The Third edition of the unabridged American Heritage Dictionary offers this definition and etymology for "chili":
chil-i n., pl. chil-ies. 1. The pungent fresh or dried fruit of any of several cultivated varieties of capsicum, used especially as a flavoring in cooking. Also called chili pepper. 2. Chili con carne. [Spanish chile, chili, from Nahuatl chilli.]
I realize that chili, and particularly its preparation and consumption, are all extensively ritualized behaviors. Since I'm not a chili cook, I'm offering a very easy, very good, extremely unhealthy chocolate pound cake recipe in recompense for sacred labor of the chili cooks.
Some assembly required.
Things you need to make it.
Stuff you put into it.
What you do to make it
Peel and chop the onions; set them aside. Wash and dry the mushrooms,and slice them. Set them aside. Peel and mince the garlic; set it aside. Wrap the cumin seeds in a paper towel and pound them with a blunt instrument (a claw hammer works well) until they are crushed and the aroma of crushed cumin pervades the kitchen. Add the curry powder, the salt, the cayenne, the chili powder, and the chili, and mix it all up. Set this concoction aside. Trim the steak, cut it into small (1/4 inch) pieces and set it aside. (This recipe involves a lot of setting aside.) Wash and core the tomatoes. With the sharpest knife you've got, dice them into small pieces. Set them aside. Wash and grate the carrot. Set it aside. Set yourself aside for a few minutes to recover from the strain.
Heat the oil in the pot. Add the onions and brown them lightly (over a medium flame), stirring constantly. When the onions just begin to brown (about ten minutes), add the mushrooms and garlic and keep stirring. After about a minute of this, toss in the meat. Lower the flame, cover the pot, and let the mixture cook (stirring occasionally), until the meat browns. Add the diced tomatoes and the grated carrot and stir the mixture. Add the complete contents of both cans of beans to the pot. Stir it all up. Mix in the spice concoction (the color of the stuff in the pot will go from a pale pinkish to a lovely chili-colored brownish-red). Let it all cook over a medium-low flame for fifteen minutes; you should stir it every so often. Lower the heat about as low as you can so that the pot is just barely boiling and let it cook, covered, for about two hours. You should stir the pot periodically, maybe once every fifteen minutes, just so you remember that you're cooking something.
When the smell of chili gets too strong for you, get out some bowls and serve it. Buck's chili also tastes good over basmati rice, or with glazed buttermilk doughnuts. Honestly.
When not making chili, Buck Gibbous spends his time in the guise of Michael E. Cohen. You figure it out.
1 1/2 cups butter
3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
2 cups unsifted all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla in a very large bowl for about five minutes, using a mixer at medium speed. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing them in thoroughly.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Add this mixture, a little at a time, alternately with the coffee and buttermilk (or sour milk) to the creamed mixture, beating just until the mixture is thoroughly blended. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottoms of the bowl.
Pour the batter into a greased and floured 12 cup Bundt pan or ten inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees F. for about an hour and twenty minutes, or until a tester or knife blade inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely; sprinkle with confectioners' sugar if you'd like.
Notes: You can sour milk by adding a Tablespoon of vinegar to the milk, and subtracting an equivalent amount of milk.
I often add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate bits to the batter, just before pouring it into the Bundt pan. Alternatively, you may want to try soaking 1/2 to 3/4 cup dried cherries (in warm water, or, my personal favorite, Kirsch or cognac), pouring off the excess liquid (saving the liquor for the cook) before you stir the cherries gently into the batter.
The cooking time can vary quite a bit, depending on altitude and weather. Test for doneness with a knife inserted gently into the center; it should be moist, but not gooey.
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