My mother-in-law, Rosie, passed away yesterday. I miss her. She loved to eat about as much I as I do, and when I made something she liked she showed me the best appreciation I can ever ask for: asking for seconds, taking some home, and requesting it again the next time we talked. Rosie didn’t like everything I cooked, and when she politely said that she wasn’t hungry (she was always hungry at dinner time), or pushed food around with a fork and knife (she preferred to eat with her fingers), I would feel that sinking pit at the center of the stomach that comes when I’ve had a culinary failure. And so I can credit Rosie, and my desire to please her, with many dishes that have come to be family staples (did I mention that she would ask for things she liked again and again?). I made tacos for Rosie, and pasta with meat sauce, Asian Beef and Cuban pork loin in the crock pot, and cream of broccoli soup. I was learning to make her enchiladas. One thing I never made for her that she would have liked was “chili beans.” And so when my sister-in-law Darling arrived this morning, I suggested that “we” put on a big pot of chili beans so that all of the relatives coming through can just grab a bowl whenever they’re hungry.
Darling’s Chili Beans
1 lb ground beef
2 small or 1 large onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 large cans pinto or pink beans
1 large can tomato sauce
1 package “taco seasoning”
1-2 jalapeños, seeds removed and finely chopped
Salt and pepper
½-1 cup water
Brown the ground beef, then add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft. Add all of the other ingredients except the water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Add the water, bring back to a boil, then bring to a low simmer and cook for 1-3 hours. Serve with sour cream and grated cheese and of course tortillas.