Tuesday, 13 January 2015

I'm back

Western saddle
Photo: Borsi112
After a rather long winter break, I'm back in the saddle again. My time off has not all been relaxation and celebration. In my ongoing quest to gain the pensions due to me I have finally run into the bureaucrat from hell  — you know the type, the person who is not only wrong and inefficient but utterly rude, irresponsible and who can never admit any fault. This time it was a Provincial employee.

Christmas dinner was at my daughter's house. I arrived with presents for her, her husband and my grandchildren together with my traditional two-bite sausage rolls and mince tarts. my son-law's mother provided the turkey and my daughter baked a ham. I also made my own turkey dinner as Safeway has had frozen turkeys on sale for 99 cents a pound for the last thirty years or longer and I can never resist such a deal. I know of nothing else that has had no price increase in thirty years and even ground beef is five times more expensive. Of course, I ended up with a lot of left-overs and made turkey soup, turkey and mushroom pies, and turkey and sweet potato pasties. Perhaps I will buy a deep freezer this year and next December will buy several such turkeys.

Having become fed up with eating turkey in its various forms, I was not sad to see the last pie vanish and decided to prepare something as far removed from turkey as possible. I had always wanted to make some real Texas chili so I found a great recipe and Co-Op had all of the right ingredients including real Mexican dried chiles and the best masa farina, although I bought the beef elsewhere as I needed a lot of it and saved by buying a couple of large "family packs". I varied the recipe a little bit as I like to cook stewing beef in a slow cooker for a better texture so my homemade chili sauce was a bit too thin and rather than adding more masa farina, I spooned off the sauce and reduced it on the stove to intensify the flavours. I made it of medium hotness because I wanted to be able to taste the recipe rather than just making my mouth numb. I can highly recommend that recipe. It contains no beans, tomato or chili powder. I gave a serving to a friend who had lived in New Mexico and was familiar with real chili con carne. He took it home and let his wife and kids try it. All said it was the best chili they had ever tried. He joked about my opening chili restaurant, but I said that the cost of a bowl of good chili would come as a shock to anyone used only to the cheap canned varieties with all the beans and tomato in them, even though they are the merest ghost of the real thing. My chili did not last as long as I had hoped. Next time, I will use ten to twenty pounds of beef and freeze a lot of it.

Still no Coriosolite staters from the big Jersey hoard for XRF analysis. Trefor had emailed me saying he had hoped to be able to work on them over the Christmas break, but I had replied saying that everything slows down over Christmas whether in academia or business (save for retail, of course).

I had said that I would be continuing my mythology series next, but the next topic in the theme is going to be complicated so it will be its own series. I'm calling it Beyond the "Fringe Archaeology" and it will start tomorrow. Let me know what you think if you try that chili recipe.


  1. Good to have you back! That chilli recipe looks great, and I'm a chilli aficionado as that old reprobate Dick Stout will attest. I grow my own chilli variety called Apache, and also Jalapenos. Would these be suitable substitutes for the ones mentioned in the recipe? When it comes to drued chillis over here, we are still in the Dark Ages.



  2. Hi John, Glad to be back!
    I had to substitute a couple of peppers, myself, using Cascabel and Japones to augment the New Mexico pepper. I should have used more Japones for their heat and I had to add a teaspoon of ground Cayenne (which is all heat and little flavour). I think the New Mexico pepper is key. If you cannot find dried peppers so named, then get some Anaheim (California) red peppers and dry them yourself (or buy dried peppers of the same names). That is the pepper most typical of the chili taste, I think. The Apache pepper should be good for the heat and flavour -- that was the role served by the Japone in my variation.



  3. Hi John:

    Dick Stout rode to the rescue and pointed out a Mexican foods retailer in ..... London! Problem now sorted. Looking forward to trying the recipe.

    John H

    1. That's great, John. I also forgot to mention (but appears in the comments to the recipe) to use the water that the dry peppers had soaked in. It also seems a good plan to take the seeds out before the peppers are soaked (most of them just fall out when they are still dry).

      Do let me know what you think of that chili.