Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Leave a comment


We’re having Grandmother’s Chili tonight. I’ve shared it with you before, and yuuuum! It’s good stuff.

I wish I’d fixed it the other night (when it was cooler than it is tonight) or at least while it was raining (we got two inches!!! THANK YOU, JESUS!!!) but this will be better than not having it at all.


4 or 5 pounds of hamburger (or chili) meat
1 chopped onion
1 large can of tomato juice
3/4 C chili powder
1 T oregano
1 T cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the hamburger and onion together until all the meat is browned and onion soft. Drain fat. (I usually put the cooked hamburger/onion in a colander and rinse the meat to get rid of as much fat as possible.)

Put the meat back in the big pot and add the spices, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well then add tomato juice and simmer for an hour or so before serving.

To make the chili a little spicier, I sometimes add a teaspoon or two of red pepper flakes (like for topping a pizza.)

That’s it–the world’s best chili (as far as I’m concerned, anyway.) The fresher the spices, the more flavorful the chili.

So, what’s for supper at your house tonight?

And who cooked it? You or someone else?


Prime Your Rib

Barefoot Contessa - Sur La Table 3

Image by urbanbohemian via Flickr

Ever been afraid of a piece of meat? Not afraid in the “boo!” sense, but afraid you’ll do something to ruin it? I have.

For the last ump-teen years, G-Man and I have bought a prime rib (or beef loin) for Christmas Eve dinner. This year we were running a little late *sigh* and when we got to the grocery store we decided to “bless” with our business, they had three primes left. Two too-smalls and one too-large.

G-Man suggested buying the too-smalls, but I pointed out that for the same $$ we could have the too-big one. We’d just have to cut off what we didn’t want to eat Christmas Eve and freeze it for later.

That piece of meat cost almost as much as my first car. Okay, my first car was really an old pickup and belonged to my grandad, who I’m sure gave me a really good deal, but still! For $20 more back in the day, I had four wheels and went places.

So I was just a little bit intimidated by this hunk of meat, and by the cooking process.

As usual, I got out my go-to girl’s cookbooks (Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa is my girl!) and once more looked up how to cook PR. (When I only cook something once a year, I have to relearn how to do it.)

You start by preheating the oven to a temperature hot enough to brand a steer (I’ve got the scar on my wrist to prove it.) Then you rub enough salt onto the meat to preserve it for the winter, then pepper, and put your expensive cut in the oven (at 500 degrees) for 45 minutes.

Forty-five minutes of killer hot on a piece of meat that cost more than my entire monthly food budget when I was first married. I get a little nervous every year.

Then WITHOUT opening the oven to see if your meat has gone up in flames, you turn the heat down to 325. After half-an-hour of normal cook time, crank the heat back up to 450 until the center of the chunk registers safe.

There’s a resting period of twenty minutes before slicing begins. Twenty nervous, nail-biting minutes during which the woman-in-charge doesn’t know if she succeeded and will be a triumph with everyone sitting around the Christmas Tree and singing her praises, or a failure who’ll live through the rest of Christmas (and with my family, who never forgets anything–throughout the rest of time) with her tail between her legs and a big red F (for failure) on her chest. (A really big F.)

Luckily, and thanks to Ina (who is a dear cooking buddy and destroyer of diets) this year we triumphed, and I had a blast doing it.

So, what’s your favorite special meal to eat for Christmas?

Leave a comment

Christmas Eve


Image via Wikipedia

I wrote this yesterday afternoon during a lull in the activities.


It’s almost here!

Right now I’m roasting a prime rib. 500 degrees for the first 45 minutes. Scary stuff for an expensive cut of meat, but it works. Barefoot Contessa is never wrong. 😉

This morning I decide to make a couple of ornaments, so I snitted the first one.


 It looks better here than it is. Here’s closer–

It’s full of wires to hold the petals out and they poke. Not the most perfect poinsettia in the world, but it makes a big red spot on the tree. LOL.

2/3 of the kids made it last night. The prime rib was fantastic–no one turned it down or complained a bit. They know better. If they gripe, they get to do the cooking next time!

We don’t open gifts until Christmas morning, and after everyone left last night, I had several gifts to still wrap. Next year I’m investing in more gift bags and tissue paper! And should probably start decorating for the Yule on Independence Day.