Chemistry

Let's Make Chili!

My family has a long-standing tradition that we follow every New Year's Day. While most people are watching the Rose Bowl parade on television or nursing terrible hangovers, my family is firing up the stove, dicing onions, and yelling at the cat to get off the kitchen counter. You see, we take our New Year's Day chili very seriously.

Every member of my family makes chili differently. Some favor a heavy, stew-like chili, while others prefer a hot, less textured chili. However, in the entire history of my family, nobody has ever used a recipe, and nobody has ever told anyone else how their chili is made.

A few years back, I decided to write down my chili recipe so I could let other people enjoy the result of my considerable culinary expertise. Though it may cost me the love and respect of my family, in this section you're going to learn how to make chili the Guch way. Here it is!

Ian Guch's New Year's Day Chili With Beans

1 lb. browned hamburger

16 oz. can tomato sauce

2-16 oz. cans of red kidney beans

1 lb. chopped onion

3 chopped green peppers

3 cloves fresh garlic

12 cup chili powder (add more if you like it hot)

2 tbsp. olive oil

Combine the ingredients in a large pot and simmer over low/medium heat for at least two hours (the longer the better). If it seems too watery, uncover to evaporate water until it reaches the desired thickness. If it seems too thick, add an additional 8 oz. tomato sauce.

You may be wondering why I decided to tell you about chili. It's simple—cooking and chemistry are the same thing, except that in chemistry you usually shouldn't eat whatever it is you make. In this section, I'll explain to you how you already understand chemical reactions, though in food form.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chemistry © 2003 by Ian Guch. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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