Friday, August 4, 2017

Cookbook with a Twist

WWA is a Western Writer’s organization founded in 1953 to promote the literature of the American West and bestow Spur Awards for distinguished writing in the Western field. Over 600 members come from all over the United States and other countries that have united together for their passion of the American West.
Members have collaborated to produce a unique cookbook with a bit of a twist edited by Sherry Monahan and Nancy Plain.  The cookbook includes recipes from its members, their spouses, publishers and others who are connected to the organization. It is a collection of mostly comfort food recipes. The money earned from the sales of this book will go to WWA Homestead Foundation to support its educational and award giving functions. A short bio of the contributing members can be found at the back of the book.

My interest was piqued with this cookbook. A short anecdote accompanies each recipe and is often written in a humorous tone with an informative snippet of Western history. Cooking tips and words of writing wisdom added interest to the reading. A wide range of recipes from breakfasts, breads, appetizers, side dishes, vegetables, main dishes, desserts to sauces and salsas are included that will entice the reader to try them.

With so many mouthwatering choices it was difficult to narrow down one recipe to try. Since I live in the Midwest and we are enjoying summer weather, I had to pass on Julie and T. Lindsay Baker’s Farm Possum ‘n Taters. I was missing their key ingredient, 1 adult but young opossum killed in the depth of winter, and Rocky Gibbons’s Montana Moose Skillet since I did not harvest a moose this past winter.

I knew I had to select a recipe with some western flavor so I settled on Jim Jones’s Texas Chili. He is a chili purist from Texas living in New Mexico who firmly believes chili is not made with beans. I religiously followed all his directions right down to the beer part, adding ½ cup Shiner Bock to the chili and then drinking the rest of the beer. It was 91 degrees the day I tested his recipe, so I was forced to drink another Shiner Bock while waiting the 2-3 hours for the chili to simmer. I served the chili with chips but a slice of cornbread would be a tasty accompaniment. The chili was delicious and tasted even better the next day. My only addition was ½ tsp. sugar to balance the tomato acidity. But let me tell you I really had to restrain myself from not adding a can of pinto or kidney beans to the chili!

I enjoyed the variety of recipes in this cookbook and marked many future ones to try. The cooking tips were informative as well as the writing tips.

  •  Always set your writing aside for a while; let it “age.” It can always be improved as time lets your eyes and mind see new things. -Cheewa James 
  • Like the ingredients in this recipe, the more senses an author appeals to, the more a story will feel multidimensional. David Morrell
  •  Writing is like cooking. The more of your heart you put into it and stray from the recipe, the zestier the meal. Terry Del Bene
Easy online book ordering
Jim Jones's Texas Chili 
Cook's Notes: I took some liberties with condensing the ingredients and directions to post this recipe due to space. Thanks to Jim for sharing your recipe and please note I did follow your rule there are no beans in this Texas chili but I did have on hand a can of pinto beans just in case my guests had to have some.
Recipe serves 4-6 depending on size of the serving. I used a large frying pan with deep sides that held the whole recipe. Adjust seasonings according to your taste buds. 
  • 2 TB. olive oil 
  • garlic paste to taste
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 lb. hot  sausage (I used chorizo)
  • 1/2 each salt and seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 TB. red chili powder
  • 1 TB. cayenne pepper
  • 1 (28. oz) can whole tomatoes
  • 1 (10 oz.) can Ro-Tel tomatoes
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp.cumin
  • 2 tsp. each  oregano and paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup dark beer (pour in 1/3 of a Shiner Bock, drink the rest) 
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Optional: Cheddar cheese, jalepenos, green chiles, pinto beans
  • Heat olive oil. Add garlic paste diced onions and saute over medium heat 5 minutes.  Add both meats and brown until well cooked, breaking up meat into chunks. Drain grease from meat and wipe pan clean with a paper towel. 
  • Season meat with both salts and pepper. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper and cook 2 more minutes. 
  • Stir in whole tomatoes, Ro-Tel tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, oregano, paprika, parsley and beer. Sprinkle liberally with hot sauce and stir. 
  • Let chili simmer uncovered 2-3 hours, taste and stir it frequently. Drink another Shiner Bock.  


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