Cool weather, comforting chili

Jam of the Week: “4AM” by Antemasque

My road to becoming a competent cook has been a bit slower this week as spring looks to have finally come to Iowa. With the parks open and time ticking away before summer heat bears down on us, I feel my time is better spent getting back to walk, read and take some photos around our great nature trails.

While I’ve had less time to cook, I’ve still spent a good amount of time looking for new things to try at the grocery store. When I ran out to grab dinner one night while at work, Anne asked me to pick her up a couple tangelos. They’re a hybrid between a tangerine and a pomelo, although they’re sometimes crossed with grapefruit instead of pomelo. It tastes great and is a nice snack to convince me that I don’t need to dig into the pile of candy I was given for Easter.

Since I’ve been thinking a lot more about what I’ve been eating, I wonder how old I’ll have to be before that rogue rabbit stops leaving baskets for me. I’m beginning to think I’ll still be getting a basket when I have to worry about problems like paying off a home mortgage and getting letters from the AARP.

Those musings aside, I have been using the ever-waning cool weather as a good excuse to make up some nice soup recipes. Reader Randa Lee gave me more recipes after I mentioned her in my last column. I think if she sends me more after this one I’m going to have to dedicate a full cabinet to the books and notecards she’s given me. I really enjoyed her quick chili recipe that she said was originally her father’s recipe. It’s easy to make and produces leftovers, which was just what I needed this week.

Quick Chili:

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

15 oz. tomato sauce

15 oz. pork and beans

1 can chili beans

1 jar of mushrooms

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Brown and then drain the ground beef, toss all the ingredients into a large soup pot and cook for 20 minutes at a simmer. Thanks go out to Randa for the recipe. The only change I made was to throw a bit of hot sauce into the mix since I’m all about spicy chili. I think there are a lot of things you can toss into chili to kick it up a notch and I’ll have to experiment a bit to see what I like most.

Here’s to hoping we see another chili contest this summer so I can get a few ideas.