Hearty chili for chilly nights

It’s getting to that time of year where the nights start to draw in a bit and it’s inevitably going to start getting chillier in the evenings, and what better way to counter a chill than with chili (see what I did there!). This chili is super easy to put together, as 95% of the cooking is done in your slow cooker making this the perfect prepare and forget meal.


All day Crockpot chili

To prepare, brown your mince until it forms a nice fond on your pan, you want some really good caramelization to add depth of flavor to your meat, once it’s cooked transfer to your slow cooker, then in fat from the mince cook off your chopped onion, adding your minced garlic right at the end so it doesn’t burn or get bitter.

From then on it’s just a case of chopping your chilis and peppers, and adding the remaining ingredients directly to crock pot and giving it a good stir to combine: there isn’t anything more to it than that, if you’re a compulsive like me you can stir it every hour, but assuming it’s stirred well to begin with you could honestly leave this for 6 hours untouched.

Now one thing I will say – it’s cooking in a crockpot, so it won’t thicken like it would if you were cooking it on the stove – I add the smallest amount of cornflour powder mixed with water just before I serve it to add a little bit more body just because that’s how I like it, you don’t have to: it’s all a matter of taste and mouth texture.

Serve it up over rice with nachos, guacamole, sour cream, hard cheese, spring onions and anything else you fancy, or dump it in the fridge to chill separate it into smaller portions and you’ve got one of the best toppings for a baked potato.

Serves 6 easily. Or freeze in batches for a meal for 2 or 4.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Several dashes tabasco Sauce (to personal taste)
  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 carton tomato pasata
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 peppers red and green
  • 4 chopped green chiles (you choose seeds in or out)
  • 1 cup beer 
  • 1 beef stock jelly
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn drinking chocolate
  • ½ tspn black pepper

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2020
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.

Returning to content creation.

I’m back: but I’m still angry – angry but hopeful that we’re making waves now that can’t be ignored. I’m going to start returning to posting new content on here, as well as to instagram and the new Youtube channel.

That all being said, just because the hashtags have quietened, the fight for a more equitable society must continue: so expect to see a continued presence of resources and news in my stories, tweets and here on the blog: the performative activism may have died down, but the issues remain – and I feel that I should use my voice and my talents to continue highlighting them: all creative people should.

I don’t believe however that we can continue to do that without earning our keep: as much as many people have said that every post should be one of protest the simple fact remains that without funds to continue we’ll all be too deep in our own problems to be useful.

But don’t worry, we might be returning to work – to some level of normality – but we still have your backs.

Take a pause

Right now pumping out materials for myself doesn’t seem important. I urge creators to take a pause and go support the black lives matter cause, educate yourself, inform others, go and vote for change.

I said this blog was about hope right at the very start.
This is the change I hope to see for a more equitable world

Everything is better with bacon.

It is one of the undeniable facts of life: water is wet, the sun will rise in the morning and everything is better with bacon; it’s rich umami – even when you’re not even clear where it is in the dish – is always obvious, and this soup is no exception.

I’ve really gotten into making my own soups from scratch recently – we’ve always been a family that has soup as a go to for a quick meal, but I was getting tired of cartons of soup that varied in quality and increasingly had a list of stabilizers and preservative that felt unnecessary for allegedly ‘fresh’ food. So if you’re getting into home made soups too – then this recipe is a great place to start as it’s simple to make, freezes well and requires no effort in thickening as the magic starch of the potato does all the heavy lifting for you.


Potato, Leek and Bacon Soup

Like most soups that you’re going to process in your blender this doesn’t require a whole lot of prep work, roughly slice and rinse your leek, cut your onion up into chunks and do the same with your potatoes – I’ve even done this with washed unpeeled potatoes so don’t feel you need to be precious. If you’re using whole rashers of bacon trim it into small pieces or if you’re using lardons your prep work is all but done right now.

In a little olive oil fry your bacon until it’s starting to crisp leaving a nice fond on the bottom of your pan, when you reach that stage tumble in all of your veg and fry it in the bacon fat for a couple of minutes over a medium to high heat, just until the onion and the leek start to soften a bit and the edges of the potatoes have taken on a little color.

Pour your stock over the veg, add a good twist of black pepper and a little salt: there should be enough stock to cover everything, but only just. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the temperature to a simmer, clamp on a lid and let it cook for at least 25 to 30 minutes, at this point give it a taste and add additional pepper and salt to your taste, leave the lid on and allow to cool to a safe enough temperature to decant to your food processor.

I’ve found that this soup comes together better if you use a food processor’s liquidizer jug rather than an immersion stick blender – if that’s all you’ve got no worries – it’ll taste just fine, but the final product just won’t be as smooth. Once blended you can eat immediately with a suitable hearty crusty bread.

If you’re not already onto your second bowl, this soup also stores really well, either pop it in the fridge for a few days or in a bag in the freezer it’ll keep well for weeks or pressure canned for months and months in a cool dark cupboard.

Serves 8. Or freeze in batches for a meal for 2 or 4 that’s ready in 10 minutes


Going the extra Mile 

This is perfectly good as is, but if you want to make it look nice and add a little texture then try cooking up some extra cubes of potato and bacon to garnish, or if you’re feeling particularly indulgent a swirl of fresh cream will take this to the next level.

Ingredients: 

  • 1¼ lbs starchy white potatoes (Maris Piper/King Edwards will do)
  • 1 lbs leeks
  • 1 large whole onion
  • ½ lbs bacon or lardons
  • 3 pints vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • To taste salt and freshly ground black pepper

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2020
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.

A morning walk.

It’s January 9 and it’s warm enough to go for a walk in jeans and a tee: that doesn’t feel normal at all – but the skies were beautiful and the light was definitely favoring photographers so I grabbed my camera and went for a walk.

2020

How did we get to 2020? In some ways it doesn’t seem all that long ago since we chimed in the Millennium, but in others that feels like a lifetime ago; but here we are. 2020 – A new year and a new decade.

I’m not a big one for resolutions – I’ve always thought it was strange how people would only really plan changes to their lives and the goals that related to what they wanted to do with their lives to a single burst once a year.

I plan daily, every day – I have a set of goals I want to achieve, some are literally things to do that day, others are parts of projects and commitments that may carry over weeks, months or even years – but following up with those plans every day means I never lose sight of the goals I’m setting myself and of the cadence of progress and the realism of my self-imposed deadlines.

I have high hopes for 2020, I’m already working toward many goals and waypoints that I hope to complete this year, some indeed cover this whole year and into the next and the one after that. It’s going to be an exciting year, my newly reorganized and rebranded agency has an ambitious set of expectations that will not only test my abilities but also mean that I have to step up my game and beat back bad habits that I know hold me back. I’m launching my own YouTube channel for creatives and makers and our plans to move to North America will continue to come together; it’s going to be a year of hard work, investing in myself, continuous improvement and learning and putting my head clear above the parapet once again.

I can’t wait!

B-roll

I love B-roll, I think it’s probably the most overlooked part of so many YouTube channels that get all up in your face without even showing you the world they exist in. It’s important to set the scene of your story, and over the last few days I’ve been shooting some b-roll around my studio and around London to give a bit of life to my upcoming YouTube channel.

I definitely want to keep the best of it for the videos, but this time lapse was too pretty not to share: this was shot on a go pro with a clockwork motion mount capturing a frame every ten seconds, it was color graded in Adobe Premiere using the BorisFX Continuum plugin.

I also wanted to see what the 4K 24fps was like off the iPhone X when it was conformed and color matched for those times when I might want to capture something but not have my SLR or an action cam with me. I have to say I’m quite genuinely impressed with the way this footage of sugar slipping into an espresso in my kitchen came out, considering it’s shot under very average IKEA LEDs on a phone; the footage took color correcting nicely and the image was sharp even when scaled to 1080p.

The things you carry with you

The internet is obsessed with flat lays and I was asked on my instagram to do a flat lay of my gear for work, but I took one look at the multiple flight cases of gear and thought better of it – because we’re all allowed to have lazy moments eh?

I promise I will get around to a proper break down of the kit that we use day to day in the production studio – but I thought that would actually make a much more interesting video than just a plain read with a few photos, so stand by, it’s on my list of things to shoot.

What I will share today is my daily carry: these are items that I almost always have on my person or in my immediate vicinity, and having taken the photo earlier I’ve already realized that it’s missing at least two essentials that I never have far from my person: those being ‘a’ watch – as I don’t like being tied to just one watch – and my Moleskine which I use literally every day for my daily lists and idea iteration.

For those that might be interested, what we’ve got here comprises:
Shades: Oakley Frogskins™ Grips
Wallet: Herschel Supply Roy Wallet
Pen: Fisher Pen Co. Bullet Pen
Earbuds: Sony MDR-EX450AP
Lighter: Zippo with custom USA plate
Knife/Multi-tool: Generic (Actually it’s a gift from ATI Radeon)
Phone: Apple iPhone X with @productred case.

So there you go, I promise a video detailing the production tools I use at Neil Evans / Creative will be online at YouTube soon, but I hope you’ve found this interesting – share in the comments or back on instagram or twitter the daily essentials you won’t be found without, I hope to hear from you soon!

Youtube!

I’ve been a content producer of one sort or another for a very long time – since before I’d even left high school I was writing zines, and since then I’ve created material for radio, magazines, tv, film and online in the form of blogs and forums and apps.

I’ve created content that ranges in scope from; just for myself to materials that were developed intentionally for broadcast, sometimes recorded – sometimes even live in front of a studio audience.

It’s not like I’ve been ignoring Youtube all together , there’s a lot of material on YouTube that I’ve had something to do with, whether it’s a channel that my agency has produced, recordings of me on other platforms, films and music videos we’ve made, or whatever – but I’ve always shied away from being the focus of the output myself; which is weird in that I’ve been a broadcaster for a long time, but I’ve always struggled to find a motivation to use YouTube in that way when there’s already so many other great content producers on the platform producing materials that cover so many of the topics I’m interested in.

That said, I’m taking the plunge – I’m at a stage in my career where I want to be able to pass on knowledge and ideas, I want to be a mentor and a helping hand to other creators, makers and innovators; and I believe that YouTube is exactly the platform to do that on. So over the last few months I’ve been planning, testing out some formats, getting a set up together for filming that’s professional enough to satisfy my expectations of quality without also turning my studio or my home into a full scale film production every time I want to share something new and shiny.

So stand by, a video that basically says what this blog post says now will be arriving very shortly, after that I think I’ll be using this digital space as a scrapbook and archive for the materials on the channel. If I want to write I still will – and that long form will end up here – but at heart, I’ve always been a broadcaster: and I’m happiest when I’m using that medium, so that’s the new adventure that I’m about to embark on with YouTube, you can ‘smash’ the subscribe button before there’s even any content there if you like – you’ll find my channel at: https://bit.ly/34JX8O6

Daily bread

I’m slowly getting the hang of bread – after many years of running scared from the room at the idea of making anything doughy – I’ve steeled myself and have come to terms with my fear of making a bad loaf and then consequently feeling bad at myself for having wasted my time.

I’m now quite comfortable making basic white and wholemeal loaves in rounds, batons and in traditional loaf tins, and I’ve even been experimenting with everything from additional ingredients to finishes including butter glazes straight out of the oven and more, but I have a confession to make: as nice as home made bread is it’s all very artisanal, and sometimes all I want is a fluffy white uniform store bought loaf.

There I said it, the cats out of the bag – there’s just something about the way that, loaded with sausages or bacon, it’ll stick to the roof of your mouth, absorbing all the fat, or toasted it’ll soak up butter till it’s almost soft again. It’s not classy it’s not diet friendly, but it can be supremely comforting: so I’d like to put it out there to baking friends – how can I make something that’s a good analog of your basic white store bought loaf at home for moments when only trashy will do?