Having a brain injury changes how you go through your day, for me, how I process and organize my thoughts is different from before my TBI. It takes a lot more energy and effort to organize my thoughts, which is ok if I have time, I find I plan longer now. I have made this recipe often, it still takes some effort before starting. Cooking presents challenges for me after my accident, following recipes or staying organized can put my head in overload. I have had to learn to break down my cooking process into stages, this allows me to take short breaks and regroup.
My recipes come from ingredients from my own refrigerator and cupboard.
Today I am using a recipe our family always enjoys. This recipe allows me to be creative, there are no rules. Well there are a few rules, and they all have to do with who I’m serving. Our son is autistic, so ingredients and seasoning become a factor. Chilli is not a food combination that he will eat, and so that he is included into the family meal, we have to get a little creative. My goal is not to have to turn our kitchen into a restaurant and find a way to satisfy everyone. I will share a few tips as we go through the cooking process to explain how I work around these challenges.
Ground Beef (1 – 2 lbs)
Mushrooms (12-14 oz)
Celery (5-6 sticks)
Garlic (5-6 cloves minced)
Onion (1 large) Bell Peppers (1 red 1 yellow 1 orange)
Stewed Tomatoes (3 Large tins) Baked Beans (3 tins)
Crushed Chillies Cayenne Powder Chilli Powder Ground Pepper
This recipe will make about 16 cups, I use a pot that allows me the room to add ingredients, just in case I’m a little carefree.
Today I’m using ground beef. A protein substitute could easily be made here, Turkey, Chicken, Sausage or Tofu are a few. Brown the Ground Beef, I season the Ground Beef with ground pepper and sea salt. I also add in 5-6 minced Garlic gloves. I’m not going to add the Crushed Chilli or Chilli Powder or Cayenne Powder here, the plan is to pull out a portion of the Ground Beef for my son to be used as a Loose Meat Sandwich on a Bun. I will season more as I add other ingredients.
Side Step As I mentioned earlier it is important to know who you are serving, we have someone that is sensitive to the grease from the Ground Beef. I rinse the Ground Beef under hot water to remove the grease.
Seasoning. After portioning out Ground Beef for my son, I can now start to season. I sprinkle a quick pass over the Ground Beef with Sea Salt and Ground Pepper. The Crushed Chillies, Chilli Powder and Cayenne is added to flavour. My family is not one that cares for a lot of spice in their food and for the health concerns of some I am careful with amount of Salt I use. Our son has never like any kind of sauces on his food, this includes condiments. Cooking for a family with this kind of dynamic has it’s challenges and rules. But Rules change, health concerns and likes and dislikes change. There was a time our house saw a Hawaiian Pizza with no sauce, now it comes with sauce.
I give the Mushrooms a quick rinse to remove any dirt, if you like, canned Mushrooms could be used. If it is easier, use sliced Mushrooms, I buy the whole Mushrooms, they are usually a little less expensive and it only takes a minute to slice them.
Today I have several hours to prepare and cook My Chilli. I’m going to take advantage of a longer cooking time than I usually have. This will allow for a lower cooking temperature. I am going to simmer My Chilli for about 2 hours. I am also going to cut the vegetables fairly course, this will give a hearty bite and more colour to My Chilli.
Tip To speed up the cooking process I have cooked down the Mushrooms, Celery, Garlic and Onion in a separate pot with a little Becel while I am browning the Ground Beef. I add the mixture to the Ground Beef after I portion out Ground Beef for our son. This does create one extra pot to clean but does speed up the cooking time.
Step Three Add in the 3 tins of Stewed Tomatoes. I used both Italian and Chilli seasoned Stewed Tomatoes for a little extra flavour.
Step Four Add in the 3 tins of Baked Beans. I used Baked Beans with Brown Sugar. I have also used a Bean Medley or Kidney Beans in the past.
Step Five The Bell Peppers, I will add about an hour before I am ready to serve. I like the Bell Peppers to have a little crispness to them. The finer the Bell Peppers are cut the more likely they are to cook away to nothing.
Cooking Time This will vary on how much time you have given yourself to prepare the meal. I have made this recipe in under 2 hours, today I am taking closer to 4 hours. I am looking for a texture to my vegetables, there should be a little crispness to the Celery.
Ready to serve. We have found that adding Chilli Dogs to the menu allowed us to also offer Hot Dogs to our son, as well.
This is My Chilli, I have made this recipe many times, never the same way twice. Make it Your Chilli, season it for your family, add or subtract ingredients, experiment and enjoy.