Thursday, January 20, 2011

Takin' it Back to 2002

Picture it: Fall 2002, my freshman year of college.

I wore cut-off denim capri pants my first day of freshman orientation. My Big Fat Greek Wedding was my favorite movie. AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was all the rage (remember "Away Messages"? Yikes.). Gas cost $1.65 a gallon.

Everything was new to me: new state, new people, and the overall new-ness of the "college experience." I had never heard of buckeyes or Skyline Chili (to this day I've never eaten Skyline Chili. I prefer my pasta sans meat...and sans cocoa powder).

And finally, I remember eating at a Chi-Chi's Restaurant for the first time. While my taste in food has changed significantly since then, at the time I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Fresh chips and salsa while you wait? Quesadillas the size of my torso? Men in sombreros singing "Happy Birthday?" Wide-eyed and somewhat sheltered, this was 18-year old Kylie's dream come true.

My favorite part of Chi-Chi's was the sweet little corn cake that came with every meal. I'm embarrassed to admit that it made such an impression on me. I loved those darn things. And despite the fact that I haven't eaten at a Chi-Chi's in 8 years, I got a craving for those darling corn cakes this week.

Thank you, Veganomicon. This brilliant cookbook provided a vegan version that's slightly more savory than sweet, but satisfied my craving.

Rock on, 2002. The soundtrack to this recipe is definitely a toss-up between Michelle Branch's "Everywhere" and Missy Elliot's "Work It." It's so 9 years ago.

What were you doing in 2002?

Vegan Corn Casserole
(adapted from Veganomicon cookbook)

  • a dash of olive oil
  • 3 cups frozen corn
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely diced
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. salt
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly coat an 8 x 8 inch pan with cooking spray.

2) Heat a dash of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the corn, bell peppers, and onion to the skillet and saute for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned.

3) Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk and cornstarch in a bowl; stir until cornstarch is dissolved.

4) When the corn mixture is ready, transfer 2 cups of it to a food processor. Process the corn mixture and coconut milk mixture. In a large bowl, combine the processed mixture, the remaining corn and bell pepper mixture, the cornmeal, brown sugar, cilantro, and salt. Stir until thoroughly combined. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.


  1. Holy WOW that looks awesome!!!! go veganomicon! <3 and go you! =)

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  2. Quesadillas the size of torsos... that's my kind of quesadilla :)

  3. Great recipe!!!!!
    2002? I was a sophmore in college...eating chicken fingers on a daily basis and loving life.

  4. wow this recipe is absolutely amazing. I am definitely going to give it a try!


  5. hahaha first off, I hope your life is better, knowing what a buckeye is (former buckeye right here!!) but don't worry, skyline is gross, so you're not missing anything there! I've actually never had chili there, but it looks gross.

    Hahahaha I remember when AIM was all the rage. And my screen name had like 4 numbers after it. Ohhh 2002...

  6. Ahh, we have a restaurant that has something like this! Every plate comes with a dollop of sweetened, cooked masa. I always wondered what exactly was in it. This may be similar - I might try it with masa harina in place of cornmeal :D

  7. OMG too funny! I love reminiscing on the yester-years, especially about the fashion! I dedicate my post to you today - you sweet potato fry recipe was a hit at my house!!

  8. Would you believe I've never been to a Chi Chis? They closed all of the locations by me years ago :(

  9. Great post---so funny to look back like that!
    In 2002, I had just moved to Boston by myself and was working on an air force base in the fitness program. I was a country girl learning about the city...and trying all kinds of new food (and spending way too much money on clothes!). It was also my first experience with Whole Foods...and spending almost a whole paycheck on the salad bar :)

  10. I love love love this post!! Looking back is so much fun, and it's always cool to hear what other people remember so well from years ago. I just got a flashback of those songs being played at school dances..ahh the good ol' days!

  11. You are so hilarious! Loved reading this!!! I've looked at that recipe so many times wondering how it would taste. Definitely making this!

  12. Has it really been 9 years since "Work It"? I can't stop humming it in my head now that you've mentioned it! This corn casserole looks simply amazing, and I love the addition of coconut milk to it. Must've added a certain sweet-salty undertone to the dish.

  13. i love corn casserole but have never made my own. and i so remember AIM! hilarious :)

  14. Mmm... looks so good! Let's see, in 2002 I hadn't yet hit the half-a-decade milestone! But I wasn't a grandma either, so I guess you have to look at it both ways. It's hard to even remember when gas was only $1.65 a gallon!

  15. I feel so OLD now that you mention it... I should have started Grad school in 2002.... eeekkk