Pandemic Cooking – Midwest Chili

How are you coping with COVID 19, the Corona Virus?

How are you holding up with the COVID-19 (Corona Virus) pandemic going on around you? This is certainly something new! And right now, there're so many unknowns! I know firsthand how difficult it can be to stay focused!

Breathe and Repeat this Mantra
Breathe and Repeat this Mantra

Breathe

Remember to BREATHE! And then breathe some more. Slow deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this 2-3-4-or more times. And do that several times a day, at least do it anytime you catch yourself getting anxious or worried. Imagine that a white light is coming down from above and into your body through the top of your head, filling it with calm, strength, health, & peace. And on each exhale repeat this mantra; "Thank you for healing my body and keeping me healthy". You can use your own mantra if you prefer. I know that doing this has been helping me stay calm.

Focus is Hard!

Today is our 4th day of social distancing. That’s also a new term, for me at least. And it has become commonplace already! So, first I did some breathing and then I sat down and started writing out all the things I could do with this time. That helped, and I've even checked off a couple of those items already!

Since I'm not teaching in person at the moment, one thing I plan to do is put together an online class. My first one will be gratis. My gift to a world struggling to adapt to our new normal (or normal for at least for a few weeks/months). Stay tuned and please let me know if you’re interested. I’m also open to suggestions for any specific classes you may want me to teach!

Wherever you are, I hope you remain safe and stay calm!

Midwest (Pandemic) Chili

The first meal I made during our social distancing was chili. Good old-fashioned Midwest chili with ground beef and beans.

Why did I make chili? Well, because we are practicing social distancing and I wanted to make something that would stretch out our supplies. We have everything we need to sit tight for at least a couple of weeks, but we don’t know how long we’ll really need to stay at home to be safe. I like to cook, especially soups or chili and our local weather forecast has a stormy (rain stormy) and cooler couple of days on the way so chili sounded good to me.

I had everything I needed, except tomato juice. Steve took care of that earlier this week when he went in to get prescription refills and cold medicine (just in case we need it). I asked him to see if they had it at the drug store, but I was prepared to make do without if needed so he didn’t need to make any additional stops. They had V-8 juice and that’s close enough!

Midwest Chili Recipe

OK, this is NOT a cooking blog so I have to make a disclaimer: I make no claims that this recipe will make you happy or even taste good.

Here’s my recipe for Midwest Chili. It’s based on my mom’s recipe since she taught me how to make it. I call it my Midwest Chili because I grew up in Iowa and this is how we made chili in my family thus Midwest Chili.

I like to experiment when I cook and over the years I have altered nearly all of my mom’s recipes and this one is no exception. The beauty of my mom’s cooking style was that everything was flexible. It had to be because sometimes we had to make do with what we had. There were no written recipes for most supper dishes. Yes, I said supper. That’s what we called the evening meal. Anyhoo…the flexibility is what allowed me to learn how to alter recipes. And with many of us staying close to home this is a great recipe that allows for some making do with what you have.

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You will need:

  • 1 to 1-1/2 pound(s) ground beef
  • diced onions (1 large onion or 2 small onions - or more if you like onions)
  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cans light red kidney beans
  • 2 large cans of tomatoes (chopped, diced, whole, crushed, it doesn’t matter!)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • tomato juice or V-8

You can use another meat if you don't have or like ground beef. Ground turkey or chicken would work well. Sometimes I add chopped green and or red peppers when I add the onions.

You can use whatever beans you have or no beans at all (but then it really isn’t my Midwest chili). I like kidney beans best for this, but it doesn’t matter if they’re dark or light.

I was planning on adding water if I didn’t get tomato juice. I may have added tomato paste in addition to the water, but I didn’t need to. And of course, you can use dried onions if necessary.

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Brown the ground beef, add onion and cook until the onion is soft. Add tomato sauce and spices: 2 teaspoons of Oregano, 1 teaspoon of Basil, 2 Tablespoons of Chili Powder (this is not HOT chili powder!). I like a lot of chili powder, so I added another tablespoon later. And I added 2 teaspoons of Cumin which is one of my additions to my mother’s recipe. I also added salt and pepper. I’m trying to reduce my sodium, so I didn’t add much salt. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

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Next add the canned tomatoes and beans. I drain most of the liquid out of the beans before I add them to the chili. And the tomato juice or as you can see, I’m using V-8 juice today. I used about a cup.

A note on reheating chili. First of all, it’s much better reheated. The flavors all have time to get well acquainted and they blend nicely! Second thing is I always thin it out a bit with tomato juice (or V-8) when I reheat it. I decide how much juice to add by how thick I want the chili. You may not want or need to add juice at all. How thick do you like your chili?

All that is left is to cook it for as long as you want. I think it’s best to cook until it simmers on low heat for about 30 minutes to an hour. Like I said, it gets even better when you reheat it!

I like to serve mine with cornbread. My mother never made cornbread that I know of. I have a great cast iron skillet cornbread recipe that I like and I’m sharing with you because I already have a recipe card made for it.

Great Cast Iron Cornbread

This recipe card goes back to my digital scrapbooking days. I used digital scrapbooking products from Scrap Girls.

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I also like to add shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream on top of the chili! I’m getting hungry!

Let's Share Our Recipes!

I thought it might be nice to share my chili recipe and let you know that I’m sending healing energy out for us all during these scary times!

Remember to breathe! One day this will be behind us. I hope you stay connected, even if only virtually for a while! And if you like chili, I hope you try my recipe. If you try the recipe and if you made do or made it your own, please let me know what you did! Or share your go to recipe with us. If it includes the flexibility to make do with what’s in the pantry and/or freezer, even better!

Until next time,

Be You and Be Happy! (And Be Safe!!)

Siggy

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