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OPEN-A-CAN STYLE THREE-BEAN CHILI

This is my sixth post about chili, although three of those have been about chili competitions. Why, you are probably asking. am I writing another?

First, it is the beginning of chili season. Around our house, the groves of aspen are beginning to color the mountainsides with great patches of golden-yellow. Closer to home, the chamisas (aka rabbit brush) are a matching golden-yellow, and the shrubs fill the country side. Unfortunately, they also elicit a characteristic allergy season. Purple asters fill in the bare spots between the chamisas while spikes of purple gay feather brag in clumps around the yard and the trailsides. Purple and gold are a beautiful combination of color that makes autumn around here so spectacular, never mind the reds and bronzes of the sumacs and the deciduous trees.

Second, the Terlingua chili competitions are only a month or so away. I’m sure my friend, Reggie, has been cooking in contests all summer long so that he has enough points to enter the competition. I hope that he plans to go because he has so many friends and fellow chili cooks who go to the big celebration

Third, there must be an infinite number of chili recipes, and I believe that the home cook can never have too many chili recipes. This, of course, excludes the entire mystique of Cincinnati two-way, three-way, four-way and the ultimate five-way chili. This recipe is particularly simple. Except for the meat and the onions, it is simply a matter of opening cans and dumping them all together. I admit that I made things a little more complicated by buying the best grade of stew meat I could find and cutting it into ¼ inch pieces. That’s what competition cooks did many years ago until someone using ground beef won the Terlingua contest. Since that tectonic event they have almost all switched to ground beef. You can do that, too, and then the recipe becomes even easier. I have used three different beans (definitely NOT a component of competition chili) to make the visual effect of the finished product more interesting. The seasonings are only a guide. In particular, use as much chili powder – 2 or even 5 tablespoons – to suit your taste and your tongue.

RECIPE

Open-a-Can Style Three-Bean Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 ounces) beef stock + more if needed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) white chili beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (not ground chiles)
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Cut the stew neat into ¼ inch cubes. Sauté in the oil in a large, heavy bottomed soup pot over high heat, cooking until released water is boiled off and the meat is browned. Remove the meat to a plate and return the pot to the stove over medium heat.
  2. Sweat the onions in the heated oil, covered, until the onions are translucent but not browned. Return the browned meat to the pot.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce, beef stock, beans, chili powder, oregano, and cumin.  Bring the mixture to the boil and then reduce heat to the simmer. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add more beef stock if the chili becomes too dry.
  4. Simmer for 1 hour. Serve while still hot.

 

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THE STORK HAS LANDED

Well, not exactly. But there are certainly lots of bird families in our back yard. We have had a bluebird box for many years, and for many years pairs of bluebirds would use it for their home to raise a brood of fledglings. For some reason,  for some time the box was not sufficiently attractive to bluebirds that inspected it in the early spring. This year that trend has been reversed, and a pair is now in a relay to keep their new hatchlings fed with insects. They started out with a clutch of six beautiful blue eggs. We’re not sure how many babies there are.

Bluebird box occupied for the first time in years

Bluebird box occupied for the first time in years

They are not the only birds, probably attracted by water in our fountains and birdbaths in the surrounding desert environment. Lesser goldfinch are feasting on niger thistle seeds. House finches have nested under one of the eaves. They try to crowd out the goldfinches on the feeder. A pair of mourning doves often sit on the garden wall. A pair of ladder back woodpeckers drill on a post that once supported our bat house. Black-chinned hummingbirds are at the feeders, and they will soon be joined by broadtails. A pair of barn swallows are scoping out a place next to our front door to build their nest under an overhang. We hope that our hawk and owl friends will visit our fountain, as well. Unfortunately we no longer see night hawks at dusk, perhaps because of the serious drought we have had for at least six years.

Hawk and owl in a water standoff

Hawk and owl in a water standoff

In the meantime, the herb garden is filled with flowers, some of them already fading. Our not-so-wild flowers are in full bloom. Columbines, wine cups, penstemons, buckwheat, paintbrush, gay feather, mallows, and many others make the courtyard look like a meadow. All in all, a great foreground for the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the east and the Jemez Mountains in the west. It is a wonderful time of year, and a wonderful place to be.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains across the trail

Sangre de Cristo Mountains across the trail

Sunset over the Jemez Mountains

Sunset over the Jemez Mountains

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