Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Meet the G’dad

I have something really cute to show you. Wanna see?

This is my mom’s dad when he was a teenager. Isn’t he adorable? (I think he looks like Nephew Phillip.)

I love the chain going from under the tie to his shirt pocket. Makes me think he had a new pocket watch and couldn’t wait to put on his suit to wear it. He could have put it in his pant pocket, but then it wouldn’t show in the picture. 🙂

Granddad was in World War I, and just before he left for San Antonio, where he was stationed, he married Grandma. This is their wedding photo, taken in 1917.

Granddad was in his early twenties here. Are you loving his hairdo? I’m sure it disappeared as soon as he got in the army. 😉

This is the way I remember him looking. Some of my favorite things I remember about Granddad–

When I was little, he had a cool pickup (I remember it being a granite blue color) that went a-OOO-gah! If I remember right, it burned up in a well fire. 😦

Granddad loved to fish and take his grandkids fishing.

He nearly always wore a hat. Not a ball cap. A really cool hat.

Granddad’s hat–a fedora?

I’m not sure what it’s called, but I love it. (It hangs on my wall.) Granddad must have, too. He used it for shade, a fan, a swatter, and when in a pinch, he used it for an ashtray.

At one time or another, Granddad had a chicken farm near Tahlequah years ago, he worked in the oilfield, and more often than not, he farmed. (Often while working another job.) During the Great Depression, he went to another state and worked to support his family of seven (!) children.

One memory stands out in my mind. Once Sister Debbie and I stayed a week with G & G at their farm near Tahlequah. Granddad was working in his garden while Debbie and I climbed a tree. I was getting pretty brave, and had my feet higher than my head when the small branches I held onto snapped. I landed on Deb (she still claims she saved my life) and we both tipped, about to topple out of that tree, several feet to the ground.

Granddad saw us falling, dropped his hoe and raced across the garden to catch us both. I was impressed a guy that old could run so fast.

I remember going to church with him on that trip, too, and hearing him sing. Seems like he might have led the singing, too. (Maybe that’s where Brother Jeffrey got that talent!) And we fished in the Illinois River.

Do you have happy memories of your granddad (or mine) you can share?

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Grandmother’s Chili

Bowl of Chili con Carne, made of ground pork, ...

Image via Wikipedia

One of my favorite things to eat when it’s cold outside is chili. Chili, the real deal, made with red meat. (Chicken chili and white chili are very good, but beef chili is my all time fav!

From http://www.famouschilirecipes.com/ 

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the origins of chili as well as how to make the dish.  It all seems to come down to how you like to dress up your favorite chili recipe.  If you ask anyone for a chili recipe these days, chances are that you will get a different recipe from every person. 

I remember making a special trip to the Big City when Grandmother and Aunt Phyllis were getting ready to make it. They’d go to Mecca Coffee to buy the freshest spices–oregano, chili powder and cumin.

More from FCR–

All chili recipes have changed over time with new recipes being created on a daily basis.  But where did it all start?  There are people that believe in the 1840’s Texas cowboys pounded beef fat and dried beef with chili peppers and salt to make a sort of trail food for their treks to the gold fields. They would boil this concoction to make a dish they called chili.

A variation on the cowboy origins of chili recipes says that cowboys would plant oregano, chiles, and onions along their well travelled trails in patches of mesquite to keep foraging cattle from eating them. As they moved along the trails, they would harvest the spices, onions, and chiles and combine them with beef to create a chili recipe called “Trail Drive Chili”.

They mention several ways chili might have been invented. A Texas prison, the army, even Canary Island transplants.

The most plausible origin of chili came in 1828 when J.C. Clopper observed the poor people in San Antonio cutting what little meat they could afford into a has like consistency and stewing it together with as many pieces of peppers as pieces of meat.

So here’s Grandmother’s recipe–

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

Cook 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.

I’ve heard of people who make chili without any tomato products in it at all, but I’ve never tried it. I’m willing, though, if someone wants to bring over a bowl.

Do you have a favorite chili recipe? Does it have ground hamburger in it or are you a “healthy” or even vegetarian chili eater?

If you have a favorite chili recipe, why not post it in comments? I wonder how many different chili recipes are out there?