Saturday Night Cooking: Thanksgiving Chili

I never thought I was a chili fan. All those beans? Yuck. No thanks.

But then I actually had chili.

It was Thanksgiving Day. I was with a boyfriend of mine—a  southern boyfriend. We were at his mother’s house in Nashville. Apparently, Southern Thanksgiving is early in the day (as in, lunch), and the alcohol begins flowing at 9 am. And there were also guests coming for dinner. Not Thanksgiving—dinner, after Thanksgiving. They were friends of my boyfriend’s and his sister. (Both of them lived in other states, so when they came home, reunion time.)

So what did his mom do?

She made chili. And it was good.

(His mom was something of a miracle-worker in the kitchen. And this boyfriend made the best scrambled eggs, ever.)

Her chili had no beans, just ground beef, and it was delicious.

This is not her chili recipe. Well, it might be, I dunno. But I’m using the one from The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Like boyfriend’s mom’s, it has no beans (they’re optional), it’s just simple browned meet and spicy goodness. You can add a can of pinto or kidney beans toward the end, if you want. Or a jalapeno, seeded and diced. Or a can of Rotel (which is what I did). Or all of it, in addition to the basic goodness.

So if you’ve got a lot of hungry people to feed after the Thanksgiving Feast, try this.

Simple, Perfect Chili

2 garlic cloves chopped
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 lbs. ground beef
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. masa (corn flour, found in the Mexican section of the supermarket. Sold like regular flour in a big bag.)

Optional Ingredients

See above—1 can pinto or kidney beans, one seeded and diced jalapeno, 1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and chilies)

For serving

Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped onion

1) Measure the spices and place ground beef in a large pot (like a Dutch oven—you need a lid). Add the garlic.

2) Brown the beef and drain off excess fat.

3) Pour in tomato sauce, spices, and salt. Stir together well.

4) Reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add in 1/4 c. of water at a time as needed.

5) After an hour, place the masa in a small bowl. Add 1/2 c. water and stir together with a fork.

6) Dump the masa mixture into the chili.

7) Stir together well. Taste, adjusting seasonings. Add more masa paste and/or water to get chili to your preferred consistency. Add the beans, jalapenos and tomatoes if desired. Simmer for 10 minutes.

8) Serve with shredded cheese, chopped onion and fritos.

To Freeze The Chili: Allow it to cool completely, then place it in 1 cup portions in freezer bags. Flatten the bags for easy storage in the freezer.

Popcorn: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I

Since 99.5% of people have read HP and the Deathly Hallows, I’m not gonna give you a summary. I’m just going to give you notes.

  • The opening was brilliant. I about lost is, watching Hermione removing herself from her parents’ memories. Watching her disappear from the photos, from the house, from their lives—so sad.
  • Didn’t like watching the snake eat the teacher. Ew.
  • The polyjuice potion scene was awesome!
  • Go Harry and Ginny, sneaking some private time before the wedding.
  • The minister of magic is a bit more marginal than he is in the book. I’m not sad about that.
  • Dobby! Yes!
  • We miss a lot of the stuff at Grimmauld Place, like the reformation of Kreacher. I was sad not to see Harry find the letter from his mom, and the picture of him as a baby. I like that scene.
  • The Ministry of Magic scene was pretty cool—much more streamlined but still effective. Umbridge is still….Umbridge….
  • The condensation of the “road trip” was very well done. No radio broadcasts, minimal time hanging out in the woods. The fight between Ron and Harry was pretty excellent.
  • Godric Hollow was sweet! Cried when they found Harry’s parents’ grave. Very sad. Again sort of wish they had done the thing where the memorial sprouts up at his house, but that might have been tricky to conceive.
  • Bathilda Bagshot—> CREEPY! What a scene!
  • The whole “Dumbledore’s past” is super-de-duper condensed. I’m guessing that his brother is going to tell Harry about it when Harry gets to the Three Broomsticks in Part II. All we really have are: Hermione reading the book and Harry hearing a bit about it at the wedding. So really, we hear nothing about Ariana, nothing about his parents (other than his dad killed three muggles), nothing about his mom or Grindewald or anything.
  • The patronus/finding the sword/Ron rescue/destroying the locket: AWESOME. Wow.
  • WHAT. A. KISS. WHEW! (And the effects in this scene reminded me of Galadriel in the first LOTR)
  • The scene at the Lovegoods’ was cool. The telling of the Deathly Hallows story was my favorite sequence. Hermione narrates over animation—the animation makes the characters look like paper cuts. It’s very, very cool. 
  • Hermione’s torture is short (thankfully) but still hard to watch.
  • A escape from Malfoy Manor is a lot shorter than in the book and involves a lot less people. There’s only Luna and Mr. Ollivander in the dungeon.
  • Dobby. Oh, poor, poor Dobby. That was so. sad. I will miss my favorite house elf.
  • The movie ends with Voldemort robbing Dumbledore’s grave for the Elder Wand and shooting lightning into the sky. Then black. REALLY makes you wish Part II was now instead of in July….

A really good adapation of the book, overall. Excellent pacing, the acting was top-notch and the effects were seamless. The house elves, in particular, look great, and I loved the costumes, especially Hermione’s clothes. The music is perfect.

These are really just random notes, so I might have more later. I just got back. Really do yourself a favor and buy the soundtrack, it’s super-fabulous.

Harry and Ginny share a moment before the wedding

After the escape from the ministry, Hermione protects the campsite with enchantments.

At Harry’s parents’ grave