Chili con Carne

A wooden spoon stirring chili con carne.
© Can Stock Photo / dbvirago

Who doesn’t love chili con carne? I grew up on canned chili, but trust me, once you get used to eating chili made from scratch, you’ll never want to go back to canned. I know I certainly don’t.

Chili con carne is an amazingly simple dish to prepare. It’s also an easy way to use up leftover veggies. Tastes great on its own, or top it on a hot dog. The following recipe is one that I’ve put together through trial error and tweaking other recipes. One nice thing about chili con carne is that there really is no way to make it wrong.

GM

CHili con carne

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced *
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 4 ounce can diced green chilis
  • 1 16 oz can red kidney beans
  • 1 16 oz can pinto beans
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons hot wings or Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
  • 1/4 cup water or broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef, onion and garlic in a small stock pot or kettle until the meat is cooked all the way through. Stir in canned green chilis. Add tomato sauce and 1 cup of water or broth. Stir in the canned beans and add seasonings. Stir cornstarch and water in a small bowl and pour into the chili mixture. Mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes. If desired, top with cheese, sour cream or chives. Serve.

For those who prefer, ground chicken or turkey may be used instead of ground beef. If using ground chicken or turkey, add a tablespoon of cooking oil.

* A tablespoon of garlic powder can be substituted for the minced garlic.

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Rosie’s Recipe — Soft Molasses Cookies

A book cover featuring a woman wearing a scarf and holding a power tool.
Photo by Rob Resetar

While it may not used as much today, molasses is a sweetener that our grandmothers used. Sugar was rationed during WWII. Housewives had to find sugar substitutes. Molasses was one of those substitutes. And, unlike many of today’s sugar substitutes, molasses is natural.

The following is a historic recipe from Rosie’s Riveting Recipes. And if you’re a cookie lover like I am, you may want to try it.

GM

soft molasses cookies

  • 3 cups sifted cake flour*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, unbeaten
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 cup sour milk** or buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Sift flour once, measure, add soda, salt, and spices, and sift together three times. Cream shortening, add sugar gradually, creaming until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well; then add molasses. Add flour, alternately with milk, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla. Chill 1 to 2 hours, or until firm enough to hold shape. Drop from teaspoon on lightly greased baking sheet, placing about 2 inches apart. Bake in hot oven (400F.) 13 to 15 minutes, or until done. Makes 6 dozen cookies.

***

*No flour sifter? Not a problem. Simply measure the flour and pour into a large strainer and stir with a wooden spoon.

** To make sour milk add one tablespoon lemon juice of white vinegar to one cup 2% or whole milk, (fat-free milk will not work). Let sit for 15 minutes until milk begins to curdle. Add to recipe.

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Asian Cabbage Salad

Chopped cabbage on a cutting board.
© Can Stock Photo / tycoon

I got this recipe years ago from a friend of a friend, at whose home I once had Christmas dinner. She served the most delicious salad with her meal, and she was happy to write down her recipe for me. It’s economical and oh so simple to make. Add chicken or shrimp and make it a meal.

GM

Asian Cabbage Salad

  • 1 head cabbage, (green or red) shredded
  • 1 package Ramen Oriental flavor soup
  • 4 to 6 stalks green onions, chopped
  • 1 small package sliced almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Place cabbage, green onions and almonds in a salad bowl. Break ramen noodles into small pieces and place on a baking dish. Add sesame seeds and toast in broiler until the noodles turn golden brown and crisp. Add to salad mixture.

DRESSING

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ramen soup seasoning packet
  • salt and pepper

Blend all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Pour over salad mixture and toss.

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Fish or Meat Soufflé

 
© Can Stock Photo/ajphoto
from the Rosie’s Riveting Recipes cookbook

During WWII many food products were scarce. This is why food was rationed. So, as a result, some recipes included different variations so people could use whatever they had on hand. This recipe is surprisingly easy to prepare, and it’s delicious.

Gayle Martin 

FISH OR MEAT SOUFFLE´

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons enriched flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 tablespoons enriched flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 cups flaked salmon, tunafish, ground or cooked chopped meat
  • 4 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Combine flour, butter, add seasonings in top part of double boiler. Add milk gradually, stirring constantly. Cook to form a thick paste. 

Beat egg yolks until thick and light in color; add flour mixture and stir until smooth.  Add salmon; mix well. Fold carefully, but thoroughly, into egg whites beaten stiff but not dry. Turn into well-greased casserole. Place in pan of hot water; bake in moderate (350ºF.) oven about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until set, or knife inserted into center comes clean. Serve at once with melted butter, celery, or pickle sauce.  Serves 6.

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My Mother’s Recipes — Beef Stroganoff

© Can Stock Photo / roxanabalint

Many of the recipes in this blog come straight from my mother’s kitchen. Every night she cooked us an amazing meal from scratch. And, every night, our family sat down at the dinner table together. Those are some of the happiest memories from my childhood

The following is one of my favorite dishes. And I make it just like my mother did.

GM

MY MOTHER’S CLASSIC BEEF STROGANOFF 

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds round steak or sirloin tips
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups sour cream*
  • steamed white rice, brown rice, or noodles

Slice beef into small cubes and brown in a sauté pan over medium heat. If desired, add chopped onion, sliced mushrooms, and red wine. Once meat has browned all the way through add cream of mushroom soup. Stir mixture thoroughly and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer on low for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. While meat is simmering cook rice or noodles according to package directions and serve with the meat mixture on top of the rice or noodles. Blend sour cream into meat mixture just prior to serving, or spoon a dollop or two of sour cream on top of the meat mixture immediately after plating. Serve.


* Plain yogurt can be used as a substitute for sour cream.

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Classic Recipes vs Modern Cuisine

A bowl of chicken and dumplines
© Can Stock Photo / MSPhotographics

I’ve always subscribed to the notion that what separates a good cook from a not so good cook is their willingness to tweak recipes to put their own stamp on them. However, I sometimes get annoyed with celebrity chefs on television. I’ve watched them belittle the old classics, saying they’re too “old fashioned.” Or they’ll make a crass remark about it being the 21st century and not 1950s. Really? What a bunch of conceited, arrogant jerks!

What makes these recipes classic? The answer is simple. They taste great. That’s why they’ve been around for such a long time.

I’ll always remember my grandmother’s cooking. As far as my siblings and I were concerned, no one on the planet could cook better than Grandma. I also remember my sister-in-law bragging about writing down all of Grandma’s recipes. Those recipes are family heirlooms. Nothing makes us feel like Grandma is still with us more than enjoying her tapioca pudding or her chicken and dumplings. 

I feel the same when I prepare my dad’s famous pinto beans. My father could hold his own in the kitchen. In fact, he could open the refrigerator, grab leftovers, and create an amazing dish without a recipe.

A family recipe collection can be a priceless legacy which can be easily copied and shared. You never need to worry about fighting with your siblings over who gets the recipe box. You won’t have to pay any estate tax on it either. That is, until the government figures out a way to do it.

So, here’s to my grandmother’s recipes, and our passing them down to our own grandchildren.

Gayle Martin

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