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Wed, Apr 16, 2014

BRAGG: Weather inspires food

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The weather has been so picture-perfect lately that is has been inspirational. Although I don’t think I’ll ever welcome a crisp, bright new fall day without remembering feeling exactly the same way on Sept. 11, 2001.

Although it’s been 10 years ago, I remember thinking then that they day was picture-perfect, too – and then the sky fell out, almost literally.

I will never enjoy a crisp fall day without reflecting upon that day of misery 10 years ago.

I’m sure it’s the same for many of you out there too.

I watched and cried and cried and watched the memorial events last weekend. And breathed a sigh of relief when the day was over and no further disaster occurred on the anniversary.

Just walking around the block in this weather puts a new spring in my step.

It brings challenges, too, of what to wear, how to dress the children for school as they face cool mornings and warm afternoons and what to cook for dinner now that the tomatoes, fresh squash and corn on the cob aren’t around for us to enjoy.

One thing I won’t miss as the weather cools down is watering the pots of annuals on the porches.

While they brought me a lot of joy during the summer, the ungodly heat required that they be watered at least twice a day and sometimes wilted after that.

I had a function at my house in August and hoped to change the pots to something less “tired” than the overgrown coleus, lantana and sweet potato vine but when I sent shopping for replacements only a few unblooming chrysanthemums were available – and you couldn’t tell what color they were going to be.

I was hoping for cabbage, pansies, ornamental peppers or something else seasonal but had no luck so I replaced only the pot that was most visible from the house with an unopened mum (now blooming yellow – not my first choice).

But I did make a note on next year’s calendar that both sweet potato vine and impatiens can really tolerate the heat.

It was VERY hard to pull the existing plants out of soil that was baked like bricks and I knew I’d have to wait for a soaking rain to yank the others out without the help of a crane. That welcomed rain finally did arrive, thanks to yet another hurricane, though I’ve yet to find mums that “speak to me.”

I drove to Knoxville during the week and noticed some trees are barely starting to change.

Actually, they are turning brown on the western side of the Cumberland Plateau although a very few trees on the plateau have a tint of red. The foliage to the east is a lot greener than here; they must have had more rainfall than we did.

While in Knoxville sister Randy and I pondered the age-old dilemma of what to cook for fall.

Her son Neil was entering a “contest” at work for change-of-season recipes and called to ask for advice.

Randy referred Neil to her “Life After Ramen” cookbook website, www.lifeafterramencookbook.com, and suggested Buffalo Chicken Dip.

I suggested our Mom’s homemade chili recipe, which I have published before. Though it differs slightly from Randy’s (on her website) it is very similar, and it’s what I plan to make as soon as it gets a little cooler in the afternoon.

Because this recipe uses very little tomatoes it appeals to younger people and I have had random telephone calls (from the late Bobbye Arnhart and Peggy Thomas among others) asking for the recipe when they couldn’t find theirs any more.

So here is an answer of “something to cook for dinner in the fall” – with a nod of thanks for my dear mother.

I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we have over the years.

Enjoy.

‘Til next week!

Mom’s Chili

1 lb. Ground beef (or turkey)

2 cloves garlic

1 medium onion

Brown the above until all pink is gone from the meat; drain if there is any grease in pan.

Add:

1-8 oz can tomato sauce (any brand)

3-15 oz cans Bush’s Chili Hot Beans (mild or hot - your preference)*

1 envelope French’s Chili-O seasoning

*Do not substitute another brand for this recipe.

Cook over medium heat for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If desired, add water to thin it down if you think it’s too thick.



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Mrs. Murfreesboro
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Jeanne Bragg, Mrs Murfreesboro, Voices
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