Pesky Chili Mistakes

“Advertise Your Mistakes”, is what Alan Fox says!  I am reading a great book by Fox, People Tools for Business. I highly recommend it to anyone who works.  That could be inside the home, outside the home, as an entrepreneur, an employee or an employer.  He gives wonderful advice for business and for life.  I have a horrible time admitting mistakes.  Fox writes “there is a small part of me that still believes that the word “admit” implies weakness.”  I could not have said it better.  I feel that if someone sees my mistakes or hears me admit my mistake that I will be seen as weak or worse, a failure.  We all know this isn’t true for any of us and spending time trying to hide mistakes can be pretty miserable.  It is my fear of admitting mistakes that keeps me from connecting to loved ones, friends, employees and clients.  We are all human and we all make mistakes.  Humbling myself to admitting mistakes takes a huge weight off my shoulders because now I can be me, human, with flaws.
When I was in grade school around the age of 11 or 12 I made my first chili dish that I was going to take to the church to share in a pot luck.  I didn’t read the instructions so well.  It is a fault I still have when trying to use electronics or putting something together from Ikea.  I assumed that the recipe said one cup of salt instead of one tablespoon of salt.  Clearly, I had not cooked much.  We all know what happened to the pot of chili when I added one cup of salt.  It was inedible and dangerous for those with high blood pressure!  Instead of admitting the mistake, when I tasted it, and my eyeballs were almost sucked into my brain, I tried to fix it, ignore it and still served it.  Now I was only 12 years old so I will give myself the benefit of the doubt.  But how different could this have been if I “advertised” my mistake before everyone else tasted it?  Everyone knows when we make a mistake especially those that work with us daily and live with us.  Pretending a mistake didn’t happen can make it grow and sometimes become more painful when we do have to confront or correct it.
Three things I learned from my mistake from my early years of cooking 1)read the recipe thoroughly 2) don’t serve a mistake 3)we all make mistakes, so try not to take them too seriously.  If I am laughing at my mistakes, it will make everyone else around me a LOT more comfortable to get past the mistake.  And because I have people who look up to me, I can show them it is ok to give yourself a break when they too make mistakes, because they will.  Most importantly, life is too short waste time trying to hide mistakes.  We all want to move on from them.  It can be hard to do, admitting mistakes, but I will continue to try!
Here is my chili recipe more than 25 years later.  I just love it during these colder months.  There is nothing better in my book than a great hot bowl of chili simmering on the stove after a long day of work.  It is comforting and the smell makes the house into a home.  Just don’t go add a cup of salt!!!

1 lb (or more if you like it really meaty) of ground sirloin (I have also used ground bison which is just as delicious I do not like using ground turkey)
1 large onion diced(can be purple, white or yellow, use what you have on hand)
3 fresh jalapeños 2 sliced, one whole
1 green bell pepper diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cumin (whole cumin freshly toasted and then ground in your mortar and pestle is best way to go here)
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 14oz can tomato sauce
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans black beans (or whatever beans you prefer)

greek yogurt
fresh jalapeños sliced
fresh cilantro
shredded white sharp cheddar cheese
fresh avocado

In a large dutch oven sauté your beef and onions until the beef is brown throughout.  Add jalapeños and bell pepper and sauté for a minute then add your spices.  After your spices are mixed through, add your tomatoes and sauce.  The hard part is… to wait.  Let this simmer on low heat as long as you can. Try at least an hour before you add salt and pepper to your taste and add your beans.  After the beans have gotten warmed (less than 5 minutes), make yourself a delicious bowl of chili and add whatever toppings you choose.  I prefer a spicier chili, but the greek yogurt will cut the heat for those not so brave.

I hear next week, the temperatures are supposed to be brutally cold.  I will have some of this on the stove for when the girls get home from school.  My home smells amazing and everyone is grateful for a delicious hot bowl to warm their fingers and souls.  If you want to double the recipe and freeze some, that is just fine too!

If you are like me, I tend to make more mistakes when I am cranky and cold.  I am definitely a creature of the warm sun.  The way I think of it is this: the sooner I admit I have made a blunder, the sooner we can all get back to enjoying what really matters and move on to laughter with those we love.   Here’s to the perfect chili!


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