Archive for the ‘chili’ Tag

06-03-2016 Journal – More Garden Time!   Leave a comment

Now that the weather has taken a warmer turn I can really start enjoying my Spring and Summer. I love digging in the dirt but even that gets a little old after a few weeks. We been having warm nights and even warmer days and the plants in the garden are really taking off.  I’m even amazed at how fast the plants seem to grow here in Maine at this time of the year. I think the plants know they can’t waste any time in this short Maine growing season.

Here are a few photos I took over the last couple of days at plants that were only inches tall ten days ago. Granted I planted seedlings and not just seeds but even with that being said the amount of growth has been amazing.

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‘These chives began blooming in May.’

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Look at this oregano plant. Ten days ago it was an inch high and now it’s growing out of control.  I’ll have more oregano than I’ll know what to do with when I’m ready to make my first batch of pasta sauce.

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I’m also seeing some really healthy growth with the pepper plants. I planted more hot peppers this year than ever before and from the initial start it looks like it’s going to be a great summer for them. Currently I have seven types of hot peppers planted. There are Jalapeños, Ghost’s, Cayenne’s, Serrano’s, Kung Pow’s, Anaheim’s, and even a few Thai chilies. I certainly look forward to using a mixture of those peppers in the preparation of my chili and a few batches of salsa later in the summer. To be sure they’ll be plenty of heat to go around. 

This rhubarb plant broke through the ground in mid-May and it’s now over five feet high and going strong.  More rhubarb jam and pies are in my immediate future.

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The last one I can show you may be the biggest hit of the year for the neighborhood.  This catnip plant barely survived the winter but in three weeks it’s grown to be almost two and half feet tall.  The neighborhood cats haven’t discovered it yet but OMG when they do the fun will really begin.

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If all of these plants keep growing at this rate it will a gardening year to remember.  Lots of sunshine, water, and TLC make all of the difference.  Now back to the deck for a delicious hot pepper margarita, chips, and salsa. 

LIFE IS GOOD

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10-11-2015 Journal–Winter Prep Continues!   Leave a comment

The weather has finally turned and Fall is here. The nights are consistently in the low forties requiring that we permanently turn on the heat for the Winter. Over the last two weeks I’ve been slowly bringing out my winter clothing and packing away the sandals, shorts, and beachwear.  I actually look forward to Fall and the cooler temperatures even though the snow comes along with it.

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‘Any good soup requires fresh veggies.’

As the garden and yard work are coming to an end it’s time to look over my Winter inventories.  I’ve picked up a good supply of books and other reading material over the last two months which should carry me well into 2016. Add to that the Kindle books I intend to purchase and I’m good to go.

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Everything that could be harvested from the garden has been canned, frozen, and dried.  The garden will be officially over in three more days and I can put it out of my mind for a few months. My last cooking chore for Winter preparation was the making of a batch of my chicken and rice soup. This recipe I picked up from an old Korean women in 1968 and it’s remained one of my all-time favorites ever since.

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‘Looks bad, tastes wonderful.’

It’s not terribly difficult to make and each batch is usually good for ten to twenty large bowls that can be frozen and used for months without any ill effects.  Basically you take a large whole chicken and drop it into a gallon of salted water, bring it to a boil, cover it, and cook it until the chicken falls completely apart.  Add your favorite spices and herbs as well to really get the flavor of the meat to a high level and cook it for a few additional minutes.

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‘Even better than pulled pork.’

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Fish out all the bones and cartilage, remove the chicken and shred it, and immediately return it in the pot.  Add onions, carrots, leeks, or any other veggies you desire.  Last but not least add two cups of either rice or barley.  I prefer the barley flavor but as a compromise with my better-half this batch will contain rice.

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‘The final product.’

This is comfort food of the first order and is always good for what ails ya. With all of the soups, chili, salsas, and breads stored away we can now sit back and enjoy the Winter (except for the snow of course).

11-19-2014 Journal–Chili Day!   1 comment

This stretch of cold and rainy weather has pretty much kept me in the house for the last few days.  I was starting to climb the walls a bit when I received a call from my better-half from work to discuss arrangements for dinner. I assumed from the call that she wasn’t interested in cooking and needed me to help out a little.  She suggested that maybe just maybe I could make a batch of my chili. 

After agreeing I checked my latest recipe for the necessary ingredients and I was out the door and on my way to get them.  You need to understand something important, when I make a batch of chili I make a huge batch.  My normal recipes result in upwards of ten quarts and sometime even more.  It was a quick shopping trip and I returned home and got to work.

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This was a new recipe I created after tasting the chili pictured below during one of our luncheon forays to Kennebunkport, Maine. That chili contained a lot of cheese and a healthy number of calories due to the ground beef and oils used in preparation. As you can see it looks incredible and tasted even better.

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‘Thanks Federal Jack’

I substituted a mixture of ground chicken and turkey to replace the beef, then eliminated the oil by browning the meat in Smart Balance.  It was then a simple matter of adding the remaining ingredients and spices and cooking it for a few minutes.

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Most of the state of Texas would string me up by my heels for ever calling my chili, Chili.  Fortunately I cook and flavor foods so they taste good to me.  I like my chili super hot and use a mixture of Cayenne and Habanero peppers that bring it to life in a big way.  I also use a selection of beans with different flavors and textures which apparently is a big NO NO in chili cooking circles. Just to add insult to injury I always, regardless of the ingredients, add diced potatoes.  Strikes two and three as far as Texas is concerned.

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A short time later I had my finished product, a batch of Black Bean & Corn chili, and to hell with all of you chili purists. It tastes exactly the way I wanted, hot as blazes, with no red meat or oil used.  It looks a little like the restaurant version but certainly has more flavor and an increased level of heat.  As is usually the case most restaurants serve a medium heat chili unless it happens to be a Mexican restaurant.  Here it is.

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We had a couple of bowls each for dinner that night and loved it.  We then packaged up the rest for freezing which should supply us with five or six hearty meals this winter.  Life is good.

10-28-2014 Journal Entry-A Visit to Mussel Beach!   Leave a comment

I’m not sure how it happened but we’re enjoying one gorgeous Indian Summer day.  The sun is shining, the day is crystal clear, and the wind is blowing with a slight chill.   My better-half is again on a day off and again obsessing about chores around the house until I want to scream. We’ve been house bound for a week and days off are meant to be DAYS OFF. It took some doing but I strong-armed her into getting out for some picture taking and a ride along coast. 

I have to admit it was one of my best ideas ever.  The beaches were empty of tourists and the first one we visited was peaceful and quiet and highly enjoyable.

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As we traveled south we stopped occasionally to snap a few pics and all the while I was directing us towards the Kennebunkport area.  We normally visit that town once or twice each summer but this year we were just too busy.  I was planning a nice surprise lunch at Federal Jack’s Restaurant and a leisurely stroll around town to window shop.  Federal Jack’s is also the home of the Shipyard Brewing Company, a perennial favorite of my better-half who is responsible for keeping their shares of stock at such a high level.

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My side-story for today started six years ago and involved a plate of bad mussels at a nearby restaurant which will remain nameless (Olive Garden), a few drinks, followed by three hours of projectile vomiting where I’m sure I set a new world record for distance.  Since that time I’ve been unable to look at, think about or eat mussels.  Over the last few months I’ve found myself tempted to try some once again but always chickened out.  I was determined today to finally get that food monkey off my back.  My order of mussels was delivered, consumed, and thoroughly enjoyed.

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‘Before’

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“After”

They  were so  briny and  garlicky,  I was in hog heaven.  I’m so happy to have mussels returned to  the top of my favorite  food’s list. It’s been a long  time coming and a big hooray for me. We did our stroll through town, enjoyed some window shopping, and then returned to the car for the ride home. A slow and easy ride north along the coast road.

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All in all it was a wonderful day and I’m glad we took advantage of it.  The next trip to this area will probable involve snow, ice, parka’s, tassel hats, and gloves. There’s nothing more fun or colder than walking the beach in January and February.

One last photograph that I stumbled upon as we were passing a very old cemetery.  This is the place my late father, the golfer, would have wanted to be buried.  It’s not often you can see a golf course and ball washer from your plot. 

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08-14-2014 Journal Entry–Wet Weather & Hot Salsa!   Leave a comment

flood

Now that the rain has finally stopped I might be able to get out the house for a few hours. The last week minus two days has been pretty damn wet.  Last night at 2am I took a peek out the rear window and surprise surprise, there was three feet of water in the back yard.  The runoff from the surrounding hills became so heavy there was nowhere else for it to go. Fortunately the yard drains very quickly and once the rain stopped the flood disappeared. 

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‘The Beginning’

With all the rain keeping us inside I decided to take care of another cooking chore while I had the chance. I spent a good part of the day yesterday making salsa.  My normal salsa recipe makes 10 quarts or 20 pints but I decided to increase it by fifty percent. I purchased the necessary ingredients, returned home and got to work.  It took longer for me to dice the peppers, onions, and tomatoes than it did to complete the entire batch.  Three hours later the kitchen looked like a tomato bomb had exploded but the end result was well worth the effort. I finished the batch with 13 quarts and 8 pints of some killer Roasted Corn & Black Bean salsa.

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I changed the recipe a bit and added more habaneros, less jalapeños, and a healthy heaping tablespoon of cayenne pepper.  I call this batch my Commando salsa. As your eating it,  it slowly creeps up behind you when your not paying attention and blows the top of your head off.  It has an immediate hit of habanero to jolt you a little and then the jalapeños lessen the burn somewhat.  Just when the heat is subsiding from those jalapeño’s the cayenne kicks in at the  back of your throat and nails you hard.  With that mixture of peppers the more you eat the hotter it gets but man it’s a wonderful pain.

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‘The End Result’

As of this morning it’s been canned, labeled and placed on the shelf. There should be more than enough to keep us salsa happy for this entire winter. I’ve worked my winter cooking list down to just two remaining items.  I need to make a huge batch of chili and some hot pickle relish. Once those are complete I’ll pretty much be done with the garden for this year.  I should be able to start removing some plants and begin the cleanup in two or three weeks. 

Fall is fast approaching and I can’t wait. 

08-06-2014 Journal Entry–Fall in Maine!   Leave a comment

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‘This is From a Nearby Neighbors Farm’

I’ve been enjoying my downtime since the departure of my better-half for her trip to Ocean City.  The downside to her leaving is the fact that I’ve been stuck with some of her watering chores.  She has at least a hundred plants surrounding the house, on the deck, and even in the house.  I find having three plants six feet high in the living room very interesting.  It’s like living in a jungle and that jungle needs watering all too often.  God help me if these plants aren’t all healthy and happy upon her return.  There could be bloodshed.

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My second chore involved the babysitting of her daughters dogs.  I need to drop in at their house everyday around noon to let the little buggers out for a pee break and a romp around the yard.  I really don’t mind it all that much because I actually like most pets more than I like most people.

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‘Good Eating’

Once her chores have been handled I can then move on to my list.  Fortunately my list is flexible and if I choose not to complete anything on it no one would give a damn anyway. My list includes the garden that is continuing to produce ridiculous amounts of veggies.  I’ve been trying to keep ahead of it by canning a few things each week but I’m quickly falling behind.  Here’s a list of what we’ve canned so far and believe me I’m ready to call it a day anytime.

10 – pints of hot mustard dill pickles
  6 – pints of pickled zucchini
12 – pints of pickled jalapeños
  1 – quart of pickled veggie mix
  6 – pints of pickled veggie mix
10 – pints of hot B&B pickles

I still need to make two large batches of salsa and a huge batch of chili.  The salsa will be canned to the tune of twenty quarts or forty pints. The chili will be frozen in twelve one quart containers and that should give us enough for most of the winter.

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‘This is Kick Your Ass Chili’

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‘This is Double Kick Your Ass Salsa’

Once the better-half returns from her final trip of the summer we’ll get down to some serious work for a few weeks.  It’ll be a huge relief to get the garden processed and into storage.  If the results so far are any indication, we’ll surpass any expectations we had for a garden as small as ours. I’ve already started planning for next summer with the addition of a small greenhouse and an irrigation system that will use  our water more efficiently.  That will allow us to grow a few additional items in a more controlled atmosphere with less bug problems and better water control. 

Back to the fun.

10/29/2012   1 comment

I refuse to be drawn into the hysteria that is Sandy.  I’d prefer to spend this day in the kitchen where I’m creating another batch of my signature chili on this gray and rainy day.  I’ve made about a gallon of it so I’ll be sharing with nearby family members who are currently hunkered down awaiting the storm.  The house is quiet because my better-half is off to see the new grand child for a few hours and I plan to enjoy it.

I’m considering a ride down along the coast a little later  this afternoon to possibly get a few interesting photo’s of the storm’s approach to Maine.

I love Mother Nature in all her scary ferociousness.

Posted November 1, 2012 by Every Useless Thing in Just Saying

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