National Chili Day, Feb. 28, 2013

Did you know we had a National Chili Day?  I didn’t!  Chili is something my family loves especially during the winter months and since it’s February and President’s Day month,  there is also a tie-in to the “National” part.

When I was researching President’s Day…I found out that two presidents in particular love Chili.

Maybe the most obvious is President Lyndon B. Johnson…who famously made Perdenales River Chili at his ranch whenever he got a chance.  He had very definite opinions about chili:  “Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing,” Johnson is quoted as saying.  He favored chili that is quite spicy. “One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.”  So it is not surprising that in 1977, chili manufacturers in the state of Texas successfully lobbied the state legislature to have chili proclaimed the official “state food” of Texas “in recognition of the fact that the only real ‘bowl of red’ is that prepared by Texans.” After his heart trouble, Lady Bird insisted it be made with Venison, but you can find it here.

Barack-Obama-Chili-Recipe_largeAnother president who loves chili?Hawaiian/Chicago President, Barack H. Obama (go figure) also loves chili and learned to make it in college. The health conscious First Lady, Michelle Obama makes it with ground turkey and serves it with saltine crackers.  She also notes that a green chili pod has as much vitamin C as six oranges.and can be a very healthy dish.  She also confesses that from time to time, she adds additional vegetables to the main recipe….like carrots, celery, and many colors of sweet peppers along with the spicy chilis that make this signature dish a hit with our president.

My favorite chili is a mish-mash of various recipes that turns out a bit different each time I make it.   Probably everyone has their own favorite recipe and we have ours as well.  For many folks the question is beans or no beans?!  Lots of disagreement on this, but I come down on the side of beans.  Not only because this is how I learned to make it, but also the health benefits of beans cannot be overstated. (Not to mention the “musical fruit” advantage that my grandson so enjoys).  You might want to take some beano beforehand…if you know what I mean!

My son-in-law, Randy, also loves chili….and makes his quite spicy.  He is known for his version8 - Chili Bowl 3 which he dubbed “After Burner Chili”…hahaha…he is a pilot after all.  I could crack wise about this moniker, but I won’t… Frankly I think Randy wins folks over to his version of chili because of the toppings….especially with the kids since his chili is HOT!  We need something to calm our tongues down,  and sour cream, cheese, and corn chips help, right? Smart alec that he is…he makes no promises concerning the burning that might come “after”.    The gkids like to eat it more like a dip. Lotsa chips, very little chili! And please God, no afterburners!

But tonight we are making Nana’s Black Bean Chili recipe.
In preparation, I am soaking black beans overnight. I will use only half the recipe and save the rest for Cuban Black Bean Soup.

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I like it very meaty, so I use a combination of turkey and ground round.  But I like the 80/20 ground beef version since the fattier cut makes up for the too lean turkey in this recipe. I use both because I really like the flavor combination.  I also like to use black beans for their health benefits and for their flavor, and a lot of vegetables.  If you have tomatillos in your market…those add real flavor too. If not, try some canned tomatillo salsa verde.   I have also eaten a “white” version  of chili with white beans, ground turkey and green salsa…I guess you could say, mine is a combo of the best of both types.

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The kids like to do the chopping, so I did invest in a few kid friendly knives.

 

One of my weaknesses is the crunch that comes from eating this with tortilla chips…so to make it a bit healthier, I make my own chips.  It’s easy and more tasty besides.  If you can find blue corn tortillas…great, but I really love these hand-made tortillas from my local tortilleria.

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Putting it all together….it’s a hot mess…but it’s the way we like it!

 

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But what they are truly looking forward to is Chocolate Cherry Banana Splits.  We are making the sauce together, and it will stay warm until dessert time!  I like to use almost over ripe bananas for this.  I also found some decadent organic chocolate ganache ice cream made by Kroger that only has milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, eggs, cocoa powder and dark chocolate squares.  If you have an ice cream maker, you can always make your own.  Nuts or no nuts?  The verdict is out on that, but if you do….toast some up in a dry pan on the range top for a few minutes….and the sweet nutty flavor (and aroma) will permeate your house!  Ahhhh….nut perfume!  I love it!  We are using walnuts for tonight, but peanuts, almonds, pecans…all would be good!

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Cooper is a purist…no nuts for him…he’s nutty enough he tells me!

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The only problem with tonight’s dinner…it might increase your pant size!

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