I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Texas Chili

I decided to take my new chili powder for a test drive. The easiest way to do that is take a known chili recipe and make it with the new powder. I have been making the following chili recipe for years and years. I simplified it a little for non-freak usage and to avoid giving away all of my secrets. I'll use this recipe when I am testing new powders. Notice the lack of beans. Add them if you like but I was hungry for something a little different.

A Texas Chili

Meat Base
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound beef, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 pound pork, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 (14-ounce) can beef broth
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 T dried minced onions

Spice Hit One:
1 T onion powder
2 T garlic powder
1 t pepper
2 t chicken bouillon
2 t beef bouillon

Spice Hit Two:
6 T home made chili powder
2 t garlic powder
2 t ground cumin
1 t brown sugar
1 healthy squirt ketchup (Hunt's not Heinz)
1/4 t MSG

Spice Hit Three:
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
2 t home made chili powder
1 1/2 t ground cumin

Brown the beef and pork in the olive oil in a cast iron Dutch oven. Add the rest of the beef base ingredients and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Add spice hit one simmer for 30 more minutes. Add spice hit two and cook for 20 more minutes. Add spice hit three and simmer 10 more minutes. You want to be able to stick a spoon into the finished chili and have it stand up by itself at the end of cooking. At some points during the cooking you may need to add a little water to thin it out a bit.

Check out that photo - spoon stands up!

Partially freeze the beef and pork, it is easier to cut that way.

Adding the spices in batches over time helps the meat accept it's final spiciness a little better. You don't want to cram all the spices in at once because the meat will get angry. You want happy meat, not angry meat. You want to ease the spices in over time. Pretty soon the meats will be spicy and tasty and happy.

Make the spices up in batches ahead of times. It makes things go quicker.

Dried minced onions:

Make Your Own Chili Powder!

After all this research on Cincinnati Chili I had an "oh duh" moment. I grow my own chiles and I often grind dried chiles and add them to my chili. Why not make my own chili powder from scratch?

When I was on a rotation in Topeka, Kansas for 3 months I bought a bag of home-made chili powder from a grocery store there. It had all sorts of exotic ingredients in it like cloves, cinnamon, heather etc. I used to love cooking with it because it was so different from the mass produced store brands. I don't know why the thought didn't occur to me back then. I had a few dozen pepper plants of various varieties growing in my garden. Thankfully I was smart enough to dry a bunch of them and smoke some jalapenos to make chipotles. I still have a bag of dried chiles in my freezer, including Caribbean Red Hots, the variety that famously choked my friend W after he was tricked into eating one.

Today I decided to make a basic recipe for chili powder. I plan to add more varieties of dried chiles as they become available and I will keep an eye out for more exotic spices that might taste good. Consider this a test run. It is better if you can start from whole chiles but you may not be able to find the whole chiles. I pity you. I don't know how you could substitute for the New Mexico Chiles but Kroger sells ancho powder and chipotle powder.

Home Made Chili Powder
Makes 1 pint of tasty chili powder

10 dried New Mexico Chiles, seeded, toasted and finely ground
3 dried ancho chiles, seeded, toasted and finely ground (substitute 3 T ancho powder)
3 dried cayenne peppers, seeded, toasted and finely ground (substitute 3 t cayenne pepper)
3 dried chipotle peppers, seeded, toasted and finely ground (substitute 2 T dried chipotle powder from the store)
6 T paprika
1 dried Carribean Red Hot, seeded, toasted and finely ground (substitute???)
4 t ground Mexican Oregano
3 T garlic powder
3T cumin seeds, toasted and finely ground

1) Preheat oven to 300. Take your chiles and tear them open, discarding the seeds. Tear them into inch square pieces and lay them on a cookie sheet.

Bake them in the oven until they are a little crispy and starting to darken in color. It will take different times for each chile but start looking at about 4 minutes. Toasting the chiles this way does two things. First, it "releases the oils" and gives everything a little bit different taste. Second, it is very hard to grind chiles that haven't been toasted. Untoasted chiles will gunk up your spice grinder and it will be hard to get them into powder form. Once all your chiles are toasted, grind them in small batches in a spice grinder or a coffee grinder until a fine powder.

2) Toast your cumin seeds by adding them to a cast iron skillet which has been preheated over medium-high heat. You will know they are done when they are a little darker than the untoasted ones and a few of them let out puffs of smoke. Grind the toasted cumin seeds using your grinder.

3) Put the ground chiles and cumin in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine very well. Place into a jar and label.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Food

For Memorial Day we ate picnic food. One of my all time favorite side dishes is Easy E's Mom's Beans. She made them when we were on our cross country trip to move E to NYC.

Easy E's Mom's Beans

A few strips of bacon
1 onion, diced
1 large can of baked beans, your choice - I just used Campbell's Pork n Beans
a good healthy squirt of Heinz 57
a good healthy squirt of Mustard
a good healthy dash of pepper
a good healthy dash of chili powder

Fry the bacon and remove to cool. Brown the onion in the bacon grease, then add the rest of the ingredients and cook over low heat for a while - like 15 to 20 minutes or until the rest of your food is done.

Another of my favorite sides is tabbouleh. Making it was great timing because my mint needed pruning.


3/4 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups cold water
5 green onions, chopped
4 cups chopped parsley
3 T chopped mint
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 tomatoes, diced

Place bulgur in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak for 15 minutes. Drain. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
Finally for the main course we had brats with mustard sauce.

Mustard Sauce

2 T butter
½ onion, finely chopped
½ c dry white wine
1 Dijonon mustard
1 t vinegar
juice of ½ lemon

Melt butter and cook onion until translucent. Add wine and reduce by half. Stir in mustard and vinegar. Add the lemon juice and the last tablespoon butter. When butter is melted pour over brats and serve immediately.

Beans on Toast

We got back to Louisville late last night. The Wife and baby had a little Burger King along the road but I wasn't hungry for a burger. Our cupboards were pretty empty but I found a can of beans.
One of my friends from England said once that he eats beans on toast constantly. I decided to give it a try.

It was oddly satisfying and simple to make.

Scenes from Iowa

We stopped by Iowa for a couple days before heading back to Louisville. I saw a lot of wildflowers including some wild Iowa roses. Here are a few photos.

Deadwood at Night, 2007

Saloon Number 10

We were very impressed with the quality of dining in Deadwood. We ate Chinese food that was every bit as good as any we have eaten. We also stopped at a steakhouse above the Saloon Number 10.

Saloon Number 10 is famous for being the place that Wild Bill Hickok was killed.
It turns out that the current location of Saloon number 10 is not the original location.
The original bar burnt in the 1980's and moved to its new location. Both of use preferred the new location. It is our favorite place to get a Coke in Deadwood. One night while we were there some actors staged a reenactment of the shooting.
A reenactment is like LARPing but a little different.

Spearfish Canyon

One day we explored Spearfish Canyon. There are a lot of little side roads that branch off. One of them is a dirt road that leads to the top of Terry Peak.
We also went to an area where Dances with Wolves was filmed. We went on a little hike and spied a waterfall.
We hiked a little more and saw an interesting rock formation.
For some reason there were a lot of chipmonks scurrying around.
A lot of tourists posed for photos with chipmonks while we were in the Hills. I think it must be a little more rare outside the midwest.

Indian Tacos

One night when we were out drinking a Coke in Deadwood the bartender told us about a little place tucked into Spearfish Canyon that has the best Indian Taco's in the Hills. Needless to say we were intrigued to the max. The next day we headed up to Spearfish Canyon and found the little stop.
While we were there some "RUBS" stopped in. The bartender said that RUBS are "rich urban bikers." An Indian Taco is a piece of Indian Fry Bread that is topped with taco meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and cheese.

The taco meat at our little stop wasn't very spicy. It was most likely just tomato sauce cooked with hamburger. I'm planning on whipping one up with a full report soon.

Needles Highway

Right around Mount Rushmore there is a winding little highway called needles highway.
The highway goes through a lot of tunnels and eventually ends up in Custer I think.


One morning we took a trip to Mount Rushmore. The drive down is very scenic.
There are a lot of tunnels to drive through close by.

I was a little disappointed that the only hike available was on a boardwalk. There was no way to go off and explore on your own. I'm positive that there is a trail to the top because the workers used to hike to the top of the mountain every day.


One day we took a trip through the badlands. I think we hit it at the right time of the year. There were a lot of wildflowers in certain places. Along rivers there were occasionally trees.
By the time we got into the park it was time for lunch so we stopped off at a cafe just inside the entrance to the park.
I got an excellent bowl of chili and a piece of Indian Fry Bread.
I am very happy to report on a new type of food! I am planning on a post about Indian Fry Bread later on. It is the official state bread of South Dakota. After lunch we started hiking. One of the hikes is fairly strenuous and involves climbing up a cliff.
There are a lot of nice views that you can only see if you actually hike.
I would suggest bringing some water along if you hike. You will get thirsty quickly.
I guess UPS delivers everywhere.
On our hikes we saw some wildflowers that I haven't seen before.

After our hikes we stopped by Wall for a little refreshment. The winds were blowing steadily at about 30 miles per hour.

Mount Moriah

One day we decided to go to Mount Moriah. There are great views of Deadwood from Mount Moriah. It is also the site of the cemetery for the town and a lot of famous individuals are buried there.
In the cemetery you can see the graves of Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock.
We were surprised how true to life the HBO series Deadwood was. A lot of the characters in the series actually lived in Deadwood and behaved as they were portrayed.
Seth Bullock, for instance, really was the sheriff and he really did open a hardware store.
As we were climbing to the top of the mountain, we were able to see why the town was named Deadwood.
Then, as now, dead trees were on the hills surrounding the gulch.
When we got to the summit there was some sort of solar powered weather station, with a warning to watch out for lightening.
From the summit you get an excellent view of Deadwood. If you look closely in the foreground of the photo you can see Seth Bullock's grave.