09. November 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Dave Update:  Yesterday Dave got the 5 little staples out of his back.  That helped him to lie on his back more easily.  On the way home from the doctor’s appointment, he made a brief visit to the squadron to say hello.  I promise, he didn’t do any work!  He only logged on to his computer long enough to free up space on his e-mail server so he wouldn’t get those “Your mailbox is over its size limit.” messages.

However, he’s also trying to back off of his muscle relaxers some so that he can think straight.  After about a 1/2 day not on muscle relaxers, Dave was able to do some much-missed model railroading.

But this morning he awakened in a pretty uncomfortable state.  So he’s back to the 1/4-doses of muscle relaxers for now.  It makes him groggy and less-focused.

He was alone for much of Tuesday while I went to a doctor’s appointment at the Pensacola Naval Hospital (why there and not Eglin AFB, I don’t know) and took the Prius for some maintenance.  Somewhere in there I need to fit a grocery store run!

And now, on to the cooking!  In the meantime, I’m going to share with you a much-loved dinner option in our house, especially in the cold weather months: homemade Cincinnati chili!

For those unfamiliar, Cincinnati chili is quite unique.  The chili itself is little more than meat, tomato sauce and a spice blend.  There’s cinnamon in the spices, which gives it a unique flavor.  In southwest Ohio, where Dave and I lived 2000-2002, you’d see Skyline Chili and Goldstar Chili restaurants all over the place, nearly as common as McDonald’s.  You can get the chili in cans at Ohio grocery stores, and on the Internet now.  It’s so yummy, but very fattening and high in sodium.

My parents shared a recipe with me several years ago that they used with ground turkey instead of ground chuck to keep things a bit healthier.  We’ve done it this way for years and have never looked back!  With all the spices, does it really matter what kind of meat it is?  Some might say yes, but none of us here care!

This is not quite the same recipe as what my parents use, but this is the one I use.  It’s called “Cincinnati Empress Chili“, based on the chili recipe from Empress Chili Parlor in downtown Cincinnati.  I invite you to click for the link, since it’s not my recipe exactly.

Click here for the recipe.

I always make a 1/2 recipe for the family, so I will share how things are done at the house.  I tend to make this on Sundays, when I can start it up around 2-3pm and let it simmer during the late afternoon football games.

Start by dicing two big onions.  The sweeter, the better!  I dice them down nice and fine.  I’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years.  Toss them into a Dutch oven that has 1-2 Tbsp. of hot olive oil.  “Sweat” them for a couple minutes.

Add 3 minced garlic cloves.  I used a Pampered Chef Garlic Press, it was much easier that way.

Next, add 2 lbs. of ground turkey.  We have Butterball-brand here.

I know…ew, right?  Like my Pampered Chef Mix ‘n Chop?  It’s magic for making browned meat super-fine!  Perfect for this chili!

In Sunday’s case, I had a 1/2 recipe worth of spices already mixed up from earlier this year.  I had accidentally set up to make a full recipe, and then only had 1/2 of the meat available.  So I kept 1/2 of the spices for another time.  Here it is:

Chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, ground coriander, ground allspice, ground cloves, mace and a little oregano.

Stir it into the meat/onion/garlic mixture and inhale deeply.  The smell is divine!
Now we sauce things up:
8 oz. of plain tomato sauce.

1 Tbsp. molasses.  Pardon the mess.

1 Tbsp. of wine vinegar.

Mix that all up with 1 1/2 cups of water, place a splatter screen on top, and let it simmer for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, you’ll want to chop some more onion, shred some cheese, break out a can of red beans and get some oyster crackers ready.  Boil up some spaghetti while you’re at it.

When the chili is nice and cooked down to a slightly thicker consistency (still ladle-able), serve it up:

  • on a bed of spaghetti (two-way)
  • on a bed of spaghetti topped with cheese (three-way)
  • on a bed of spaghetti topped with cheese and onion (four-way)
  • on a bed of spaghetti topped with cheese, onion and kidney beans (five-way)

Offer up some hot sauce and oyster crackers, and you’re set!  Here’s Jacob’s “four-way” Cincinnati chili from Sunday night.  He’s been waiting since last May for this meal and he devoured all of what you see here…and asked for more!