Snowed In

Around these parts, we don't get much snow and when we do, the city (and surrounding cities) shuts down. I'm talking no bread, no milk, no eggs to be found anywhere. Speaking of bread, milk, and eggs... why is that the first thing to sell out? If there's a power failure due to snow and ice-laden power lines and trees, those fresh items are the first thing to go bad. I've never understood that, but maybe I'm missing something.

The snow brought a dreamy Sunday evening and a gorgeous Monday (no school, of course) and lots of clothes drying. Do I want to see my utility bill next month? Uh, no! It will have been so worth it though. The girls were layered so thick with tights and shirts and socks they couldn't bend their arms or legs. It was quite a hoot to watch them building snowmen with out bending their arms. After being pulled by the 4-wheeler on pool rafts in the snow, building multiple snowmen, sledding at a nearby golf course, and 17,000 cups of hot cocoa, they came in for the night. Exhaustion doesn't describe their grinning, sleepy, red-nosed faces.

As for me, I did some "free" cooking. In other words, I was able to cook for fun, curiosity, and creativity. I cooked Chili from a diced chuck roast. A kind of cowboy-type chili. The best chili ever. I will never use ground meat again. My husband discovered baking and made Parker House Rolls. I've been telling him for years that he should try baking and that I thought he would be really good at it... I was right. I stand to gain massive amounts of weight with all the bread he'll be testing out and I'll be eating. I also made Wedding Cookies or Sandies. The... best.... cookie.... ever! If you use Plugra butter, dirt would taste good. I'll share the recipes for the Wedding Cookies and Rolls later.

Cowboy Chili
Yield: 3 quarts

2 1/2 pounds chuck roast, trimmed of fat & diced into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces
3 Tbsp. oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced (about 1/4 cup)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. coriander
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
3 cups beef broth
1 (14 oz.) can stewed tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 cans (14 oz. each) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat the oven to 325. In a large pot or dutch oven, add the oil. Toss in the meat, onion, carrot, garlic, and celery and cook until the onion becomes tender. Add the cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the broth, stewed tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes. Stir, bring to almost a boil. Turn off the heat, cover, and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Add the beans after 1 1/2 hours. Serve with crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Optional: sliced pickled jalapenos, sour cream, cilantro.

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