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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Gardening to Distraction: Warm chili for a cool winter day

  • For those of you who have canned, frozen and otherwise preserved summer produce from your garden, now is your chance to shine - and be inspired for gardening this year. There are few dishes that chase away bone-chilling winter than homemade chili.
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  • For those of you who have canned, frozen and otherwise preserved summer produce from your garden, now is your chance to shine - and be inspired for gardening this year. There are few dishes that chase away bone-chilling winter than homemade chili.
    Over the years, I have tried a wide range of combinations, and forgotten to write most of them down except for this one. I was making it at one of my brother's homes and my sister-in-law insisted I write it down as I was throwing it together.
    One of the nice things about chili is there are a only a few basic ingredients; after the basics, you can customize to your own taste.
    I start with fresh tomatoes when I can, or a jar of canned tomatoes. When you start adding other preserved garden produce like green peppers, zucchini, squash and whatever else you may have handy, this chili recipe becomes a culinary adventure.
    Do you also have a secret chili ingredient? Every chili maker has one!
    For this recipe, you will need:  32 oz. tomatoes; you can use whole, diced, canned. 16 oz. can pinto beans; 16 oz. can red beans or 32 oz. of one kind of beans; 1 1/2 lbs ground beef (optional); one large cut up yellow onion;1-3 cut up garlic cloves. 2 cups water.
    For seasoning:  2-3 tablespoons chili power; 1 teaspoon fresh-dried oregano from garden;1 teaspoon ground cumin; 1 teaspoon baking cocoa; 1-2 teaspoons salt. Bay leaves.
    Brown onions and garlic in 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in large pan. Add brown ground beef.
    In larger pot, mix tomatoes and beans. Add seasonings and 2 cups water.
    Cook on low.
    Drain browned hamburger and onions; add to simmering pot.
    Taste test. Add salt if necessary. Add 2-3 bay leaves. Cook for 15 minutes longer.
    Remove bay leaves.  Serve, or store in small containers to freeze for later use.
    Over the years, I have heard of a variety of "secret" chili recipe ingredients.  If you like your chili sweet, try a couple tablespoons of honey. If you like tang, use a couple tablespoons of lime juice. Don't forget cooking with beer. Cooking removes the alcohol leaving the taste of the different hops. Try different beer varieties until you find one you like. In the chili, I mean, and not all together!
    Charlotte Ekker Wiggins shares her cooking tips at http://www.ateaspoon.com.  Copyright 2013 used with permission by Rolla Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at 4charlottewiggins@gmail.com.
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