Heritage recipes

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Ok, so technically, only one of the recipes in this post can classify as “heritage” (ie being passed down from generation to generation basically unchanged), but I did get them both from my mom, so maybe that does count.

It’s been a rainy, dreary week here in the Pacific Northwest. Add to that the fact that the girls have been sick and now I am with a chest cold, and it’s been a week of soups for dinner. Chicken stew made by the hubby. Clam chowder requested by the Princess. Split pea because we had a ham bone which needed to be used. It’s been a cozy, comfort food kinda week.

And last night was no exception. As I was dozing on the couch that afternoon (such a luxury – one I ever only get when I’m sick!) I got a hankerin’ for my Mom’s chili.

Now, her chili is nothing special. It’s really easy to make. No special prep. It uses mostly canned ingredients, and it’s only the teeniest bit spicy. But for those of us who are whimps when it comes to spicy foods, it’s just about perfect. In fact, it’s the only chili one of my brothers willingly eats. I grew up eating this chili, paired with a tall glass of milk, and a large slice of cornbread made using my great, great grandmother’s recipe.

Oh, it’s heavenly!

So, without further ado, I give you my mom’s no frills, easy chili recipe, along with my great, great grandma’s cornbread recipe – because what good is chili without cornbread to eat with it?

Mom’s Easy Chili
Ingredients:
1-1.5lbs of ground beef
1large onion diced
Season salt to taste
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 cans beans
3-4 Tbl chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp cumin
1.5 cups water (or more if simmering for a while)

Directions:
Place the meat in a soup pot with the diced onion and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Cook until meat is brown and onions are translucent. Drain off grease if desired. Drain and rinse the canned beans. Add all of the ingredients to the pot and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer as long as desired, adding more water if too much evaporates.

Notes:
-My mom often used venison in place of the beef since we were a hunting family. You can use whatever meat you have on hand.
-I typically use diced tomatoes rather than stewed since I have a large stock of diced and never remember to buy stewed.
-Traditionally my mom used kidney beans, but I use pinto and/or red beans since canned kidney beans have added sugar. Of course you can use freshly prepared dry beans if desired.

While the chili is simmering, it’s time to put together this yummy cornbread. As I said before, this recipe comes down from my great, great grandmother, which means it is at least 100 years old. A true heritage recipe.

I think this cornbread is the perfect cornbread out there. Corn-mealy without being too crumbly or cakey. Moist but not gooey. And just enough sugar to make it sweet without being dessert.

Grandma’s Cornbread Recipe
Ingredients:
1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar (or honey)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup sour milk (see notes)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl. Add the sour milk and mix thouroughly. Pour into an 8×8 casserole dish (or a cast iron pan if you want to be really traditional) and bake for 30 minutes.

Notes:
-My grandma (who got this recipe from her grandma) always used buttermilk for this recipe. I never have buttermilk on hand, so I make my own sour milk by adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to one cup of milk and allowing to sit for 5 minutes. Works perfect.
-Since I do not eat wheat, I have been experimenting with gluten free alternatives to the flour. Most recently, in place of the 1 cup flour I have been using 1/2 cup almond flour and 1/2 cup gluten free baking mix (made primarily with rice flour). I use the almond meal primarily to lower the carb count. If you use almond meal, lower the cooking temperature to 375 degrees.
-I have also replaced the processed sugar with honey to great results.
-Before I started tampering with the ingredients, sometimes I would add a can of creamed corn. This made it exceptionally moist, which we all loved. I do not know how it would turn out with the ingredient substitutions I now use. Maybe I’ll have to try one of these days. 🙂

Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoy! I certainly did.

In fact, I’m having left over chili for lunch today. Unfortunately, the cornbread was wolfed down so fast last night that not only is there none left for today, but I didn’t even get a picture.

However, writing about my grandma put me in a nostalgic mood, so along with my chili, I’m having diced peaches with “smear case.”
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Grandma never could tell me why her family called cottage cheese “smear case.” But in her later life, cottage cheese and diced fruit was one of her favorite foods. So, here’s to Grandma!

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

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