The Chili Evolution

This is the first post that will pay homage to the blog’s name, “Fish Sticks to Sushi.” Growing up, it was no secret to anyone we knew that my mom didn’t like to cook. She didn’t enjoy it, so she never made anything that required chopping more than one vegetable, or that had a lengthy ingredient list or complicated directions, or that dirtied too many dishes. She would rather spend her time doing almost anything else, so she didn’t cook or bake more than she could help it, and therefore, I never learned to cook myself. I look back on those days, and those meals, and marvel at where I am now! I am giving advice on food and encouraging people, and even TEACHING people, how to cook! (Make no mistake: I LOVE my mother. She has given me everything I could want, and taught me to be the person I am proud to be now. Ironically, this now includes being able to cook delicious, healthy food!)
Now to the chili: one of the most atrocious things she would make was “chili,” though there are probably millions of people who view this as committing culinary a felony!
Her “chili” ingredients:

  • Ground beef
  • Elbow macaroni
  • Tomato sauce
  • Chili powder
  • Sugar

(OUCH! That hurts to write!)

Here is what that looks like:

Yes, that is SUGAR!

To be fair, I did search these ingredients in a few recipe databases, and found some things that were close to matching. However, they always included onion, and celery for aromatics and flavor and other vegetables. Also, and this is really the thing that would drive chili-makers nuts: those other recipes are NOT CALLED chili. They were called casseroles or goulashes or pasta bakes and skillets. I know of no one who considers something with noodles capable of being called chili. But, in order to compare in real time, I MADE this recipe, such as it is:

I still think I did something differently, because I remember this being as thin as tomato soup! Also, just as I was dishing it up I remembered what I forgot…the Saltines! (It was strange how that memory of the Saltines hit me; I had a pretty strong feeling of regret I didn’t get any to have with the “chili.”) So how was it? Hmm…well, the best way I can describe it is how SpaghettiOs tastes to traditional, Italian, homemade lasagna. (Again, I LOVE my mother!)

OK, enough of the time travel; let’s try today’s chili:
So because I have a thing for spices, we have several types of chili powders. Also, Chad has been making chili since college. After several years, we have developed a pretty good recipe, but have recently made a few changes that have made it even better. Since we are in Wisconsin, we are not in chili territory, so I acknowledge that other chili-makers may find our chili lacking as well–though I’d love to find out!

Here is our new chili ingredient list:

All this equals a lot of tasty flavors!

These peppers are so hot, even Chad wears gloves!

Electronic can-openers is an under-rated invention!

I can’t list them all, because Chad does have a few semi-secret ingredients. Plus, he has his first chili contest coming up, so I’d hate to give away his secrets! One of the nicest things about this recipe is that Chad often makes it on his own now; perhaps chili is the indoor version of grilling! This is especially nice because when we have hot peppers to use, he cuts them up!

So while mom’s “chili” was no doubt cheaper and easier to make, which was all very appropriate at the time, after a couple of hours, Chad and I get to enjoy our modern-day version:

The avocado and cream cheese goes great with the delicious hotness!

And I must say, I like the current version better. Again, I LOVE you, mom! Thanks for giving your blessing to our blog!


3 thoughts on “The Chili Evolution

  1. We like a milder chili. Bob can’t handle too much spice for the time being. I can handle much more heat and do like it in all kinds of dishes.

  2. This was so timely. Mark just made a pot of chili yesterday and we’ve been enjoying it. When we were kids our chili always had macaroni (probably why Carol put it in hers). Not any longer. I don’t like beans so Mark doesn’t put in as many as he would choose to. He uses lots of spices and likes it hot.

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