...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Friday, August 26, 2005


It''s August, it's hot, but why not to make some chili to kick it up even more? There are all kinds of recipes around, and before I got married and moved to Texas, I was convinced that chili equals ::shudder:: ground beef with some paprika, onions and beans cooked until almost pureed...Anyways, according to what I learned in TX, if you want beans in your chili, fine, just don't put meat in it, because historically you made it with beans when you could not afford the meat.

This is how I make it, my Dad who also has the recipe, calls it in his restaurant in Budapest ''Texas Chili' and sells a boatload when he features it on the menu.

Texas Red

2.5 lbs. beef (chuck roast is best), cut into small cubes... Ground beef in chili is OK, but I prefer my meat chunky
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil or 2 tbsp. fat
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp. chili powder (I use Penzey''s Medium heat usually; if you buy commercially, make sure there's no artificial filler in it, the usal ingredients are different chili peppers, cayenne, cumin, some salt and/or garlic)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2-1 tsp cayenne
filtered water, beef broth or beer as liquid, amount varies
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
salt to taste
1 tbsp. masa harina

Heat oil/fat in Dutch oven or medium pot. Sear meat until gray. Add spices, including minced garlic, (I usually eyeball it and adjust later in the cooking process, but the measuyrements above should be good for a pretty decent slow-heat chili), mix in well, and add liquid so it covers meat. Add bay leaves. Cook for about 1 hour. Remove bay leaves. Taste and season with salt if needed. Add jalapeno, and more liquid if needed. Simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until meat is done.
Mix masa harina with some of the chili liquid in a small mug and pour it back to the pot. Mix well and simmer gently until it thickens.

I serve it with crusty bread for mopping the sauce up, but corn tortillas are equally appropriate.


Monday, August 22, 2005

On the ground for a while...

Back from Seattle Friday night, late: barely saw anything of the city, short of the breathtaking view from the conference room window. Next time, hopefully. The temperature break was refreshing--they all complained about the heat; it was around 80F. I guess I am acclimatizing here in TX, because my first thought was :"Wusses..."

Weekend went by fast, partly due to the fact that we had 100s temperatures in Irving with heat advisory, so we mostly stayed inside. One of these days, when the weather breaks, we can actually take care of yardwork and stuff.

The apple tree died Sunday, officially...poor Granny Smith could not cope with the scorching no-shade heat in the front yard. learning curve in tree-raising. The Husband plans crape myrtles all around the yard in the fall. Those should be better faring than the late apple tree, we hope. The peppers, on the other had, in the back yard, love the heat--just need to be watered every second day. Lots of flowers and little peppers all over.

Should post a long-overdue chili recipe here probably this evening.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday to Jonathon at the LEO test--may it be a happy and successful year to both you & The Lizard Queen, friend!

On the road again...

The Bunny will be in Seattle Thursday-Friday on a meeting; 4 hours in the air each way and two half-day meetings...bleh. At least I get a free dinner out of it. Yay. Will see if time allows for some pictures: but due to all this travel I was not able to cook much or put up recipes, and that bugs me. I baked this cake Monday night that everyone thought was really good, so I guess I can dig that recipe up and post unless I feel de-motivated.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Barton Creek

Spent two days rubbing shoulders with the rich of Austin, on top of a hill at Barton Creek Resort. Despite my severe prejudices, the place is pleasant: quiet and understated, and the staff had nothing of the usual aloofness of other Austin establishments I encountered before.
This was my room with a view; that's the chaise lounge left to the bed I referred to in a previous post. I do need one of those, and if you read as often as I do, you need one too. With a fluffy blanket and a reading lamp.

The Riverwalk

It is really admirable what the City of San Antonio did with the Riverwalk area. It is definitely a long-term investment from the part of all who contributed and still contribute, but oh boy, it generates revenue like crazy. Even the Rivercenter Mall is more pleasant then your usual run-of-the-mill shopping center, and when the sun goes down, the restaurants alongside the river (not to mention the clubs) spring to life in literally minutes. We got extremely lucky: despite our little impromptu 2.5 hour afternoon nap after walking all day and thus not making reservations, we got a riverside table at Landry's Seafood by the Riverwalk. Seriously good food for our 5th anniversary dinner, and this from a foodie. The peoplewatching was also fun: the look on some folks' face when they were told that the wait is more than an hour long...Welcome to a true tourist spot, baby...

Enormous hotel room

Our room was simply enormous; the size of our library, living room and kitchen together. The hotel: the old St. Anthony in downtown San Antonio was very stately and slightly worn but with the elegance of an old lady very much still able to charm anyone's socks off.
And yes, that thing is a fireplace. It was dysfunctional, though. Pity.

San Antonio

That's The Husband in front of the Alamo, slightly still feverish; he was fighting the flu all weekend. We walked around relatively late that Saturday morning, so we were surprised how quiet is was--people just started to arrive and businesses open when we were done with our tour after 1100 am, which was weird.

Back in Business

Pictures either tonight or tomorrow; after a wonderful weekend in San Antonio and Fredericksburg, I spent two days at a posh resort in Austin on a business meeting. Surprisingly pleasant but exhausting--I was the official meeting coordinator. Scenery made up for the negatives though--and the upgraded room was a nice addition, especially the view and the chaise lounge in the room. Now I WANT one, with capital letters...those things are awesome for evening curl-up-and-read which I do very often.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mediterranean Vegetable Stew

Okay, just in case someone's still in shock over not having any weekly recipe from The Bunny: here's what I made Tuesday night. A bit more involved than the usual stuff, however, all of my (strictly carnivorous) diners gobbled it up, and the one who does not like eggplant said it was good too...

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
4 stalks of celery, chopped
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 cup green beans (I used Asian string beans), cut into 2 inch-pieces
4-5 baby eggplants (the long, purple variety) or 1 large one, cut into 1 inch cubes if large, or thin slices if small
2 14 oz. cans of fire-roasted chopped tomatoes (I used Glen Muir Organic...they are the best)
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. capers

1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in large pot.
2. Add chopped onions and sautee until translucent.
3. Add celery, cook for about 5 minutes.
4. Add garlic, basil and beans, cook for about 8 minutes.
5. Add eggplant slices to top of vegetable mix. DO NOT STIR. Cook for 7-8 minutes.
6. Add tomatoes on top. Cover pot (can add a bit of water if there is not enough liquid) and simmer without stirring for about 20 minutes on LOW HEAT. This way the eggplant does not get burned, and if there's anough liquid, you don't have to worry about the bottom getting scorched either.
7. Stir eggplant and tomatoes in at this point, and simmer a bit more on low heat until eggplant slices are brown and soft.
8.Take off heat, add lemon juice and capers. Stir well. Serve with crusty bread, hot or cold.

Have fun while we zoom off to San Antonio; will let you know how the food is down there.



Not much blogging this week: too busy. No recipe either...gotta wait until next week.
Sunroom slowly breaking in half had been fixed Wednesday: foundation repair No. 2: check. Yay...(and ouch, financially).
Rained yesterday, too. Big fat drops, for about 15 minutes.
Still trying to get plane tickets to Hungary that do not leave us totally deprived of cash...lemme tell you, airport fees are a KILLER...you think you are good for a 510 dollar plane ticket, and the airport fees and taxes take it up to, I am not kidding, over $800...Grrrrrauuuuuugh....
Will be heading out to San Antonio tomorrow for our anniversary getaway. Both of us can really use it, so: total radiosilence until possible photoblogging Monday.
That''s it, folks...everyone have a great rest of the week.