March is a strange month. It is part winter, part spring, part ale, part lager. One weekend you are outside eating lunch, basking in the sunshine. A few days later you are forced back indoors. You huddle around a heater, spooning down bowls of steaming chili as snow pelts the storm door.
It is a difficult time of year to get your eating rhythm. Instead of making a seasonal statement, I stick to old habits.
I continue to cook my vegetables. When the dogwoods bloom, I'll consider crudites. I barbecue whenever the wind permits. And I read my mail. March -- with its shifting moods -- is an excellent time to read what other people are thinking.
Badgers born to grill
From: Carol Denig, Towson
Re: Column on year-round grilling
Dear Happy Eater,
Of course we grill all year round. We're from Wisconsin, and we even grilled the year round there. Just recently we were on the phone with a friend in Wisconsin and he excused himself to turn the chicken on the grill. Found out it was 8 degrees that day, and who knows what the wind chill was.
Of course,there's also the Thanksgiving he grilled the turkey outdoors and drank Manhattans to keep warm. When it was time to take the turkey in to the table, it got dropped in the window well. A good brush off and nobody was the wiser.
Last time we were in the store checkout line with charcoal, the man ahead of us wanted to know what it was for. We told him we planned on grilling outside. He told us how bad the winters are here and how he wished he could go South every year. What winters?
Eater Replies: As your turkey in the window-well proved, we all-weather grillers are a gritty bunch.
Damsel in search of sweet prince
From: Penny Eileen Rippey, Huntingtown, Md.
Dear Happy Eater,
While visiting my boyfriend in New York, he gave me one of his family's favorite snacks to nibble on. It is a candy bar called Prince Polo Bar. It is more like a wafer cookie covered with chocolate. My boyfriend's family, by the way, is Icelandic. Prince Polo bars are made in Warsaw, according to the wrapper.
My boyfriend's family makes an occasional trip to Brooklyn to buy them. I'm too far from Brooklyn but would like to be able to purchase the candy bars locally. He suggested I find a Russian delicatessen. The only ethnic community I know is Little Italy. Can you help?
Eater Replies: It is not everyday I get to help a damsel from Brooklyn find the candy bar from Poland recommended by her Icelandic boyfriend.
You can find the candy bar in Randallstown. The Old World Delicatessen & Bakery at 9118 Liberty Road, sells them for 40 cents a piece or $5 for a box of 20.
Hungry in Hagerstown
From: Wayne Morningstar, Hagerstown
Re: Recent column on chili
Dear Happy Eater,
This is a shot in the dark, but I'll try it. Years ago the Sunpapers printed a recipe titled "Cowboy Chili." My father used it many times. After I married, the clipping was handed down to me. Well, I've lost it. I can't remember all of the ingredients.
Could you possibly find the cowboy chili hiding in your files? Everyone I've made it for loved it, and I do get requests for the chili often. That was a very good chili.
It turns out there are as many versions of "cowboy chili" as there are guys wearing cowboy hats at Club Stabile's on a Saturday night. You didn't say how many "years ago" you were married, but I found a 1978 recipe, from Nevada Annie, a Las Vegas grandmother who won the chili cook-off in Rosamomond, Calif.
3 medium onions
2 medium green peppers
2 stalks celery
1 tablespoon diced jalapeno pepper
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) stewed tomatoes
1 can (16 ounce) tomato sauce with mushrooms
1 can tomato paste
2 bottles (3 ounces each) of chili powder
4 ounces beer
2 teaspoons cumin
3 bay leaves
garlic salt, onion salt, salt and pepper to taste
8 pounds ground chuck
Dice and saute first four ingredients. Add meat and brown. Add remaining ingredients with enough water to cover top. Cook chili for three hours on low heat, stirring often.