"In the bright, crag filled lands of Idaho, long ago, near Les Grans Tetons, I first made chili. I had yet to meet the most honored of the capsican family, the chili pepper, but it did not stop me. I used black pepper, Piper nigrum. Beans and corn and wild game, mostly Elk, assorted vegetables and of course, black pepper. All would have gone well if not for the black pepper. I used a lot! And still it wasn't enough and so I used even more. It was very good, at least for a few brief moments and then it was too late, the damage was done and so were the guests who obligingly had answered my invitations...

But that was long ago and many miles north and with many new batches of chili passing over the heat of my stoves. My life had taken a wonderful turn, you see, for I had discovered the chili pepper. And I also experimented...

So now my chili is good and with only 8 whole black pepper balls in the brew to give flavor and the sometimes good luck of finding one of the 8 in your bowl and to then relish it's pungent, strong and by now mellowed bite.

Into the pot first goes the oil. Cold pressed virgin olive oil. Not to much of course, have to watch all that fatty cholesterol and such. Well heck, forget all that crap, put in as much as you want. This is also where you bless your chili in whatever way you want but don't forget to do it, it's important.

Now add your spices. For me it's oregano and garlic salt, a good bit of fresh chopped ginger root; from your own garden if you live near the jungles of Asia which I don't so it's off to the grocery. Add some sea salt, mine is the red salts of Hawaii, and of course, drop in the 8 balls of black pepper. Add a tablespoon filled to overflowing with chili powder; "hot"! I use Hatch chilis cause they grow here and they is oh so very good. A pinch of anise, fennel and some chopped garlic cloves as desired as well as a bit of goat hair for flavor. Just kidding, no goat hair unless you are a very odd sort... Simmer this till the parts get brown.

If you burn it then you have been distracted by a beautiful woman or you just don't care enough about your chili; either way start over.

You will add your sweet potatoes now, 2 big ones with the ends gone and cut into small cubes.Next add your beans. If you have patience then you will have cooked your own from dried red beans and black. If you are me then you bought 3 cans of red and 1 of black from the big store that has everything and then some, better yet get them from the little store on the corner owned by Mom and Pop. Add a bean can full of water. Cook this for the length of time it takes to drink a small teacup of your favorite red wine; hopfully a smooth Merlot or any ole' Pinot Noir.

Next comes the green beans. Buy fresh snap beans and snap them into shape. 3.5 centimeters each and leave the little tails on. Add sweet white corn with its juice, from a can if you've never cut corn from the cob. If you have then maybe you should cut the corn before opening the wine, cause the knife has to be razor sharp and it may even be the one you shaved with this morn, wash it first of course...

Cook this for the length of time it takes to drink 2 teacups of your favorite red wine; a somewhat rough Merlot or any ole' Pinot Noir...

Now comes the meat. Wild game is best. It's lean and when taken clean is always of good flavor. Elk, Deer, Oryx, Moose; all the big ones are good. Fight shy of the little fellows; shrews and skunk and mice; rabbit might work but you are what you eat. I live in New Mexico, not Mexico, so I stay clear of cats and dogs and while I may dabble in Chinese medicine I stay away from the culinary arts as they know them. If you use ground meat then add it, if not then slice it with the same razor sharp knife you used earlier. Slice it into very small pieces so it will both give and take of the different parts you put into your chili.

Add another can of water. Did I mention that you don't want any chlorine or flourine or borine or any other ine in your water? If all goes well you won't have any chili left that will need these preservatives. Makes it taste funny anyway.

Cook this for about the time it takes to drink 2 teacups full of that same red wine you've been sampling and before you're into your 3rd cup, just look at the 3rd one, you've been drinking on an empty stomach after all.

Now the chili peppers. I buy them fresh in the fall. They are green and hot and ripe with juice. Nows the time to roast a few and put them up for the dark cold winter meals you are sure to want. A whole lot more you will string and let turn red. You don't want to let them dry till they turn real red and have had the insides sweeten up. It's a fruit after all. Get them drying after that.

So you have dried your chili some time in the past while you were drinking beer and iced wine with pure cranberry juice or some other concoction (yes, ice in the wine, shaved if you got it, this is the desert you know!) and you have them in a safe place, protected from the critters that will eat anything and from the "dust". There is dust everywhere in New Mexico, even in the water. We have the driest water in the southwest.

Take as many of these dried, red, hot chilis as you dare and crumple them into the pot. Crumple them small and put the seeds in too. No stems, you'll snap a tooth. Unfortunately you may get distracted again and forget to wash your hands, or if they are very very good chilis washing makes no difference. Anyway, you are going to forget and sooner or later you will rub your eyes or put your hands on some other delicate parts and you'll be glad you've been drinking that favorite Merlot or any ole' Pinot Noir cause you WILL start dancing an obscure Mexican jig; a regular fandango to be sure! Don't fret, there is no cure...

Cook all day and have some that night. Cook till bedtime and turn it off, it will still be warm in the morning, (the hot chilis you know). Simmer till all the guests arrive. Whole grain crackers go great with it. A loaf of fresh Lembo bread would be best though. It was invented to accompany chili I do believe... Serve from the simmer not from the boil and make sure you have a good beer too; or your favorite smooth Merlot or any ole' Pinot Noir. Get rid of those tiny teacups by the way....................."
March 2011