Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chili for supper, photo op, and good times

Frito  pie
Good thing it turned chilly over the weekend--no pun intended, but I fixed chili for some friends tonight. Actually the whole dinner was a photo op for my forthcoming (2015) chili book. The appetizer, which almost became the first course, was Frito pie. Everyone raved and ate so much that they didn't have much room left for the entrée. Son-in-law Christian came in after supper and demanded, "Who brought chili pie? I love it!" When I said I made it, he said, "I wish I wasn't already so full." Good on him for recognizing and honoring that feeling.
Jay Mitiguy (you know, my handsome neighbor), who is becoming sort of the unofficial photographer for this book, was here and took pictures, some with my newly rediscovered camera and some with his iPhone. Jordan couldn't find the pictures on my camera, but Jay sent what he took and they are wonderful and clear. I also served a black-eyed pea relish that someone had given me--it was really good but much out-shadowed by the Frito pie.
The main course was white chili. When the editorial board of the press met, one member wanted to know why there was no white chili in the book. I pointed out to the director there were four recipes--chicken and turkey. For tonight I fixed a version with chicken and cannellini beans--not much broth, but the chicken was tender and the flavor was great. Not too many leftovers, so they went home with Christian. I saved the Frito pie leftovers in case Jacob would eat them--he's here for the night because there's no school tomorrow (Columbus Day).
Jay, who judges at Terlingua, is a chili purist. He called my personal chili recipe a flavorful stew of beef and beans but not chili. I dreaded to think what he would call this and he said no, he'd had white chili and liked it. At the table, though, he couldn't resist saying, "It's really good stew." Purists of course brook no beans in their chili. This was an easy, low cal recipe.
You just can't have chili without cornbread, but I really ran amuck here. I used a really easy recipe for sweet cornbread--1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup flour, 2/3 cup sugar, 3-1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 cup milk, and 1 egg. Spray a nine-inch cake pan, scrape in the batter, and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or more. Easy, right? Now I consider myself a seasoned cook but for some unknown reason, the first time I made this I had the oven on broil--cornbread had a lovely brown top but the inside was mushy. Had to make a second batch, but it was really good. I'm well aware that the chili pie and cornbread have "bad" ingredients--although corn chips aren't bad except maybe for sodium but cheese, sugar, etc.--and the chili was healthy--nothing but chicken, beans, onion, chicken broth, and seasonings. What bothered me? There was nothing green with the meal. Didn't seem to bother anyone else.
Dessert? Why ice cream, of course, with a great dark chocolate, salt and caramel sauce one of the guests brought. A feast--and a delight of company. Two of my guests were temporarily without wives, their wives being elsewhere engaged. I invited Jay because I knew he was alone, but I wondered how he'd like my hard-core liberal friends, conservative that he is. He was charming throughout the evening and we steered away from politics. Conversation ranged from religions--one of my guests is a retired Episcopalian priest, his wife and Jay are both fallen away Catholics--to chili and Terlingua and on to all sorts of other topics. What a joy to cook for these people and be surrounded by good friends. Happy Sunday night, y'all. Now I have a sweet eight-year-old (mostly sweet) to spend the night with me.

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