Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Oh, Kaye!" What's Cookin'?

Fall is definitely in the air here in the North Carolina mountains.  I look out our sunroom window and fall completely in love with where we live all over again.

and then my mind turns to another love.


I know a lot of people - me included - associate certain memories with music.

But I'm bad to associate way too many memories with food.

Mention a particular food or drink and my mind will invariably flash to a particular restaurant or dinner party.  I could/should write a book about this oddity.  Except I'm thinking it's really not so odd - I think this is a group who loves food, so you probably do the same thing, huh?

When Donald and I start reminiscing and remembering trips we've taken, we seem to gauge how good the were by how well we ate.

Sort of like playing "Remember the Best" game -  "Best Month (May), Best Year (1985/2013 - a toss up), Best Concert (a constant debate, yet to be settled). "

My favorite take-off on this is "Remember the Best Meal" game - "Best Oysters (a restaurant on Lady's Island, SC thirty plus years ago), Best Anniversary Dinner (Savannah, GA), Best Pizza (still looking and having fun doing it)."

Back in 1985, I was working at Georgia Tech.


In the Tech Tower - up there under the "T E C H" letters - in the Office of the VP for Facilities as the department secretary.
One of the departments that my boss, Dr. Clyde D. Robbins (who is now, by the way, right here in Boone, NC - - - a small world story!) was over was the Physical Plant.
The Physical Plant had a Chili Cook-Off every year and we were invited to participate.  We all put our heads together, and our campus architect, David Savini, had the brilliant idea of drafting out a recipe like he might draft blueprints for a building.  He took all our favorite chili recipes and started working on combining them to come up with the best chili recipe ever.  I hope someone saved the blueprints and spread sheets - it was a masterpiece of creative design and brought us all hours of delight.
And come up with the best chili recipe is exactly what he did!  Or at least, I think he did.  And so did the Physical Plant chili judges 'cause we won first prize.
The other thing that happened that day is that I met a sweet man.
You may have heard me mention him from time to time. 
His name is Donald.
Donald fell in love with the chili, mistakenly thought that I could cook and the rest is history.
And for those of you who love fall foods, Chili in particular, here's the recipe.  (Notes #1 - The original recipe had beans, but I do not like beans in my chili and neither does Donald, so you won't find them in this recipe, but feel free to add them back in.  Note #2 - This recipe can easily be halved.  Note #3 - Play with the recipe and change it around to your heart's content, I've never been one to believe a recipe needed to be carved in stone).
Bon Appétit!!!

The Day I Met Don Barley Chili


3 ½ lbs. Boneless chuck roast cut into 1/4" cubes
4 lbs. Ground chuck
3 lbs. Extra lean pork loin cut into 1/4" cubes
5 medium sized onions (chopped)
1 medium sized bell pepper (chopped)
6 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Tbsps. Salt
2 tsps. Ground pepper
4 dried chili peppers (chopped fine)
2 Tbsps. Cayenne
1/3 cup chili powder
2 Tbsps. Paprika
3 Tbsps. Ground cumin
2 Tbsps. Oregano
1 Tbsp. Mole paste or powder
little Worchester sauce
1 10 ½ oz. Can beef broth
1 12 oz. Can of beer
1 stick of cinnamon
Tomato sauce

Sauté each meat separately in a little butter flavored crisco or oil.  Throw away the liquid and store meats overnight in the refrigerator. 

Sauté onions and bell peppers in butter.

Place everything in a large pot, add tomato sauce to get your chili to the consistency you want.

Bring to a gentle boil, turn down to simmer.  Simmer for at least a couple hours before serving.

How 'bout you, Reds, do you have a favorite recipe that you attach to a favorite memory?  Care to share??!


  1. Love the sunroom picture, Kaye! And such a sweet story . . . .
    Favorite recipe? Sometimes it’s tough to choose just one. Here’s one that brings a happy memories of making this for my mom. It was one of her favorites, and it’s a good recipe when there are lots of apples on the trees.

    Swedish Apple Pie

    Peel, core, and slice about seven medium-sized apples.
    Spread them in a nine-inch pie plate, filling it two-thirds full.
    Sprinkle the apples with one tablespoon sugar and one tablespoon cinnamon.

    In a medium-sized bowl, combine
    three-fourths cup melted butter
    one cup sugar
    one cup flour
    one beaten egg
    one and one-half cups chopped walnuts
    a pinch of freshly ground salt
    Mix well and spread over the apples.

    Bake at three hundred fifty degrees for forty-five minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

  2. Love your story Kaye! And the chili looks wonderful, except I'd add the beans back in and take out the cinnamon:).

    Funny thing is, a bad or weird meal can be memorable too. We once had a passed hors d'oeuvres in France that turned out to be filled with hot, liquid foie gras. We learned this when John bit into it and it squirted all over his tie, shirt, and jacket.

    And I have two favorite pizza places--the best in the world. Pepe's in New Haven and Forno Campo de' Fiori in Rome.

  3. Joan - YUM! This sounds delish. I love all things apple, especially this time of year. I made an Apple Pound Cake a couple days ago to take to a neighborhood dinner party - the recipe is post at my Meanderings and Muses if you're interested.

  4. Lucy/Roberta, hot liquid foie gras. I cannot even imagine.

    One of our favorite pizza places is on Topsail Island, NC. Every year when we go back, we're scared to death it might not live up to what we remembered, but so far it's still pretty darn yummy. But the search for perfect pizza will continue forever.

  5. Best memory I associate with food? A chop suey sandwich at the Salem Willows Read Fund Picnic. My introduction to Chinese food at the age of one and a half — and I have the photo from the Salem News to prove it.

    And your chili sounds great. Like Lucy I'd leave out the cinnamon, and probably add beans. Oh yes I would. I would. I would do that. Yes. Who said that beans were optional you know — as in chili con carne or chili without carne. Not the other way around. :) I would also need tomatoes. I always serve it with jalapeño cornbread...

  6. I have to admit, I was happy to learn that Donald is a "NO Beans" kinda guy (it's those little things, you know).

    Chili and cornbread fit just right - and jalapeno cornbread is definitely at the top of my list too, Reine.

    Do you still eat chop suey sandwiches?

  7. As you know, I'm not a food preparer... but I want to say you warm my heart with all your sweet recipes for a happy marriage as you tell us so many times about the sweet boy you met - that wonderful day- back then... We all love the way you love him so! Thelma in Manhattan

  8. oh, Thelma, you're a doll. Let's just say I learned a lot from those first two marriages that didn't go so well . . . (good thing, huh?!)

  9. Love reading about how you met Don, Kaye! I want beans in my chili and tomatoes. In fact, you can make an absolutely delicious meatless chili with several varieties of beans. Very low fat and healthy.

    And Joan, that Swedish Apple Pie sounds so yummy. It's a new one for me.

    Ben and I play this same game, as well. We were just doing it yesterday with Ben reminding me of his favorite pizza place in Tahlequah, OK, home of the Cherokee. Sam 'n Ella's Chicken House. They have no chicken on the menu, but tons of ceramic, metal, and other chickens decorate the restaurant which serves only truly delicious pizza of all kinds. Though I think Ben loves the name, even more than the pizza--it's the kind of junior high joke that he adores.

    You might be surprised to learn that Tahlequah, a small town in northeastern Oklahoma, has a lot of really good restaurants, a fact of which Ben reminds me every time I want to go down there to do some more research at the Cherokee historical archives. Restaurants are very important to him.

  10. That chili recipe sounds fabulous Kaye! Like you, I won my sweet husband's heart by cooking, though I wasn't a very good cook back then. Now I'm much better. Every great artist in the kitchen needs an appreciative eater in the dining room.

  11. Oh, Linda, I would love The Chicken House!!!! A place full of great photo ops - my camera and I would have a great time (and Donald, like your Ben, would love it too).

    I mentioned this post to my mom and, of course, that set off another whole "Oh, how about Ray Dayton's in Cambridge, MD? The BEST fried chicken ever!" So, yes, food and restaurants are important to a lot of us.

  12. Hallie, you are such a good cook, you put me to shame. But I'm dying to know if there was one particular dish that won your sweet husband's heart?

  13. Love this! And on one of our first "dates" Jonathan made steak MAdeira. I'll have to ask him the recipe, but you can't go wrong with what I remember as the three main ingredients: filet mignon, wine and butter.

    And Kaye!
    Once at a dinner party, I served onion rings from The Varsity. Remember?

  14. oh, Hank - The Varsity. Those onion rings (rangs) cannot be beat. "Rangs and a Frosted Orange walking!" And remember Flossie and his hats?

    And oh my yes, do ask Jonathan to share his recipe, please.

  15. My food memory is courtesy of Jungle Red.
    As a non-cook trying to turn himself into a cook these blogs have been a great help. I took Joan's beans recipe from a couple of weeks ago and made the beans with sausage instead of weiners then took it to a sausage potluck at a friend's. Only a couple of spoonfuls left to take home and it was a hit. Thanks Joan.
    Now I'm stealing the apple pie recipe from Joan. Store bought crusts never worked for me and I don't think I'll ever get to the stage where I can make a good pie crust. this I can do though.

  16. My food memories mostly revolve around home. Mom was a very good cook and an outstanding baker. Chocolate Chip cookies that I still wish I could make, Christmas fudge that I do make and, since she told me the one tip, I can do it successfully. Since she is gone I try to make the fudge every year, for our student workers at work and for any of the grandkids who miss that sweet treat.

  17. Oh my goodness, what a sweet love story — and I was looking for a new chili recipe, too.

    And Lucy/Ro — I love Pepe's in New Haven, too!

    Right now I'm thinking of Buffalo chicken wings, because 1) I'm from Buffalo, NY and 2) because the Buffalo Bills are playing today. The best wings are from there (we just call them "wings" not "Buffalo wings" but I make a baked version. I pretend it's healthy (or at least healthier). The secret ingredient is Frank's Hot Sauce. Must be Frank's — no substitutions.

  18. I'm with you, Larry. I can't make a decent pie crust to save my soul. Can't wait to try Joan's recipe!

    Patty, there is nothing better than really good fudge! My mom has never had any interest in baking, so I had to rely on the kindness of others for my sweet treats.

    (I'm beginning to wish I'd written something different for today's blog - I'm STARVING!).

  19. Larry:
    So glad to know that the bean casserole turned out so well for you . . . my grandmother would be pleased!

    I am not a pie person, but I do like the Swedish Apple Pie. When I was little, my mom used to take the leftover pie crust, roll it out and put it on a cookie sheet. She'd sprinkle it with sugar, cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg and bake it for ten minutes or so until the dough was nicely browned. Then she'd put it on the counter and we'd just break off a piece and pop it into our mouths. YUM! That's still the only way I eat pie crust . . . .

  20. Joan, my mom used to do the same thing. I think that's why store bought crusts don't work for me, because I just can't see them working alone like this. The cinnamon sticks were so light, flaky, and melt in your mouth.

  21. What a wonderful story, Kaye, and the recipe looks delicious!

  22. Hi Kaye!

    The only place I know in the entire world to get a chop suey sandwich—that is a real chop suey sandwich—the way the universe intended them to be, because you can't just throw any old chop suey on a piece of white bread and stuff it in a paper cone—is at the Salem Willows. It's a long haul from Tucson. I can't get Sandy Barry to bring me one, so I will have to wait until I get back home.

  23. It goes on a soft hamburger bun, the kind that gets all gooey. You need it set in the paper cone, and you eat it with a fork. That's a good piece of my childhood right there, the scene of my first swim, my first picnic, my introduction to wintergreen candied popcorn, and the philanthropy of the Read family.

  24. Reine--I just ate at that Chinese place in Salem that serves chop suey sandwiches (and other Chinese food sandwiches). It's at the waterfront park, right?

  25. Hi, Kaye:
    Love the story and the chili recipe AND the photo of Donald.
    I'm a foodaholic (and you can tell by looking at me!) and my mother was the world's best cook. My earliest memory is standing tiptoe at the kitchen table to look at one of her gorgeous lemon meringue pies.

    She was half German and I always assumed she learned to cook from her German mother. But, years later, when I was staying a bed and breakfast inn on the Isle of Skye, our sumptuous supper ended when the hostess paraded in with -- you guessed it -- a gorgeous lemon meringue pie.

    My mother was also half-Scots Irish, so maybe lemon meringue pie is a Scots/Irish dish. Or maybe -- good food just knows no boundary and no nationality.

    Thanks for the memories!

  26. Sorry -- I dropped an "at" there. We were staying AT a bed and breakfast inn.

  27. Susan, I love this chili recipe. DO tell me if you try it!

    Thank you, Lil! <3 <3

    Joan and Larry - Donald has talked about his mother doing the very same thing. What a lovely memory!

    Reine, I have to admit, I have never heard of a chop suey sandwich.

    Pat, lemon meringue pie. You're killing me here. Lemon anything is such a treat. What I wouldn't give for a slice of your Mom's pie right now. I'm pretty sure the only thing lemon in this house is a bottle of lemon juice.

  28. Lemon meringue PIE. LOVE!

    But chop suey sandwich? ..that, I'm not so sure about...

  29. Rhys, yes it is! Sorry I'm so late responding to your question. I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year. You were in Salem for a book event?

    But, yes... We get our sandwiches and walk down to the little beach (where I took my first little baby swim) and eat there if the tide allows. Sometimes we eat on the grass, but it's often crowded there.

    Rhys, Hank, Kaye— It may be that you have to be born there to like them. My friends are clearly divided along those lines. From Salem — crave chop suey sandwiches. Not from there — rarely willing to try!

  30. Thanks, Kaye, for this lovely post. And you're right -- food memories are incredibly strong. After Jeff's mom died in 2005, we both missed her cooking. She used to make pot roast with homemade noodles, the whole thing cooked in the same pot so the noodles came out coated with a rich, tasty gravy, but like many women of her generation, she never wrote the recipe down. I spent nearly two years trying to replicate this one. After the final experiment, the look on Jeff's face -- like he had retreated to the past and was seeing his parents and his little brother and sister at the table with us -- told me I'd come as close as possible to the original recipe. If anybody wants it, just let me know at It's a good one.

  31. Karen -- I would love to have your recipe, it sounds wonderful.