Chili with Chile
9:59 pm: It was 100 degrees on the roof of the new garage by yesterday afternoon. I don't blame the workers for getting off that roof and not coming back until this morning. They're really fast, too. The windows, the one door, and the roof is all on now, and the sides are going up as is the garage door. I'm pretty impressed.
With the local dying of the building boom, we got some really good people at good prices and they're just working amazingly fast. I'm impressed. They're building this whole building in less than two weeks, from nothing but cleared dirt to an actual, solid, dependable structure. Wow. They're providing plenty of entertainment for Jet and Rosty and George as well, and the whole fascination of something being created lies in this for me, too. It's just fun watching it go up, and seeing just how much work it takes to defy entropy for a while is pretty cool. I am amazed by how quickly it all goes.
Soon we'll have protection for the Baby Buggy and plenty of room for John to spread Moby Dick and all his assorted parts into places that he can actually find them and use them. That should be good.
So I woke to the sound of people working outside. Jet had gotten up at 6, and since I'd fed him at 4:30, John just took him and I think they might have gone outside to look at things with John's dad, as the workers had arrived really early. That was pretty cool.
It was a nice morning, all in all, and I got the framework all checked in and squared away the way I wanted. Since I'd done so much extra time all week, I decided to just take the rest of the day off, and that was that. John finished his work early, so the two of us decided to have lunch out and take in a move. Sadly, the movies right now are between the summer hits and the Christmas gifts; so they're pretty much all drek right now, and the only one that sounded interesting was Hearts In Atlantis. The commercials for it are a mite reminiscent of Sixth Sense and I liked that a very great deal.
We had only half an hour for lunch, but I was very, very content with going to Good Times and eating burgers there. I'm not as strictly self-conscious about what food I eat when John's mom and dad are here as when my mom and dad are here; but it just felt really good to go out and have a burger anyway. And they always do their burgers right. I was also mildly bemused to discover their stock exchange information on the bag and wrappers. I'll have to look into that as I'm pretty pleased with their business policies and how they do their food, but what kind of margins are there in the burger business with McDonald's as competitors?
We got to Westminster in plenty of time for the movie, and I enjoyed it. I wouldn't say it was good, though. I enjoy nearly anything with Hopkins, but he wasn't all that particularly good at portraying a mildly seedy old man. Every time he tried to drop a colloquialism it kind of dropped like a brick against the crystalline clarity of his elocution. Still, the character was interesting. I hated the mom, and still have difficulties believing anyone could be that stupid and that wrong in such a thorough way; still, against the backdrop of the time, I guess, it is possible. I found out, later, that it was based on two Steven King short stories and was supposed to be a bit like Stand By Me, and I guess it was. It certainly wasn't anything like Sixth Sense.
We came home to find Jet napping in his stroller, and both of them were outside with Isabel, enjoying the breezes and the back porch.
Taking advantage of the calm, I made chili with chile. I have always had a problem with making chili. I don't know why. It never comes out quite the way I want it too. It gets murky with the chili powder. Okay. I think part of why is that I used to always just rely on the chili powder for all the taste. The other part might have been that I always did it for a chili cook-off, so I'd make it the night before and believing the adage that cooking it longer was better, I'd let it slow cook all night and then keep it going during the day, and by the time it was served, it was just sludge.
Maybe 14 hours on heat could ruin just about anything.
Also, in the meantime, Trip had given me a Diner cookbook and there were seven chili recipes in there, and none of them had you cook it for more than two hours. So I now had a bound. It also had a lot of cool ideas on seasonings and things that were possible so I made up a recipe from those.
So I decided not to cook it that long. I also bought chili powder from Penzey's that is mostly just red ancho chile powder, and a few other things. I added onions, a red bell pepper, and some garlic to a pot with hot oil, and let that stuff saute while I prepped one of the slabs of chuck I'd bought when Safeway had had a 89 cent/pound chuck sale. Now I knew that chuck makes good long, slow braised meat dishes of nearly all kinds, rather than just the generic ground beef, which could have had anything in it. Chuck also has plenty of connective tissue that with a slow braise, makes for very tender, juicy meat that does give off all kinds of unctuous mouth feel proteins from the connective tissue cooking slowly in a liquid and melting. So I did the Alton Brown chop on the chuck, just five one-second pulses in the food processor, in small batches, and I had a chili chop of beef.
That went in with aromatics, and when the beef got good and brown, then I added the spices. A good tablespoon of ground cumin, two teaspoons of crushed dried thyme, and two tablespoons of Penzey's medium hot chili powder. I tasted it, and I hadn't added any of my beans, tomatoes of stuff, yet, and it tasted just about right, so I added one more tablespoon of the chile powder. Then I cooked it until the spices were fragrant before adding a couple cans of tomatoes, one can of tomato paste, a can of black beans, a can of kidney beans, and a cup of beef bullion. Then I stirred it, put it on the back burner (which really does burn lower on our stove) and left it there, as Jet had woken up while I was opening cans.
Isabel was a champ and had kept him occupied while I finished off the pot. John and George were working outside, and eventually came in to ask how much time until dinner. I said that it was as much time as they needed, it was chili and could wait on when they were done. So they ran off to Home Depot and came back to a kitchen that smelled of chili. Yay! I made quesadillas to go with it and it was good.
It was a mite hotter than I suspected, as the chipotle in the mix is a slow burner. Its one of those chilies that does a slow build of heat, and so it was right on the edge of what Isabel and I could eat. So we ate a bit less of that and a few more quesadilla bits, and that was okay. It was still edible, and it tasted really good, so I really enjoyed it.
For the past few days, I've been reading Pat Cadigan's Mindplayers and have enjoyed it very much. She's always done language really well, the new language of a new thing, the nomenclature that distinguishes those in the know from those that don't know, and the language in this is very rich and full and fun. I really enjoyed it though it doesn't have a plot the way I usually think of a book plot. It's very much more character development for the sake of the journey. I liked that but was mildly surprised by it. Very enjoyable.