Tired (and my recipe for Chili)

Harley Guy has decided to take the new position; we stayed up late last night talking about it and even though there is a big financial downside, it will mean weekends are his own (he won’t be on call), he can take full week vacations without losing any income (there was a mandatory overtime day per week in his previous position) and he shouldn’t see any more 18 hour days.  I had told him Friday he should take it and we’d just do what we had to to make it work but he worried all weekend and had to talk it through with a few close friends but now that he’s formally accepted I think he’s really happy.

So, I stayed up late and woke up early because I jumped out of bed when I heard the front door close at 5:30 – it meant T2BF’s ride was half an hour late.  I texted her when I got to Thing 2’s school to make sure she’d made it to school ok and she told me she just got there.  Whew!

But now I’m tired so I decided dinner should be something that I could put together this morning in my slow cooker and just let cook (and perfume the house) all day.  My favorite “go to” slow cooker dish is chili and my girls think my recipe is so good they had me write it down in their personal cookbooks.  Another reason I love this dish is that it’s a dish that begs for modification allowing me to clean out my veggie bin.  Tomatoes that need to be used get chopped up and added, if I’m short on celery I can use celery tops to make up the difference, sometimes I have a chunk of jalapeno pepper that needs to be used so I’ll chop that up fine and add it.  Anyway, all I’ll need to do tonight is throw together a quick buttermilk cornbread and we’re set.

The Girls Favorite Chili

1 lb dry beans (kidney, pink, red, pinto – whatever is on hand)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 lb ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, even veggie crumbles – whatever you like to use)

29 ounces canned whole tomatoes, undrained (1 large or 2 small cans)

29 ounces canned diced tomatoes, undrained ( 1 large or 2 small cans)

2 large onions, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

1/2 cup celery, finely diced

1/2 cup carrot, finely grated

1/4 cup chili powder

1 teaspoon each: cumin & (salt – optional)

1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon white sugar (to take away the “canned” flavor of tomatoes)

1 teaspoon dried cilantro (or 1 Tablespoon fresh),

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Surprise ingredients to be added the last hour of cooking because you want to wait until the beans have finished absorbing all the liquid they can so these ingredients only flavor the “juice”:    2 Tablespoons each: dark brown sugar and cider vinegar

Mix beans with baking soda and soak in large bowl of water overnight or cook over medium heat until boiling, cover, and allow to stand for 2 hours.  Rinse well.  Place beans in slow cooker.

Cook meat, crumbling into small pieces, until done.  Drain and add to beans.

Add tomatoes with juice, onions, celery, peppers, and carrots.  Add spices.

Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.  Add brown sugar and vinegar and cook an additional hour on low or 1/2 hour on high.

If thicker chili is wanted add up to 1/4 cup cornmeal or masa harina along with the brown sugar and vinegar.

Serve with your choice of shredded cheese, chopped onion, sour cream, fried tortilla strips or crumbled tortilla chips.

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