Monday, February 16, 2015


Coming to you from the land of Cumin.  And a day of anticipated ice and sleet now glistening in the sun which is flickering like an indecisive light bulb.  In my little world, we are the lucky region experiencing only a little winter weather.  But we are never in the consistent, mind-numbing cold world of never lose your mittens or forget your hat and travel with peanut butter in the car.  And due to this fact, our world comes to a halt when anything actually sticks to a road and the temperature is below 32.  We don't do winter driving well and we live in a hilly place.  We are programmed to jump out of bed and run to the TV to see which schools and businesses are closed if we think we heard sleet hit the window during the night.  

But preparation for a snowy, icy possibility is our forte.  Because people actually think a winter storm warning might bring a little fun in February as long as the power holds out.  And our power company prepares diligently but mother nature thinks she looks better in shimmering branches and low hanging iced pines.  A hearty crew works mightily while we are selfishly enjoying a white day.

During the possibility of a winter "event", we lose our ability to drive just thinking about all of the places we must go shopping to put in our winter supplies.  There are eight sleds left in town and definitely no generators.  Little old ladies are counting their candles.  We have had other winter examples which taught us what it is like to live for days or a week at the top of a hill without power.

If one is to be sequestered, one must have chili.  The kind of chili which can take days to plan almost like a Thanksgiving dinner.  The perfect chili.  I did all of this while waiting for the perfect moment to begin the awesome chili preparation.

Two pounds of Angus ground chuck.  One pound of behind the butcher counter ground sirloin.  Tomatoes.  Onions.  Garlic.  Cheese.  Frito's.  Sour cream.  Milk.  Coca Colas.  Green olives.  Windmill cookies.  Strawberries.  Eggs.  Apples.  Butter.  Crackers.  Bread.  Paper goods and Tide.  And anything Little Debbie.  Rolaids and Tylenol.

All items guaranteed to be out of stock two days before the possibility of the broadcast event.

The mood struck me last night.  With the pressure of Downton Abbey starting soon and a quick visit with a friend, I began the process.  I had my onion and garlic chopped before I called my friend.  I browned the meat.  Added my whole tomatoes et all plus water.  Set out my spices - Hungarian Paprika, black pepper, curry, chili powder, salt, cayenne, Added tomato paste.  Of course, I didn't stand by the stove and do each thing.  No.  I would go sit in my chair and chat and then get up and stir the pot.  Turn it up or down.  Put the lid on and take the lid off.  During the middle of Downton Abbey, I left the room and put the lid on and turned off the stove so it would be ready for the fridge.  After poor Isabel's horrible engagement party, I tasted the chili.  Mmmm.  Oh no.  I have done this before, more than once.  I like tomatoes in my chili but now I remembered why I no longer add them.  I had made a lovely, simmered pot of spaghetti sauce minus the wine which I would have incorporated if I had had a good bottle nearby.  

When you want chili and you get spaghetti sauce, it is disappointing.  Spaghetti sauce is not the comfort dish one longs for when thinking about a frosty day.  It will do but not with sour cream and Frito's and cheese.  At least I had angel hair.

When the cooking gets tough, call home.  At first light.  Of course.  In all of my speedy and not overly attentive course of cooking, I had forgotten the CUMIN.  And no spice can turn a questionable morsel to the Tex-Mex side of the fence as quickly as a dash of cumin.  Mama was a chili saver.  And she knows chili!

The pot of spaghetti sauce was about to become chili.  I could have eaten it for breakfast I was so excited to correct the situation.  But I carefully put the cold pot on low and waited for the stew to warm up.  I added the cumin and a little water, put the lid on and turned the heat up a smidge.  And waited.

A magic timer went off in my head.  Chili time, finally!  Yes.  It smelled like chili, after hours of anticipation, preparation and regeneration.  I got my bowl down.  But of course, skinny cooks can't be trusted so I took a taste test.

Whoa.  Maybe not a good whoa.  Why is there a piece of silver floating in my chili.  I thought it was a bay leaf and then I remembered another ingredient I left out.  This was a little piece of silver paper.  And another piece of  paper - round.  Just like the quality seal affixed to the top of any new spice bottle.  I grabbed the bottle.  I don't know how the paper ended up in the batch.  At least two tablespoons of cumin did make it in.  There is  definitely a Tex-Mex flavor.  Very spicy.

My heart sank once again.  I've ruined the chili, twice.  A well-loved, expensive pot of chili.  Disappointed Frito's, sour cream and cheese.  I offered myself up as the test.  One big bowl of Cumin with all the fixings.

I'm still standing.  But then I took a closer look at this picture and I wondered.  Where is the rest of the silver paper?  Thank goodness it's quality sealed.  I think I will try to make chili one more time in my lifetime.