Sunday, November 3, 2013

traditional chili, sweet corn cakes . . . and a cozy Fall dinner

My mom gave me this beautiful ladle (and cast iron pot) several months ago.

It's old, very old. It was my Great-Great Grandmother's.  My Great-Grandma brought it with her when she came to the United States from Germany.

The end of the handle is engraved. Did you notice it?

                         Mutter means mother.

My Great-Great Grandmother's initials are also engraved on it, just above Mutter. . . .  v.d. the "V" was for Verona.

So when my mom gave it to me, along with my Great-Grandma's cast iron pot, I knew that I had something very, very special.  I can only imagine how many meals were made in this pot . . . and how many special occasions my Great- Great Grandma, Great-Grandma, and Grandma used the ladle.

I've made several meals in this pot. I have so many memories of my Grandma, Monie, making her famous chili in it. She made it every year for her annual Halloween party. She retired the pot when she was 97 year old.

Since writing this post here, I've been researching and sampling traditional chili recipes . . . . looking forTHE ONE.  The one that is most like my late Grandma's chili.

After months of searching, sampling, and eating . . . I found it!

It's Paula Deen's Taco Chili recipeI shouldn't be surprised, I guess. Paula Deen might be the only celebrity chef still publishing good old-fashioned, home-style recipes. Her Taco Chili recipe is thick, rich, and FULL of flavor, and it tastes just like my grandma's did. Although my grandma didn't add a packet of ranch dressing mix to the chili like Paula's recipe, it sure tasted like she did.

I was so excited when I tried it for the first time. It felt like I hit the jack pot!

When our oldest son walked through the front door yesterday evening and said, "Mom, it smells like Monie's kitchen," I felt my heart sing.

You see, he's old enough to remember my grandma's chili and her insanely fun Halloween parties.

In honor of tradition, my Grandma, heirlooms, and family . . .  
We gathered yesterday evening to enjoy a traditional chili dinner that I cooked in my Grandma's cast iron pot (for hours and hours and hours), and then served using my Great-Great Grandmother's ladle.

I'm so thankful for family and tradition.

I hope to re-create this evening in honor of my grandma every year.

Who knows . . . maybe my little girls will grow up and feel inspired to host an evening like this for their families.

~ our cozy Fall dinner menu ~

tortilla chips
garnish with sour cream, cheese, and avocado

*     *     *     *     *

IBC bottled Black Cherry soda

*     *     *     *     *

pumpkin sugar cookies & caramel ribbon ice cream

Traditional Chili 
1 (16 ounce) cans kidney beans
1/2 cup pinto beans
1 (1 1/4 ounce) packages taco seasoning
1 (1 ounce) package ranch dressing mix
3 tablespoons onions, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 -4 cups water
1 (11 3/4 ounce) cans diced tomatoes & green chiles (such as Rotel)
1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 lb ground beef, cooked, drained

Brown ground beef with onion, drain off grease.
In a large pot combine all other ingredients and let simmer on low heat 2-4 hours, 
or until beans are tender.
Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, green onions and avocados.

I love sweet corn cakes, especially with chili!  I crumble them on top, so that each bite of chili bursts with the flavors of sweet and spicy. It's so so so good.

When I serve a cozy meal like this one, I like to keep things simple and easy to clean up . . . so I take a large piece of parchment paper and place it on the center of our dining room table. Instead of pouring the tortilla chips into a bowl, I pour them onto the parchment paper. And since chili stains, it also keeps my tablecloth clean when the ladle fall from the pot onto the table (which seems to happen every time).

We have a family tradition of our own  . . . .
We gather lots of pillows and blankets, and cozy up on the couch to watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charley Brown" just before Halloween every year. So last night, after dinner, we gathered in our family room with Halloween cookies and caramel ribbon ice cream  . . . and watched as Linus patiently waited for The Great Pumpkin.

I baked several batches of Nestle's Halloween Sugar cookies earlier in the day, as this is something that I've done for my oldest son since he was two years old (for every holiday!).  I love them too!

One of my favorite ways to eat chili . . . right out of a mug!


LET'S STAY in touch!


  1. This is what it's all about for me-memories, menus, and traditions. Thanks for linking to What'd You Do This Weekend. It's the sweet things like a child remembering something from the aroma of what you're cooiking.

    Wishes for tasty dishes,
    Linda@Tumbleweed Contessa

    1. So happy you came by, Lita, and shared your comment! Thank you.
      I hope you come by again soon . . .
      Have a great week,

  2. This is my kind of Fall cooking! Love a good chili! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Your chili looks wonderful! And those little sugar cookies are so cute!

  4. Anonymous7:17 AM

    Wonderful memories, beautiful pictures and that cast iron pot and ladle are AMAZING! Everything looks so good, I wish I could jump right through the screen and eat with you :)

    1. Thanks so much for coming by, Katie!
      I hope you're able to try the TACO Chili recipe soon. It's so delicious! A great Fall meal!
      Keep in touch,

  5. Best part of dinner other than the amazing story behind your serving spoon and cooking pot is that every single mug was licked clean!!!! That is awesome! Congratulations of a successful dinner and tradition, I'm thinking of having something similar for our visiting family this year. Pinned. Thanks for sharing Suzanne.

    1. Thanks so much for coming by, Lizabeth!
      Your kind comments are most appreciated.
      May your family dinner be as wonderful and magical.
      Have a beautiful weekend,

  6. Oh, I can just imagine the fabulous meals that pot has cooked up and that ladle has served. Wonderful heirlooms for sure! The addition of the ranch sounds yummy. I will give this a try. Wondering how you make your corn cakes? My mom use to make corn fritters. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  7. Love the story about the ladle. I am all about COZY so I love this post. I will have to try this recipe for chili. I add corn to mine. Love those kind of cookies. I always bought them as well. Rudolf ones are my favorite. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

  8. This looks like the perfect fall dinner! Thanks for sharing at Silver Pennies Sundays! x

  9. Love the mugs! Perfect time for chili! I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,


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