Monday, October 10, 2005

Chilly Days = Chili Days!

Several months back, I wrote about my Grandma’s homemade noodles. How she taught my mom to make them, and my mom taught me. We all make them the same way, yet they all taste a little different from one another. Being such a simple recipe, I have wondered if the distinctive ingredient is the unique love and care of the creator of the batch.

This weekend, in honor of the change in the air from toasty Indian Summer to crisp and sobering autumn chill, not to mention that football season is really underway (is it just me or does it not really seem like football season till it drops below 60 or so?), I made a big batch of chili. It’s a tradition in my life – the first cold weekend is rung in with the zippy, body-and-soul-warming spice of homemade chili. Yum! But unlike Grandma’s noodles, I don’t strive to duplicate, nor even refer to a recipe card. I’ve made chili so many times that I just concoct the base (an impressionist version of Mom’s with my own alterations) from memory now – and will then additionally hocus pocus atop my official chili-cookin’ pot as mood strikes, causing each batch to be a little different than any other. This particular time I added a pinch extra spice and topped it with pepper-jack cheese, hoping to chase the oncoming bug out of my system. As I’m feeling much better today than yesterday, maybe it worked.

The hub likes to come in the kitchen and supervise here and there, giving me tips on how to make a perfect batch. It makes him happy to contribute. I will admit, I started adding a jar of medium or hot salsa to my base recipe per his suggestion. It does add a nice infused zing. He always insists that I use Chi-Chi’s salsa, but I get whatever I get (usually Sam’s Choice). I sort of white-lie about it (“Did you get the good kind”? ~ “Yes, dear”) and he seems just as happy.

Chili on the first cold weekend is in league with a ball park dog on opening day. A funnel cake on a sultry evening at the county fair. A Cadbury Egg when Easter comes around again. It’s the essential culinary part of the experience, and without it things wouldn’t be quite complete. Like each new first-cold-weekend, each batch is similar, but has its own distinct charming characteristics.

And we enjoy each bite, of the batch and of the day, savoring until it’s gone.

Mmmmm.

17 comments:

naive-no-more said...

I love chili! The quintessential fall food.

This is how I make my homemade spaghetti sauce. It's never the same taste twice. I made homemade salsa this year and now I can't wait to put it in my chili.

Too bad I have chicken marinating for fajitas tonight.

JenCB said...

I'm not sure I ever told you this, but having grown up there and having loved Chi-Chi's food, I was shocked and amused to learn that "chi chis" down here is a slang term for a woman's breasts.

Don't believe me? Check the Urban Dictionary:
http://tinyurl.com/8lppf

clew said...

Jen, should I be embarrassed that I already knew that? LOL!!!

JenCB said...

ROFL...I'm glad I checked back in the comments or I would have missed your reply!

Oh dear, was I an ignorant midwesterner all those years?

martie said...

All right....enough already! Now that you have my taste buds crying out for some great homemade chili, I will have to go to the store and buy the fixings to make my own special batch! Are you happy now, Clew! LOL Unless, of course you have a catering service and in that effent please deliver some. We would like to eat around 6 PM, okay?

martie said...

me again....effent is supposed to be event! OOPS!!

Lori said...

My husband made chili this weekend, too! We have two different recipes and as I will eat just about anything and am good to go with anyone's recipe, I indulged him! (I just can't fathom chili w/out beans...and he doesn't like it with - but hey...I'll eat it either way!)

Maybe we should think about changing the "All-American" foods from hot dogs and burgers to CHILI!!!

used*to*be*me* said...

Hello. thanks for stopping by. I do like this site. Great template! ha ha. I have a headcold now due to the cold weather in UT over the weekend. Oh well, it was totally worth it!

McSwain said...

mmmmmm yum! Do you make cornbread, too?

martie said...

Hey Clew, I made chili for supper and put SALSA in it. My hubby said, "hmmm...this taste different but it's really good!"

And guess what Cheryl, I made cornbread to go with it! LOL

Bougie Black Boy said...

i need to get a crockpot and start making food again. I miss cooking!

Bainwen Gilrana said...

Oooh, this sounds tasty. Much better than my actual dinner tonight. (My real dinner tonight consisted of popcorn. I swear I usually eat better than that, I just had a string of meetings to deal with!)

I don't actually know how to make chili. But I'm willing to learn. Hey, Stephen, want to come over for dinner? It's only, oh, a 10 or 11 hour drive or train ride!

clew said...

I didn't make cornbread, but I often do. Cornbread and chili ROCKS!

Sometimes I even add corn to my chili (frozen corn is best - canned corn is icky). The hub thinks that's weird, but I like it. :)

Harry Yak said...

i can never get a recipe from my mom to turn out. it;s because she never measures anything anymore. it's like a little of this and some of that. how is a guy supposed to imitate all that experience?

Tirithien said...

Bainwen, you want chili, I shall create it for you. :-) You want the real thing, or what Midwesterners call chili?

clew said...

I can share my base recipe with y'all if you want :) It's a good starting place!

Rebecca said...

Chili is one of my FAVORITE FAVORITE foods. I like to consider myself a chili connoiseur! (sp) Hot chili, mild chili - with or with out beans. I don't care, I just LOVE it! Yum... Now I think I want some for dinner! :)