Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Something I learned from my mother

 Since yesterday was a cool and rainy day, I made chili.  I make it from scratch using the recipe from an older Better Homes and Garden recipe.  I consider it a very healthy meal, with more vegetables in it than meat.  

I was reminded of another time I set out to make this same chili about two years ago.  Ground beef was pretty costly at the time, because the Covid mess had made food prices go way up.  I was making chili.  I browned the meat with the onions, bell pepper, and garlic.  Then I added the tomatoes (frozen, from my garden) and tomato sauce.  I added the six tablespoons of what I thought was chili powder and was just about to add the kidney beans when I noticed a mistake:  I had grabbed the wrong spice!  I had put six tablespoons of cayenne pepper in it, and no chili powder!  I normally use about half a teaspoon of cayenne; the recipe doesn’t call for it, but we like a little spice in our chili.

Trust me, nobody would want to eat chili with six tablespoons of heat added.  Meanwhile, I could have cried thinking about throwing away a pound and a half of meat.  It didn’t take me long to figure out a way to save it.


I let what I had in the pan cool, got some freezer bags out, put 1/2 cup of this fiery mess in each bag and put them in the freezer.  Ever since then, I make my chili by the usual recipe, I add a frozen 1/2 cup of heat.  It gives us the exact amount of cayenne pepper we like, while little by little we are saving that one-and-a-half pound of meat.  I think yesterday may have been the last of it.

I know it seems silly to others to go to such extremes.  At that time, that amount of 80% lean ground beef probably hadn’t cost more than six or seven dollars.  But if my mother, who was married in 1932 during the Great Depression, ever taught me anything, it was this:  DON’T WASTE FOOD!

10 comments:

  1. I applaud your being able to salvage it. I might have tried to do something similar but once it was in the freezer, I'm sure I would have forgotten about it until one year while cleaning the fridge, I would have pondered on why I had they frozen meat lumps at the bottom.

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    1. I pictured that happening, so I put all the small freezer bags into a larger freezer bag. When I had used about half of them, then I put them in a smaller freezer bag and kept them in one of the baskets that are at the top of the freezer.

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  2. Anonymous8:55 AM

    Yes! I have had to do this with some salsa I had made. I'd used WAAAAY to much jalapeno peppers and it was like fire. 😆. I don't think I had enough tomatoes to make another super mild batch to mix with it, but I bought super mild store salsa and diluted my own with it. I wasn't about to waste all of the ingredients and time. Rebecca SW MO

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  3. My dad was the same "waste not, want not" depression era child. It sounds like a very creative solution!

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  4. Your chili sounds delicious....but without the cayenne.
    One time I was making burritos and accidentally added cinnamon instead of chili powder. It tasted awful, but I ate it anyway.

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    1. Cincinnati-style chili actually includes cinnamon as an ingredient! I'm not a fan.

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  5. Anonymous3:11 PM

    I might have tried washing the heat using a collider! Once I grabbed cinnamon instead of chili powder. I dipped what I could out and then added the right spice. Tasted a little strange but we lived over it. I did not tell my family or they would not have ate it. Galla creek

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  6. No way would I have wasted that! I hurts me to toss things out!

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  7. Anonymous6:45 PM

    Good for you. I don't know anyone who would have thought you were being silly, quite honestly.

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  8. Anonymous8:21 AM

    I think that is a brilliant solution. I was also raised in a waste not want not environment. I wouldn't have thrown out that meat either. I would have frozen it and used it the way you did! Kaye

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