By noon, Matt was in the kitchen. Lunch was just about ready to serve. By ten, he’d made up his mind that he wanted homemade chili. He’d slipped out in a disguise to the nearest farmer’s market and picked out a dozen of the farmers’ finest tomatoes, onions, green and red bell peppers,two limes, a container of fresh cilantro, three bulbs of fresh garlic, and three medium jalapenos. He put these in the car and sought out the finest butcher shop. He needed ground mutton. He wanted the leanest possible chili.
From the butcher shop, he headed home. He had all the other ingredients needed for his project. Once home, he washed and cut the onions and bell peppers into a large skillet and set them to sauteeing.. While he waited, he crushed two cloves of garlic, chopped the cilantro, then cut and squeezed the juice from both limes. This, he sat on a back burner.
He got out his steamer and filled it a third full with water. He added the rack and sat three tomatoes onto the rack and set to boil. Into another pan, he put water, then added enough beans to make enough for all. These, he set to boil as well. When the water in the steamer began to boil, he checked the tomatoes.
When the skins were peeling, he removed them and set another three on the rack. Replacing the lid, he turned to the tomatoes he’d just removed. Though they were hot, he began peeling the skins off of them. Once peeled, he diced them abd added them to the Dutch oven with the cilantro and garlic.
he stopped with the tomatoes long enough to add the ground mutton to the peppers and onions before they were finished. He smiled. There would be no grease to pour off the meat, onions and peppers. After they were finished, he would be able to take two cups of water and stir it around in the skillet to make the start of a reduction sauce, which he would add to the chili.
Alternating between stirring the browning meat and peeling and dicing the tomatoes, he made sure nothing burned. In between, he stirred the beans to make sure they didn’t scorch. When the beans were just about done, he poured half the water off, then poured the beans and remaining water into the Dutch oven.
To this, he added the meat, peppers and onions, then poured his two cups of water into the skillet and scraped and stirred the reduction loose. He added red wine, salt, vinegar, and then diced the jalapenos into the mix. He added several other spices and herbs to fill out the flavor, then set it to simmering.
While the chili simmered, he began working on the dessert. Bananas Napoleon with Creme de Menthe ice cream and bon bons sounded like the perfect end to a meal. He smiled. It felt good to be happy.
While he’d been out at the markets earlier in the week, he’d found some awesome bread bowls he’d bought them without any idea what he was going to use them for, and now he decided that they would be perfect for this. setting them on plates, he prepped them for their filler.
He checked the chili. Perfect. It was done al dente. And it wasn’t all that spicy.
Covering it and tunring off the burner, he went to fetch some help. Sandra met him in the hall. “What smells so delicious?”
He smiled. “Chili and bananas Napoleon. Would you be willing to round everyone up and ask them to be seated in the dining room?” She nodded. “Alright. Afterward, come to the kitchen and help me get it from there to the dining room.”
She nodded and left to do as he had asked her. Moments later, she appeared in the kitchen. He handed her the napkins and silverware. “See that everyone gets a set.” She nodded and left again.
She reappeared and took the first plate, carefully, to its intended recipient. One by one, she delivered each plate until only hers and Matt’s were left. She looked at her father. He smiled. “Take yours and go ahead and sit down. I will join you shortly.”
She did as he bade her. He sat several dessert dishes down and began portioning up the desserts. He would wait until they were done with their chili before he portioned out the ice cream. No need in letting it melt before they could enjoy it.
He grabbed his plate and headed for the table. There was nothing finer than good food shared with family. He had always tried to teach that to his children. He smiled.
He entered the dining room and sat at his place. He always sat at the head, unless there was someone older and wiser there. Then, they were the ones who got the place of honor. Still, he was the head of his household.
Amanda sat at his right with all the girls sitting on the same side. Sam sat to his left with all the young men sitting along that side. Star sat at the end. All had begun to eat.
When the main course was over, he looked at Sandra and they both got up and collected the plates and spoons. Slipping back into the kitchen, he put the dirty plates in the sink and went to the fridge, removing the ice cream from the freezer and the bon bons from the fridge. It was time to spoil everyone.
As he got two bowls done, Sandra left. With two bowls each, she was able to finish the task of serving those still at the table quicker. Soon, they were finished and seated back at the table with their bowls. He looked around.
He rose, a glass of juice in his hands. “I want to toast the best family one could ever have. I am truly blessed and Have only recently begun to realize it. I have the best children in the world. And the best siblings. Soon, I will be adding the best wife to that list as well.”
Cheers of “Here, Here” came from everywhere and all. The clanking of juice glasses also filled the air. They would have to share more meals like this. It would bring them all so much closer.