Monday, September 13, 2010

A Blot of Mustard

My family could tell you that not all of the fruits of my adventures in the kitchen have been tasty, or even edible. Usually this was because I misread the directions, mis-measured ingredients, or simply did not have all of the necessary ingredients and was forced to make unorthodox substitutions. I offer up as an example the time in high school when I ran out of flour and substituted in Bisquick while baking six loaves of zucchini bread. Logically it makes sense, right? I mean, you can bake anything from Bisquick, so it must be mostly flour. Wrong. Whatever it mostly is, does not make edible zucchini bread.

So imagine my father's surprise when I call him up Saturday night for his famous chili recipe and declare that I am going to enter in a chili cook-off at my apartment complex. My dad told me the basic ingredients of his chili and I diligently wrote them all down, but the true beauty of his chili is that it is never the same twice. We call it "refrigerator chili" because he manages to combine a month's worth of left overs with just the right spices to create the world's best chili. The trick is that the "special ingredient" for each batch is different. Despite my previous track record in the kitchen and this daunting lack of my own personal "special ingredient," I decided to enter the cook-off. They were, after all, offering up $100 and $50 first and second place prizes.

Sunday, after church, I sauteed the onions,  browned the meat,  sprinkled the spices and let the concoction marinate with regular tastings (of course). Ten minutes before the cook-off event I did a last tasting. It wasn't a disaster! But, it wasn't first place worthy in my mind either and I was determined to do my dad, my King of Chili, proud. I stood in my Sunday dress pondering my pot of chili. Pondering. Pondering...

"Well," the Imp in me said, "nothing risked, nothing gained." Of course, in this case I was risking the digestive well-being of total strangers for possible monetary gain. The Imp had no problem with this. I reached into the fridge, grabbed my "special ingredient" and squirted a healthy dose into the chili. Gave it a stir and taste. My toes didn't curl and my eyes didn't bug. It was now a winning pot of chili.

Three hours and five chili tastings later and I was awarded second place. I risked, I gained, and I hope I did my dad proud.

I made a second pot (the first batch being completely consumed at the cook-off) tonight with some small tweaking. The adventure this time was realizing that I don't own any serving spoons or ladles. I improvised a large coffee mug to ladle out my chili. I also ate it with two pieces of freezer burned wheat bread. They were actually more like trenchers. I feel Hrothgar would be proud. It reminded me of the time I was late for work and out of clean spoons so ate my morning cereal with an ice cream scoop...

I dedicate this to my dad, who has always encouraged the Imp in me. And to my mom, who still watches movies with me which have such delectable quotes..."an underdone potato..."

Thank you Bess (It's The World, Dear) for the encouraging blogging award!

Seven Things About Me:
1. I didn't have a first word, I had a first sentence: "What's that?"
2. I read all of the Little House on the Prairie books once a year from 3rd to 9th grade.
3. One of my favorite song lyrics comes from Steve Miller "Really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree."
4. I have never broken a bone.
5. I had 8 wisdom teeth. That's right, I said 8.
6. I used to take Mandarin Chinese lessons.
7. I will dance to any music anywhere. Anywhere.


  1. Hello! Congratulations on your blog award. I'm looking forward to reading. I was a huge Little House fan too. Still love them and the TV series (esp. the early years). I'm a fellow Texas (as of last year) - need to try to make some Texas chili soon. Happy blogging :)

  2. Why do you make me want to find more ways of using the word Imp not only in my every day life, but in creating new adjectives as well. If I had to come with something on the spot, I would say the Chili sounds pretty Imptastic! You and Viv should share recipes. She made the most incredible chili I have ever had earlier in the year with ground beef, beef stew chunks of beef, venison, and bacon. It was unreal! Maybe you could use the 50 bucks towards a ladle and other useful utensils that will aid you in creating more aware winning Impcoctions? (Getting better?) When I come visit, you definitely are going to have to make some chili, it's not only one of my favorite meals, but one of the easiest, best, heartiest, and cheapest meals a new graduate can eat. Nom Nom Nom!!!

  3. "Of course, in this case I was risking the digestive well-being of total strangers for possible monetary gain. The Imp had no problem with this."

    Haha I love this! I am picturing this little green man with a wicked grin lol. Your chili sounds great! Congratulations!