Depending on where you live in the Mid-Atlantic region, the storm cleverly dubbed “Snowquester” either lived up to its hype or was something of a bust.
Snow accumulations varied. But where we live in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, only a few inches fell.
It was enough to keep the kids out of school. And the heavy, wet nature of what fell to the ground made it a pain to clear the driveway. Now, a day after the storm, it’s all but melted away. By tomorrow, it will likely be as if it never happened.
For us at least, “Snowquester” was reminiscent of what West Virginians of a certain age remember as “The Rockefeller Blizzard” of 1977. Then Governor Jay Rockefeller (who has announced his retirement from the U.S. Senate) sounded the alarm, warning West Virginians far and wide of a crippling storm that turned out to be a dud.
And, so it was for us with “Snowquester.”
But who knew it wouldn’t live up to its billing in our part of the panhandle?
Well, me for one, that’s who. And, I wasn’t alone.
With all the dire predictions ahead of the storm, I actually did what my wife often complains I don’t do – I thought ahead and then joined the pack at the grocery store as our parents did ahead of “The Rockefeller Blizzard.” I picked up some extra milk, eggs and sandwich bread; got some snacks that are not particularly healthy and some fresh fruit to atone for them. I even remembered to get our dog Rodney a great, big bag of food so he wouldn’t run out while we were snowbound.
I stocked up on other necessities, too – batteries, toilet paper and such. But as I paced the aisles of the store, I started obsessing about my favorite comfort food – chili.
If there was ever a time made for chili, it’s while a big snowstorm is doing its worst. Just the thought of a big pot simmering in the slow-cooker and spreading its warm, inviting aroma throughout the house was enough to prompt me to make sure I had what I needed to whip up a batch.
Chili isn’t that hard to make, but mine has a few twists. For one, I like to peel and cube a couple of potatoes to add to the mixture. It’s a move I learned from an old friend many years ago. The potatoes soak up the flavor and make chili even more filling and comforting than it already is.
I also like to use sausage in addition to ground beef and to throw in a can of enchilada sauce. Otherwise, it turns out thick, more like stew than chili. It makes the difference between eating it with a fork or a spoon.
Anyway, here’s how I put it together.
1lb ground beef
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans pinto beans
2 potatoes cubed
1 can enchilada sauce
2 pkgs of pre-mixed chili spices
Throw tomatoes, beans, potatoes, enchilada sauce and spices in the slow cooker. Brown the meat and add to the pot. Then all you have to do is wait a few hours for the potatoes to soften and the flavors to meld together. However, if you’re like me, waiting is not an option.
One of the pleasures of making chili is taste-testing it while it simmers. I generally end up going through a whole sleeve of saltines before it’s ever ready to be spooned into a bowl.
I could dip crackers into a simmering pot of chili all day. And while, “Snowquester” may not have given many of us the snow day forecasters warned of, it gave me the perfect excuse to make what will probably be our last pot of chili this winter.