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Condolence Chili

Our friend Dave made this recipe for us when Lindz found out that she didn’t get into any of the Ph.D. programs she applied to.  Which in hindsight was a good thing, but that is another story.

A handful of months go by and Lindz wants to make some soup because our friends Paul and Jill are coming over for the evening.  Lindz decided to make chili and got the recipe from Dave.  By some freak coincidence, this happened to be the day that Alice had passed away.  Earlier in the day, Lindz got all the ingredients necessary, so I decided that we might as well make the chili since we still wanted Paul and Jill to come over.

Our track record with the chili is 2 crappy times out of 2 times eaten.  I dubbed this recipe Condolence Chili because of this record and the fact that it’s good enough to distract you (even for a little bit) from your sorrows.  It’s best eaten with some really good friends.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs of Ground Meat (we used Chorizo with the cases cut off)
  • a 28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 3 15 oz cans Beans (we used Black Beans, but feel free to mix them up a bit, i.e. black, pinto, navy, etc.)
  • 2 Chipolte Chilis in Ancho Sauce
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbs Oil
  • large Onion, medium dice
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced

Put the tomatoes, beans (drained and rinsed), chipotle chilis, sugar, and 1/2 tsp of salt in a large stockpot and bring to a simmer.  Continue to simmer until needed at the end.  Heat 2 Tbs of oil in a large skillet over med high heat and add the onion, chili powder, cumin (both to taste, about a Tbs each), and the remaining 1/4 tsp salt.  Mix well and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.  Increase the heat to med high and add the ground meat.  Break it up as it cooks and cook it until it is no longer pink.

I know it sounds weird, but I find browning meat relaxing. Maybe it has something to do with the smell.

Transfer the meat/onion mixture to the stockpot and bring back to a simmer.  Let this cook for a minimum of 15 minutes.  Taste, adjust the seasonings, and serve.  Like any soup or stew, the longer you let it simmer, the better the flavors will blend.

As usual, I serve chili with grated cheese, diced onions, and sour cream on the side so people can add what they like.  I personally add them all.

This is a welcome sight no matter what else is going on in your life.

With cornbread as the obvious number one choice, what is the next best thing to go with chili?  That’s right, garlic bread!  Lindz talked me into making it the way I did when we lived back in Decorah.  Not that it took any convincing to get me to do it.

Ingredients:

  • loaf of French Bread
  • 2 sticks of Butter (yup, that’s a half of a pound), softened
  • 2 4-4.5 oz jars of Minced Garlic

Slice the bread horizontally down the center (or into 1″ rounds).  Spread a stick of butter on each half and then a jar of garlic on each half.  Hey, I never said this was a healthy recipe.

You maybe having a knee-jerk reaction to the amount of butter and garlic. But don’t knock it until you try it. I’ve gotten very good reviews.

Place the bread on a baking sheet and put into a preheated oven (at 375 degrees) for about 20 minutes.  I’m not actually sure about the time, I just check it every five or so minutes.  Pull it out of the oven when the bread is golden brown and toasted.

This is a very effective anti-vampire recipe. I haven’t seen one since I’ve been eating this.

Jill is a master of lettuce salads.  This time she brought over one that contained apples, raisins, feta cheese, and a mustard vinaigrette.  It had a nice blend of flavors with the crisp apples, sharp feta, the sweetness of the raisins, and a nice tang of mustard and vinegar.

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Even if you don’t like rabbit food, you should try this flavor combo.

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This is Jill. This is a glass of wine. This is Jill with a glass of wine.

You would have thought that I would have learned by now . . .

This evening we went to see our friend Dave preach at a nearby church.  He did very well, thank you for asking.  Lindz and I didn’t get a chance to eat supper before we had to leave, so we ended up inviting Dave over for some supper after church.  Turns out he was planning on inviting himself over to de-stress anyway, so it worked out well.  I had a leek that needed to get used up, so I decided to pan fry it and put on top of the burgers that I was making.  From there, I decided to use up some onion as well.  And digging around, I found a jalapeno that I could fry up too.  That last item is where things went wrong.  I decided to skip over the seeding and just slice and fry it.  When it came time for the jalapeno’s turn in the pan, I was its first victim.  You know how you can tear up from an onion?  Yeah.  This was ten times as bad.  Anytime I got near to the pan to look and see how things were doing I was assaulted with the vapors.  Finally, it dawned on me to turn on the fan.  Even though it just blows air over my head, it was at least out of my eyes.  This was the point it claimed its next victims.  Dave and Lindz were sitting in the living room talking and happened to be directly in the path of the fan.  They started tearing up and coughing, so Lindz opened the window.  That eventually helped and we ate and all was good.  However, this wasn’t the first time that I accidentally waged chemical warfare on people with my cooking.

While still living in Decorah, I was making a satay sauce that I’ve made several times.  I never noticed the “side effects” of the cooking process until Lindz was there hanging out.  At one point she was asking what was going on.  This was motivated by the fact that Ophelia (the little cat) was doing her best Bast impression in the door to the kitchen staring at me, eyes watering, squinting, and silently yelling “Dude!  What the *$&#@ are you doing?!?!?!?”  Again, this isn’t the first time either.

To the best of my recollection, the first time was when I had some people over for a very impromptu after-the-bar-snack.  I decided to do a stir fry because it was quick and easy.  I wanted to add some heat because this group of friends liked spicy food.  In my cupboard, I found a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  Not having used it before, I just dumped the whole can in.  In my defense, and I’ve said it many, many times, it was a small can.  It couldn’t have been more than five or six ounces and I had a lot of things in the wok.  By this point everyone was ravenous and started digging in even though the rice wasn’t done yet.  Somewhere around the second bite was when it hit everyone.  I’m honestly not sure why we kept eating it, it was that spicy.  The only thing I can think of was we were just that hungry.  I say this because one friend, who shall remain nameless, went down to his car and found a stale loaf of bread and we started eating that with the stir fry to cut the heat.  Please don’t ask why he had a stale loaf of bread in his car.  I didn’t ask because I didn’t want to know.  I suggest you do the same.  Those unwilling to try the mystery bread started eating the half cooked rice.  Not surprisingly, I received  quite a few jabs about my “infamous chipotle stir fry”.  I don’t care.  They were the fools who kept eating it.