Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Downton Abbey, Dieting, Bowling, Books.

Lord GranthamI just love Downton Abbey. The first two hours on Sunday night were, to me, rivetting. I was totally wrong about Shirley MacLaine’s character coming to the rescue so we will see what happens as the season progresses. Lord Grantham lost his money on Canadian railroads, I even looked it up to see if I could tell whether they made a recover from near bankruptcy so that the money came back to the Crawley family. I couldn’t really tell though. I guess I will just have to wait and see what happens. A blogging friend in the UK has already seen the series. Part of me is envious, part of me is looking forward to seeing the rest. Bit like the Jordan book Memory of Light coming out today, I want it now, the anticipation is going to kill me.

I was just reading a blog about the Whole 30 diet which may, or may not work, for dieting cartoonthe blogger writing about it. My problem with many diets over on this side of the pond is that I basically eat like a European so that a lot of the things recommended for meals are not things I would even consider eating or want to make for myself. I did somewhat over indulge during the Christmas period so I need to do something, but I think that will basically be ‘eating sensibly’. I was even good at the bowling alley – somebody had a birthday and brought chocolates and I did not have one. It impressed the hell out of me, (grin).

Talking of the bowling alley, I had three good games again which also impressed me. Long may it last. I also spent a lot of time correcting the computer scores which were coming up with all kinds of weird things. “They” say these computers are working properly and will no doubt be transferring them to the new alley. Heaven forefend!!

The Art ForgerI have just started a new book called The Art Forger by Barbara Shapiro. Its based on the fact of the major art heist in 1990 which took place in Boston when 13 top notch paintings by well known artists were stolen and nothing has ever been heard of them since. Despite all leads and suspicions, not a trace of them has turned up. I guess someone has them in a private room for personal viewing. Or they have been smuggled to somewhere nobody visits. The book has started off by the heroine being asked to forge paintings, at the moment I don’t know what and for whom. What I have read seems pretty good.

Funnily enough, when we came back from bowling I saw an ad about chili and my taste buds perked up so I started throwing stuff together to make one. Not very authentic as I didn’t have any red beans. Then I looked in my inbox and what did I find, a chili recipe. They talk about the Chili cookoff in Texas, there is quite a big one in North Carolina near where we used to live. One friend participates every year. Some of those chilis are VERY hot and spicy and their recipes are all secret.

Big Bend Texas-Style Chili

Source: Beef for All Seasons

Serves 6

Click here to find out more!The saying goes that there are as many chili recipes in Texas as there are Texans; why, even LBJ, the late president, had his own favorite recipe. There are many schools of thought when it comes to the subject of chili. Some purists favor chopped beef, others ground beef, as here; some swear by kidney beans, others dismiss them as an adulteration! Whatever their preferences, chili fans should know that everchiliy fall in Terlingua, a hamlet nestled in the mountainous Big Bend area of southwestern Texas, a national chili cookoff is held that arouses considerable passions. Grizzled old hands and aspiring cooks alike converge on the area from all quarters and enjoy one another's company as well as the world-class chili.

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 onions, diced

1 1/2 pounds lean high-quality ground beef

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons pure red chili powder

4 Roma tomatoes (about 8 ounces), blanched, peeled, and diced

1/2 cup tomato paste

1/2 cup beef stock

1 cup dark beer

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons minced oregano

1/4 cup minced parsley

1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, drained

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese, for garnish


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and onions, and sauté over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add the beef and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes longer, while stirring frequently, or until the beef is well browned on all sides. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chili powder, and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, beer, vinegar, cumin, oregano, and parsley, and stir well to combine.

Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat to low, and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Add the beans and cook for 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle with the goat cheese.

Since this dish contains dark beer, consider using the same beer as a beverage. A lighter style of red wine such as a Beaujolais or Italian Bardolino will also work well with this flavors.

Most chili dishes actually taste better the next day, after the flavors have had time to marinate and marry. You can use black beans instead of kidney beans if you prefer, or a mixture of the two

Have a great day



  1. Hi Jo .. I haven't got into Downton Abbey - tying me down to watch the tv is not one of my favourites ... but Julian Fellowes certainly knows how to write ... and I gather it is very good.

    Chilli sounds a delicious warming winter dish ..

    Cheers for now - Hilary

  2. I love spicy food and this sounds a good chilli recipe - I like lots of spices/flavours in mine so would add some chopped fresh chillies and bell peppers also.

    I made a veggie version for a non-meat eating friend last summer and simply used green lentils in place of beef and it tasted fine - with so many other tasty ingredients its hard to tell there's no meat in it

    1. I have a recipe which uses bulgur wheat instead of meat, it is excellent. I'll look it up and send it to you. Nothing wrong with green lentils of course.

  3. I don't care for kidney beans, so I use whatever bean I have/want in chili.

    1. I used white yesterday, but don't mind kidney beans myself.

      Didn't know you read my blog Maggie.

  4. That chilli looks good. I didn't used to like spicy food but I've recently developed a taste for chilli and Mexican style food. Not keen on curry though - bleurgh!

    Stopping by on the Post A To Z Road Trip :)


    1. Thanks for stopping by Chippy. Actually I love curry. Its a major food in the UK after all so I developed a taste for it.