Posts Tagged Chili

A Wild West Round Up

With the legendary National Western Stock Show in town we like to pay tribute to our hard-working farmers and cattlemen. This event has been a part of our state’s history for years and gets everyone from cow-folk to city slickers in the Wild West spirit.  We have a few ideas to keep the theme alive in your own homestead.

 

A Western Themed Hoedown

cactusRounding up your friends for a western themed party is easy.  With affordable decorations and a laid back atmosphere any cowboy would be happy to kick off their boots.  Hand out inexpensive cowboy/cowgirl hats as your guests arrive. Create the feeling of west by covering tables in red and white-checkered tablecloths and use flowers or cacti in a tin can for centerpieces.  For napkins, use multi-colored bandanas.  Also, line bandanas in cowboy hats to hold chips and rolls as a fun touch.  Set out toy guns, old boots, camping lanterns, and, if you have them, any horse-riding accessories like saddles, spurs, or lassos. If your party is outside, set out a few haystacks for sittin’. For a fun personalized addition make “wanted” posters with pictures of your guests with fun descriptions of their crimes, “Wanted: Peter, for being too handsome.”

 

Food

Hitch up the chuck wagon and think of the simple, hearty foods our pioneers ate.  Foods like chili, ribs, Chili6pulled chicken or pork, baked beans, and cornbread are all easy-to-make foods of the west.  To cut down on hosting duties, consider having a chili cook-off.  Ask your guests to bring their best chili recipe and vote judging for the spiciest, most unique, and best all-around.  The same can be done with desserts using the old time pioneer favorite: pie!  Give the winners ribbons tied to tin mugs as rewards. For sides, serve grilled corn with chili butter and biscuits.

 

Drinks

imagesCowboys are tough and so are the drinks. In addition to serving beers, like the Texas favorite Shiner Bock, serve whiskey (we are partial to local favorites like Stranahans, or Leopold Bros.) and tequila.  Since refrigeration wasn’t big in the 1800’s many of the drinks were straight up.  Of course, we don’t expect our modern day settlers to consume drinks this strong so offer simple mixers like sodas and limeade for tequila.  If you’d like to offer a signature cocktail, serve a batch of Wild Wild West or Juan Collins cocktail mixes in large rustic glass bottles. Make sure you have old-fashioned root beer on hand for designated drivers.  Make a sign over the bar with that reads the “(hosts name) Saloon.”

Giddy up!
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Chili

Chili con Carne

Colder days are ahead and that means warmer dishes. One of winter’s favorites is also one of the only foods that can spark controversy, regional wars, and international cook—offs: chili!  Even the history of the dish is debatable. Mexico is most likely where the dish was invented. The Aztec people are often credited with the distinction; they were even rumored to have cut up invasive conquistadors and season them with peppers.  The early American settlers claim that the first bowl was made close to Laramie Wyoming or some say San Antonio, Texas.  Wherever chili came from, we do know that it is an American favorite with many variations and a chili for anyone!

 

Chili Wagon

In the early days chili was made with any kind meat, elk, horse, rabbit, rattlesnake, armadillos, or beef. The meat was mixed with wild onions, herbs, and whatever chilies were grown in the local area. For example: Texas chili is red because red chilies grew there and New Mexico is known for their famous green chili peppers, which were brought to that region by the Spanish.  Chili was made popular by cattle drivers who were known to plant herbs and spices along their trails in order to always have what they needed at hand while on the move.  Not long after, it was not uncommon to find chili wagons along the trials serving hungry cowboys, Native Americans, and travelers.  (In a way, these wagons were the first food trucks!)  Billy the Kid and Jessie James would avoid robbing chili vendors because they believed anyone who made chili could not be that bad.

 

 

A San Antonio Chili Queen

In the late 1800’s San Antonio played a big part in chili’s history. The area was a popular tourist spot and passerby town.  Mexican women would gather downtown, dressed in colorful traditional Mexican dresses, build fires, and cook large cauldrons of chili for the masses complete with mariachi bands. These ladies were know as Chili Queens and were a big pride of the city until the mid-1900’s when the city changed a law that stated all food facilities needed to have restrooms.  In the 1970’s San Antonio reopened the marketplace and locals began to stage re-enactments to honor the chili queens.

 

New Mexican Green Chili

Chili recipes have been passed down for generations and most everyone has a favorite variation of this all-inclusive one pot meal.  Today chili comes with beans, which could cause a heated discussion in some parts, chili can be “white” made with white beans and chicken, chili is served on hot dogs, on fries, on baked potatoes, or spaghetti (known as Cincinnati or Skyline chili), it can be made with cheese, con queso or even made with chocolate.  Chili can be a carnivore’s delight, or a vegans dream dish. Chili could genuinely please the cowboys of yesterday and satisfy us today in the modern world.

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