2017 A To Z Challenge – Gastronomy

Challenge2017  Letter G

Don’t confuse the title of this post with Astronomy. That’s the study of heavenly bodies.  This will be about the study of my body.  It’s far from heavenly, but it has its own gravitation field, and can cause eclipses.

For the first half of my working career, eating and weight gain were no big deal. My office jobs were so sedentary that I didn’t require great numbers of calories.  With two kids to raise, there wasn’t a lot of spare cash available for French fries, junk food or soft drinks, and the wife had not yet become the great cook that she would be a bit later in life.  Although I did manage to go from a stick-thin kid of 135 pounds, to a solid, well-built man of 185, and stayed that way for years.

All that changed when I left the offices, parked my brain at the door, and went to work in the plants. Suddenly, the jobs were so physical that I needed and consumed 3000/3500 calories a day.  The kids grew up, and there was enough cash for the occasional fast food treat, and the wife was described by her brother, a professional chef, as a better cook than him.

185 lbs. crept to 190, then 195, then to 200. I’m a good eater.  The greeter at the grocery end of Wal-Mart says, “Welcome back Archon. It’s always nice to see you.  Two more visits and I can retire to Florida.”  The wife learns 5 new recipes, and I gain 5 new pounds.  Now I’m 205 lbs., and I can see retirement looming, but not my toes.  Changes have to be made!

The wife says that we’re getting older, and the chance of weak bones is increasing, so drink chocolate milk and eat cheese every day. I’m okay if I stay upstairs, in the computer room, but if I go downstairs in the evening, I’m wrestled to the ground by a toasted bagel – or some potato chips that were on sale – or cookies and hot chocolate.  It’s always something.

I have lots of will power. What I need is some won’t power.  The wife thinks I’m obsessive, because I weigh myself every day.  Seven years into retirement, I’ve passed 210, and occasionally 215.  217!  218!  The day I saw 220, I – not ‘panicked’ – but something has to be done.  Something other than letting the white beard grow back in, and buying a Santa suit.

Yesterday, the scale read 209.8, but my blood pressure was 136/78. The diastolic is still low, but I need to do something about the systolic – like lose some more weight.  I don’t want to be the guy in the Christmas song – round John Virgin.  If I was the victim of a shooting, the chalk outline would be a circle.

Thanx for reading the whine I had with my cheese. I’ll see you around….as long as I’m not quite as round next time.   😳

Fat Man

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It’s Chili Inside

All right, I warned you I was gonna pass out my recipe for chili.  You can try it and pass out later.

We never had chili when I was a kid.  We lived too far north to even hear of it.  Didn’t know what chili powder was.  My Mom’s spice rack had salt and pepper.  Ketchup was adventurous, although just after the ice-age, we called it catsup.  We were one of the first, daring families in our town to try Chef Boy-Ar-Dee’s boxed pizza mix.  We didn’t have a pizza tin, so we made it on a 9 X 13 cookie tray.  Perforce, it was a thin-crust pizza.  I learned to add a bit of flour to increase the crust, and add barbecue sauce or tomato juice to the kit’s little can of pizza sauce.  I grated extra cheddar for the top, but my mom couldn’t tell me what was in the spice mixture.  The wife has two racks, with 36 spices, and 24 herbs

Chili is a poor family’s meal.  Chili con carne means with meat, and is a small step up.  Often people saved money by adding things to the basic recipe, to stretch it, to feed more kids.  My wife’s family had nine kids.  They needed to stretch it as far as they could.

Basic chili con carne has meat, tomatoes, beans and chili powder.  After that, you can be as creative as you want.  Normally, the con carne means ground beef, but you can use ground pork, ground turkey – dark meat or light.  You can put in steak chunks if you can afford it.  The wife’s family’s recipe is below, complete with secret ingredient.  With lots of exceptions, women are often, merely cooks, following recipes, and men are the more creative chef types.  What I’m saying is, don’t get hung up on how many grains of salt.  Find out what works for you and your family, and go with it.

List Of Ingredients

1 to 1 ½ lbs lean ground beef

1 large cooking onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon chopped/grated garlic, fresh pressed or bottled – more, or less, to taste

1 – 29 oz. Can diced tomatoes

1 – 19 oz. Can red kidney beans

1 – 12 oz. Can Chili-style beans – Optional – if available, or any type of baked beans

1 – 10 oz. Can mushroom stems and pieces – optional

2  tablespoons chili powder – more, or less, to taste

Tabasco sauce, or equivalent, optional, know your eaters’ tastes and limits

Secret Ingredient/Chili Extender – leftover spaghetti, chopped to 1 to 2 inch pieces.  Adds a bit more meat and tomato flavor, as well as cheap carbs.  Strictly optional.

 

Preparation/Cooking Instructions

Basic instruction, Stir, stir, stir.  This is a thick soup/stew.

Chop onion fine

Add onion and garlic, salt and pepper to ground meat in large pot.  Break meat up fine and mix with onion/garlic.   Cook till done and liquid is driven off.  Add tomatoes.  Bring back to light boil.  Add kidney beans, bring back to heat.  Add chili-style or baked beans, bring back to heat.  Add mushrooms, if desired, and chopped, cooked spaghetti, a double handful, or as far as you want to stretch it, bring back to heat.  I add 6 or 7 drops of Tabasco.  BrainRants would use Sriracha.  Your tongue may differ.  Add desired amount of chili powder and stir well. Total preparation time to this point, including chopping onion and garlic, 45 minutes.  Turn heat to minimum and allow to meld.  Stir occasionally.  A half hour to hour allows flavors to blend.  You can add small chunks of cheddar, Monterey Jack, or other cheese to go con queso, stir in, or serve separately.  Serve with saltine crackers, nacho-style chips, or toast.  Serves four to five hungry men, or an entire church social.

I had a hilarious story about super-hot Texas Chili that I was going to include, but I’ve rambled on too long with this cooking show, and I can’t seem to find it in the computer files.  What I think I’ll do is wait a couple of days, until you are allowed back in the house after all these beans, and then post the chili story as a follow-up, when I can find it.  Happy eating.