Downer Days of Fall…

I love the fall. The changing leaves, the smell of rain and wet earth, the days of crisp sunshine…

But then there’s the days on end of gray skies and rain. I normally love the rain, too. It’s the biggest reason I moved to the Pacific Northwest. But sometimes enough is enough, and the gloomy blues hit. And frankly, I think daylight savings is a joke and a half. I’m ready to crawl into bed by 6pm now because it’s pitch black outside my windows!

Today is a downer day for me. It’s not just the weather, it’s a lot of things. Missing my family. Work stress. Home life stress. Money stress. Health stress… You know, everyday garbage that piles up and eventually life overwhelms and all I really want to do is climb into bed and pull the covers over my head.

I don’t though. I have too much to do! I guess that’s what keeps me going. I know that in a month or so the days will start getting longer again, there will be slightly more light and less gloom. For now, I can’t bury my head under the blankets, I’ll just bury it in my work and hope for the best.

Here’s a healthy comfort food recipe I hope you enjoy. It’s my Crock pot chili and it’s wonderful to warm up with during a gloomy fall day.

In a 6 quart Crock pot combine:
1 lb extra lean ground beef browned with 1 Tblsp (more or less to taste) red pepper flakes.
1 26 oz can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 16 oz can chili beans
1 16 oz can kidney or red beans
1 16 oz can great northern or white kidney beans
2 cups diced celery
1 large onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
2 Tblsp (or more depending on taste) Garlic powder
or add 1 heaping Tblsp minced fresh garlic last ½ hour of cooking
¼ cup cumin
¼ cup chili powder
½ cup brown sugar
1 pkg onion soup mix (optional – it adds some beef flavor)
1 Tblsp ground mustard seed
1 can tomato paste (optional to thicken. Add last ½ hour of cooking)

Cook it all on high for 6 hours or low for 10, until all veggies are soft.

I don’t add any extra salt, there’s enough to me in the tomatoes.
Serve with crusty bread or my favorite, buttered Saltine crackers.

Enjoy and don’t let the gloom get to you!

Anna Leigh Keaton

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9 responses to “Downer Days of Fall…

  1. Ooo yummy!

    That’s one of the reason I balk (despite loving to visit) at the idea of moving to the PNW. Here in Colorado, even in the depths of winter, there are days where the sun shines brilliantly, making it difficult to get the winter blues.

    Normally I just roll with the time change, but this year I seem to be taking it harder than usual. 😀 The first day I went to bed at 7:30pm! *laughs* I go to bed early anyway but that’s a little much even for me. (unless I’m sick)

  2. There are those in the Southwest who would crucify you for this version of chili. National chili competitions strictly forbid beans of any sort and ground beef is a no-no. I used to be of a similar mind-set, taking half a day to prepare just the ingredients my version of Dallas-style chili. (Like mesquite barbequing the tri-tip or sirloin).

    I suppose I’m mellowing in my old age. Your recipe’s sheer simplicity is really quite appealing and, as I read it, I’m mentally measuring my crock pot’s size, wondering if my wife would like it tonight. I’m sure I will.

    One question, Anna Leigh: What are chili beans? Are you referring to canned chili, or do you mean something like pinto or navy beans? See? 🙂 I’m really wondering if I have what I need to put this together or if I’ll have to make a quick trip to the store. Yumm!

  3. I LOVE crock pot cooking. This is definitely a recipe to save for a cold winter’s day. Thanks Anna!

    eden

  4. Today is a rainy, grey day here in New England and I definitely feel your blahs. Thankfully, the temperature is above 60, so it’s not horribly bad.

    Mmm… that chilli sounds lovely! If I didn’t have my crockpot already full of beef stew, I would definitely be making that for tonight.

    • K.B. I normally love the rain… I moved to the PNW to be in the rain instead of sunshine. I was born and raised in Alaska, though, so complaining about dark days is rather stupid for me. I used to spend 3 months in the DARK.

      Raymond, I’m from Alaska. I have never even eaten “southern” made chili. In AK, we’d use caribou or raindeer sausage instead of ground beef, but that’s another recipe for another day! I’m a busy working mom, so I make what I can with the quickest efficiency, and don’t enter cooking contests…no time! LOL
      Chili beans are simpy a can of beans called chili beans. They have some chili-type flavor added. I get mine at Super Walmart…store brand. White label, actually called Chili Beans.
      🙂

      Eden, Last night I made crock pot pea soup… I love my crockpot and from Sept – April, it’s running 3 or 4 days a week.

      Ana, I loved the New England fall days when we would travel there to leaf peeping.

      • I love my crockpots, too! (Yes, I have more than one.) I just put cranberry barbeque chicken in mine, so we can have sandwiches with broccoli slaw and chipotle sweet potato fries for dinner.

        I’m going to put your chili into the rotation. My kids will love it! And Ana, beef stew? I haven’t found one for the crock that I love yet. Please e-mail me ze recipe??

      • Anna, unfortunately, we haven’t had a very good fall. The wacky weather we had over the summer meant the leaves stayed on the trees longer than normal. When we got that freak North Easter on Halloween weekend, the weight of the snow destroyed a lot of trees. 😦

    • It’s gorgeous and cloudless here, in Santa Fe, but a tad brisk at 47°. It was 18° this AM *brrrrrrr* but it’s expected to warm to balmy 23° at dawn tomorrow. A gray 60° sounds mighty pleasant. Not looking forward to winter AT ALL this year.

  5. I love chili, it’s one of my favorite foods, and I always make it in my crockpot. And the first few days when I get home from work in the dark? I HATE IT! I have always work to do in the evenings and it’s way harder to get started when it’s already dark. I do, eventually, get used to it – but I’d much rather go to work in the dark than come home from.

    Kate

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