11 October 2009

I'll have the chili. They'll have the fried crow.

Last year at this time, my Cubs were busy getting swept by the Dodgers, 3-0, in the National League Division Series, and, oh, how the St. Louis Cardinals fans laughed! Oh, they chortled over the fumbling, bumbling Cubs tripping over themselves vs. the nines from LA. Yet another totally expected flop by the Northsiders, they said.

But that was last year.

This year it was the aforementioned Cardinals that won the National League Central, and drew-guess who? Yes, the Dodgers, repeating their crown in the NL West. Surely the vaunted Cardinals, under the leadership and batting of Albert Pujols, who, according to Cardinal Nation wisdom, recently fed a group of 5,000 fans with only 2 Ritz crackers and a can of kippers; healed numerous sick and lame, and turned a 24 pack of Evian water into a case of Budweiser, will do better. Won't they?

The Dodgers swept the Cardinals 3 games to nothing.

Wha' happened?

Dodgers manager Joe Torre, quoting Wellington, remarked:

"They came in the same old way, and we beat them in the same old way."

Actually, Torre didn't say that. Torre couldn't tell you anything about Wellington, thinking it's just another way to serve beef. I just wanted to show off my knowledge of quotes from 19th century British Field Marshals.

And I couldn't be happier. You inbred, stuttering monkeys in Cardinal Nation can just crawl on back to your trailers and watch your Rams get their asses handed to them for the next 12 weeks of the football season! Next time, do better than the team you're ragging on before you start chirping!

Life is good.


This weekend, my church service had its annual chili cookoff (which I suppose brings new meaning to 'thunder from heaven' and 'tongues of fire'). The object of the exercise-have a bit of each pot of chili and vote for your favorite. First, second, and third win a prize.

The Better Half cranked out a big pot of her best recipe, saying that she had a hunch that she should bring a batch to the contest. When the votes were tallied and the smoke cleared (I think it was smoke, but it did hang close to the ground-I digress), she snagged 2nd Place-good enough for her to win a $25 gift card to (where else) Chili's restaurants! How 'bout that, eh?

Now I think we've discussed chili on this blog before, (for you Aussies-I don't know if it's a big dish down there, but I'm sure someone there has a recipe for 'roo chili. I guess you could mentally insert 'curry' for 'chili' from here on out) and everybody has their own recipe that they swear is the best. I don't get too excited about the beans/no beans controversy. Personally I prefer beans but all meat is good as well. And the dish doesn't have to be so hot it clears sinuses a kilometer downwind. The spices should be noticed but not overpowering.

I don't, however, think chili should be watery. That's soup. Chili should be thick enough that the spoon will fall slowly to the edge of the bowl. Soup and chili ain't quite the same animal, at least in my opinion.

Someone out there will say 'YD, you're full of crap. I have the best chili recipe and when I make it and take it somewhere I have to put a Hazmat placard on the car'. That's OK for you, then.

A word of advice from crazy old Uncle Yankee: Just like you shouldn't mix alcohol beverages in a single session, you'll want to mind having too many different kinds of chili in one sitting. They may or may not sit well, depending on your stomach and constitution. Personally I was ready for a dose of omeprazole after trying six or seven different batches.

Life is still good.


It snowed here a bit on Saturday-not enough to stick, but enough to remind us that winter is on the way. The local orchards are having their apple crops out for sale now. A guy I work with brought me a sack of apples from his parents' tree. Those got turned into apple crisp, which turned out well if I do say so myself.

When I was young, we had a pear tree and a walnut tree in the yard. The pear tree was about half rotted out, but every year that old tree would crank out enough fruit for us to can about 20 quarts of pears. We cooked the pears with cinnamon red hots, so we had bright red pears. But they were good with poultry.

The walnuts, on the other hand, were a pain. Do you know how many walnuts the average tree will produce? I do.


I know because my chore was to pick up the things and put them in a box. So I counted them all. After they were collected, we'd let them dry a bit so we could shell them. Not having a shelling machine, processing 14,352,716 walnuts by cracking them open with a hammer and anvil was a bit of a job. The black crap from the nut husks gets all over your hands; the shell fragments fly everywhere; and invariably some of the fragments find their way into the pile of nutmeats, providing a tooth-jarring surprise in the next batch of cookies.

Now, do you know how many walnut pieces 14,352,716 walnuts will provide?

About a quart and a half.

I reckon knowing how to harvest walnuts is a useful 'pioneer' skill to have, but I'll leave the nut harvesting to the food companies. They're the experts with the big machines.

Life is good-once I discovered that I should leave the fallen nuts to the squirrels.

yankeedog out.


  1. Hey what you let squirrels do to your nuts is your business!

    I remember as a kid going to Chilli cookoffs. My parents had an American couple as friends and they used to organise big get togethers at the location of the cookoff. Actually went looking for them after last time you mentioned them and they still have them here. I am definately going to get to one one day, and the missus is driving!

    Oh and congrats to the Better Half! Job well done by the sound of it.

  2. Congrats to the Better Half. I'm guilty of putting beef mince in the nacho bean mix.

  3. Mmmm chili....!
    Usually (I think) down here its to be found under Chilli Con Carne (chili with beef), good stuff either way, though I too prefer it with beans and meat together.
    In fact, you've inspired me, may have to whip up a batch myself this week.

  4. Naut-I guess the status of my nuts should be a 'don't ask, don't tell' thing.

    Ah, good to see that chili cookoffs are alive and well there. And I will pass along congratulations.

    Bangar-Thanks. And that's nothing to be guilty of!

    Drej-Yep, that's the stuff. I'll be darned-I didn't think it would be as popular there as here. And anytime is chili time-though here I associate the dish more with colder weather.

  5. The fact that we eat walnuts today is proof that at one point, American pioneers were absolutely desperate for something edible. Eating them is like eating lobster legs (not claws...those tiny little legs). Not worth the effort.

    I was raised, literally, to despise St. Louis and their teams. I asked my mom once if she was a fan of Harry Caray, and she replied (somewhat nastily) that when she lived in Chicago, Harry Caray was the announcer for the Cardinals, and because of this she would always hate him, and she wondered why Chicago puts up with him. And growing up a Mets fan, the Cardinals were our biggest rival for the National League crown usually, so while I respected Ozzie Smith for his acrobatics on the field, a small part of me hoped a sniper would pick him off in mid-flip.

  6. I adore chilli, and for me chilli is a broad church which can accomadate may different styles. mmmm chilli.

    "I reckon knowing how to harvest walnuts is a useful 'pioneer' skill to have, but I'll leave the nut harvesting to the food companies".....

    one could even say "It's time to nut up or shut up"

  7. Steve-I grew up in the hill country of Northwest Illinois. I've sampled a fair portion of what nature tossed around that's edible (walnuts, watercress, dandelion greens, lily blossoms and various and sundry fauna unlucky enough to get in front of a flying chuck of lead). So I guess stuff like shelling walnuts was for me just part of life. Though I might be a bit inclined to agree, at least regarding the walnut.

    A fellow Cardinal-hater? Welcome to the lodge, brother! I can even overlook that fondness for the Metropolitans, since the Cubs aren't in the NL East anymore.

    Barnesy-Yes, Tallahassee, one could indeed say that!

  8. There's a Chili's (restaurant) in western Sydney that our flatmates (somehow we inherited three Texan marine science masters students - if you can imagine such a thing) used to harass us into taking them to on occasion. Good feed. This was 10 yrs ago so no idea if the place is still going.

  9. I see the Cubs have filed for Chapter 11. Seems to be the trendy thing to do.

  10. Doc-I'm not surprised. Texas has a lot of coastline.

    Chili's isn't a chain I frequent all that much. It's about like Applebee's or Ruby Tuesday or any one of a half dozen chains. Still, it is free food.

    As for the Cubs, that's purely a legal/tax move to keep the team free of the former parent company's (Tribune Co.)financial/asset obligations. The Cubs are a cash cow. They draw 3+ million fans per year and sell tons of merchandise. The team itself is a gold mine. Why this is, after 101 years without a championship, is beyond me.