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MountainWestBob’s Easy Crockpot Chili

We blog about this recipe here.

MountainWestBob's Easy Crockpot Chili

  • 1 lb minced or ground beef or ground chicken
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 2 T olive oil
  • kosher salt (1 tsp per pound of meat is about right)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 8 oz can Hatch green chili (mild, unless you’re wild and crazy)
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 T red chile flakes
  • 1 can (about 15 oz) corn or 1 bag frozen corn or frozen fire-roasted corn
  • 2 cans (about 15 oz) diced and fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can pinto beans, (about 15 oz) drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (about 15 oz) red beans or kidney beans, drained an rinsed
  • 1 can (about 15 oz) black beans (optional), drained and rinsed
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste

Mix the beef with the flour (clean hands work well); heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat.  Add the meat and stir occasionally until it’s nicely browned.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Mix the remaining ingredients together and add that mixture and the browned meat to the crockpot.  Cook for 8 hours on low heat.

Serve with flour or corn tortillas and some Cholula Hot Pepper Sauce for flavor.

Any leftovers will be great reheated in a pan or the microwave – and the chili will freeze well too.

Recipe brought to you by MountainWestBob and

2020 – It’s Music to My Ears


Carole King’s rendition of Chicken Soup with Rice is a favorite.  Slipping is not a favorite.

As we begin a new decade with new joys and challenges, I find that this little ditty by the Australian artist/cartoonist Michael Leunig speaks to me.  In fact, it inspired me to put together a “2020” playlist!

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We give thanks for singers.
All types of singers.
Popular, concert singers and
tuneless singers in the bath.
Whistlers, hummers and those
who sing while they work.
Singers of lullabies; singers of nonsense
and small scraps of melody.
Singers on branches and rooftops.
Morning yodellers and evening warblers.
Singers in seedy nightclubs, singers in the street;

Singers in cathedrals, school halls, grandstands,
back yards, paddocks, bedrooms, corridors,
stairwells and places of echo and resonance.

We give praise to all those who give some small voice
To the everyday joy of the soul.


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Andy and I agreed that we’d each make a playlist of 20 songs that we’d enjoy while cooking – or cleaning up after cooking….songs that have something about food in the title or lyrics.  Get it? 20 and 20 for 2020!

You would think this would be a non-confrontational task! 🙂  I started my playlist with my ode to Andy: Sweet Home Cookin’ Man  (listen and watch it here).  I thought “Lord how my baby cooks” was tender and loving, but Andy took exception to the “ain’t got personality” and “ain’t got such good looks” lines.

Well he ain’t got personality
He ain’t got such good looks
When I come home hungry
Lord how my baby cooks
He’s a chef of fine distinction
Always cooks and it’s just right
Whether I come home in the morning baby
Or somewhere late in the night.

That was nothing compared to when I read over Andy’s blog and his playlist and noticed one of his top choices:  My Wife Can’t Cook  from Bill Wyman of Rolling Stones fame (listen and watch it here).

If it wasn’t for the beans that come out the can
A lot of the peas or the beets, the rice and the Spam
The milk and bread at the grocery store
I tell you, I couldn’t eat no more

‘Cause let me tell you, my wife, she can’t cook
If I thought she could read, I would buy her a book
But she knows how to do with the fuss and bother
She don’t even know how to boil hot water

But in the healing spirit of the New Year, we moved on 🙂  Isn’t that what a relationship is all about?

My 20 songs for the 2020 playlist are below.  You can listen to bits of each song right here – or go to Spotify to get the whole thing.  Dance around to it while you’re makin’ that Crawfish Etouffee, sippin’ on a Sazerac, and dreamin’ of going to Mardi Gras!

And just to make a point, I would like to remind you of some undeniably great recipes that I’ve fixed for Andy – with canned beans!

*Not Your Mother’s Chili
*MountainWestBob’s Easy Crockpot Chili
*North African Crockpot Lamb Stew
*Quick White Bean Soup
*One Dish Pasta and Beans

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I’m very selective about the brand of beans I buy!

In fact, we celebrated New Year’s Eve with friends, serving them this d-lish Black Bean Chili (which also happens to be vegetarian).  After everyone left, Andy turned up the speakers, clicked on his Jazz for Kitchen Cleanup playlist and welcomed in the New Year.  See today’s Andy’s Corner.

Continue reading


Avocado and Tomato Gazpacho
Almost-Japanese Lotus Root and Pork Rib Curry Soup
Carrot Ginger Soup
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Chicken Pozole Verde
Chile Verde
Curried Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Soup
Joyce’s Clam Chowder 
Lamb and White Bean Chili
Lentil Soup with Bacon

MountainWestBob’s Easy Crockpot Chili
Not Your Mother’s Chili
Pho-ish Chicken
Potato Soup That Happens to Have Broccoli In It
Quick White Bean Soup
Sopa de Lima
Super Simple Red Lentil Soup
Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
Watercress, Spinach, and Chickpea Soup
Wisconsin Beer and Cheese Soup


Basic Red Beans and Rice
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Colorado-ish Potato and Green Chile Stew
Korean Crock Pot Pork Stew
Moquera Biana – Brazilian Fish Stew
North African Crock Pot Lamb Stew
Seafood Stew with Tomatoes & Coconut Milk 
Vietnamese Tomato-y Beef Stew: Bo Kho

Comfort When We Need It

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Green Bean Casserole made Wikipedia’s Comfort Food list

A long story made short:  I’m obsessing over what qualifies as comfort food.  I feel so comfort-needy!  Andy, meanwhile, is reminiscing about the foods he gagged on.

According to Wikipedia, “the term “comfort food” has been traced back at least to 1966, when the Palm Beach Post used it in a story: “Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called ‘comfort food’—food associated with the security of childhood…they are believed to be a great coping mechanism for rapidly soothing negative feelings.”

A more descriptive quote comes from a very academic and very detailed and interesting article on the subject, found in The International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science: “most of us are soothed by the soft, sweet, smooth, salty and unctuous.”

Another quote from that article: Comfort foods are often prepared in a simple or traditional style and may have a nostalgic or sentimental appeal, perhaps reminding us of home, family, and/or friends.”

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I found a list of comfort foods on Wikipedia (where else!?) and from (which sounded like a good place to find rankings).  Wikipedia’s list clearly masses all regions of the U.S. into one, which seems odd.  I seriously doubt that Grits – or Red Beans and Rice – are comfort foods for someone who grew up in Maine – or that Chili Mac (a Midwestern favorite) is comfort to an Oregonian.  The ones I marked with an “X” made Ranker’s list – which seems to be more relevant to all areas of this country.  And I linked the ones that we already have given you recipes for (because, obviously, we are SO on top of things – and SO in need of comfort! :).

When questioned about their notions of comfort foods, my family responded in varying ways.  Hannah in Brooklyn, my brother in Fort Collins, and I all find comfort in Angel Food Cake and our grandmothers’ Swedish and German pancakes.  Joe, our son-in-law, fondly remembers his dad fixing him “hamburger gravy” over mashed potatoes.  (Andy might dub that an offshoot of the dreaded SOS – but we’ll forgive him for that.)

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SOS – Here’s the official recipe from the Army Quartermaster Corps (which my brother was once a part of).  You might want to downsize it a little, since it calls for 18 pounds of ground beef and serves 100.  Maybe I’ll try it for one of our “Dining In” dinners.  Want to come? 🙂

Our son Travis remembers his Grandma Gladys’s simple spaghetti recipe – made with hamburger.  Sara – ever the odd one out (just teasing, Sara 🙂 )- finds anything with ground meat – broken up, definitely not in patty form – satisfying, though she prefers those ground meat dishes to have an Asian theme.  Andy and his sister, Helen, fondly remember their mom’s tamale pie.  If there’s any unifier at all here among main dishes, it has to be ground meat.

So the jump to our three new comforting recipes – all with ground meat – was a no-brainer: my mom’s Super Simple Spaghetti, Tamale Pie, and – just for Sara – “Not Your Mother’s Chili” (which is both different and d-lish!).  We’ll offer up our pancake and angel food cake recipes at a later date. Continue reading

Guest Blog – Lazy Man Cooks

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Today’s Guest Blogger is MountainWestBob!

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We couldn’t agree more with the “Old’s Cool!”

Andy’s Introduction to Bob:

Ann and I met Bob and his wife Gayle when I was in grad school back in the dark ages,  i.e., when research was done with Fortran and punch cards.  Our connection actually goes beyond being grad school buddies. It turns out that Gayle was the OB nurse on duty at Poudre Valley Hospital when our daughter Sara was born; Gayle introduced Ann to the world of newborn babies… something we really needed at that time.   Bob left grad school for Pinkerton, and because stage coach robberies were only in movies by then, his work was largely in industrial security.   The great stories he shared with me about uncovering employee theft in various industries provided wonderful examples over the years for my deviant behavior and criminology courses.  So after all of these years it was very special that Bob agreed to be a guest blogger  (following some arm twisting I must admit).

Now here’s Bob’s Introduction:

We’ve just marked 15 years of retirement. Some know more of the details, such as how we met 52 winters ago because we’d both cut the same class at the U of MN due to extreme cold (minus 30 or more) on a Monday, and how 6 weeks later, on a Saturday afternoon, I observed that “Since we do this so well together, we should get married” and Gayle responded, “OK.”

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Bob & Gayle – still together more than 50 years after that bitter cold Minnesota day

I failed in grad school due to an acquired inability to understand articles in sociology journals. Joined the old Pinkerton’s, Inc. folks and made a career out of industrial security. Everything from the home and offices of a Cabinet official, corporate headquarters, and colleges, to major slaughterhouses received the benefit of my steely gaze and wisdom.


Allan Pinkerton’s steely gaze circa 1850.

New Mexico is our 7th state since marriage. Gayle followed along as school and work took me on a trek from Minnesota to Colorado, Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey. That made the retirement location hers to determine. We bought a motor home and visited (or at least drove through) 40 states before discovering the moderate climate, captivating culture, and enchanting geology of New Mexico; living in a minority Anglo state is good! And, good for us.

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The New Mexico flag salutation: “I salute….the Zia symbol of perfect friendship among united cultures.”

Gayle is mostly-retired as a critical care nurse, having first earned a nursing diploma, and later her BSN and MA degrees.

We’ve traveled during these years, volunteered a bunch, and use the local Y to good effect.

[We asked Bob to tell us a little about how and why he got into cooking]

What drives my cooking, besides thinking that often it’s the only way I’m going to get fed?

In my natal family, we each had to learn how to do everything. Laundry, sewing to repair clothes (darning socks, securing rips and tears, replacing buttons), cleaning house, and… cooking. Plus, of course, house repair, some plumbing, electrical repairs, construction, and basic gardening. It was a broad “domestic education.”

waffle iron

By second grade, I was coming home to an empty house at lunch time and had to fend for myself. My most dramatic lunch involved a decision to make waffles… I found the waffle-iron and plugged it in, got the recipe book and ingredients out and was ready. Except that I had a question. So, I dialed 411 for information, explained my predicament to the operator and asked whether I was to use a teaspoon or a tablespoon of one ingredient. She responded by explaining that if the instruction used a capital letter “T” it required a tablespoon. I thanked her, made excellent waffles, cleaned everything up and returned to school on time! We had little money, and – if memory serves – I made a batch of mapleine syrup (from a powder, mixed with water and heated on the stove – Log Cabin was a sometime-luxury.)

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By the time I was 14 or 15 my parents had moved us to another house and we were renting the first place out to students. Girls. I was often there doing chores, and heard the girls kvetching about their poor cooking skills and resulting lackluster dinners. I offered to make them something nice. They accepted, and we chose a day. I prepared a nice baked chicken dish similar to a cacciatore, except it was baked with milk and or cream, probably half-and-half – my memory is a bit faded. The five girls were delighted.

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Bob back when he met Gayle

Gayle and I share nearly all chores, though we each have specialties (I do any necessary trimming and spraying outdoors, she does everything connected with potted plants). We share cooking and cleaning up. Both of us have a plate-full of volunteer, exercise, and reading activities, and neither one of us wants to make the kitchen a focus of our energies. Here, too, we share, but with specialties. I do very nearly everything concerning the grill (almost all meat and many veggies are grilled), and Gayle does the same regarding our functional salads*. We focus on the goal of tasty and nutritious dishes, with easy preparation and clean-up.

*A functional salad involves real veggies and little lettuce (Editor’s note: see our blog about holding back on lettuce here).  Spinach, onion, sweet peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes combine with others as may be available, and often obviate any “need” for a separate cooked veggie on the plate. Throw chunks of grilled chicken atop one of these salads and a healthy and hearty one-dish meal is created. Continue reading

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