Shovels of snow, then bowls of chili

February 02, 2000|By Rob Kasper

ONE GOOD THING about shoveling snow is that it unleashes your appetite.

Since you are burning up tons of calories by clearing mounds of snow off your sidewalk and driveway, you feel it is OK to shovel in tons of calories when you belly up to the table.

At least, that was my justification for eating like a field hand during last week's snowstorm. Mainly, I ate chili, bowl after bowl after bowl. Then I chased the chili with brownies and ice cream.

Chili is appealing snow-shoveler fare for several reasons. First, it is warm, and most snow shovelers aren't. A steaming bowl of chili can revive a nearly frozen shoveler, thawing him out and giving him the strength to go back out in the elements and battle the backyard sidewalk.

Secondly, a serious chili, like the serious snowfall that hit us last week, comes in gigantic proportions. You don't make chili for two. Instead, you make a pot big enough to satisfy 22 normal appetites, or 4 snow shovelers.

Moreover, when serving chili to snow shovelers, the cook doesn't have to worry about using fancy table settings or silverware. You simply serve it up -- put the hay down where the goats can get it -- and stand clear.

Chili also gets better the longer it hangs around. That means when snow shovelers are working on a big snow, they get the chance to compare how the chili tasted at lunch with how it tastes at supper, and sometimes even with how it tastes at lunch the following day.

Finally, the amount of chili in the pot is a way to keep track of time. When the last bite of chili has disappeared, it is time to stop shoveling.

Snow Shovelers' Chili

Serves 12

9 tablespoons olive oil or butter

3 large onions, minced

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 pounds ground beef

4 cups canned tomatoes with juice

3 green peppers, minced

3 cups water

6 tablespoons chili powder

3 teaspoons cumin seed, crushed

3 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed

3 small bay leaves

In large pot, heat oil (or butter). Add onion and garlic and saute until golden brown.

Add the meat. Cook until brown.

Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil.

Reduce heat and let simmer, uncovered, for at least 1 hour or until mixture is the thickness you desire.

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