Monday, September 30, 2013

Road Trip!

I slept in until 7:00 a.m. (finally)! I got a cup of coffee and eased into the day.  I filled out the Blog entry and processed my photos while listening to the morning news.

I did the “refill pillbox” thing and rewound the clock. Then I made myself some soft scrambled eggs with rye toast for breakfast.

I cleaned up from breakfast and then got started on making the Coney island chili, my part in Melissa’s grand plan for the family reunion.

Now, I had hoped just to find a knock-off recipe for say, National Coney Island chili. But, no! These are kept as secret as the recipe for Coca Cola! There are plenty of so-called “just like” recipes, but all contained weird ingredients (like beef hearts) that I am reasonably sure are NOT used.

So, I found one that was four star rated and sounded about right and was going with that. Now, I tripled the recipe, but will give you the steps and ingredients as though I was just making one batch.

First, of course was the prep work. I chopped three (oops, I did it already, dammit) ONE large onion and minced two garlic cloves. These went into separate bowls, BTW. Then I made my dry mix (I prefer to mix my spices and herbs in a bowl first, rather than adding them individually to a pot. I think it gives you a more even distribution).

I put in one tablespoon of sugar, one tablespoon of dried, minced onions (I question the need for that, but…), two teaspoons of chili powder, one teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon of celery seed, 1/2 heaping teaspoon of ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper. I mixed all that together thoroughly and set it aside.

Then I browned one pound of ground chuck. Half way through the browning process, I added my chopped onions. And, right at the end, I added the garlic.

Sidebar: Since I was tripling the recipe, I used my 12-inch skillet and three pounds of ground chuck. But, I realized at the end there wasn’t going to be enough room to add the liquid ingredients, so I transferred the meat to my Dutch oven and washed the skillet. Way to make more work for yourself, John!

I drained the grease (there wasn’t much) and, as I said, put everything into the Dutch oven. To that, I added one cup of water, one six-ounce can of tomato paste, one tablespoon of prepared yellow mustard and one teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. Then I put in the dry ingredients. I mixed that thoroughly (after having to switch to my left hand as the circular motion hurt my right shoulder) while I brought it to a boil.

Then I turned the burner to low and simmered it for 15 minutes. I taste-tested it. Since I don’t eat that many chili dogs (or at least haven’t had one in a really long time) I was not really sure if it was spot on. But, it tasted really good! Not too mild, not too hot (although it did have a spicy aftertaste).

I transferred it to the round slow cooker and set it on “low.” Then I washed the Dutch oven and the ladle. After about 30 minutes, I turned the slow cooker to “warm.”

It began raining here about 10:00 a.m. but it’s not supposed to be an all-day thing. I didn’t really care if it rains at the park, but was just hoping it wasn’t raining during my drive there.

I started shaving and showering just after 11:00 a.m. I loaded up the chili and a serving spoon. This time, however, I put the slow cooker in a box, lined with a garbage bag and wedged with towels. Last year, if you remember, there was an ugly incident with spillage. I also brought two large cans of mixed nuts to put in bowls on each table for snacking

I left around noon and was grateful the rain had stopped. I thought I was being smart by avoiding I-94 as long as I could (I had heard there were weekend closures where it went down to one lane in several spots). So I took Telegraph to I-696 to I-94. Unfortunately, it was still only one lane at the junction of I-696 and I-94. So, I sat in traffic for a good 20 minutes. Long enough to call my Brother Carl and let him know (via Colin) that I was delayed, in case Melissa, Dave and Amy showed up first and wondered where I was.

Also, I forgot to mention that, while the rain had stopped at my house, I literally drove into it on the trip to New Baltimore. But, it had more or less died out by the time I got to the park.

I did finally get there (and did beat Dave and my girls). I had somebody slide a picnic table over to the wall, where there was a plug for the slow cooker and so Dave could set up his portable grille.

Jeremy was already there while Jyl and Riese came separately a little bit later.

Melissa, Dave and Amy showed up and it was great to actually see them again. It literally has been years!!! They quickly set everything up and for the first time we had food both inside and outside. It worked out well, because the food inside was overflowing the table.

It was great to see my brothers and all the rest of the family again, but there were two additional special guests: My sister-in-law Jean and my brother-in-law Terry, neither of whom I have seen in years as well!

The chili dogs seemed to be a big hit. I had one and it was excellent! I only put chili, onions and yellow mustard on mine, but there were also sauerkraut, jalapeno peppers, pickle relish and other condiments as well.

And, despite both Amy and Melissa’s concerns, I noticed that they remembered more people’s names than I did!

I was tempted by a lot of the food, but ate only one other thing. My niece Mary made “Spicy Tuscan Soup” and it was excellent! I asked her for the recipe and she sent it to me later on Facebook. Thanks again, Mary.

Finally, people started leaving and we started cleaning up. There were some tense moments while we all searched for Dave’s car keys, but I eventually found them! I sent the rest of the chili (along with my slow cooker and my two towels) home with Dave and Melissa. There is no way I would ever eat all of that! And, retrieving my slow cooker and towels will give me an excuse to visit them.

I did take one unopened jar of mixed nuts and four pieces of pizza Cathy sent home with me.

I made my goodbyes and told everyone I’d see them next year (and with most of them, sadly, that is true). Unfortunately, the rain had started back up. So, it was a 50 mile ride in the rain.

I got home around 5:30 p.m. and treated the cats. Then I changed clothes and started the last load of laundry.

I ate the pizza while waiting for the last episode (ever) of Breaking Bad. When it was over, I was exhausted. I took one more muscle relaxer and went to bed.


  1. Good to see you...hopefully you took a different way home and avoided the construction.

  2. Went the same way (I-94 to I-696) because it's not closed down heading south (at least not there). Good to see you again as well. I PROMISE to make something a little more interesting than coney chili next year, okay?