~ From the Kitchen of the Fractured Cook ~ Best Chili Ever

Mom's chili. #food #foodporn

Mom’s chili. (Photo credit: pindarninja)

I have a nostalgic recipe for my Mom’s  “Favourite Chili” hanging on the bulletin board attached to my refrigerator. It calls for things like real kidney beans that you have to parboil, chopped onion and green peppers, cumin, cloves, chili powder, garlic cloves, tomatoes, and salt to taste. I just love recipes that say “salt to taste”. Sounds like they are giving you “creative licence”.

I am going to tell you how to make the best and fastest chili in the world, but you need to remember several things before I reveal my recipe:

1. If something takes more than ten minutes to fix, I don’t fix it.

2. Shortcut cooking is my kind of cooking.

3. I am no purist.

4. I rarely follow a recipe—I cook by ear (you know, some people play music by ear, I cook by ear)

5. I think cooking from scratch is laudable. It is something I rarely do, but it is laudable.

Okay, are you ready?

Cook some hamburg (if I were being official I would say a pound to a pound and a half, and scramble fry it).

Add some chopped onion if you are feeling really creative, while you are cooking the hamburg.

Once the hamburg is browned, add a big can of tomatoes (32 oz if you are getting fussy); a can of kidney beans (the cheapest you can find on the shelf); a can of tomato sauce (whatever size you have); a can of tomato soup; and some water (usually about half a tomato soup can).

Add one packet of chili mix (I use President’s Choice or Old El Paso—but it is your choice). I put this in at any point in the process, usually just after the meat has been browned and before I add the liquids. Sometimes I forget and add it later—like now.

If you are still feeling creative, peel a clove or two of garlic, cut in half and drop into chili. (I cut it big for easy retrieval later.)

Add a teaspoon or so of cocoa and some “salt to taste”. And some black pepper if you want.

Heat until it bubbles, then turn down to a simmer for a couple of hours. If you don’t have a couple of hours, twenty minutes will do.

Ladle (I used the word dump at first but thought that was too indelicate) into bowls and serve with toast or garlic bread or bread right from the wrapper.

As I have noted several times in this blog, I am a white girl of Scottish, English, Irish, French, and Pennsylvania Dutch origins. There may be something else in the mix—I am not sure.  Other people in my family, with exactly the same origins are really good cooks and they cook from scratch.  So, what is my excuse?

If truth be told, I am not a bad cook. And I love good food lovingly prepared. I just choose to lovingly prepare mine in as little time as possible. If you liked this recipe I can share my Best Ever Easy Beef Stew with you, but be forewarned, there is no searing and very little chopping in my recipe–but it is tasty and not time-consuming. Ask and it will be given.

For now, happy Friday to all, and to all a good weekend.

Olives ~ How Could I Forget Olives?


Olives (Photo credit: jurvetson)

I was going through my Thanksgiving menu in my head today for some reason. It is not like me to plan ahead, so this is a good sign for those who will have to eat the meal. I thought about the menu that I have created, and was gobsmacked that  I had forgotten the most important thing: OLIVES. Sure we will have turkey and stuffing and potatoes and corn and pumpkin pie—but how did I forget the Olives?

Olives have been on all my holiday feast tables since I left home and my mother’s table. And olives were on the menu of every one of her holiday meals—or at least Thanksgiving and Christmas, but probably Easter too.

I love olives. The little green ones stuffed with pimento were the ones from my childhood, and I still make sure I have them on my table for the holidays. I guess my tastes have expanded since childhood, because I now like briny black olives, but my hands down favourites are  huge green olives stuffed with a garlic clove. They are to die for (seriously that is what this cliché was designed for, to describe these garlic stuffed olives).

I am going to let you in on a little secret: when I do not have my jumbo garlic olives, but have the little guys with the pimento in my fridge, I open the jar and stick some garlic cloves in, and the next day, these garlic infused olives are also “to die for”. Learned this from my sister who got it from her friend Kathy.

English: Single clove garlic.

English: Single clove garlic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Someone once asked me if I liked garlic and was surprised at my response that I love garlic. Do I look like someone who does not like garlic—am I too white bread for garlic? (Is there even such as thing as too white bread for garlic?) I get this kind of stuff all the time—I was once told by someone that they were surprised I drank beer. Jeez, I need to get some kind of makeover—admittedly I am a little preppy in the way I dress—but hey, I love garlic and a cold beer. Hope that settles the controversy (though I think it is a controversy of my own making—the mind is a wonderful and complex thing isn’t it?)

I seem to have digressed here—but just so there is no mistake: Olives will be served at my Thanksgiving table. They will also be on the table at Christmas. When I was a kid this was the only time we had olives. Today, I have them whenever I darn well please, but they may not make it to the table in one of my mom’s little crystal bowls like they will this Thanksgiving.

Garlic on Your Feet?

Image of a container of Vicks VapoRub

Image of a container of Vicks VapoRub (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know that if you rub garlic on your feet that within 20 minutes you can taste it? This I learned from an email sent by a friend who passes on all kinds of vital and indispensable information to me. In the same email, she shared some very interesting information regarding  VICKS Vapo Rub. I remember Vicks being applied to my neck and chest area quite generously by my mom when I  had a cold and cough as a  kid. Then she would put a warm towel on the area, and I would fall into a blissful sleep (giving her some much needed rest too.)

Little did I know that the Vicks should have been applied to the soles of my feet for the utmost relief. At least that is what this fellow who attended a lecture on Essential Oils claims (and then posted it on the Internet for all to see). Apparently our soles absorb oils. (Makes you want to be careful about walking barefoot doesn’t it?)

The fellow who wrote up this “essential” advice, (let’s call him Sam so we do not have to keep calling him “fellow”) says that you can stop night time coughing by applying Vicks Vapo Rub to the soles of your feet, then cover them with socks, and within about five minutes the coughing stops.  Sam swears by this and says it works 100% of the time. And the bonus is you get soft feet.  A medicine that multi-tasks—who knew? The dual promise of no coughing and soft feet is just something I cannot resist. I do refuse to put garlic on my feet though, unless there is word of a vampire breakout (which may not be all that far-fetched, given all the books and movies dedicated to the fanged warriors.)

Sam says that his wife tried this when she had a deep and persistent cough and it worked. He learned of this method himself after listening to a radio morning talk show, which featured a chap talking about cough medicines and why they often do more harm to children than good because of all the chemicals in them. Sam does not say who the “chap” was, but for the sake of argument, let us believe he was doctor (and not just one who played a doctor on TV.)

While I am dispensing a little advice on colds, I will share with you a little recipe guaranteed to soothe a cold that I ran across in the book, “How to Sew a Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew” by Erin Bried. (I just cannot resist a book that has the word nifty in the title.) It is called “How to Make a Hot Tea Toddy”, and the Grandma who came up with it obviously had a bit of a sense of humour.

Step 1: Brew a cup of tea by pouring boiling water over a tea bag, preferably decaffeinated so you don’t get jittery. Let steep for a few minutes. (I have it on good authority that you should steep it for exactly three minutes.)

Step 2: Add a swirl of honey to taste. (Not a dollop, not a teaspoon, a swirl—this is very important). Honey apparently not only tastes good but coats your throat and relieves soreness and coughing.

Step 3: Quarter a lemon and squeeze over your cup to add “lip-smacking tartness” (you can’t make this stuff up). 

Okay, Step 4 gets to the heart of the matter: Add a shot of whiskey or bourbon to the tea. Depending on how bad you feel, add a shot of whiskey or bourbon to your mouth too (there’s that sense of humour I was talking about).

Step 5: Hold cup to your face, breathing in the hot steam to clear up your schnoz.

Step 6: Climb under your covers, and sip until you get drowsy.

Step 7: Set the cup down first. Very important! Then fall asleep.

Step 8: Dream good dreams. Snoring is optional.

Now, I am betting that if you don’t drink alcohol, the honey and lemon by themselves will probably do the trick, but I would put a little Vapo-rub on the soles of your feet if you want to leave out the whiskey. In the book, Grandma adds three more “nifty” tips for nursing a cold: Sit by the fireside to stay toasty as feeling chilled can suppress your immune system; gargle with warm water three times a day to wash away germs; and wash your hands often with soap, and “for goodness sake keep them away from your face.”

So with Sam and Grandma’s advice under your belt, you have a few more ways to combat any cold that invades your personal space. Just remember don’t tea toddy and drive.

Published in: on September 12, 2011 at 12:14 am  Comments (20)  
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