Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Making Chili

I decided, since we had so much snow, we ought to have chili for dinner. I wrote out a list of ingredients, handed it off to my mother (who was on her way to the store) and went back to cleaning the house. On the list was a lovely jar of ground coriander seed.

Apparently, this was a problem.

Now, I had never considered coriander to be a rare spice, never thought that men with camels had to load each ounce into heavy sacks only to trek through the desert on there way to the nearest port. I thought, perhaps wrongly, that this was a common sort of thing, found in many dishes.

But I must be wrong. Because a grocery store, especially the only grocery store within thirty minutes from any other grocery store, would carry a common spice like cinnamon or salt (yeah, out here that's a "spice" not a heart attack; we're in denial). Mom could only find the seeds themselves.

An average family would have laughed and said, "Too bad, no chili tonight," but my family is different like that so Mom bought it.

We don't have a spice grinder or anything.

So we broke out the food processor, nothing. We added a little olive oil to make them stick together and not just bounce around. Then Mom read the bottle and mentioned that we needed to toast them. So we did.

We don't have a spice grinder or anything.

So Mom told me a story about almost buying me a mortar and pestle the last time she was down in southern Indiana, a story that gave us no assistance whatsoever since the spice grinder was never purchased and remained a three hour drive away from us. I took out the cutting board and the meat pounder thing and started trying to grind the seeds. Mom took a different route and put some in a little bowl and began using the handle of a fork to mash them. That failed too, because:

We don't have a spice grinder or anything.

The whole process took us about an hour. So I looked at Mom, looked at the seeds, grabbed the keys, and drove the half-hour to the next town, bought the last jar (how rare is this stuff) of *ground* coriander seed, stopped at Culvers for dinner, and then drove a second half-hour home.

We're having chili tomorrow night.

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