I've never met a chili recipe I wouldn't try...but then again, I've never met a recipe I'd follow to a T. So when I read country music star Zac Brown's recipe for Camfire Chili in last week's Parade magazine, I knew I had to try it. But I also knew that it wouldn't be long before I started to improvise....I've never been good at following directions.
You can click on the link above to get Zac's original recipe. What follows is my interpretation, with rifs from the Foodnetwork's uber chef Bobby Flay (love his Throwdown show) and hottie chef Tyler Florence (woot!).
Okay, so there's not really 1,000 ingredients...maybe 950.
One of the reasons I wanted to try this recipe was the use of three different kinds of meat. One pound each of: ground pork, ground bison, and cubed beef. Next time, I'd keep all of the meat cubed rather than ground, I think it would add more to the flavor of the chili than the ground meat.
Anyhooo, begin by browning the meat.
Next up, is the addition of a jalapeno. As you can see, I've seeded it to take some of the heat out of it. Then I diced it.
I enlisted Mom to dice the onions because they make my eyes water and because Mom never thinks I get the dice small enough to her liking.....so have it, Mom!
Once the meat it browned we added a can of green chilies, the jalapeno, and the onions. Oh, and that bottle of beer you see in the background.
Next up was the addition of the spices you see in the background: cumin seed, chili powder, garlic powder, a pinch of sea salt, and ground black pepper. We also added a couple cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes. I like the fire roasted taste, perfect for chili.
Zac's recipe called for something I haven't tried before: the addition of beef stock.
His recipe also called for masa flour as a thickener. Which I didn't have. So I crumbled up some corn chips and achieved the same result.
And now begins our deviation from the recipe. Mom has a thing for peppers so she diced up yellow, orange, red, and green peppers and briefly sauteed them in a separate pan and then added them to the chili.
Then, with inspiration from Bobby and Tyler, I added a couple tablespoons each of chipotle peppers in their smoky adobo sauce and some unsweetened cocoa powder to add a chocolatey richness often found in Mexican sauces.
Next up is the addition of beans. We've got four different varieties here....the more beans the better in my book. They're a great source of fiber and make the chili go further if you're cooking for a crowd.
So here's what the whole mess looks like after you've added all the ingredients.
And here's what it looks like after it's cooked for a couple hours. If the chili is too thick, just add more beer (or another liquid of your choosing, we prefer beer.)
And here's what it looks like on my plate. I've added a dollop of sour cream and shredded an aged goat cheese which adds a different, but complimentary flavor than the usual cheddar. Of course, chili is not complete without Frito corn chips.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This Thanksgiving is just a week before I note the first anniversary of my arrival in Evergreen. As I reflect back on all the events of the past year, I realize that I have much to be grateful for since my arrival. However, one of the things I am most grateful for occurred just a couple weeks ago when my brother John came to visit.
I won't go into specific right now, because things are still in the works, but as I look back at the past year, John's visit exemplifies one of the greatest blessings of the year. Our family has grown closer despite the miles that now separate us. How amazing is that? When I was at my wits end, my siblings called to offer encouragement and my brother John stepped in and provided much needed guidance. I'll share the rest of the story once all the details are finalized...
During John's visit, since Mom and I knew that we wouldn't be flying to Florida for Thanksgiving, we decided to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with John. The picture above is John demonstrating the correct way to carve a turkey, as Mom looks on. The reason I'm not paying attention to his instruction is because I have no interest in the correct way to carve a turkey. All I really want to do is pull the skin off and eat it....it's the best part of the bird, isn't it?! My contribution to the meal was my famous chocolate bourbon pecan pie....which is, in my humble estimation, the best in the entire universe.
As I look through the photos of the past year for a picture of that glorious pie, (which apparently I forgot to document with a photo) and reflect on how much has changed, I realize that one of the biggest changes is that I'm finally at peace. Sure, there are still a lot of things I need to accomplish...but I am more hopeful about the future.
On this first Thanksgiving in Evergreen, I'd like to share some of the things I am most grateful for:
- Mom's continued health and the wonderful healthcare she receives both in Evergreen and Denver.
- The friends we have met and made here. The warmth and hospitality of the people of Evergreen is unlike anywhere else we've ever lived.
- My friends who have stayed in touch and continued our friendship despite the distance.
- The generous response I received from friends, family, and fellow authors on Amazon, when I published my first ebook, Mrs. Tuesday's Departure, last month.
- All the important lessons I've learned, both easy and hard, maybe especially the hard.
I wish you all blessings of family and friends and really great food this Thanksgiving! If you have a moment, please leave a comment and let me know what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving Day!
"Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name." - 1 Chronicles 29:13
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
One of the things I love about Evergreen are the elk.
Usually we see them roaming around downtown, stopping traffic as a herd ambles across the road.
They are so prevalent that locals take no notice of them as they drive by, yet are aware enough of their presence that if one steps on the road, traffic in both directions quickly comes to a stop and no one actually beeps a horn as they wait for the elk to cross.
But up here on the side of the mountain where I've been living for the past six months, elk sitings are pretty rare. Deer, we see all the time. Elk...not so much.
Which is why it was such a thrill to wake up this morning and look out my window and see a herd of elk grazing below.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I have been madly participating on the Community boards on Amazon.com to promote my debut novel: Mrs. Tuesday's Departure. Because reader reviews of a book can be an integral part of the buyer's decision making process, I've offered to trade reviews with some of my fellow kindle book authors.
If you've recently published a book, kindle or otherwise and would like to trade reviews, please leave a comment below and I will contact you so that we can swap book info.
If you don't have a book to promote but you've bought Mrs. Tuesday's Departure, please leave a review on the book's Amazon site: here.
After a month of incredibly mild weather (we're talking sunny, dry, and in the high 60's for most of October) it's starting to act like winter here in Evergreen. As you all know, I LOVE the snow. Love it, love it, love it!!!!
However, as I discovered this morning, my Hummer and I do NOT like slushy icy stuff under the snow that causes as to go sliding around, especially as we try to navigate our way down our steep driveway....yes, those are the remnants of my tire's skid marks as my 4,000 pound vehicle slid down the steep drive.
Which is particularly nerve-wracking since the bottom of the driveway gives way to a very steep drop-off.
So after my neighbor came out and helped me get my car into the garage, I went out and started shoveling and tossing rock salt on the icy parts of the sloping driveway. I wanted to get a handle on this because we are expected to get more snow before it warms up again.
And those errands I'd planned to do today? They are going to wait until the sun comes out.
Monday, November 8, 2010
As I mentioned in last post, now that I've published Mrs. Tuesday's Departure as an ebook, I need to promote it so that readers can find my book!
Throughout this journey I've mentioned two authors who have been continual inspiration in this self-publishing journey: JA Konrath and Karen McQuestion. Well, they continue to inspire. In a recent interview on JA Konrath's blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, Mr. Konrath interviewed Karen McQuestion about how she promoted her books after she'd published them on Amazon. Here's a link to the incredibly insightful interview.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
If reading of my self-publishing experience over the past two weeks has inspired you to self-publish you own book, here are links to the major publisher/distributors. Best of all, publishing on each of these platforms is free and as easy as uploading your Word document.
- Amazon's Kindle: Go to dtp.amazon.com to set up your account. This is the best place to start since Amazon's ebook sales make up over 70% of all sales, thanks in large part to their hugely popular Kindle platform. Setting up your account and uploading your cover art and manuscript is easy and will take no more than thirty minutes. After that, it takes Amazon about 48 hours to approve and publish your book to Amazon.com. After you've published your book, you'll want to set up your Author's page, which will allow you to introduce yourself to readers. Also, Amazon's help desk was very responsive when I had questions.
- Smashwords.com is the second most popular site to upload books. The advantage of Smashwords is that it publishes your book in several different formats for all ebook platforms. You can also submit your book to their premium catalogue which allows distribution to other ebook sites.
- pubit.barnesandnoble.com is a relatively new publishing arm set up by Barnes and Noble to compete with Amazon's success. I've had mixed results with this site. Originally everything went smoothly, but when I had to reload my manuscript after some additional editing, the book failed to show up on Barnes and Noble's site. My repeated emails asking for help were met with silence.
To get more information about the self-publishing your ebook, I'd like to recommend the following sites:
- JA Konrath's site: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing is by my estimation, the best site for those interested in self-publishing via ebooks. JA Konrath is incredibly generous in sharing his experiences and success in publishing his 29 novels.
- Publetariat.com has several useful articles on self-publishing platforms.
- Karen McQuestion's blog has been a wonderful resource to discover how another author self-published to great success.
So there you have it, the bare-bones basics of ebook self-publishing. My next adventure will be learning how to market my book. If you have suggestions, please leave a comment below!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
When I decided to self-publish one of my novels as an ebook, I really had only one choice. I've written three, or rather two and a half, novels. The first novel will someday need a complete re-write. The second novel, Mrs. Tuesday's Departure, was done but needed some tweaking. The third is the murder mystery that I am currently working on. So the choice was made for me: Mrs. Tuesday's Departure would be my debut.
Since I had not opened the novel's Word file in over two years, editing it was like visiting an old friend. The first meeting was awkward. The first few pages of editing were strange as I found places where I had changed the book from first person POV to third person, where I'd changed the names of the characters, and even changed the city the book is set in.
But like visiting a good friend that you haven't seen in years, the awkwardness quickly wore away and I found myself drawn into the story, and really enjoying myself. The more I edited, the more I loved the story. Without giving away the story, I will tell you that Mrs. Tuesday's Departure originally started as a story about a family caught up in the terrors of World War II Budapest. However, I changed the particulars of the story, choosing to refer to the Nazis as the 'Black and Reds' and never naming the actual city instead simply alluding to the fact that it was a European city. I made these changes because I wanted the story to focus on the relationships within the story, because to me that was the real point. How do the dynamics of a relationships between siblings change in the face of illness? How do we react under the ultimate stressful situations? How do we express our loyalty? How far are we willing to go to save those we love?
As I moved through the editing process, I was delighted with the characters and how they evolved, how each one struggled to tell the story from their perspective. I hope my readers will have the same happy journey as they read the finished product.