Fall is in full swing here in the Far North. Since Labor Day, we’ve had nearly non-stop wind and rain. Two weeks ago, the leaves had barely turned and now they’re nearly gone. Seriously, I tried to get a picture yesterday to post here, then gave up because the trees are too scraggly-looking. Autumn here is both beautiful and sad. The air is crisp and fresh and everything is softened by an ever-present mist. The birch trees turn blazing yellow, the underbrush turns flaming red, and the mountains start to turn heartbreakingly white. That white line of demarcation marches steadily down the mountain, coming closer and closer to the valley floor. We’ll have our first snow by the second or third week of October.
Fall is hard for me. As much as I want to enjoy the colors and the cooler temperatures, I know that a time is coming quickly when there will be only one color (white, which isn’t even really a color) and just plain cold temperatures. For a long time. Like, five months. It will also be very dark. In the depths of winter, the sun doesn’t come up until nine or nine-thirty in the morning and sets between four-thirty and five in the evening. It makes it very hard to get up in the morning when you know the sun gets to sleep in.
So, in an effort to stave off the impending deep-freeze, I’ve had a hankering for warm comfort foods. I made chili the other night, and thought I’d share the recipe. I know a lot of people still have 80- or 90-degree weather, but file this one away. It’s an incredibly easy recipe and I’ve been told it’s a hit with kids, too. Please humor my early fall.
1 lb. hamburger
1 medium onion – diced
1 small green pepper – diced
1 stalk celery – diced (optional; I usually leave it out)
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes (Tip: I usually use petite diced tomatoes because they cook down better.)
1 can kidney beans – drained and rinsed
1 can black beans – drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn – undrained
Chili powder, black pepper and dried red pepper to taste (I use about 2 tsp chili powder, ½ tsp black pepper and ½ tsp dried red pepper.)
Brown the ground beef and sauté in the green pepper, the onion, and the celery. Cook until meat is brown and veggies are soft.
Add the five cans of stuff.
Add seasonings to taste.
Let simmer until cooked down and combined.
This recipe doubles well. It also works well in a crock pot. If I’m going to use the crock pot, I do it all on the stove and then transfer to the crock pot once the seasonings are right. Sometimes, I add a little extra liquid if it’s going to sit for a long time, but it can pretty much simmer on low all day. There are also probably a million other things you can add, depending on your taste. It winds up as a hearty, chunky chili that is perfect on a chilly fall (or winter) day.