Best Cooks Ever

My friends are great cooks. I know this because I’ve enjoyed meals they have prepared, and because my kids tell me often what excellent cooks they are. My oldest son, Maxwell, to be fair, has, like me, enjoyed many meals cooked by these talented women. It is my son, Jackson, 12, whose compliments are so vivid:

“Mom! Do you remember that really fancy meal Mrs. Haynie cooked for us at her new house? She made that really fancy chicken, cut up, and that really fancy kind of rice? It was so good!” Of course I remember. The fancy rice was couscous.

“Man, I don’t know how the Millers manage to put out the meals they do. I’ve eaten over there a lot and every meal was great.” Yes, of course! Like us, the Millers are both working parents.

“Mrs. Brougham is a really good cook. Everything I’ve eaten there has been good. She is Italian, Mom.” Really? She’s Italian?

“Mrs. Zimmermann’s potatoes (at the Holy Rosary 6th Grade Fiesta) were the best food there. They were the best potatoes I’ve ever eaten.” I have no doubt about how tasty the potatoes were; I didn’t know you really liked potatoes.

While my kids don’t really complain about the meals I serve them — they are grateful — they tell me they want more variety. Our standard weekday supper is grilled protein, rice or potatoes, vegetable, and salad; for dessert, maybe some ice cream. (Not long ago, Jackson claimed I’d never made brownies; that is untrue.)

Over Memorial Day weekend, seeking to please, I shopped for what I needed for Jack’s Chili, and made a big pot on Sunday.

My family was full of compliments.

For your summertime enjoyment, I offer you Jack’s Chili.
As you will note, the recipe is flexible. This time I stuck to the recipe, with these alterations:

»  I used 3.71 pounds of ground beef. I did not buy extra lean variety; I don’t believe it was available when my father penned the recipe in the mid-1970s.

»  With the extra beef used, I overcompensated on all ingredients, including beans, tomatoes, and seasonings.

»  I purchased good quality canned whole tomatoes. As the chili cooks, I mush the tomatoes down.

»  I added two large bay leaves, brought back from the Grenadines, and about a teaspoon of paprika, also from the Grenadines.

»  I also added a generous pinch of a Mediterranean seasoning mix received recently as a gift (sea salt, garlic, red pepper flakes, and herbs).

»  I did not add beer.

»  I added two squares unsweetened baking chocolate.


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