Tomorrow’s the company Christmas party…. the internal one. Everyone in this small company is being asked to being a dish to pass, and it ends up being an all-day nibble festival. It’ll be a fine day.

Time was, years ago, that are used to bring three parts full of chili to such events. Normally, back in the day, these three pots were marked ‘mild’, ‘hot’ , and ‘Holy $#!+’.

After the third year of having some jokester shuffling the signs, and seeing Sally Secratary turning green as she screamed…” THAT’S MILD???!!?!?!”, I finally gave up the practice. These days, I simply turn out a mild to medium hot chili that’s usually fairly good.

It’s getting to be an expensive proposition to do this though. Maybe seven bucks worth the burger, some tomatoes, some onions, some “baby bella” mushrooms, a little onion, and the rest according to taste. Ah, well, it’s worth it. I work with a good crew.


I wanted to pass along a couple of pictures that were passed along to me by readers last year. I never got the chance to use them last season because I didn’t see them until well after new year’s. But now seems as good a time as any to post them.

in case you don’t recognize it, I will tell you up front that these are pictures from Arlington national cemetery. They do this, every year. Every headstone in the place, gets a wreath. Every person buried at Arlington, is remembered with honor, and perhaps there is no time they are honored more than during the holiday season.

The Arlington Wreath project was started on the order of fifteen years ago by the president of the Worcester wreath company in Maine, who apparently decided to send holiday wreaths to Arlington is a way to honor the country’s fallen soldiers . each and every year without fail since then 5000 or so evergreen wreaths are made up in the state of Maine, and then decorated , men loaded on a truck bound for Arlington.

The last I heard, there was supposed to be a wreath laying ceremony this morning at Arlington.

Longtime readers of this blog will recall that my wife is something of a fan of one Trace Adkins. Truth to tell, I like him as well… and particularly admire him for recording this one, which this story reminds me of. I know… copyright laws, and all… I hope Trace doesn’t mind, because I think this says it so well, what I feel looking at these pics.


I never thought that this is where I’d settle down,
I thought I’d die an old man back in my hometown,
They gave me this plot of land, me and some other men, for a job well done,
There’s a big white house sits on a hill just up the road,
The man inside he cried the day they brought me home,
They folded up a flag and told my mom and dad, we’re proud of your son
And I’m proud to be on this peaceful piece of property,
I’m on sacred ground and I’m in the best of company,
I’m thankful for those thankful for the things I’ve done,
I can rest in peace, I’m one of the chosen ones, I made it to Arlington
I remember daddy brought me here when i was eight,
We searched all day to find out where my granddad lay,
And when we finally found that cross,
He said, “son this is what it cost to keep us free”
Now here I am, a thousand stones away from him,
He recognized me on the first day i came in,
And it gave me a chill when he clicked his heels, and saluted me.

And everytime I hear twenty-one guns,
I know they brought another hero home to us
We’re thankful for those thankful for the things we’ve done,
We can rest in peace, ’cause we are the chosen ones,
We made it to Arlington..
yea dust to dust,
Don’t cry for us…
We made it to Arlington.

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6 Responses to “Of Well-made Chili And Well-placed Wreaths”

  1. I love making chili, and eating it too.  I am not one for hot pepper hot; I prefer mustard- and radish-type hot.  But I do like the slow burn of a well made medium spice chili.  Feeling the sweat dripping of the forehead, watching my family’s faces turn deeper red by the minute, or watching my father-in-law’s bald spot do the same thing is just as good as watching someone’s tongue catching fire.

  2. I like chili, thick, with meat, beans and a
    bit on the hot side.  Am fascinated by all
    the different recipes which go under the name
    of Chili.  The one ingredient which I am
    struggling to understand is mushrooms.  Now
    I like mushrooms as well.  I like mustard and
    I like Oregon Blackberry Chesecake ice cream.
    However I do put mustard on my OBCC.

    Likewise I am at loss to see what mushrooms
    add to a chili.  Chili is spicy.  Mushrooms
    are suttle.  The flavor of the mushrooms get
    overpowered by the spices.

    Then there a many things I am not destined
    to understand.

  3. Texture, and visual impact, as much as anything.  To give you an idea, I also use a variety of beans… in this batch, the traditional Kidney beans… as well as Great Northerns… the red and white play well together, both taste wise and visually.

    I try to add elements that give both the high and the low…. the Mushrooms, as you suggest are the low end of flavor intensity… (though by using the Baby Bellas, I’m not so subtle as to reach into BLAND, really. ) The visual impact, though is quite a bit more than NOT putting them in. Perhaps you don’t understand; I’m not using them sliced… but whole… each ‘shroom is about the size of a quarter. Gives a really chunky look.
    Taste-wise, it adds a subtle earthy quality.

  4. I had an interesting cook book, Chili Nation. The
    book purported to indentify fifty different chili
    recipes, one for each state. Aside from starting
    with dry, whole chile peppers, then fifty different
    recipes seemed to have little in common. What was
    it Cincinatti chili which was served over noodles.
    It was said to what recult when the local Greek got
    hold the Texas recipes.

    As for chili, I kno9w how I like it. However there
    are as many ways to make chili as there are people
    who like chili. I do not pretend that there is one
    definitive way to make chili, and I claim no authority
    to deem any proper way to make chili. I know how I like
    my chili, and find it interesting to see other like their’s.

    I couple years ago, a few of us were doing Nordic Hot
    Dog Days at Cumming Nature Center. One remarked that
    the meat in the chili looked like venison. Could have
    been. Anyhow, we saw a cook, or well a guy with an apron
    and asked him about it. He said he didn’t know. Said there
    were seven cooks and each brought in a gallow nf chili. He
    wife made his batch and he didn’t know what she used. Volunteered
    that he venison in the freezer and his wife could have used
    the venison, but he didn’t know.

    So there you had seven gallons of chili, made by seven diffeent cooks
    and not one of whom knew the recipe. Good chili, and it was good skiing.
    If we get snow, I’ll be back next year.

  5. Well, really, that’s the beauty of it.  It never really comes out the same twice.  I’ll be honest; I have not used a recipe… exactly… in years.  A lot of times, I’ll tend to use whatever is left in the fridge.  Tomatoes from last night’s salad, onions from the burgers the night before, sometimes left over pork chops. Whatever’s handy. the trick is being able to adapt these ingredients into something that works.  Much the same as a musician would improvise, I’ve learned over the years to improvise with my cooking.  Surprisingly enough it generally works.

  6. Generally works! Sounds like a warning. Oh well.

    I thought was ever was left in the frig was Mulligan Stew, but then what do I know? I like the approach.