Monthly Archives: January 2015

Chili Challenge

Since I’d used up the chili powder that a friend who lives in New Mexico had sent me, I bought some I hadn’t tried before from a local specialty store to flavor the dish that I was preparing for the ski crowd I mentioned in a recent post. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the dish was finished and tasted excessively spicy that it struck me that all chili powders are not alike.

First, chili powders are made from different types of peppers, some hotter than others. Second, chili powder often is a blend of pulverized dried chilies and other spices, including cumin and oregano. Before I make chili again, I’ll experiment with chili powders from several sources, until I find the best one.

But, meanwhile, how could I save the day?

Since I will be serving rice with the chili and offering shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped onions and cilantro as accompaniments, I don’t think that the heat will be too apparent. However, just to be safe I plan to tone down the heat by adding more substance. I’ll brown another half-pound of ground turkey, cook it with some diced tomato and its juices and add some cumin and oregano.

Tiny Tools

The pretty, petite mortar and pestle I received as a gift recently is only 3-1/2 inches in diameter. I would have assumed it was intended only to be decorative, if I didn’t own a few other impossibly small implements, that also were gifts but turned out to be surprisingly functional.  While I’m opposed to cluttering drawers with specialized gadgets that are really superfluous, these extras have proven to be useful and have earned my affection.

One is a whisk, only about 3 inches long, that is perfect for whipping up salad dressing. It fits more comfortably in the little bowl than the normal-size one and is easier to clean.

Then, there is a rubber spatula with a bright green silicone head measuring about an inch-and-a-half square. I’m sure my friend chose it because it coordinated with the other items in her gift package, but I find that it’s invaluable for such odd jobs as salvaging the beans that get hopelessly wedged at the bottom of the can.

Apres Ski

Later this winter, my husband and I, along with seven other guests, will be spending a week at the Vermont time-share of a neighbor, where the rule is that every night two people team up to make dinner for the group. How will I feed so many people without cutting a vacation-day short? My make-ahead meal plan would be a good strategy for a weekend guest meal as well.

I’ll make and freeze a big pot of chili at home, so I can just defrost and warm it on our assigned day, and bake a pan of brownies for brownie sundaes beforehand, too. Also in advance, I’ll shred the cheese that will be one of the chili toppers, wash the greens for the salad and make a dressing. It shouldn’t take more than an hour to do the rest: set out some good quality prepared guacamole and chips, chop a red onion, scoop sour cream into a bowl and make rice.