krampus is represented as a beast-like creature, generally demonic in appearance. The creature has roots in Germanic folklore. Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in Austria, southern Bavaria, South Tyrol, and Hungary during the first week of December, particularly on the evening of 5 December, and roam the streets frightening children with rusty chains and bells.

5 December may be well behind us, but in the interests of introducing more terror into the lives of bored American children, you can add "and the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah" to the above list as soon as I can find a suitable costume.

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