Neil is at Camp Allen this week for the Diocese of Texas clergy conference. He doesn’t travel much, but I really don’t like it when he does. There’s missing him of course, which would be the sweet reason why I miss him. But then there’s the practical, hands-on everyday matters of transporting kids and managing bedtime and cleaning up after dinner. Most of that falls to me anyway because he works a lot, but it’s nice to have company and someone to half-listen to me complain at the end of the day.
So, to cheer myself up when he’s away, I usually buy myself a new book. And then there’s the matter of dinner. I could take the kids through a drive-thru, and that will inevitably happen at some point, or I could eat yogurt for dinner while they dine on their favorite buttered noodles. But I find that it’s actually more fun to invite a few people over and make some merriment, even if it’s a little more trouble than stirring sad yogurt around in a bowl.
Tonight, I had some friends over who were also missing family pieces at clergy conference. I made bison chili (recipe below) and provided the table for us to gather. One friend brought a delicious (and beautiful) fruit salad, and another friend made this cornbread and this cake. I have hit the friend jackpot, I’m telling you.
I made chili tonight because a) it’s now less than 100ºF and 110% humidity in Houston, and b) I could make it in the crock pot and still manage to teach lessons until 5:30, pick up the kids at 5:45, and host dinner at 6:15. If you don’t have a crock pot that will brown food in it, you can do that step on the stove and transfer everything into the crock pot, or you can make the whole thing in a pot on the stove. This has way more canned ingredients than I’m used to using, and for that reason, I don’t add the salt in the chili seasoning mix. It has plenty of flavor without it. I know that most self-respecting Texans wouldn’t put beans in chili, but it’s how I justify eating tortilla chips with dinner. Yee-haw.
Bison Black Bean Chili
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
20 oz. ground bison
1 package Carroll Shelby chili seasoning mix
2 10-oz. cans ro-tel tomatoes
3 15-oz. cans or packages of crushed tomatoes
2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water
Saute the onions in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent, then add the bison and brown until no pink remains in the meat. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Simmer for 2-3 hours, and serve with avocado, corn chips, shredded cheese, scallions… or just on its own.