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Tue Oct 2, 2018, 05:05 PM

the Crime and Punishment sized Chili essay that I can't refrain from posting

Last edited Wed Oct 17, 2018, 03:11 PM - Edit history (1)

Not a recipe for chili.
Just the process I use to make chili

Before I start, just be aware that I will use the words chilies and peppers interchangeably unless I mean black pepper or peppercorns. I know that this is not technically correct and don’t care. I will use the words that pop into my head as I type.

I get it, “Pepper” is the dried fruit and seed of an Indonesian tree and “Chilies” are the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, and are actually members of the nightshade family. Blah Blah Blah… Not gonna argue. Don’t really care. I was stunned the first time someone argued with me over this, but it’s an issue that gets some folks worked up. If you are one of those people, I apologize in advance…

OK.

First of all, chili is a meat dish. Chili is not a bean dish and it is definitely not pasta sauce with kidney beans in it.

I use two meats in chili (a very lean cut and a fatty pork) to do two separate functions. A lean cut will break down in the chili and provide the texture we’re looking for, it also absorbs the chili flavor. The fatty pork renders down and gives the chili a smoother mouth feel and a better chew. Pork also provides a background flavor – a meaty base flavor that the spices and vegetables build on.

If I’m using beef I use a very lean cut such as flank, or any cheap non marbled roast. Any venison is lean enough and most Bison is good as well. I suspect that goat would work and is probably delicious in chili, but it is scarce around here and expensive when I do find it, so I’ve never tried it that way.

Whatever pork you find on sale (as long as it isn’t loin) will work. If you can find country style ribs on sale you should jump on that stuff – It has the perfect fat content and is super easy to prep compared to the bonier cuts.

You may also need some ground beef. Buy the cheapest since the fat content is not an issue. Buy the cheapest you can find – There are reasons, I’ll explain later.

Another point relates to the spices and how to use them.

If you are using spices to make the chili hot your chili probably sucks – and if you are using a hot sauce, I don’t even know what to say. Other than DON”T USE HOT SAUCE the hell is wrong with you?

I do use chili powder and other spices but not for heat.

Where does the heat come from you ask? Here’s a hint, it’s the name of the dish. The main non meat flavor component of this dish should be actual chilies.

Preferably fresh and roasted in a broiler until blistered with some char. Choosing the peppers to use is the first step in forming the flavor of the chili. I use a range of chilies typically a mix of Poblanos (or Hungarian peppers if they are available) and Jalapenos for the base flavor and will add one or two hot peppers, either Habaneros or Ghosts to get the heat level where I want it.

I have friends who garden and I am the dumping ground for all the excess peppers they grow – Which is great because something about southern Illinois makes kick ass peppers. Maybe the soil or the long hot muggy days - I don’t know what it is but the Jalapenos, Hungarians, Pablanos and Habaneros grown here are fantastic.

Quick detour on chili storage.

When I have a buttload of chilies I prep and freeze them as follows – it’s pretty easy. Just split them length wise, roast ‘em, chop ‘em, up in a food processor with UNSALTED butter garlic and onions.

Then freeze in a freezer bag pressed flat so it can store easily. You can keep the chilies segregated if you have a lot of each type or mix and match – just keep track of the heat level! It doesn’t take many scotch bonnets or ghost peppers to make a batch too hot for most applications.

It may be a good idea to clean a portion of the hottest peppers, since removing the seeds and the pith can significantly reduce a chili’s heat level.

All the safety precautions apply – Use gloves don’t touch your face before you wash your hands etc. Also, do not scratch yourself – Acting like a baseball player can make you uncomfortable as hell if you’ve been working with hot peppers.

I will not give amounts and measurements because it will always change with each batch. Also, keep in mind that I make chili in a five gallon pot so I have no idea how to make a small batch.

This is not a recipe at all really, it’s a process you can use to arrive at chili you like. The chili that YOU want to eat.

If you have a garden full of tomatoes by all means use them but be warned, that is a whole bunch of prep work to remove the skin and smash the tomatoes.

Well, almost 850 words to this point and I’m ready to talk about how to make a good pot of chili.

OK, here we go.

As I said in the intro, the starting point for chili is the meat.

But the meat needs a place to cook and that place is in a mixture of tomato, onions and peppers and garlic set to simmer in the largest pot you can find.

Look people I’m not gonna lie, that is a bunch of slicing and chopping. So I usually cheat.

This dish is labor intensive enough, so what I do is buy 2 of the big jugs of medium heat chunky salsa and pour them in my pot over low heat. People with normal size pots would probably only need one. Start that going while you prep the meats. Add as many cloves of garlic as you would like and at least one yellow onion as well, Salsa alone doesn’t have everything you need.

Meat used in chili should be cut into cubes about the size of the 1st knuckle of your pinky finger, well MY pinky finger anyway. About a half inch to five eighths of an inch cubes are ideal. You’ll need a sharp knife and some patience to do this – But if you put the meat in the freezer for 10 -15 minutes or so until it just starts to harden, the process will be much easier. Also, the size of the lean meat is less critical than that of the pork because the beef, venison or bison will break up over the cooking process much more readily than the pork.

While prepping the pork trim off any large sections of fat and render them down in a wok or large frying pan. You’ll be using this fat to sear the meat.

Working in batches, powder the cubed meat in a mixture of chili powder, kosher salt, ground black pepper, adobo powder and either paprika or Korean red pepper flake. The chili powder should make up HALF of the mixture and all the other ingredients should be equal parts of the other half. Then sear at a high temperature turning quickly for 90 seconds to 2 minutes – You’re looking for the spices to darken and char just a bit.

Dump the meat into the simmering vegetable base (or salsa) and keep going until the pot is just about two thirds full.
Add a dose of Mexican oregano powder and a good shake of cumin and then add at least a cup of the chopped roasted peppers and stir it all up.

Don’t taste it yet. Seriously, do not taste this stuff until later. I’ll explain when we get there.

Whew, that was a chore wasn’t it? Reward yourself.

Open 2 beers. Drink one as a reward and stir the other beer into the chili, cover, set the flame to LOW and take a seat, watch some TV. During the second commercial break (about 20 minutes later) get up and stir the chili well. Repeat every 20-30 minutes for at least a couple hours.

THEN you can taste it.

It is important to let it simmer for at least 2 hours before you taste it because before then the chili will lie to you about what it needs. All the flavors in that pot are too sharp and distinct at first and if you tried to adjust flavor too early you’d screw it up.

Put in some Mexican oregano or adobo or whatever and a second shake of Cumin – Cumin’s flavor changes as you cook it so I like to add it early in the process, in the middle and one final dose at the end.

Quick note, be careful with the adobo powder, it is saltier than you may think. Just as a general warning, the salt level can build quickly since some chili powders contain salt, the salsa has salt in it, you used salt in the dredge before searing the meat etc.
Go easy on salty ingredients.

Make your assessment of how the chili is progressing. Ask yourself if you like the consistency, heat level, saltiness and color then make adjustments

What kind of adjustments? Are you wondering how to make those changes without screwing up all this expensive meat?

Ok, here’s how.

Too loose or runny = Fry a pound of ground beef, while it’s cooking put a teapot on to boil. Put the cooked hamburger into a fine mesh colander and do a quick rinse with the super-hot water from the teapot. Pat down with a couple paper towels (yes really). Add to the pot and stir well. This will thicken the chili without changing the flavor profile

Too thick = never heard of this. Not an issue in my world… But I suppose you could add salsa to loosen things up. If there isn't enough liquid and it looks like it's just pieces of meat in the pot, add tomato paste and crushed tomato mixed with enough chili powder so it matches the color of the proto-chili in the pot

Too hot = add the ground beef without draining or rinsing, you can also add crushed tomatoes, or beans but don’t worry too much. Remember, this is just the 1st tasting and it will lose a lot heat before you’re done.

Needs salt = Perfect. It should not be at all salty at this point

Not hot enough = Add chilies, duh. In fact if the heat level seems to be just right, add some more hot chilies any way. As you cook, the capsicum protein (THE HEAT!) breaks down and the chili mellows out.

Note the color, I always shoot for a dark brick color – reddish brown and if it’s too light I add chili powder to darken it up. I’ve never had it come up too dark at the first tasting…

Leave uncovered and let simmer stirring every so often to prevent the bottom from scorching, or transfer to a crock pot and set to low and let simmer for as long as you want.

After an hour and a half or so, taste again and finish the pot by adding the final shot of seasoning (cumin Mexican oregano chili powder) and a bunch of sharp aged cheddar cheese. I use a pound and a half cut into cubes for the five gallon chili pot. Stir and allow to melt before serving.

The cheddar is why I want this dish to be low salt up until this point. If the chili tasted properly seasoned before now, it would turn into a salt bomb after the cheese

If you want beans, you can add low sodium pinto and black beans between the 1st and 2nd tasting – Just keep in mind that beans are bland and will soak up spices - muting the chili’s flavor - so you’ll want to bump up the hot pepper content.

I like to serve with a bland starch such as rice or corn bread…

BUT the absolute monster option, the way that makes me do the happy snoopy dance – Serve Over Cheesy Grits

So go forth and make chili friends.

Peace

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Arrow 30 replies Author Time Post
Reply the Crime and Punishment sized Chili essay that I can't refrain from posting (Original post)
The Polack MSgt Oct 2018 OP
ChazInAz Oct 2018 #1
TygrBright Oct 2018 #2
The Polack MSgt Oct 2018 #3
pansypoo53219 Oct 2018 #4
The Polack MSgt Oct 2018 #5
3Hotdogs Oct 2018 #6
Nitram Oct 2018 #7
The Polack MSgt Oct 2018 #8
Nitram Oct 2018 #9
trof Oct 2018 #10
The Polack MSgt Oct 2018 #11
trof Oct 2018 #12
The Polack MSgt Oct 2018 #13
irisblue Oct 2018 #14
Mosby Oct 2018 #15
The Polack MSgt Oct 2018 #16
FakeNoose Oct 2018 #17
TheBlackAdder Oct 2018 #18
The Polack MSgt Oct 2018 #19
TheBlackAdder Oct 2018 #21
Raster Oct 2018 #20
NastyRiffraff Oct 2018 #22
Ziggysmom Oct 2018 #23
The Polack MSgt Oct 2018 #24
The Polack MSgt Oct 2019 #25
blaze Oct 2019 #29
The Polack MSgt Oct 2019 #30
trof Oct 2019 #26
The Polack MSgt Oct 2019 #27
trof Oct 2019 #28

Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2018, 05:59 PM

1. Reformed Illinoisan, here.

Now a proud resident of Arizona.
Yes, that's how chili is made.

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2018, 06:05 PM

2. Thank you!

That took a lot of effort and I really appreciate your sharing it with us.

I learned a lot and I'm going to try some things.

Won't do it exactly the way you do it, probably, but I bet using your method as a starting point will make a big difference!

I love the two-meat idea, but my esposo will not eat pork in any form. I'm thinking of subbing in some high-fat ground dark turkey meat, and then adding both lean and fat cuts of beef.

Love your idea of using the spices as meat dredge for searing!

Thanks again for taking all that effort to share your method.

appreciatively,
Bright

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Response to TygrBright (Reply #2)

Tue Oct 2, 2018, 06:25 PM

3. Thanks for working through all this verbage

And for your kind words.

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2018, 10:06 PM

4. i make lutheran chili. no peppers. no beans. just made some.

fopr using up peppers i came up w/ a faux minestrone. or pepper soup. also in my coleslaw.or FREEZE them, they freeze wonderfully.

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Response to pansypoo53219 (Reply #4)

Tue Oct 2, 2018, 10:11 PM

5. Yes peppers freeze well - as long as you don't need them to LOOK fresh

They taste fine and cook fine, but they don't look so good whole after freezing. That's why I like to process with onions and butter and then freeze.


The butter keeps oxygen off the slices on the peppers and keeps 'em from getting brown/old looking

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Tue Oct 2, 2018, 11:52 PM

6. I made a batch on Friday. I wish I had read this on Thursday. But anyways..... there will be more

next times.

My stuff has all kinds of chili powder, plus Mexican oregano, cumin. The powder or flakes to be most concerned with is Caribe chili ---- damn, that stuff is HHHHHOOOOOOTTTTTT.

I live in N.J. and order my powders from a place in New Mexico. (message me if you want the name as I don't want to be accused of advertising a place I have no connection with.)

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2018, 09:51 AM

7. I love Chili con Carne. But, just like with BBQ, I observe with amused befuddlement how exercised

proponents of one or another approach to the dish can become. It's great that some take it totally seriously and pay attention to every small detail of the recipe they've settled on as what tastes best to them. I say more power to anyone who eats a dish that tastes perfectly delicious to them. Same for the cook who takes pride in preparing a dish exactly the way it tastes best to them. But it ain't a competition, guys. No need to insist that your way is the BEST and ONLY way. I say, long live the differences in regional and family in taste and recipes. It is variety that makes life good. Just my liberal two cents.

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Response to Nitram (Reply #7)

Wed Oct 3, 2018, 10:05 AM

8. Believe it not Nitram, I agree with you completely

In principle at least, but I will not back away from my no hot sauce position.

Just want to show the process I use.

Because choosing the heat level of the chilies and how many of them to use, how much garlic and how much salt, which meats, how much onion etc is all up to who ever is standing at the stove, and all those decisions they make will make this their own recipe

10 different people using this article as a starting point would make 10 different tasting pots of chili.

As I said in the essay, not recipe a process you can use to make the chili YOU want to eat

I also love to cook over charcoal, but BBQ and grilling posts are kind of done to death - I figure that if you think you may want to cook outside you have probably been buried in advice and tips by now.

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Reply #8)

Wed Oct 3, 2018, 10:16 AM

9. Thanks for the reply! I have great respect for anyone such as yourself who spends years perfecting

their version of any great dish. I have been charcoal grilling on the back deck for years, all year long, and I'm still working on many of my favorite dishes for timing, spices, amount and placement of charcoal, etc. Keep up the good work!

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2018, 12:13 PM

10. If you can find a used copy online, read...

"The Great Chili Confrontation" by H. Allen Smith.
Amongst other things it covers the first CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International) cook-off in Terlingua, Texas.
Hilarious AND with a pretty good chili recipe.

I used to make chili from scratch. Then I discovered Wick Fowler's 2 Alarm Chili Mix. I can't beat it.
Wick founded CASI and is a major character in the book.

Oh, and I use beans.
Sue me.

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Response to trof (Reply #10)

Wed Oct 3, 2018, 12:23 PM

11. I'm not a Texan. That means that I am not legally required to oppose beans

In Chili.

And I don't make judgements about it either - I make it with or without depending on a couple factors.

Those factors are:
1. Am I paying for this?
2. How many people expect me to feed them?

If I'm funding it, the more people who want to eat, the more I like beans in chili

#haveyoupricedbeeflately?

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Reply #11)

Wed Oct 3, 2018, 05:43 PM

12. Sir, that is an extremely reasonable attitude.

I'm a Texan-by-marriage.
I enjoy my in-laws' 'no-beans' chili, but I put beans in mine.
I like beans.

Lately I like 'from scratch' dried pintos better than canned.
Better for ya', too.
No sodium or preservatives.

Pleased to meet another chili head.

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Response to trof (Reply #12)

Wed Oct 3, 2018, 06:22 PM

13. Likewise

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2018, 02:55 PM

14. Thanks. Bookmarked

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2018, 03:17 PM

15. have you ever used ripened jalapenos?

If you leave them on the plant they will turn red. They get hotter but the flavor is intensified. They also lose a lot of weight which is why grocery stored have always sold green ones.

If you smoke them on the grill you create chipotle peppers.

I think hatch peppers would work well in chili.

Thanks for the post, interesting info.

Eta do you ever use bell peppers, just for color/texture?

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Response to Mosby (Reply #15)

Wed Oct 17, 2018, 03:41 PM

16. I roast a mix of peppers depending on what I have on hand

That always includes Jalapenos and Poblanos but it's a grab bag after that. My latest batch I couldn't find any good quality Habanero or Scotch Bonnets at the market - so I used Birds' eye chilies as the heat source.

As far as bell peppers go ? I don't really bother. The chunky salsa I use rather than slicing up a boat load of tomatoes onions and peppers does contain bell peppers, but over all I put around three to three and a half pounds of roasted peppers in the 5 gallons of chili - so there is plenty of veg in the mix

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2018, 03:45 PM

17. Bookmarked! Thanks for this recipe, I'm going to give it a try

Being a single person I usually make smaller batches of chili that will last for a week or so. I think I'll make a half-size version of what you've posted here. But it sounds really great. Yum!

Once I won a chili cook-off (among a group of friends) by making bacon chili. I didn't tell them what the "secret ingredient" was but my friends all loved it. I guess bacon might qualify as your recipe's call for fatty pork.

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2018, 04:40 PM

18. Hot Sauce? You've got to use the right kind. 1/2 teaspoon of Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce.

.

Of course, I like everything spicy. Most jalapenos won't make things hot enough without overpowering the chili.

The same goes for chili powder. To make it spicy enough, the chili powder becomes the dominant taste.


One-half teaspoon of Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce will cause a 2.5 Gallon pot to become nuclear, without the taste.

And, when I say nuclear, if I want to spice up a bowl of pasta or soup, just 2 or 3 tines of a fork, just one quarter dipped into it will do the trick.


Edit.. added Ultimate. Dave's Ultimate Insanity Sauce.

.

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Response to TheBlackAdder (Reply #18)

Wed Oct 17, 2018, 04:50 PM

19. Yeah , I've played with Dave's before

Pretty much it's just pure capsaicin extract.

It would work fine, I just feel like it's cheating. I was mostly talking about the folks who put a bunch of Texas Pete and kidney beans in spaghetti sauce and calls it chili

I just edited my chili OP to address the chili pepper selections I use. I have a base of milder peppers -Anaheim's Hungarians Poblanos and jalapenos that I roast and chop - and I will then add a heavy weight chili or two.

Depending on what looks good a Ghost or a Habenero or Scotch Bonnet etc. This past week I used some dried Birds' eye chili to get my heat level right

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Reply #19)

Wed Oct 17, 2018, 05:19 PM

21. Ew! Texas Pete. I use that on Pizza, but it is too salty and vinegary for chili.

.

What's nice about the Ultimate, is that you just need a touch to get the job done.

Since you use a small amount of it, the flavor doesn't creep into the food. The natural peppers will be tasted.

.

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2018, 04:52 PM

20. This is FREAKING AWESOME!

Thanks for posting.

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2018, 05:45 PM

22. I love the fact that you don't require beans

Can't eat 'em, don't like 'em. Thanks for posting. I'm going to try your method soon now that the weather is chilling out at last.

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 01:33 PM

23. Awesome!

I thought I was alone in the world putting chili on cheese grits 😋. My dear ol dad made chili just like yours, he picked up the talent in WWII with the Seabees.

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Response to Ziggysmom (Reply #23)

Thu Oct 18, 2018, 02:00 PM

24. Thanks Ziggysmom. It works so great on Cheese Grits

People give me looks when I tell 'em about it but everybody raves after they try it.

Welcome to DU!

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Sun Oct 6, 2019, 04:05 PM

25. Just wanted to share a quick story

My son was volunteered (Air Force slang is "Volun-told" by his S.O. to make a pot of chili for a party a couple days ago.

So, I get a text - because my son is 27 and would break out in hives if he actually used his phone to speak to me - asking and I quote "what's your general process for making chili?"

You want me to explain that in texts? I almost broke out laughing. I think I burned through 3000 characters just talking about the difference between Pepper and Chilies...

Then I searched the DU archives and texted a link to this essay.

He says he should've used more pork but the chili was good. Quoting again "Just finished the chili, it turned out really well for my 1st try"

I take that as gold medal compliment because making cup o soup ramen was his cooking ability when he moved out

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Reply #25)

Sat Oct 12, 2019, 04:06 PM

29. Hahaha

I *love* that you linked your essay to him!!

And I'll bet he got a chuckle out of it too.

Fun story.

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Response to blaze (Reply #29)

Sat Oct 12, 2019, 09:20 PM

30. My job boils down to explaining the complex

To the confused.

So i was glad i already had a cheat sheet to share

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Original post)

Mon Oct 7, 2019, 05:32 PM

26. You lost me at 'not a bean dish'.

Yeah, I know Texans don't put beans in their chili.
That's their prerogative.
My chili has beans in it because that's the way I like it.
Black beans or pintos or some creamy little Indian beans I get from a middle eastern grocery.
All dried beans from scratch in 30 minutes in a Quick Pot.

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Response to trof (Reply #26)

Mon Oct 7, 2019, 05:41 PM

27. Yeah, I talk briefly about beans as an ingrediant...

Both in the essay and in replies i made in the comments.

My point was that beans should not be the focal point, beans stretch the amount of chili available without the expense of extra meat.

I've posted an essay in this group about my picnic beans. I am not an anti bean dude.

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Response to The Polack MSgt (Reply #27)

Mon Oct 7, 2019, 05:43 PM

28. OK, good.

I just like beans, period.
And bean chili with a salad or slaw and some cornbread is a pretty well balanced meal.

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