Grandma's Chili Sauce...

Sing with me now: "For the first time in forever"... I don't have to study for the GRE.  I have an unusual amount of free time, and apparently am feeling so free like Elsa on Frozen.  I have been studying for months, no exaggeration, and I took the test on Monday.  Five hours of pain and torture later, I emerged from the testing cave at the U of U, blinked in the unfamiliar sunlight and set out on my path back to normalcy.  My scores so far are acceptable.  I ran out of time on a math section and it hurt me, but I still passed.  All of this crazy studying is so I can grow up and be a pomologist.  A what?  Pomologist - it's a fruit sciency kind of person.  And no... sciency is not a word, but I am using it in blatant disregard for all of the grammatical rules and massive amounts of vocabulary I have had to endure for the last unending months.

In between Disney princess karaoke sung into a wooden spatula, I am making chili for dinner which goes like this: ground beef, onion, bell peppers, minced mushrooms, fresh parsley and cilantro, homegrown garlic, kidney beans and black beans (yeah... chili doesn't have beans, but my kids like beans, so in the pot they go), some seasonings and... CHILI SAUCE.

What is chili sauce?  It is this amazing sauce that my great-great-grandparents made that is for chili and sloppy joes and any other amazing concoction you can mix it into.  It would be great in baked beans.  Confession: I hate sloppy joes, but I love chili sauce.  It's tomatoey, sweet, and has an interesting mix of spices like cinnamon and clove in it.  It has a deep rich flavor, and when I make it, you can smell it down to the end of the street, taunting the neighbors, which let's face it, I am very good at taunting.  (Monty Python... lets not start...)

The coolest part is that this recipe is well over 100 years old, which gives your chili some nostalgia and makes cooking really fun.  Years ago, before my grandpa died, I spent weeks collecting recipes from him.  He never wrote them down, he just had them in his head.  Spending all of that time with him and my grandma was one of the best experiences I have had with my grandparents.  To know someone through cooking is really to know what feeds their soul.  I use the cookbook I made from my interviews all the time and the best part is that I have my grandfather's voice recorded, telling me how he cooks and bakes.  This recipe came from those sessions, it is my grandmother's grandmother's recipe.  I have written it as it was written long ago and added in parenthesis what I do.

Nola Jean Hodson Wood and Family

4 large onions, finely chopped
12 ripe tomatoes
7 Tbsp sugar
A little red pepper (I use cayenne to taste)
1 cup good vinegar (apple cider vinegar)
3 Tbsp salt
3 Tbsp freshly ground ginger
3 Tbsp whole cloves
3 Tbsp Cinnamon
A little chili pepper (I add chili powder)

Put ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in a little rag bag (cheesecloth tied with baker's twine).  Combine all ingredients except for sugar.  Cook for one hour, add sugar after cooked down.  

You can process this in a water bath to preserve it or you can freeze it.  I usually make this in a much larger batch, and bottle about 12 quart sized bottles for the year.  

backyard farmgals

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup cremini mushrooms, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced or finely grated
1 whole bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, diced (optional)
1 quart chili sauce
Salt to taste
1 tsp Hungarian Hot paprika
Cayenne pepper to taste
1 bag (15 oz) or can of kidney beans (I love the bags they are BPA free)
2 bags (15 oz) or cans black beans 
Fresh parsley and cilantro roughly chopped

Brown the beef, add the onion and sauté until translucent.  Add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté until soft.  Add the bell pepper and jalapeño along with the chili sauce, seasonings, and beans.  Heat and cook down slightly, adjust seasonings as needed.  Add the parsley and cilantro before serving.  

I usually serve this with grated cheese and slices of challah bread for the kids.  I like it just as it is.  


  1. Congratulations! Let your mind rest up a while, you did good.

    Only one problem with beans in chili...

  2. Zhoen - I love that scene, great movie moment! It's very reminiscent of living with three boys...


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