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Monday, October 18, 2010

Chili and Chills

I made chili tonight for supper tomorrow. I used the McCormick-type spice recipe, with store brand names to save a little money. It was my mom's recipe, and a real tradition in our house. We even made chili dogs and chili burgers with it. How I miss sitting in our pine-paneled dining room, built by my uncles when my grandparents owned the house, and those big bowls of chili she made, and the simple salad of lettuce and tomatoes with oil and vingegar dressing. There was always some quiet time before and after, and for years and years I read my latest library book before and after dinner, then did homework. If it were a blessed night, I wouldn't have any math, and would finish quickly and catch some of the movie of the week. I think of Emily in Our Town, flung to earth once more after death, and wishing to live again just one ordinary day, and I think of those late fall and early evenings at home with my mom and her chili, and I can understand.

It is colder and colder and truly Halloween weather that would do Ray Bradbury proud. I have been teaching The Halloween Tree regularly, and I love it more each time. There are all kinds of decorations around, and one great old Victorian house has about half a dozen life-sized monster animatronics, the kind one can order online. At night, they are circled by eerie purple lights. By day, it is still fantastic. I love to drive by it, just to look. One house has a life sized pine casket out front, and a skeleton dressed in tux. My pumpkins, gourds, and mock graveyards are out, too. My favorite decorations will always be the homemade cutouts and vintage paper witches and gouls that adorned our windows. My favorite lives in a scrapbook; it is a consruction paper Anne Boleyn, headless, carrying her paper head. I was in fourth grade when I made it.

I can almost feel my mother standing next to me, a pile of leaves under our feet, the scent of bonfires, which we really can't burn anymore, tinging the air. I remember more acorns than I see now, and of course, lots of squirrels, and carmel apples, and Halloween parties. I made carmel apples this weekend, and gave one to the little girl across the street who was trilled.

Anyway, the chili was easy, 1 lb. 93% lean ground beef which was on sale, browned with a small onion, chopped. The envelope of seasoning and a 4.5 oz can tomato sauce. I added a 14 oz can diced tomatoes, and one 15 oz can chili beans, all store brands. I added about 4 oz water, and the liquid from the beans, and about 2/3 the liquid from the diced tomatoes. I stirred it all, and it is simmering as we speak.

These are long days, but short days, with the dark coming upon us quickly. Happy chilimaking to all, and may The Great Pumpkin be good to you!

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