October 10, 2006

Chili Apologetics

q. shenaynay

1. It's raining today.
2. It's October.
3. My blasted fall allergies are in full attack.
4. We're going camping.

Any one of these factors occurring in isolation could result in a monster pot of killer chili materializing on our stove, but when all four factors occur at once, it's as inevitable as my Daddy fiddling with his handkerchief while he preaches. Twelve quarts of the fiery stuff are now percolating piquantly toward purgatory on my front burner. Ahhhhh.

It occurs to me, as I go through the ritual of shaking the mason jar wherein corn masa magically dissolves and thickens in warm water, that we will be sharing this batch with friends who may not be fully aware that chili has philosophical and spiritual implications in our household. Perhaps it would be best if I offered a few words of explanation, a sort of apologetic for chili, if you will. Okay, then... we'll start with the basics.

::clears throat::


I am a Texas girl. I make Texas chili.

I do not apologize for this, not even to non-Texans (bless their hearts) who wave their spoons in mute surrender and curiously change color. Should you appear to stop breathing, I can do nothing better for you than suggest more sour cream. Just so you'll know.

I believe that chili should be crafted toward the purpose of reminding you that you are fully alive.

I believe the Creator put the endorphin-releasing substance called capsaicin in chile peppers because He knew Granny Eve was going to bite that apple and that thereafter stuff was going be tough for all of us down here and we were all going to be in perpetual need our having our fallen endorphins all fired up. To review: Sinners Need Chili.

I believe the practice of sharing chili is therefore devotional and merciful in nature, a holy act of encouraging one's downtrodden brethren. (I know this to be true because so many of my loved ones have experienced quasi-pentecostal episodes whilst partaking of my chili.)

I believe that pot of polite, soupy stuff which was served to me in Nashville once was NOT chili regardless of the fact that the dear saint who served it to me called it that repeatedly; however misguided, I still give her devotional props for having her heart in the right place.

I believe if all American schoolchildren were properly fed real Texas chili, those taste bud diagrams in their textbooks would be wholly unnecessary because they would know full well the precise location of every taste bud they have.

I believe Texas historians will someday discover that the battle of the Alamo and most of the infamous range wars were sparked by recipe spats between burly wild wild west men at frontier chili cookoffs.

I believe if world leaders would seriously pursue the art of making Texas chili, they would no longer feel driven to tinker around with nuclear explosions.

I believe I need to end this post and go contemplate the providential mercies of capsaicin and endorphins and knowing for sure that you're alive. In short, the love of God expressed in a bowl of frito pie.

33 comments:

Nardo said...

You now have me craving an enourmous bowl of chili with cheese and onions.

Queen Shenaynay said...

Come on over, girl. You know where I live! I'll feed you enough for two. ;-)

(Seriously, we'd love for you to stop by again sometime.)

Anonymous said...

Are you going to post your recipe?

Lok said...

LOL!!!! Sinners Need Chili. I am SO gonna use that one. Priceless blog!!!

athenainaminivan said...

mmm- made a pot for the big game last weekend. We have discoved we no longer need the first cold day to partake in our State food. Just give me bag of fritos and and onion and I get the hankering.

Now, where to find good tamales in this part of North Texas.....

Queen Shenaynay said...

I should have known someone would ask for the recipe! ;-)

I have made chili completely from scratch before, but it can be quite time consuming for a gal in a perpetual hurry. Most of the time I opt for the convenience of using Wick Fowler's 2-Alarm kits as a starting point. These make a pretty swell pot of chili in short time when used as is, but I do like to make adjustments and additions to them. For example, for 6 pounds of beef, I would use three kits, but would only use the salt from one kit. I usually add another spoon of cumin, and sometimes more chili powder if it needs it (chilis can vary greatly in potency and flavor, so the punch factor of chili powder can vary, too). Fowler's directions call for 8 oz of tomato paste per kit; I toss in a 28 oz can for a triple recipe, plus three of the big cans of Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, with all the juice. (These babies are fabulous, and can really zoom up a stew as well.) I don't add all the water Fowler calls for, because the tomatoes provide enough liquid. I also add beans, but not to batches I intend to freeze. For those, I prefer to add the beans after I thaw the chili so they will have better texture. I like to let it simmer a bit longer than Fowler's directions call for.

Queen Shenaynay said...

I said tomato paste, but meant tomato sauce...

Lok said...

Oh good grief - my mouth is literally watering right now. lol... thank you for the recipe!

Nardo said...

Thanks for the invite! I'll have to get with you on that eventually. But until then, I will carry the thought of your chili with me into the long autumn evenings.

Cal-el of Krypton said...

I mus try dis chili!

Dani said...

gosh, I so want this now.

It wouldn't be near as good if I cooked it though, without some brothers and sisters to share it with.

I knew there was a reason that I want to move to Texas.

Mommy Dearest said...

I love chili in cold weather, but I'm thinking mine is a little tame compared to yours. I wonder if it would scare my kids if I spiced it up a bit? We had a chili cook-off at our homeschool group hoe-down, but that's the only pot I've made this season.

HandmaidenforHim said...

Oh, yes, there's nothing quite like Mexican Crunch (or Frito Pie as ya'll call it here in Texas) on a cold evening. My mom's recipe is rather different from yours, but yours does sound mouth-watering. Course, we're Texas-transplants, so of course, our recipe would probably be rather different.

Firefly said...

You are too funny! I grew up in New England. We must have stamped out sin back in our Puritan days because there was only one kind of chilly up there. ;)

rachel tsunami said...

I quit using Wick Fowler's and another chili starter when I discovered a muy grande recipe in one of my Williams Sonoma cookbooks. It is fabulous chili and pleases my texas heart. I'm eager to get your critique on it some day, you being the chili guru that you are.

Mama Squirrel said...

OK, I'm going to offend all you Texans. Look the other way, please. This is our chili recipe (straight out of the Tightwad Gazette, which was written by New Englanders).

Homemade Chili

1 tbsp oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 lb. hamburger (or ground chicken)
1 40-oz. can of kidney beans
1 28-oz. can of tomatoes
1 6-oz. can of tomato paste
1 tbsp chili powder
(no salt in this recipe, but I usually put some in)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Brown onions and peppers. Add hamburger and brown well. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, and chili powder. Add 3/4 cup water and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

There! Scared you?? OK, I know...it's NOT CHILI. It's not four-alarm or even two-alarm, it's got non-purist beans in it, it doesn't even have cumin in it. But it is tasty, unless you're from (clap clap) Texas and know better.

Mama Squirrel said...

Oh, and just to let you know that not all Canadians are such chili Philistines as we are...our local Lutheran church has an annual chili cookoff (men AND women) and they put stuff in those crockpots would grow hair where none has ever taken root before.

Mama Squirrel said...

that would grow hair. sorry.

Queen Shenaynay said...

OK, Rachel, you know the rules. You can't just nonchalantly toss it out here that you have a superior recipe without all of us insisting that you post it. Here or your blog, your choice. ;-)

Mommy Dearest said...

If Rachel does, there needs to be a blog address - you can't get it from the profile and I don't know where it is!

rachel tsunami said...

eek! No time just now. I've just seen the gauntlet, and it's 11pm Thursday night. I'm preparing for our co-op school day tomorrow and packing for a 5 day out-of-town trip. When I leave here at 7a.m. tomorrow, I won't be near my computer till next Tuesday night.

Tell ya what: I will post that recipe next Wednesday on our blog, and Lynn can link to it with a short heads-up blogpost here on the Beehive. In the meantime, I just might have an opportunity to taste Lynn's chili, and decide whether the Wms.Sonoma chili is even in the same league.

As my husband is fond of saying when I commandeer his help tasting my kitchen experiments, "It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it."

HHomeboy said...

Amen! To the squirrl person, it is not real chili if it has beans. Sorry. But i wonder if you can make squirrl chili. Will have to try it some times.

Would you see fit, we Shafers are always open for chili. So queen if you happen to have a spare moment, maybe you can cook it at HH or BC for afew hundred. In all of those spare moments you have....

Mama Squirrel said...

To Hhomeboy: Yeah, I know all about the beans being wrong, but for us it still has to have beans to taste right. We're partial to the cans of mixed beans you can buy (combination of garbanzo, kidney etc.) instead of using all one kind.

Squirrel chili? I hope that doesn't mean what it sounds like. I already get enough people finding our Treehouse blog by googling for things like "squirrel dumplings." We cannot condone that kind of cannibalism.

thomasinatittlemouse said...

Thanks for the recipe. I'm so glad this sacramental experience doesn't reqire gnostic revelation, because I really need help with chili. Whenever I try to make it I get strong reactions, but they are not of a devotional nature.

Dani said...

Amen about the no bean, they are just an excuse for not having more meat in the chili!

HHomeboy said...

Squirrel is the third white meat! Simmered in a pan, grilled, baked.

The only dificult thing is that there is so little meat on them.....

Mama Squirrel said...

???

HHomeboy said...

Squirrels are tasty. Espcially if cooked right.

Mama Squirrel said...

Well, our squirrel wears headphones and eats banana chips while ensconced in a cozy chair with a TV remote, as you will see in our blog's sidebar. Kind of a rodent Garfield. He also tells great bedtime stories and gets into the occasional argument over poker winnings.

So you will kindly understand that around here his ilk would not be considered white meat or any other kind. Put it down to cultural differences.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band said...

"Sister Lynn, bring forth the holy chili bowl of texas" :)
Sounds like some good chili, great chili, GRAND chili! Bad time to read this too, right before supper.

Ludwig said...

dude, where have yall been lately? its like yall went for a joy ride and got stuck in the rain or something!

rachel tsunami said...

ever tried adding a little rainwater to this recipe? i don't know. something to think about.

monolog said...

Y'all must be insane.