Homer Alaska - Cooking

Story last updated at 6:39 PM on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New dogs, old books and hot chili for cold days

Grandpuppy Boomer the black Lab keeps us quite entertained and for his first Christmas morning, he didn't disappoint. My son Dave and his family were to come over Christmas morning to open presents and eat brunch. All arrived at the appointed time — except Dave and Boomer. We waited and waited. After about 20 minutes, I sent someone out to see what was holding them up. Aaron walked into the garage and couldn't comprehend what he saw. He tried to explain it as a bigger version of Boomer, same red collar, and wondered what it was doing in our garage. The first thing that came to mind was Dave brought me home a black Lab that had been at the animal shelter. Oh no, not another dog.

Porter, the neighbor dog, was the mystery Lab corralled in our garage. Evidently Boomer decided that he would rather go play with Porter, who was out for a walk with his people. We couldn't get that little guy to come for anything, including trapping Porter in the garage in hopes Boomer would follow. He didn't care if it was Christmas morning and there were presents under the tree to open, they weren't his presents. Dave finally got Boomer home with the promise of cookies. Our old dog Willie just looked at him in disgust and made a grunting noise while shaking his head.

This is my fun Christmas story to share with you to make you forget about the darkness, tight fitting pants and tired decorations in need of putting away until next Christmas.

This Christmas, I received two used cookbooks thoughtfully selected for me. One is from 1949. The other was written by a man who learned to cook in the Hungarian Army and later went on to open a restaurant in San Francisco. I can't wait to sit in the big green chair with Willie and page through these old treasures.

January's cold and dampness inspires me to make chili. This recipe is always a big hit. You can substitute moose for the beef in this. Be sure your spices are fresh for plenty of good flavor.

Chill Chaser Chili

8-10 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground beef

1 pound chuck steak, fat trimmed off, cut into 1" cubes

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups water

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 – 6-oz. cans tomato paste

2 teaspoons sugar

3 cups diced fresh tomatoes

3 cups diced sweet onion

3 cups diced red bell pepper

3 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed from 3–15 oz. cans

1 cup fresh cilantro

2 ¾ cups beef broth- about

Grated cheddar cheese

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium high heat. Add ground pork and ground beef and sauté until brown, about 3 minutes. Add cubed beef and garlic and saute 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water; bring to boil. Add cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, and cayenne pepper. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and sugar and simmer 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, onions and peppers and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Add black beans and cilantro to chili. Add beef broth ¾ cup at a time until thinned to desired consistency. Bring chili to simmer; ladle into bowls, sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Can be prepared one day ahead and reheated.