Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chili and the Classics

I love to cook Chili, the aroma as it simmers all day is second only to the smell of the onions and meat sauteing.  I can not remember ever having Chili as a child.  Maybe we did, but I don't remember eating it at my house or someone else's home, or even at a restaurant, but really, most families of my era very rarely went out to eat a meal. Ice cream, yes!!
I have made Chili the same way for many years since the early '70's, and then about 15 years ago, I started fussing with it more. Heck, I spelled it wrong until a few years ago-who knew it didn't have an "e" at the end?  Apparently, everyone but me.
I used to just grab a bunch of cheap hamburger-high fat, one small onion, brown and add tomato products, red kidney beans and packaged seasonings, simmer and done.  One time, my SSon's father cut up some potatoes, added them to the pot, and we called it "Willy's Chili", not too bad actually.
Now, I use a small amount of ground turkey or chicken, my favorite meat to use is Chicken Italian Sausage, just push the meat out of the casing for browning-never buy the already cooked version-barf.
Now, I add a teaspoon of cumin to the browned meat, onions, peppers-a variety of colors-and any other seasonings, like red pepper, chili powder or sometimes I use McCormicks Chili seasonings with my cumin.  I let the dry seasonings mix with the hot pot contents to release their flavor-I am sure I saw that on the Food Network!
Then I add some minced garlic-a big tablespoon, I do not saute' because if you burn that garlic it messes up the flavor of the entire Chili.
Next is a very good quality of canned diced tomatoes, two seasoned chopped tomatoes, veggies like zucchini and water. Now, here is my latest change: I drain and rinse my beans-black, red and white. I just read that the liquid that they are packed in holds all the gas-making properties.  Who knew?  I use more and a variety of beans than in past years because they are a healthier protein.
Cover and let simmer for an hour, then uncover to thicken, stirring occasionally, for as long as want.
It is mandatory to listen to classical music while making Chili, I just made that up because I am listening to a wonderful CD "TENORS in the Grand Tradition", featuring di Stefano, Corelli, Pavoritti,  Bjorling (my SStep-father and my SHusband always discussed the proper way to pronounce this singer's name), Tagliavini, Gedda, Bergonzi, Tucker, Alva and a favorite to pronounce with a "V": Wunderlich.
I love listening to classical music, and am so blessed to have a SH who also enjoys this music.  When my first marriage ended, the first thing I did was to buy classical music cds at Bell's Supermarket-they had a different one each week, and the price was really affordable.  I have really branched up and  out in my collection of classical cds since then, filling two shelves on our music case, but at times I still play one of those life-savers that I first bought. It was not that I was not allowed to play classical in my first marriage, it just caused such complaining that I took the path of least resistance. Who needed that stress........
When my SSF was in his final years, classical music gave him great comfort, so I made cassette copies of our collections, arias only since he said he did not like classical music pieces.  I brought them and a player to his assisted living room, and asked the staff to play them for him when my SMom was not there.  The music  seemed to calm him greatly.  He had Alzheimer's Disease, so his recent memory was not available to him, but he remembered his love of Arias.  I hope someone does that for me if needed.
Those who know me, know that I have a very diverse taste in music, classical is just one, but it is the one that dive bombs to my soul.
And for putting up with this long post:
Giuseppe DiStefano Puccini, La Fanciulla del West.

and this one too:
Fritz Wunderlich Lehar Das land des Lachens

I hope you have ways to give yourself calm and enjoy what you like.