Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chili Nation

I love chili. Love, love, love chili. If I go out somewhere and they offer it, I'll usually order it, at least a small cup just to try it. There are some I like more than others, but really, all chili is good.

Ten years ago when I had tons of extra throw away income I joined a cook book club. I had to buy SIX in a year, but I got, like, eight free. Most of those I've given away or sold in garage sales, but I still have my very dog-eared copy of Chili Nation. . Chili Nation has a chili recipe representing each of the 50 states.

I haven't opened it in a while, preferring to find my chili recipes online, but when I unpacked it from a long lost box a few weeks ago I got to thinking. In all these years I've had that book, I've only used three of the recipes. Three? How can it be? So I decided then and there that I was going to try every. single. recipe* in that book. I was going to make chili once a week, but my husband, he doesn't like chili as much as I do. So, I'm just going to wing it and make chili when it sounds good.

Two weeks ago was one of those times.

I made the Arkansas chili because I was craving McClards BBQ and that recipe was a copycat on the Tamale-BBQ spread that is so absolutely fabulous.

Mmmmm. McClards. There's nothing else like it, but it takes nine hours to get there. Seriously. If you ever find yourself driving through Hot Springs, Arkansas. You MUST stop there. You won't be sorry.

Anyway. A couple weeks ago I set about making the Hot Springs Chili-Tamale Spread. The recipe called for homemade tamales and I was like, BWAHAHAHA! I live in TEXAS. There's plenty of tamale trucks and authentic Mexican grandmas who KNOW how it's done. And, low and behold, HEB had fresh ones on sale that week. So there ya go.

So I had my tamales. Check. Then I needed to make the chili.


After the chili was done, 45ish minutes later, I made the spread.

I spread the tamales in a row in a casserole dish and covered them with the chili. I then topped that with a ton of shredded Cheddar and chopped green onions. Then I baked that for 20 minutes and then served each portion with a huge helping of corn chips. Just like McClards. Mmmmm....McClards.

But. I have no pictures of my actual very beautiful Chili-Tamale Spread. Because as soon as it came out of the oven my husband cut into it and it was pretty much completely devoured in a half hour. Nothing left. Nothing.

It wasn't McClards, but it was good. Oh, it was good.

So, Chili Experiment State One, ARKANSAS, was a four thumbs up. Adam gave it a thumbs down, but Adam eats only sliced ham and yogurt without a fight, so he's not a good judge.

If you want the recipe, let me know and I'll add it in a separate post.

Tonight I'm taking my chili journey to OHIO. Cincinnati Chili. Mmmmmm.

If there's a state you want me to try, leave a comment. *The only states I refuse to make are Colorado (venison, no access to that) and Maryland (crab! Ewwww.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009



Who's getting the swine flu vaccine?

Are your children getting it too?

We are on opposite sides of the fence here and it may likely come to blows or much time spent in divorce court.

I apparently am living with the world's foremost expert in the subject and all truth comes only from him. Glory, Hallelujah.

I would love to hear someone else's view on this for a change.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Kroger, We're Breaking Up.

I hate Kroger.

Why do I keep going there? Oh sure, they have double and triple coupons and sometimes I can come home with some free food, but is it really worth the hassle that I get every. single. time I go there?

I'm starting to think that's a no.

I am on a grocery budget and I follow it carefully. I buy what is on sale and we go from there. It makes life interesting because the kids never know what kind of snacks they're going to receive and Jacob rarely takes the same lunch twice.

Although I am not allowed to grocery shop until October 15th, I went today anyway because Kroger had some produce on sale and I needed two cans of beans to make some chili. I figured I could use my birthday cash and get out of there under thirty bucks. It was more like fifty bucks and I stuck to my list. It wasn't until I returned home that I realized all that produce I thought I was getting at the sale price, was priced wrong. All of it. My 87 cent red leaf lettuce was $2.49. My 99 cent green beans were $2.49 a pound, 4 buck for those beans. My 88 cent apples were $1.49. And my $1.77 strawberries were $2.99. That. Is just unexceptable.

I know you're wondering how I missed all that. Well, Kroger has some weird wonky computer check out system where the item rings up at full price but then it subtracts the amount you should save. It is extremely frustrating trying to do all that double and triple digit math in my head while the checker is scanning fast enough to beat Mach 1. And? I had two cart diving kids with me. And I had to bag my own groceries. So, yeah, I missed that intentional error blunder.

I swear, I've gone to Kroger since we moved here, although rarely more than once a month just for this reason. I even go to a different Kroger now that we've moved and it's the same damn thing. I admit I've gotten sucked in to their coupon/sale deals, but I don't think I can do it anymore. I mean, it's now pouring down the rain outside and I need to drive all the way back to that place, take my kids out of the car, drop them into another swine flu laden cart, and attempt to get my bill fixed. I've done this before. They usually fight with me. Or give me a load of shit for not catching it while I was in the store to which I say....UM...isn't it Kroger's job to get the prices right?

My guess? They misprice the things on purpose. Most people don't go through their receipt with a fine tooth comb like I do. I've even been in the check out and pointed out to people in front of me that their items are ringing wrong and they just don't care. Must be nice for those people, but I don't have hundreds of bucks available to just throw away once a week. I think the stupid computer is part of their plan and the fast checkers are taught to go that quickly so you can't catch the mistakes.

I love HEB. The checkers aren't running a race. Their computer shows only the price they are going to charge you. I have never, NEVER, had anything ring up wrong there.

Sorry, Kroger. I know some people think you're the best grocery store ever, but I've given you a butt load of chances and you're just not doing it for me. Maybe you're meant to be with someone else. I just can't continue feeling this way every time we get together. I tried, really I did. But it's time for me to move on and commit to HEB. Yes, I'll miss those 49 cent Vitamin Water weeks and it will be hard to live without my Big K Vanilla Cola, but I can do it. I HAVE to do it. Not only for me, but for my budget. And my sanity.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Dear Rich,

Thank you for being a good husband to my best friend and an even better father to your children. You are loved and missed.

Richard E. Robinson, 40, of Fairmont, formerly of Charleston, passed away on October 4, 2009, the result of a motorcycle accident.
He was a regional sales manager for Chick Packaging and a graduate of Stonewall Jackson High School.

Rich's goal in life was to bring joy to others; in doing so he was rewarded by the pleasure of helping those around him. Rich had a wonderful spirit for living and always saw positive opportunities under every circumstance. Rich's laughter was contagious.

Rich's true love in life was his wife, Jennifer, and their children. Jennifer helped him appreciate life to the fullest and to become a better person. His best friends were his sons, Nathan and William, who looked up to their dad as being their “hero.”

He was preceded in death by both parents, Richard and Orma Robinson; and his son, Jack.

He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Robinson of Fairmont; two sons, Nathan and William; and sister, Susanne Cole, her husband, Steve, and their daughter, Sydney, of Pittsburgh, Pa. Also surviving him are his mother- and father-in-law, Nelson and Joyce Jennings of New Martinsville.

Memorial service will be 1 p.m. Thursday, October 8, at Barlow-Bonsall Funeral Home.

Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and one hour prior to the service at the funeral home on Thursday.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Richard Robinson Memorial Fund for his two children, c/o Jennifer Robinson, P.O. Box 3220, Clarksburg, WV 26302.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Message Received

I think the universe is trying to tell me something.

Yesterday as I sat down to type the my-husband-does-me-wrong-when-did-I-become-a-single-parent? post, an email came up from my good WV friend. I'm always happy to get an email from her, so I clicked to read what antics her crazy kids are into and instead read that her husband had been killed in a motorcycle accident the night before. She was sorry for telling me in an email, but she was worn out from the calling. And the crying. And then I cried. Most of the day.

My friend was single for a long time, thought she'd be alone forever until she stopped in a restaurant for dinner on the way home from work one day and her future husband saw her sitting alone and offered to keep her company. They were married a year later. When I called to tell her I was pregnant with Adam, she came back with her own news...she was too. In fact our due dates were the same. I was so excited when I saw the caller ID the week after Adam's birth waiting to hear all about Baby Jack but I threw up when she told me instead how he'd been stillborn. Her husband really took care of her during all that even though he was just as distraught. They went on to have two sons who are now three and six months. Their oldest is a self-proclaimed Daddy's boy. Telling him was the hardest part, she said. Now she can be strong and make arrangements and do all that needs to be done. That. Is just how my friend rolls. I know she is sad, devastated even, but she's a rock I tell ya. Those boys are so lucky to have her.

Her husband was lucky to have her too. And vice versa.

I am so, so, sad she's dealing with this. I mean, my goodness, can't she catch a break? Isn't it bad enough her son is dead?

I tell myself that now Jack has his dad and that's a good thing. But now that Daddy's boy is going to have to learn to be Mama's boy and that is a very sad thing.

I don't get it. Just yesterday some angry husband stabbed his wife twentyish times in a fancy neighborhood across town. My friend's husband is in a box. Why does that horrible husband get to go on surviving while a good one doesn't?

The last time I visited them he took me down to his garage to show me his other "baby". That motorcycle. That stupid, disgusting motorcycle. The last thing I said to him in person: "You're going to die on that thing! Why don't you take up fishing instead? HAHAHAHA" And everyone thought I was super funny.

It's not so funny now.

At the end of my friend's email was this:

"I know Derick makes you mad. It's okay to be mad, but PLEASE, for me, tell him you love him every day and try to let go of the small stuff. Do stuff together. Enjoy each other and your family. You just never know what will happen tomorrow."

I pass that on to all of you, because I know she'd want everyone to do the same.

Message received universe, message received.