What’s good? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been in my head. I’ve been surrounded by words and ideas, wrapped up in joy and mischief and smoke. There have been about a million things I’ve been planning on posting during this near year long hiatus, but who knows why I haven’t. I haven’t posted in a long time but my heart has always been here even when my mind was elsewhere, and food is very important to me. Plain and simple, people need to cook more. Our current food system is unsustainable, keeping people unhealthy and unmotivated and can only exist via untold destruction. You can’t take the backseat.
In a year’s-old post on enchiladas, I briefly went into how important I find making your own spice blends…”being able to pinpoint what you’re tasting, and with what volume, to further pair it is all that cooking is”. People rely on store bought seasoning blends and have no idea what they’re tasting or how to replicate it on their own. The ‘natural flavors’ in many popular spice/seasoning blends get people addicted to processed, artificial flavors. I try to use the spice blends I find in the trash, a very common find, but I just can’t. They’re totally unpalatable. I’m mainly talking about stale, cheap spice blends from grocery stores that come in laughably small plastic bottles (like one pot of chili worth of chili powder, great) but even the ever-popular Penzey’s or The Spice House or whatever are still inferior, pre-ground and yet so much more expensive to what you can make yourself. This recipe uses whole chilies (gotten at El Rey, where else) and whole spices allowing for the maximum amount of flavor. They’re also toasted which brings that flavor even further.
Making your own chili powder, or other spice blends, let’s you decide exactly what you want in it and leave out what you don’t. I like coriander and allspice in my chili powder (which you won’t find in store-bought versions) and I also leave out onion and garlic powder (which you’ll find in nearly every store bought version) as I don’t like the flavor and use ample amounts of fresh garlic and onion in just about everything that I cook. Garlic is magic. It’s suggested that everyone uses at least 2 cloves a day for the health benefits it provides (namely cardiovascular) and you won’t receive them in its powdered form.
I believe power comes from self-sufficiency, taking a step back from our government and the industries meant to care for us when really their end goal is to keep us sick, poor and dependent upon them. I also believe that happiness comes from self-sufficiency. I want to do everything, build everything, grow everything and learn everything myself. In the world I grew up in, it’s easy to reach death through convenience. Grow your own food, make your own porn, design your own curriculum, kill your own demons.
I also love making a fermented chili paste and am always sad when I momentarily run out and have to go back to using chili powder. It lends the flavors of the chili powder so much better while also adding some tangy flavors of its own as well as probiotics. It is, in a word, superior. Simmering the dried chilis in broth rehydrates them, creating a velvety texture and allowing them to seamlessly be incorporated into any recipe.
P.S. – the following recipe makes about 3 cups. I always encourage people to make large batches of everything as it is so much more convenient, but only make as much as you’ll use in 3-6 months.
~12 oz whole dried chilies of choice of chilies or 4 types of chilies, 9 chilies of each type. try to make a complex and balanced blend (I use fruity Pascilla chilies, hot Arbol chilies, sweet New Mexico chilies, and smokey Guajillo chilies)
6 tbsp whole cumin seed
3 tbsp dried oregano
3 tbsp whole coriander pods
1 tbsp whole allspice berries
De-stem and de-seed the chilies, cut them into inch sized chunks, then add them along with the cumin and coriander to a large skillet over medium heat and toast until fragrant. Add to small blender or spice grinder along with oregano. Blend until even.
Fermented Chili Paste
About 1 cup dried chilies (I used the same blend as above)
1 tbsp cumin seed
1/2 tbsp allspice berries
1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth or water)
1 tbsp salt OR 2 tbsp yogurt with live active cultures
Toast the chilies and spices over medium heat until fragrant. Add the broth in the skillet until its just covering the chilies/spices. Reduce heat to low, add a lid and simmer for 10 minutes. Blend in a spice grinder or small blender until completely smooth. To ferment, either add salt or yogurt. Pour into a jar, cover with cloth and let sit in a dark place for ~5 days. Stir daily or even twice a day. Check for mold and scrape off if there is any.