Monday, May 22, 2006

Chili Con Carne and Summer Camps

I usually cook chili con carne out of mere “hunch”. Yea, I know what you’re thinking… the result is different every time. But who cares really when this delicious, appetite-arouser is served on the dinner table? More often than not, this family favorite is gone before I’m to scoop a heapful for myself. Mine is a mixed re-invention of American and Mexican. Traditionally, I serve this with a bun and burger patty. The chili is then spread unto it copiously and some grated or slices of cheese.
I happen to serve the same in one of our camping trips at the mountain this summer. So before everyone asks for the recipe, I had to quantify the ingredients and make it available here in my blog. By the way, make room for the bathroom…. It can get crowded after a munificent meal!

•2 cups softened red kidney beans (soaked in hot water overnight, cook in pressure cooker for 45 minutes). Drain and set aside.
•2 tablespoons vegetable oil
•2 large bulb sweet onions, chopped
•½ kilo ground pork
•½ kilo ground beef
•1 large green bell pepper, diced
•1 large red bell pepper, diced
•6 medium-sized tomatoes, seeded and diced
•2 cans (8ounces) tomato sauce
•1 small can tomato paste
•½ cup broth or water or still beer (this beer thing was a tip from my sis-in-law, Meg). Dissolve the tomato paste here
•1 large can corn
•2 tablespoons chili powder
•1 small pack ginisa flavor mix
•2 heapful spoons of brown sugar
•2 small bay leaves
•dash of cayenne pepper to taste
•sea salt to taste
•freshly cracked pepper
•some dried mixed herbs
•2 minced hot pepper (or sili) or depends on how hot you want it
•the secret ingredient: 3 pcs. Chocolate kisses
•slices or grated cheeze

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the chopped onions with the vegetable oil until translucent. Add in the ground pork and beef and stir for 5 minutes. When the meat mixture is starting to brown and the onions are soft, add in the diced bell peppers and tomatoes. Saute for a minute stirring frequently, add the tomato sauce, tomato paste mixture, cooked kidney beans and the corn. Bring to a boil. Put in the rest of the ingredients. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste, and add more chili powder or hot pepper if needed. Cover and turn to very lowest heat. Simmer, stirring from time to time. If chili starts to stick or becomes too thick, add some more water. It can be eaten after another 15 minutes, but an hour or two on very low heat makes a tastier chili.
Serve with crackers or crusty bread, or surrounding a mound of white rice. I also serve with chips as chili con salsa, use as sauce in pasta dishes, or base in pizza recipes. I usually make a big batch and freeze it for different purposes.
You may top it with slices or grated cheese and garnish with a dollop of sour cream if desired, and/or sprinkle with a little fresh chopped cilantro.
Now that the recipe is delivered, let me tell you about our camping trip.

Our family-church friends invited us to camp at thier newly-purchased, beautiful mountain property near Mambucal Resort. When they acquired this place came an abundant plantation of fruit-bearing trees, a rice paddy and all sorts of “soul-quench” pleasures turned haven to many of us. Along with some very close friends, the trip going up there was bumpy. But this was my husband’s favorite part… the rough-driving with his so called, "4X4". We had to pitch our tents over the tallest part of the rolling elevations of this property where the vast view of the city lights of Bacolod is just gorgeous once the sun sets. During the day, we hiked up a rough mountain trail that linked up to the access way of Mt. Canlaon. We traversed through narrow passes until we spotted some wild horses and a couple “carabaos” at the river crossing. We could hear the torrent waterfalls just a few meters from where we were standing. Realizing we have treked quite a distance from the camp site, we had to take a spin before anyone of us gets lost. We took a different route on the way back and crossed scenic rivers that led up to a vast forest as we climbed down to the picturesque views of the city of Bacolod.
When we were back at the camp, Sitoy, the monkey was sitting on his pole in an inquisitive mood. He was conceited and just wanted all the attention so we spent most of our time teasing the little guy. After lunch, there was a heavy downpour and so it wasn’t until I slipped into a pair of flip flops and stepped out of the tent unto a muddy ground! What was I thinking? Maybe I was such in the “soul-intake” mood that I just eagerly want to feel, smell, savor and absorb everything around me.
As usual, the kids had hotdogs and marshmallows by the fire while I was chef that night. We had the chili con carne, grilled porkchops and salmon bellies.
The owners plan to expand and will eventually house a pool and a country cottage! That was some kind of camp. I’m definitely coming back to this place.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Road to Takatuka

Scary! As we were leaving Takatuka that day, the water rose to knee-length! Listen to me as I was praying at the background. Bim thought it was an adventure! I was scared the car would drown!