Monday, October 23, 2006

An Embarrassment of Autumnal Riches...

It's funny, I'm so fickle - when I've not got much to say, I don't blog.

When I've got too much to say - I don't blog.

Sometimes, there is just no getting the balance right...

My recent silence has been a case of the latter: too much goodness. Which is quite a nice problem to have. These past few days have been just lovely - and it's been fun getting up each morning to see what new is in store. Fall can do that to you can't it?

While I try to organize my thoughts, and figure out how to talk about all the stuff I want to share without overwhelming everyone* - 'cause really, admit it, when you go to visit a blog and it's too wordy, you can't follow it all. Or if there are 8 new posts in one day? Yeah, I know - too much... - let me just proclaim that there is one thing I've got figured out:

Fall. Is. Finally. Here.

Why do I say that with such authority? (And didn't the calendar announce this *last* month?) Two reasons:

1. It got cold.
2. I made chili.

When I say it got cold, it got cold. It was only in the high 30's at noon, people. That's *January* weather around these parts! But it was clear and crisp and windy and just a great day. I wore two pairs of socks to the grocery store, because I am a big baby when it comes to being cold, but it was worth it.

Around here chili is the definitive sign that autumn is upon us, and winter's just around the corner. It is one of Bubba's all time favorite foods, and he actually asks for it year round. However, I'm the world's meanest wife, and will only make it when it's cold. Seriously, who eats chili when it's 90 degrees out with 300% humidity???

I'm not going to say that this is the best chili recipe out there - chili is a very subjective thing and my ideal might not match up with anyone else's. However, I am not embarrassed to admit that I spent years -- yes you read that right, years! -- tinkering with this to get it where Bubba and I like it.

I'll warn you, it's spicy. My mother says it is the worst chili she's ever eaten, and that she doesn't see how anyone can stand all that heat. To that, I just roll my eyes at her and remind her that it wasn't until I got married that I realized that you could make chili without an envelope of Chili-o. (Although, I'm not slandering Chili-o. In the grand scheme of things, it's not bad. But making your own from scratch isn't that much more difficult or time consuming...)

Anyhow, today was definitely a chili day, so out came the huge stockpot, so I could make a double batch, because we can eat on this for days, and if we do get tired of it - it freezes really well. (I once tried to make a triple batch, but it was kind of a nightmare: my big pot wasn't big enough and surface tension was the only thing keeping the chili in the pot!) The recipe below is the original, single batch recipe.

If you're not a fan of spice, go ahead and try it, just dial the spice amounts way, way back. That's what I've had to do since Schecky has declared that chili is no longer on his list of "foods I won't eat"** He likes chili, but only if it's not too hot. So I ease off on the cayenne, Tabasco, and a little of the chili powder... and it's still pretty darn nice.

Bubba's Favorite Chili

1 large onion, chopped (I like the yellow kind)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 lb ground sirloin (or chuck) (or beef) (whatever)

Saute onion and garlic in the oil in a large stockpot. Add ground beef; cook over medium heat until browned. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered for at least an hour. Stir occasionally, as you don't want it to stick and get too done.

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15 ounce can beans (Dark kidney, red kidney, etc. When I double the recipe I use one can kidney, one can black beans)
1/2 of a 6 ounce can of tomato paste (see why I like to double it? No pesky half-can left over)
2 1/2 cups of water
1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
6 Dashes of hot sauce (Tabasco, or the like)

1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 generous Tablespoon of brown sugar (and you know that means the dark brown kind!)

This is always served with apple slices and cornbread in some shape/size/fashion. Bubba likes sharp cheddar cheese sprinkled on top, which is a nice touch.

*Hey! I just remembered that my friend, GeekyMom, taught me a neat trick - how to create a poll. How about you tell me what you want to hear about? Or is that BlatantCommentWhoring???

**The list of "foods I won't eat" is allowed to be three items long. Scheck's list for years was "Lasagna. Chili. Gumbo." Now he eats chili, and I think that slot has been filled by "Fig Newton" He hates Fig Newtons. How is that possible? They're fruit and cake! What's not to love????


autum said...

It was cold here today too, but not 30's cold. 50's I think. OK, that's not COLD, but I certainly was shivering every time I took the dogs out.
I agree with you, chili is a cold weather food. I think I'll try your recipe tomorrow night. I like mine with cheddar on top too. Yummy!!
Love those cornbread ghostie faces by the way! So expressive.

Anonymous said...

Um, if you're blatant comment whoring, then what does that make those of us who already comment here all the time???

And I made chili too, last week!!! Great minds and all that. But I used a new recipe which was okay, not great, so now I'm excited to try yours!

And yay for the ghosties! Bring on the drunken pirates! And more exclamation points!!

Emily said...

it was cold her to in south AL.... very cold. we also had chili, of the black bean variety. Yummy!!!! It is a huge favorite around here, and yes, a signal that fall has arrived. Made a special trip to an EXTRA grocery to get authentic cornmeal for corn bread. A huge insult was hurled at me once by my honey... I thought you made it from a box. THE HORROR!!!! No honey, I whip out my Bell's Best every time!!! it was good, and I think only one serving was left of each!!! Guess what I am having for lunch!!! :)

Katkat said...

I made ham and bean soup. I love the fall and winter so that I can make tons of soup and chili.

bekka said...

oh yeah. it's cold. i'm wearing mittens and a coat now. where'd you find the recipe for the ghosties? they look lovely! i did the poll. but there should have been a fifth option: all. i've never liked fig newtons either. there's something really wrong with fruit and cake together.

Anonymous said...

OH GOSH!!! Is that FIESTAWARE!!!!???? Juniper no less! I love it! (We have juniper, persimmon, cobalt & sunflower as our dishes, I registered for them when we got married & they promptly discontinued the juniper. Great!)

I will definitely be trying that chili recipe. Although I must object to your weather complaint. I woke up to 2 inches of sticking to the ground snow this am. How sick is that? Is this Oct or Jan I ask you?

I had to laugh at the Scheck doesn’t like Fig Newtons, their fruit & cake what’s not to like bit. Have you ever heard of Jim Gaffigan? He is a comedian that does this whole about cake. It’s hilarious! (well I think so but then I laughed my butt off over the doing the nasty bugs, so you be the judge)

capello said...

ewwww... i never liked fig newtons either. yuck. but lasanga? how is that possible?

capello said...

and i forgot to say... i can't believe you use a chili recipe. chili's one of those throw-a-bunch-in-the-pot things for me.

blair said...

there is nothing like a good chili recipe. It was the first thing I was able to cook "well" and I'm so glad I did, I think I made it for Peter on one of our early dates. And yes, it was cold (we started dating in the Fall).

blair said...

I also forgot to add that those ghosts are brilliant!

beki said...

Mmm, I've been in the mood for chili. I almost made one this weekend, but went with a chicken pot pie sort of thing.

angela said...

I have the same rule. Chili does not get eatten until it's cold! This is just common sense people. That was an awesome post. Cornbread GHOSTS? I mean, come on! How do you do it? so flippin' cool. I'm so coming for dinner.