Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vegetarian Chili

I’m not sure why, but autumn always reminds me of R.E.M. I was saddened to hear that they split up this week after 31 years together. They were one of my college favorites and a staple at the radio station where I deejayed. I saw them at Wittenberg University on the Little America Tour (in support of Reckoning), at Vets Memorial on the Fables Tour, The Taft for Life’s Rich Pageant, and at Riverfront Coliseum on the Green Tour. After that I continued to buy their albums but stopped going to see them live because I missed the intimacy of those earlier, smaller venues. It seems fitting that they would disband now that the mornings are nippier and the leaves are turning “yellow like a geisha gown.

How I remember them best

The change in the weather also signifies the start of football season. I was a member of the high school marching band, and every Friday before the game my Mom made chili for us. This is her recipe, modified for the vegetarian diet and tweaked ever so slightly over the years. It is thick, stick-to-your-ribs chili, and so tasty that even my carnivore husband goes back for seconds and thirds.

Vegetarian Chili
3 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 bag vegetarian or vegan crumbles (such as Boca or Morningstar Farms)
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes (I use fire roasted)
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
5-6 bay leaves
1 Tbs Sambelolek
1 tsp ground cumin
1 (15 oz) can black beans
1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans


Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onions, garlic and celery; sauté until onions are translucent.

Add crumbles and heat through.

Add diced jalapenos

Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, Sambelolek, and cumin. Stir well and simmer for about 20 minutes

Rinse and drain beans (aren't they pretty?)

Add beans and continue to simmer, uncovered, for another 30 minutes

Discard bay leaves and enjoy!

Note: This chili tastes even better the following day, and also freezes well.
Click for printable recipe.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Buckhead Mountain Grill

Buckhead Mountain Grill
35 Fairfield Avenue
Bellevue, KY

Buckhead Mountain Grill

Buckhead opened in Louisville around ten years ago and has had a presence in Bellevue for several years. The family-friendly restaurant is designed to resemble a mountain lodge. We have friends who live in Cripple Creek, Colorado, and Buckhead could seriously be their house - minus the large number of children and televisions. There are lampshades etched with silhouettes of moose and lonesome pine; there are antler chandeliers hanging from double height, A-frame ceilings with exposed rafters; and there are taxidermy critters cropping up in unexpected places. While not out of place in Colorado, in Bellevue Kentucky it's laughably tacky.

Lamp shade

They must be doing something right, however, because on the Monday evening we visited the place was absolutely packed: Families with small children, senior citizens, couples; you name it, they were there.

antler chandelier

Complimentary rolls arrived just after we were seated; they come with a delicious cinnamon-whipped butter spread. While the restaurant is primarily carnivore-heaven, there are a couple of vegetarian-friendly items to choose from. There is a veggie combo platter ($7.49) consisting of a choice of four side dishes - but several of the sides are not veg-friendly (the green beans are prepared with bacon, for instance), and four of the sides are potato-based, which limits options further.

They also offer a grilled portabello sandwich ($7.49) - ask to have the vegetables grilled on a separate surface to assure that meat juices don't mingle into the mix. I wasn't really in a grilled mood, so opted instead for the Nacho Mountain appetizer without the chili. They weren't kidding about the name - it really is a mountain of nachos, and certainly enough for a crowd. As nachos go, these were pretty good.

Mountain of nachos

Buckhead offers an impressive selection of draught beer, including many made locally, like Mt. Carmel, Rivertown and Christian Moerlein, and regional offerings like 3 Floyds, Bluegrass Brewing Co. and Bell's. Not sure what to order? Try several by ordering a "flight," which is basically a beer sampler of your choosing.

Mountain decor aside, there really isn't much to distinguish Buckhead from myriad other restaurants. The food doesn't rise above the ordinary, but it is affordable and plentiful, which probably goes a long way in explaining its popularity. The service was cordial and efficient to start, but refills were neglected and dessert wasn't even offered. To be fair, our server might have cottoned onto the fact that we were itching to get away. The reason? A child at a nearby table was sick all over the floor right next to our booth, which put us off our meals. The evening might have been rescued had the matter been attended to promptly, but it took nearly 15 minutes for someone to clean up the mess, even though the manager and three servers in our section were aware of the problem. If staff are that lax with front-of-house hygiene, I am loathe to think of what the kitchen might hold.

Buckhead Mountain Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 5, 2011

Farm Sanctuary's "Walk for Farm Animals"

Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Farm Animals will be held at Eden Park on Saturday, September 24, 2011. Join hundreds of compassionate people to raise money in support of Farm Sanctuary's work to stop cruelty to animals and promote compassion.
Registration begins at 10:30 am and the walk takes place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Free vegan food
Cute temporary tattoos for the kids
Walk with your dog

Farm animals everywhere are relying on your support.

Register today at