Tag Archives: chili

Politics, Hotel Indigo, Superbowl and a great chili

It’s been a few days since I’ve had the chance to sit down and actually write something. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot to write about.

I took a trip to Atlanta last week with my boss and our business officer to schmooze with politicians. This is an annual Chamber of Commerce “kiss up to the state legislature” event. We drove up one morning and spent the day tracking down various state legislators, shaking many hands and asking them not to forget about us (or, even worse, cut us out of the budget.) The day ended with a big seafood-barbecue feast with multiple open bars. I stuck to Diet Coke though. I say enough stupid things when I’m sober, I don’t need my tongue loosened when someone may actually be listening.

We stayed at a Hotel Indigo in midtown Atlanta. I had not stayed there before, although it is part of the Holiday Inn family. I usually stay in HI’s because I’m a member of their points program. In any case, the Hotel Indigo was nice, if somewhat different from your standard business hotel. It’s a smaller, “European style” (not that I’ve actually stayed in a hotel in Europe) hotel. The rooms were smaller, but quite stylish.

From the hotel Web site, but a pretty accurate depiction of my room.

The bathroom was very small. I could have handled my “business” while shaving and brushing my teeth if I had wanted to do so. Altogether though, I liked it, and I’ll be back.

On Sunday morning, Mrs. P and I did something we almost never do; we went out for a nice Sunday brunch. We should really do this more often. On a Sunday morning or mid-day, we may go to our favorite Mexican restaurant or to a breakfast place, but almost never to someplace where, for instance, you might actually think about ordering a mimosa or a Bloody Mary. We went to our favorite seafood restaurant. I ordered the shrimp and grits and was disappointed. It was good for what it was, but it was very mild and creamy. I definitely prefer it with a little kick to it. (See the recipe in the Food tab above.) Next time, I’ll stick with my favorite, fried shrimp.

Over the rest of the weekend, we ran errands and continued the clean up and clean out process around the house. We finally got all the boxes and extra furniture out of our family room.

To celebrate, we had a few folks over to watch the Superbowl. It wasn’t a big event, just some of our close friends. However, everyone brought food and we had enough to feed a small African country.

Mrs. P made here white bean chili, which is fantastic.

White Bean Chili

I have trouble getting my imagination and taste buds around a chicken-based “chili.” However, if I think of it as just a spicy, chicken based bean soup, it’s easier to handle.  The recipe comes straight from a Southern Living Cookbook and I’ve added it to the “Food” tab at the top of the page. Give it a shot. You will not be disappointed. Be sure to make sure you include the shredded jalapeno-jack cheese when you serve it. That is an essential step that is not to be omitted.

Monday rambles…

We had a busy weekend. We left for Florida Friday afternoon and didn’t get home until late Sunday afternoon. 48 hours of travel for a three-hour football game. Oh well.

Apparently, the controversy with this game (Florida-Vanderbilt), according to the announcers, was the stadium noise, or lack of it. Not counting my time as a student, I have been going to Florida home games since the early 90s. There is no problem with the noise. The fans get up and make noise to disrupt the opponent’s offense when there is a reason to do so. Sorry, ESPN guys, Vandy just wasn’t an opponent to really get everyone screaming themselves hoarse. The one time they actually did get into scoring position, the crowd got loud. Otherwise, the UF ‘D’ didn’t need the help.

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I got a call late last week from one of the organizers of a local charity event, the Chili Bowl.

Chili Bowl 08 W

Chili Bowl III 2008

Mrs. Poolman and I have helped with this event for the past two years. It is an outdoor chili cook-off and multi-band concert in a large downtown park in early December. The idea is to raise money for one or two specific individuals who have serious medical issues and need help with the bills. Each year they pick a different person(s). We got involved two years ago when the beneficiary was the son-in-law of one of our friends, and a co-worker of Mrs. Poolman.

I can offer some assistance in advance publicity through my contacts. Mrs. P and I both go down the help out on the day of the event. The beer truck is the most popular work station. Wonder why? More on this as it develops.

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I talked with the middle of my three sisters last night. She and her family live in South Carolina. I have been considering a short run to see my Dad in Pittsburgh sometime around Christmas. I didn’t want to fly due to the expense, which means driving, roughly 11 hours each way.

Mrs. P was not looking forward to making the drive at all. “After eight hours in the car, I just want to cut my throat,” she said.

I said I would just go on my own, to which Mrs. P said, “No way, are you going to drive that much in four days by yourself. I may cut my throat, but I’ll come with you.”

Knowing how unpleasant this would be, not to mention messy, I have been looking for alternative plans. So I asked Middle Sister if she would like to come along. Mrs. P can stay behind and keep the home fires burning, and I would pick Middle Sister up along the way. It looks like that is going to work. We’ll talk in a day or so to confirm.

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I heard a report on Georgia Public Radio this morning that the state mental health folks are going to make all the state mental hospitals smoke-free in January. I don’t smoke and never have, so I don’t really understand the problem. However, a person-who-shall-remain-nameless, to whom I am very close, is a rather enthusiastic smoker. Judging from her reaction when she is deprived for as little as a couple of hours, I suspect if those mental patients weren’t nuts before they gave up their butts, they would be afterwards.

Maybe this is a job-security program for the mental health folks.

Six-Pack Chili

The weather is cooling off a little, so it’s time to pull out some of the dishes we haven’t cooked since last spring.

One of the first meals I leaned to cook was chili. As a matter of fact, this is what I fixed for Mrs. Poolman when we first started dating and I invited her for dinner. (It’s not very romantic. I don’t know why she came back for seconds, but she did.) When I cooked it in college, it acquired the name “Six-Pack Chili,” because if you spice it up, you need a six pack of beer to wash it down. The trick is to make it tasty enough that you want to keep eating it, even though it has a kick to it. Of course, you don’t have to make hot. That is an individual preference.

Chili Web

Chili with some chopped onion and grated cheddar cheese

This recipe is very easy, which is why it’s a good beginner dish.

The key is in the chili powder and sugar, and cooking it long enough that it all melds together. We like to cook it down long enough so that it thickens and you can practically eat it with a fork. If you overdo it, just add some water. This amount will serve 2-4 people. Double the recipe for a larger crowd.

What you’ll need:

  • One large can of tomatoes
  • Two small, or one large can of kidney beans.
  • App. 1.5 lbs of ground beef.
  • A bunch of chopped onion.
  • Chili powder
  • Crushed red pepper.
  • A few spoons of sugar to taste

1. Brown the ground beef.

2. Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and smash them with your hands.  (Lot’s of fun, but watch out, they squirt.) Alternate plan – puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor.

3.Drain the ground beef.  Add the tomatoes, onions, and beans.  Pour a liberal amount of chili powder to the mixture and begin to cook.

4. Add a small amount of crushed red pepper. You can add more later as per your taste.

5.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, but you might want to put a lid half-on just to keep down the splatter. It will start out very soupy. We like to cook it down until it is fairly thick.

6. Continue tasting and adding chili powder and pepper. With a little practice, you can tell the right amount by the color of the brew.  It should be a rusty brown, not red.

7. Check for bitterness. Add sugar to reduce the bite and bring out the flavor. (Sugar in chili? Sure! I know people who actually use chocolate. The idea is to diminish the tang created by the tomatoes and allow the base flavor to be the beef, beans and spices.)

You can serve as-is or with chopped onions, grated cheese and/or hot sauce to spice it more.

A football weekend & movie review

We had such a lazy weekend. It was great.

Mrs. Poolman had a work-related event on Friday. Once a year, they have a reunion of the former baby/patients and families. It’s a big party.  Mrs. Poolman is a regular participant.  She helps the kids make paper flowers or something of the like.

I ran some errands on Saturday morning and then utilized the help of one of my friends with a pickup truck to take an old couch to the dump. Later I made a big pot of chili for our informal football viewing party Saturday evening.

Football thoughts….

TCodyAlabama barely held on to beat Tennessee on a blocked field goal by nose tackle Terrence Cody. This guy is 370 pounds. He is big enough to have his own gravitational field, which I think just sucks the ball to him.

Florida’s offense played poorly, but won again. Tim Tebow threw up two “pick sixes.” (That’s an interception run back for a TD, for you non-football fans.) He hasn’t been quite the same since the concussion in the Kentucky game. I hope he is OK, and especially for this weekend’s game with Georgia in Jacksonville.

We had a few folks over to watch the game. It wasn’t a formal party, just some friends and fellow-fans watching the game together.

percy-harvin-siOn Sunday, the Steelers beat Brett Favre and the Vikings. One Gator favorite-son, Percy Harvin, ran back a kick off for a TD. I hated to see that against the Steelers, but if someone was going to do it, I’m glad it was a Gator.

Sunday evening, Mrs. Poolman and I watched “The Proposal” with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds on DVD. ProposalThis movie had a lot of potential but fell short. I’m sure you probably have heard of the plot. Bullock convinces her secretary, Reynolds, to marry her so she can avoid being deported to Canada. The film has a good cast with Mary Steenbergen and Craig T Nelson playing Reynolds’ Alaska parents and Betty White his grandmother.  It all goes along fine, until the Reynolds character decides he is actually in love with Bullock. The problem is this. The writers failed to give Bullock’s character any redeeming social graces at all. She plays a cold-hearted bitch who even the dog hates. When Reynolds decides he loves her and chases her down, the plot falls off the end of the cliff. It would have been a much better movie if the writers had given Bullock just a little charisma and “likeability.”

Back to work today. It is a short week, due to another furlough day on Friday. The timing works well on a personal level. The Florida-Georgia game is always one of our big parties of the year. Mrs. Poolman’s family will be coming up from Jacksonville for the weekend and we’ll have a bunch of other friends over too. We may have to segregate the viewing areas by teams like they do in the stadium. Ha!

Go Gators!