Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas meatball chili

Today is my dad's 86th birthday. Happy birthday, dad.

I had leftover Christmas meatball chili for dinner, and it was still good. We just got back from a few days in Chicago, eating and shopping, seeing movies and plays. My kids are back from visiting their grandparents in Florida, and in contrast to their outbound, which took 3 times as long as it should, on their return trip, they got back early.

Dad might not have liked the meatball chili, because of the beans.

My brother was just writing about holiday traditions, and I've been thinking about them, too. When my brother and I were kids, my mom started a little tradition, that I know we honored at least a few times, that Christmas Eve dinner was chili by candlelight - something simple, with a touch of elegance. I know that this was in part to try to distract us from what mom called "the Christmas whimwams" that overexcited state that almost all of us of any age get into around the holidays, but especially kids. The candle on the dinner table was a big treat, because we were still pretty much forbidden candles, since we had this annoying tendency to mess with candles - dig channels for the wax with a knife, stick things in to see if they'd burn - (our dad said "Stop potching in the Goddamn candle"). My mom got this candle where the candle was way down in a teardrop-shaped glass jar covered with gold sequins - foiling us candle potchers pretty well.

Anyways, when I had kids, I thought I'd try chili by candlelight for Christmas Eve dinner, and this meatball chili seemed like a good idea, meatballs being much more fun for little kids than anything soup-like, like more traditional chili. I thought I'd make corn muffins to go with the chili. I had a cast iron muffin pan, that was supposed to make muffins in the shape of dinosaurs, but no matter what I did - seasoned it, heated it, made a muffin batter with a high fat content - the muffins always stuck. Maybe one would come out, but the rest would be bits, so one kid could have the tyranosaurus, but the other one could only have the stegosaurus tail or some other dinosaur's head. Not too good for peace at the dinner table. John says he doesn't remember the chili, only the stuck muffins.

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