res ipsa loquitur.

I don’t feel like I’m updating this as much as I should, but I’m going to try to post at least once per week until the finals crunch begins. In other news, I’m starting to feel like a real-live law student! I can now read more than one page of my casebook in any given hour. I no longer feel nauseous at the thought of speaking in class. Best of all, I get to use fun words like res ipsa loquitur. I’m going to chalk all three of these things up to a win.

For those of you unfamiliar with the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, allow me to give you a mini tutorial. There’s no reason this blog can’t be educational, after all. Res ipsa loquitur is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.” In the law of torts, specifically in the world of negligence, res ipsa loquitur states that it can be inferred that a defendant breached his or her duty of care simply by the accident having occurred. Essentially, when something happens that is so flat out bizarre and obvious, we ascribe the probability of that event happening without negligence to be virtually zero. For example: if you’re walking along a sidewalk, minding your own business, and a chair falls from the sky and hits you in the head, the likelihood of that happening without someone being negligent is extraordinarily low.

You can imagine the plaintiff would have a very difficult time proving that the defendant was negligent (in this case, let’s say the defendant is the hotel that she was walking out of when the chair hit her). She is at a structural disadvantage and has no real way of gathering evidence, thus, she wouldn’t be able to prove her case and no one would be held liable for throwing a chair out the window and injuring her. Justice would not be served!

Enter res ipsa loquitur. When res ipsa loquitur is satisfied, it is no longer the plaintiff’s burden to prove that the defendant was negligent. Rather, the burden shifts and the defendant must instead prove that he was NOT negligent.

Pretty neat, right? You know what else is neat? Food and beer. I think food and beer res ipsa loquitur.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

This hearty vegetarian dish takes about an hour to pull together and makes a ton of servings on the cheap. Although I love a good traditional chili, this meatless rendition does not want for flavor. Best of all, it has BEER in it! I used Long Trail Double Bag Ale and just a splash of the Saranac Pumpkin Ale that I was sipping on at the time. The heat from the chipotle peppers are nicely balanced by the sweet potatoes. I finished it off with a bit of sour cream, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. If you have cornbread on hand (or just happened to make some from scratch earlier in the day), I’m not going to stop you from using it. Leftovers can be used to create a vegetarian spin on a taco salad. I suspect this would be a fantastic quesadilla filling as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 orange pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Three 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro stems
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 bottle dark beer
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 lime (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and peppers until soft and beginning to caramelize, for about 5-8 minutes. Next add garlic, cumin, and chili powder and continue to sauté for about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans, chipotle, cilantro stems, and 1 teaspoon salt. Turn heat to high, and pour in beer. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add sweet potatoes.
  2. Continue to simmer until potatoes are tender, but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Spoon chili into bowls and garnish with cilantro leaves, a squeeze of lime, and a dollop of sour cream.

Inspired by Serious Eats.

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