Sometimes it really is the simplest things that make me the happiest.
In our home during October and November, the days are always filled to overflowing with activities; birthdays, anniversaries, school events, commitments at work, finding a cure for cancer, establishing world peace, etc, etc, etc. The weeks zip by and the weekends disappear in the blink of an eye. Before I can say “pass the gravy, please”, Thanksgiving is knocking at the door and Christmas is just a few blocks away.
I find that it’s during these busiest of times that the little things mean the most; like taking just a few extra minutes at night to brush my daughter’s hair because she is in the middle of telling me all about the latest boy/girl scandal at school; or giving in to that lazy impulse and having popcorn and ice cream for dinner while snuggled under blankets, catching the latest episode of Glee; or maybe, just this once, leaving the to-do list in the bottom of my purse, piling kids and dog into the car, and heading to the park to gather pine cones.
With Thanksgiving on the calendar next week, I find myself compiling my mental list of things I am always and forever grateful for. Right after family, friends and home come those little, stolen “perfect moments” that give me a warm glowy feeling from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. And right after that comes the Dog (capital D), who keeps my feet warm and cleans the kitchen floor every night after dinner.
In the spirit of warm, glowy feelings, I will share with you my recipe for the ultimate comfort food; chili. Nothing too fancy or too complicated, just combine ingredients in your favorite comfort food pot, put it on the stove and forget about it until the house starts to smell really good and your tummy starts to grumble. This is a snapshot of an ever-evolving recipe, filled with love, warmth and a generous pinch of “me” added in for good measure.
Did I mention the beer? Canadian beer, of course!
1 tbsp grapeseed or canola oil
2 onions, diced
5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chipotle chili powder (can substitute cayenne)
3 lbs ground chuck
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 bottle beer, I use a lager
1 ½ cups beef broth or stock
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt to taste
Sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat in a Dutch oven until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, chipotle chiles, oregano, thyme, coriander and chipotle chili powder. Cook for another few minutes, until the spices are fragrant. Add the beef and cook over medium-high heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, beer, beef broth or stock, brown sugar and the kidney beans. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer partly uncovered until chili has thickened, 1½ to 2 hours. Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Serve with crackers, grated cheese and vinegar or lime juice to add a splash of tang, if desired.