Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mom's Chili

When I was growing up, every Saturday, September through April, Mom would make a big pot of chili in the morning.  It would always be gone by the end of the weekend.

Mom with one of her legendary
wild game pies
Mom's chili was what she called "Dodge County Chili", named after the area of Wisconsin where she grew up, but was really her own variation, a much more chili-like variation than what traditionally fit that name.

In Wisconsin, chili is (or was, before the Internet and cable tv cooking shows homogenized a lot of regional cooking) divided into two camps...that which is similar to what Mom made, and what's known as "Green Bay Chili" which will be covered in a future edition of this blog.

Mom's Chili was known far and wide by her friends and family as the best around.  She made it every year for the last day of Deer Hunting season and held an open house on the lake they live on for any and all hunters.  It was a perennial hit!

We lost my Mom to cancer earlier this year.  With the nip in the air now, my thoughts naturally turned to her chili, and I'm going to try to keep up the tradition of making a pot of it every Saturday.

I love chili -- all types and styles -- and though this may not be a true chili by those who make standards on such things, it will always be my favorite.  I hope you'll make a pot of this too and enjoy it as much as I have over all these years.  Thanks, Mom!

You'll need:

1 large can tomatoes (or frozen tomatoes, about a quart)
1 lb hamburger
1 can chili beans or kidney beans
3 stalks celery
1 onion
1 green pepper
2 jalapenos (optional)
1 T Cumin
3 T Chili Powder
Garlic Salt
1 T Beef Boullion powder
1 Quart Tomato Juice
1/2 cup elbow macaroni

Brown the hamburger, toss in the onion, diced, along with the celery and peppers, also diced.  When hamburger is browned and vegetables soft, season with garlic salt to taste, then add the beef boullion, stir in well til dissolved.  Then add the tomatoes, beans and the rest of the seasonings.  Simmer, season with garlic salt and more chili powder if necessary, add the noodles and the tomato juice.   Simmer 30 minutes, serve.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dig House Tater Salad

Potato Salad...that staple side dish of church picnics, summertime barbecues, dish-to-pass events and sporting tailgates.  There are countless ways to make potato salad, but my recipe is loosely based on a 'tater salad' that I had many years ago, who's author was undoubtedly some unknown mom of a college student.

The Dig House today
I don't know who started it, or when, but back in the early 1980's at UW-Platteville there was an off-campus house at 40 E. Cedar St known as the "Dig House" because of a re-occuring party tradition known as the 'Potato Dig'.   The residents of said house would get 50 lb bags of potatoes and an alarming number of half-barrels of beer and throw a party.   Potatoes, being cheap, were the perfect fare for college students and the Dig House folks served them up mashed, french fried, baked and pretty much any way you could imagine, including potato salad.

At one of the Potato Digs that I attended, there was a terrific potato salad that had lots of dill and pickles in it.   I had never had such a thing in my young life and, due to the deliciousness of the salad and the inebriated state I was in, promptly ate a ton of it.

This is not that recipe, I have no idea who made that particular potato salad, but ever since I've made my potato salad 'in the spirit' of that potato salad.  I think it's pretty darn good.  I hope you'll think so too.

You will need:

4-5 large potatoes or 6-8 medium, peeled
4 eggs
1 stalk celery
3-4 Milwaukee Kosher Baby Dill pickles
1 small onion
4-5 radishes
1 cup Mayonnaise
1/8 cup Yellow Mustard
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and Pepper

Start by peeling the potatoes, cut into chunks, place in a saucepan with 1 T. Salt and the 4 eggs, cover completely with water and bring to a boil.  While this is boiling, dice up the celery, pickles, onion and radishes, put in a colander with 1 T salt and toss, set over sink or over large bowl.  The idea is to leech much of the water out of the vegetables.  Don't worry about the high salt content, most of it leeches out with the liquid.

Mix the mayo, lime juice and mustard together, salt and pepper this dressing to taste.

Watch the potatoes, you want them not quite 'done', so that you can slice them into cubes and have them be soft, but they'll hold their shape.   Depending on the potato, probably about 10-15 minutes of boiling.   When done, remove from heat, put pot in sink and run continuous cold water in the pot to cool the eggs and potatoes.

Dice the potatoes up into approx 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes.  Peel the hard boiled eggs and dice up.  Place in large bowl and add the rest of the vegetable mix.  Add the dressing and toss liberally.  Adjust seasoning to taste, sprinkle with Paprika  and garnish with a sprig of Parsley.  Cover and refrigerate at least a couple hours before serving, best if it sits overnight.