My daughter got the snow day she was wishing for, and she spent a good part of the day attempting to sled down our steep driveway with her friends. The snow was pretty wet and eventually turned to rain, and I think they spent a majority of the time trying to build a snow ramp which self-destructed each time they went over it. I remember those snow-filled days when I lived in Ohio for a few years starting at her age (shhh…don’t tell anyone) and could spend hours and hours out in the snow and never feel cold. I lived there during the great blizzard of 1978-79, and we missed three weeks of school. It was pure winter vacation delight! (We did suffer for that on the other end, as our summer break was shortened by the same amount.)
But let’s get back to food. The first thing that popped in my mind to make today was chili! A nice big pot o’ steaming hot chili, not only in temperature but a good dose of chili powder and green chiles to warm you up from the inside out. I had a fairly busy day at work due to my non-productivity yesterday, so I decided to resort to what I will call Camper Chili. This is what I make when we go camping because we have limited room in our tiny RV fridge and only a few pots and pans in the tinier storage space. If you make it the first night, you’ve freed up half your storage space! Pretty much everything comes out of a can or jar (save for the onion) so it’s imperative you rinse all the beans, and buy low-sodium canned tomatoes or use fresh if they are available, otherwise you’ll end up with about five times the suggested daily sodium intake.
I did have a couple of Roma tomatoes as one of the “fresh” counterparts, and since I wasn’t going to drive anywhere in that mess today we ended up with close to the true Camper version. I scrummaged through the cupboards and came up with a variety of beans to throw in the pot. That’s also the beauty of this — you can mix and match any kind of beans you happen to have on hand. This one ended up with a can each of black, small red, Canellini, and garbanzo beans. Garbanzo beans are a wonderful addition to chili, as they add a corn-like flavor to the dish.
Now any true Texan reading this is probably gasping at the thought of adding beans to a pot of chili. And yes, it’s true that Texans don’t even think it deserves to be called chili if there’s beans in it. However, after living in the Pacific Northwest for so many years, I’ve adapted to some of the local customs, including putting beans in the pot and calling it chili. I will, however, refrain from putting this in the Texas Food category.
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
1-2 tablespoons chili powder (I also added 1/2 teaspoon of ground red chile peppers, I like it hot!)
Black pepper, to taste
4-5 cans of beans, any kind, drained and rinsed
1-2 cans diced low-sodium diced tomatoes, or 2-3 fresh chopped tomatoes
1 small can diced green chiles
Shredded cheese, diced onion and sour cream for garnish (optional)
In a dutch oven or large pot, sauté the ground beef with the onion over medium heat. When almost done, add the minced garlic and stir for a few more minutes until done. Drain any grease, then return the pot to the stove. Stir in the seasonings, then add the beans, tomatoes and chiles. Bring to a simmer and cook for at least an hour to let the flavors meld, the longer the better. If it starts looking too dry you can add a little water or chicken broth. When done, heft some big spoonfuls into bowls, and serve with cheese, more onion and sour cream. I also like to scoop this up with tortilla chips. This is delicious the next day, and freezes well too.
Update: I think things in my head sometimes that I realize readers might not get. When I list 1-2, or 3-4 in the recipe that does not mean one half or three quarters, that means one to two or three to four. I hope I haven’t misguided you these past days! I use 1/2 or 3/4, etc. for true fractions.