June 18, 2011

Llamas, Chili, and Other Niceties

A llama at the San Diego County Fair, 2009.

Yesterday and Today
Himself: He totaled out one old van today, and he made it home with everything written. Then we raced off too the “Men’s Event” where he got a dress shirt and a pair of shorts. His brand new dress/work pants are baggy.

Herself: Few donations until just before I left. I did books, and dug out a pile of really old “Tom Swift’s” out of the discard pile. Someone thought they were useless. I ran them through Alibris and ABE Books to discover they are going from $9.95 to $45.00. I wish I could go through every discard bag.

WW foods for the day: Breakfast: green beans, swim then yogurt. Lunch: G made me half a sandwich, with a banana and a diet coke. Had another one of those around 3. Dinner: 1 cup of steamed while rice plus 1 cup of Lady Bird Johnson’s Pedernales River chili with a garnish of tomato wedges and minced green onions. Later: 3 squares of Trader Joe’s no sugar dark chocolate…..4 points.

Purelandmountain.com offers the latest news from Japan on days he isn’t fighting his local fauna.
I confess. I make the same chili all the time. It’s mild. It unfortunately it’s so good that it makes you want more. Suggestions from the WW lecturer was to measure amounts this week, and I can honestly tell you that one cup of something isn’t a lot. One cup of this chili is deprivation.

According to the LBJ Library, this Chili recipe makes a generous 12 cups. President Lyndon B. Johnson's wife, Lady Bird, used to share this classic cowboy chili recipe freely with her guests. She had cards printed to hand out like confetti. Once I broke the Geezer of wanting chili that would burn through the roof of his mouth, I began using this recipe. I confess, I have made a few changes over the years.

Lady Bird Johnson’s Pedernales River Chili

4 lbs. chili meat (beef chuck ground through the
chili plate of a meat grinder or cut into 1/4" dice)
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp. cumin seed or more
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 1/2 cups, 1 can 16 oz, canned whole tomatoes and their liquid
2–6 generous dashes of liquid hot sauce
Sauté the meat, onion, and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until lightly colored. Add the oregano, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, hot sauce, and 2 cups hot water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about 1 hour. Skim off the fat while cooking. Salt to taste.

Instead of the everyday chili powder one can buy in a store, I often substitute one tablespoon of a mild red chili called “California Chili” out here. Then stir in 1 and 1/2 -plus tablespoons of commercial chili. It makes a sweeter and milder chili. I must confess that I used the wrong tomatoes this time. I used chopped up ones, and it was as if I had used a puree. See what I get for being so lazy. The New York Times tells us to cut the tomatoes up. I use my hands. Handy.

There was only one pound of beef. Ground beef. I had it to use up, so I used it. Yes, “beef,” and I can see my vegetarian friends toes curling as they read. 2 tablespoons of olive oil to brown the meats in. Turkey works well too. I use the same amount of tomatoes, the same amount of beans, 1 cup of water, and the same amount of spices.

Yes, I said beans. Why? Because my original recipe calls for beans. One big can of beans drained and rinsed, and one big can of tomatoes….smushed as they go in the pot. I like the beans. I think I got my version from Haller’s “White House Cookbook,” but I will double check this. Today I found a “southern Recipe” version of this recipe containing a lot of okra, something I will not eat. I note too, that this was originally made with suet which was eliminated after LBJ had his first heart attack.

Delving around to find a copy of my version of this chili, I discovered The History Chef. Of course I found Henry Haller, but not one trace of beans in Lady Bird’s Chili.


  1. Sounds great! I might try it! I'm not into the stuff that burns the inside of one's mouth. However, what kind of beans do you use?

  2. When I cooked for the family, I used beans too. Three quarters of the beans went into the food processor to thicken the sauce. (My husband doesn't like beans, or so he thinks. I would leave him one or two, and he would say "you did a good job keeping out the beans.")

    I often stretched the leftovers using rice, until I found out that the rice pushed my blood glucose up. Now I don't make it at all, because it would take me a week to use it up all by myself.

  3. I like a mild chili myself and husband won't eat it at all. When I make chili, I call my grown son and he gets the leftovers!

  4. thanks, I love chili and will try your LBJ recipe. I make quite a bit even though it's just me I feed, I've found it freezes in me size containers just fine. If I have company I defrost the appropriate number of containers. And yes, I too still use ground beef at times, sometimes with or without chili, if I use turkey I use some of my son's home done pork sausage. Mmmm!

  5. Veggie chili for me, and even that is rare. I have a tender tummy. Back to commenting via real computer again because the phone won't do it. Very sporadic. I wonder why. Going to the fair today. I will gaze at the fried foods and then rejoice that I am content with a good root beer.

  6. I know that many chili purists do not add beans to their chili. I'm not a vegetarian, but prefer the beans to the beef, but that would just be bean soup, wouldn't it? :)

  7. Mage! how did you know I was looking for a chili recipe???

  8. I just bought two herbal plants, one labeled Italian Oregano and one called hot and spicy oregano. Gonna grow my own til snowfall. I know one oregano is better to cook with than the other but can't remember which. Should I have bought the Mexican oregano? Which is best?


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