It’s chili-cooking season again

By  The Joplin Globe

Chile with jalapenos

I don’t measure when I make chili.

Never have, never will.

I come from a long line of no-measure chili cooks. Well, I guess it wasn’t a long line, mainly just my dad and my grandmother, but it was a line. So to be technical, let’s say that I come from a not too short but not too long line of no-measure chili cooks.

My dad’s recipe for chili used measurement words, such as “some” and “a few” and “one or two,” but you can get away with that when you’re making chili.

That’s because chili is always open to interpretation. Making chili is the cooking world’s version of jazz. You can do whatever you want when you make chili as long as, at some point, you somehow end up with chili.

When it comes to making chili, there really aren’t any rules — unless you’re involved in some sort of official chili competition, which to me takes the fun out of making chili.

When I make chili, I’ll use one onion unless I feel like using two. I try to pair my ratio of onion to my ratio of green pepper. Once I have my onion to green pepper ratios worked out, I proceed to my jalapenos, tomatoes and spices.

Of course, all of this is predicated on the amount of meat I use. The technical term for the amount I use for my chili is “a lot.”

When my dad was a kid eating my grandmother’s chili during the Great Depression, the technical term for the amount of meat she used was “not much.” The technical term “a lot” was saved for the use of beans in my grandmother’s chili.

Thankfully, we aren’t living in the Great Depression — at least not yet — so I don’t put beans in my chili.

When I was younger, I not only put jalapenos in my chili but I also poured jalapeno juice into the mix. I don’t do that anymore because … well, because I got married and when you get married you stop doing things like pouring jalapeno juice in chili. You also stop smoking cigars in the house.

Marriage changes a person is what I’m saying.

I started thinking about chili because, as I’m writing this, it’s sort of cold and rainy outside. It’s your basic dreary fall afternoon. Dreary fall afternoons are perfect for chili. Actually, just about any time is perfect for chili, but dreary fall afternoons are really perfect.

The other reason I started thinking about chili is because Thursday will offer the Holy Grail of sorts for area chili fans.

Well, the chili won’t be served in a Holy Grail, I’m thinking that would be sort of sacrilegious. Thursday is the successful end of a chili lovers quest in the form of two separate chili meals being served up in two separate communities.

In Joplin, folks will be serving up great chili and great vegetable soup at the Joplin Association for the Blind and Low Vision Center located at the corner of Fourth Street and Schifferdecker Avenue. Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The cost for the meal, which includes dessert and a drink, is $7 for adults and $3 for children. As it has for the past several years, the culinary department at Franklin Technical Center will help a host of volunteers prepare the meal. Carryout meals are available by calling 417-623-5721 or by fax at 417-623-1968.

In Carthage, the folks at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, 1156 Grand Ave., will be serving up chili and vegetable soup from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and again from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The cost is $6.50 for adults and $3.50 for children 12 and younger. Along with chili or soup, coffee or tea and pie will be served. Carryout orders may be placed by calling 417-358-4902.