Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cold Weather Fare

Not sure that I ever imagined temperatures in the low 20s when I decided to live at the beach. Long tired of icy winters in Japan, I figured all that would be behind me once I moved to sunny Florida. Weather here today made me rethink those ideas of a slightly cold, but often warm winter at the beach. 42° as I write this, with the bottom falling out tonight when the forecast is for a 17° drop. Now wait a minute. 25° in mid-December? The forecast for Tokyo is 46°! It’s pretty clear by now that I am not a cold weather person. Talk to me about Chicago and Minneapolis, Green Bay…No, that’s outer space weather and well beyond my travel borders for this time of year. As it is, I’m starting to think Christmas in Aruba might be nice.

While walking on the beach today (sweater, hoodie and lined jacket—wind is strong out there) the thought came to me that this is the perfect day for a big, bubbling pot of chili. And lucky me, that’s one of the eight or nine recipes I can handle with little bother and high hopes. Probably true that there are a dozen or more variations and styles of chili con carne, but one that has proven itself to me over the years is from the old New York Times Cook Book by Craig Claiborne. This is another of those books that has followed me around over the years, always finding a place in the boxes going from one place to another. So, I pulled that down from a kitchen shelf and made a shopping list. This recipe is one that requires three hours of slow cooking, and not the thing for quick dinners. Still, the process is uncomplicated and easy to carry through. And provided you don’t shop for ingredients at Whole Foods or Takashimaya, not too expensive.


3 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 large onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound chopped beef

3 cups water

1⅓ cups canned tomatoes

1 green pepper, minced

½ teaspoon celery seed

¼ teaspoon cumin seed, crushed

1 small bay leaf

2 tablespoons chili powder

½ handful chopped fresh basil

1½ teaspoons salt


Heat the butter or the olive oil in a skillet, add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add the meat and brown. Transfer the meat mixture to a large soup pot and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is as thick as desired, or about three hours. A can of kidney beans can be added just before serving, if desired.

When you are ready to serve the chili, prepare a few extras to put on the table. A bowl of chopped raw onion, another of grated cheddar cheese, and a plate of warmed flour tortillas wrapped in a napkin will fill out the chili for those who like to add a little something extra. Saltine crackers are a good alternative for those who don’t want tortillas.

This is a hearty meal that is near perfect on a cold and frosty day. ¡Muy delicioso


  1. I have the same cookbook - may be a different edition, or may not. Regardless, it is my go-to cookbook as well.

    By the way, Phoenix is predicted to be 80 degrees F today. I am soooo tired of heat. I'll gladly trade you.

  2. Actually I was thinking about having rum and co-cola over shaved ice and the juice from a real lemon. Just the thing for sipping while toasting toes near the fire.

  3. Picture is pretty and recipe looks good and easy. How was the taste? There is a good recipe for "white chili" in some cookbooks and it's made with white beans and chicken.....really good. I'll give you the recipe if you'd like to try something new. Beverly


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America