If you're a soup lover like me, the word 'chili' in Hoosier-speak conjures up thoughts of a warm, hearty meal that will stick to your ribs, especially on cool evenings like we're having this time of year. I love many kinds of chili, but I'll stay away from the Texas and southwestern chilies with all the jalapeno peppers and other 'hot' ingredients in them. To me, chili is too hot if it burns your tongue form temperature, not from being loaded with spice.
The Franklin FFA recently held a chili supper. But instead of one kind of chili, it was a chili cook-off of sorts. No prizes were given out, and no one was declared a winner, but 12 different cooks, all parents and mostly FFA alumni boosters, prepared their favorite pot of chili and brought it to the meal. Someone else conjured up a table of fixings, including sour cream, onions, shredded cheese and crackers. The FFA members bought out the peanut butter aisle at Wal-Mart, and made peanut butter sandwiches.
Who says FFA events can't be educational? The kids learned that you don't need 15 jars of peanut butter to go with chili and feed 140 to 150 people. Nine of those jars are still unopened. I just learned it takes 500 peanuts to make a small jar of peanut butter. I figure there's several thousand peanuts tucked into the refrigerator in the ag room, in cold storage, waiting for the next banquet.
The chili was so good and there were so many options I didn't get around to peanut butter sandwiches. That's OK, because I tried one earlier when the kids were preparing them after their school day ended. I'm known as the official taste tester. My late mother-in-law would always give me the 'reject' cookies during Christmas baking. They didn't last long in front of me.
There were chilies with no beans, lots of beans, no meat, lots of beef, no noodles, elbow macaroni, even chili made with chicken. You name it, and there was a crockpot of that type of chili there. It was tough deciding which ones to try. One pot was loaded with vegetables along with the chili, you know, onions and celery and such.
I would have given a blue ribbon to each one. There aren't many better ways to spend a fall, cool night in Indiana than trying out favorite chili recipes, along with 150 of your closest friends and neighbors, kids included.
If you've got a favorite recipe, pass it along. We'll give it a try. Send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org. And if your group is having a chili supper, I know where you could get a real deal on brand new, unopened, very large jars of peanut butter!