photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Delicious Diversity

Yanno the recipes I like the best?

The ones that you read and think, "How the hell will THAT work?"

When you're going along, reading the ingredient list mentally mixing it up in your head and saying to yourself, "Ya, ya, ok, sounds good..." and then you get to one or more ingredients that screech your thoughts to a halt with a recoiling-from-the-cookbook shudder and your instinctive reaction is. "How the hell will THAT work?"

So I made chili yesterday.

Tried out a new recipe that had not one, but FOUR ingredients that made me stop in my mental tracks.

But I thought I'd be brave and give it a shot- invited our 2 most daring epicurean family members within dinner-driving distance and tossed it all together, making a few changes as I went (like most cooks do- as in the rest of life, the key to success is experimentation balanced with the tried-and-true).

It was delicious.

After dinner we had a campfire and fireworks show- fire made by Rick and Joe, and fireworks by Alec and Ben.

Around the campfire we were a companionable crew of unlikely characters.

Our neighbors Rick and Christine- the best neighbors on the planet, but a little to the Right of our way of thinking politically. Joe asked Rick if he'd read one of my blog posts and he said, "I don't read that commie pinko stuff". He ate the shit outta the commie pinko apple cake tho...Christine does her best to keep Rick on a civil plane. It's a lifetime endeavor.

Joe- heavily armed, old Montanan, former Marine and about a hundred miles to the Right of Rick. An absolutely integral member of our adopted family for over four years now. I tell folks I've almost got him house trained. Almost.

Ben and Jason- (I can't even type their names without smiling). If I had had the pleasure of having 2 more sons, I'd want them to be Ben and Jason.

And of course, Ward and Alec. The 2 most dear people to me on the planet- both hysterically funny, frighteningly brilliant, astoundingly handsome.

We ranged in age from 12 to 70, from urban to rural, liberal to progressive to conservative, Catholic to Baptist to reincarnationist to atheist.

We're not all the same, we don't all think alike. Society tries to get us to believe that the ONLY way to happiness and success is to group together with 'like-minded people'.

Including and spanning out from last night's campfire, it's easy to see that our entire group of friends is hugely diverse in all ways. So how the hell does THAT work?

As good as the chili, baby. As good as the chili.

How the Hell Will THAT Work Chili

2 tsp olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound ground sirloin
2 pounds sirloin steaks, cubed
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 can dark beer (I used Shiner Black Bohemian Lager)
1 c strong black coffee
1 12oz can tomato paste
12oz beef broth
1/2c brown sugar
3 1/2tbsp sweetchili sauce (from the oriental food section)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp basil
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt

Heat the oil and cook the onion and garlic till tender and transparent, transfer to soup kettle.
Brown the cubed steak and add to onions and garlic.
Brown and RINSE the ground sirloin and add to onion, garlic and cubed steak.
Mix in all the other stuff and stir well.
Simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours- more is betterer.


1c baking mix (I use Pioneer)
3/4c cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
2/3c milk
6 tbsp melted butter

Mix together, spread into buttered cast iron skillet and bake at 425 about 20-25 minutes till knife comes out clean.


  1. Thank you for the receipe and a sneek peek into your work. The chili sounds amazing (I cook with beer which is a natural tenderizer) and all those ingredients work well together. Even the coffee has a place (smokey or roasted flavoring). The conversation piece about your friends had me interested as I am a republican, but don't let that fool you, I'm not straight party. I just have a strong love for God, family & Country and just hate what I see happening right under our noses. So, again thanks, I look forward to reading more of your work!

  2. Very happy to meet you! And I hate what's happening right under our noses, too- I will just probably go at the solution part from a different angle than you do. I'm a recovering Republican ;)