Phannie

Phannie
Photo taken at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Ravages of Hitch Itch: A Taste Test of Fake Chili

At Sunset Shores RV Park, Willis, Texas...

When I stay in one place for a long time, as we have done here near Houston, 'hitch itch' begins to set in, and it seems to do strange things to my otherwise stable (I think) stream of consciousness. For example, I had the notion the other day that I needed to investigate fake chili from the supermarkets to determine which brand tastes best. Now that's not something that pops into my head every day. 

I suppose it's because I posted recently about how I cook chili, saying that I usually throw in a can or two of fake chili to thicken up my own version. It occurred to me that I had never tried more than a couple of brands of the canned chili offered in grocery stores, probably because I grab them quickly, due to the potential for embarrassment if anyone I knew were to see me buying it. However, that likelihood is small down here, so I thought it was high time I stepped up and identified the best of these fake chili-like concoctions if I'm going to have the gall to use them. (I call "fake" any chili that's not homemade.)

So, here are the brands of canned chili we tried:



Since we were in an H.E.B. store, we included the two store brands, Hill Country and H.E.B. The most expensive brand was Chilli Man; Wolf Brand was perhaps the best known. I roped Sandy into helping me do the sampling. Rolling her eyes, she reluctantly agreed, much like she would to keep a patient calm in an asylum.  (By the way, the Amour brand we tried had no beans, like the others pictured. I merely grabbed the wrong can for the photo. As I've said before, real chili is not supposed to have beans in it. It's a transgression you wouldn't want to mention here in Texas--there are a lot of gun toters in these parts.)

Anyway, psyching ourselves up to taste this stuff, we agreed that Armour, to our surprise, was the best, followed by Chilli Man, Hormel and Hill Country. H.E.B. brand and Wolf Brand tied for last place. (I have never liked anything about Wolf Brand Chili.) 

We also tried two brands of packaged, refrigerated chili:



These were much better, in our opinion, than the canned chili. They almost tied in the taste test, but we think the Texas Chili won out over Owens, but only slightly.

So what will we do with all the leftover chili? Well, I'm tossing out the losers--Wolf and H.E.B brands--and I'll use the rest as thickener in a big pot of chili I'll be fixing in a few days. 

Yes, indeed, the idle mind is the devil's workshop, isn't it?

I've been sharing in previous posts how we've had to get accustomed to buying smaller amounts of food more often due to the space limitations we have. However, there are some foods that you just can't usually buy in small quantities--like bacon and sausage, for example.  A one-pound package of each lasts us for a very long time--longer than we would want to keep it in the refrigerator. The obvious answer, of course, would be to freeze the packages and just use them when you need them. The problem with that is the difficulty of thawing out the whole package when you need only a small portion.

Well, we've solved that dilemma by swerving into a system of re-portioning the large packages into serving-sized pouches and freezing them, thawing only what we need on a given day. It's not exactly rocket science, but it works for us.


  
The meal-sized packages then fit into a large zippered bag:



Well, there you have it--a couple of foodie tips from a mind that's been idle too long. Happy travels, y'all...take me with you!


Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

16 comments:

  1. The chilis test would have been fun, yes I think it is soon time for you to hit the road. We have been portioning and repackaging for of years, a great tip saves pace as well.

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    1. It is definitely time to hit the road, George. It won't be long now.

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  2. Our freezer is full but still room for the odd good meat deals. I only make my own chili as well but that means stocking u on beans and canned tomatoes.

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    1. Don't tell anyone, but I sometimes put beans in my chili.

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  3. i remember the days when a pound of bacon would never go bad before it was used up, but now I do the same thing, make it up in smaller portions. I find it easiest to use when I lay half slices out in a single layer, and separate them with double plastic. Most of the times now a days I only use bacon as a garnish or flavoring.

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    1. We don't eat as much bacon nowadays, either. We've found that less than a minute in the microwave is all that's needed to free up any slices that have stuck together. Haven't seen your blog in a while; I've missed it. Glad to hear from you guys.

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  4. A vacuum sealer is a nice addition. We used ours a lot when we trsveled full-time.

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    1. We've thought about one of those, but this seems to work for the relatively short freezer time we keep this stuff. If it were going to be much longer, a vacuum sealer would probably be essential. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  5. I have heard that myth about Texas chili not having beans for many years. Myth, you say? Yes, at least when I grew up around Dallas during the 50s 60s and 70s. We always had beans in ours, all of our neighbors put beans in theirs and so did the local diners. I must say you are brave to eat all that chili at once. Enjoyed the blog.

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    1. Well, yes, I have to admit that it is largely a Texas yarn. And I must confess that even I occasionally put beans in my chili. My reference to the myth in my writing is done largely as a bit of poetic license, hopefully for the amusement of the readers. You get points, Lisa, for keeping me honest!

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  6. Next to homemade chili Wendy's is the best. Canned not so much! LOL

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    1. I haven't had Wendy's chili in a very long time; I'll have to give it a try again. Thanks for the suggestion, Marge!

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  7. Yikes! You have way more guts than I to taste test that line up. I can't get past the smell once the can is opened. My youngest daughter once told her 3rd grade school teacher "Chili in can my dog won't eat". Ran into that teacher about a year ago, he told me has not had canned chili since that day. Daughter is now 33! I am thinking, you have been parked too long. Perhaps it is time for you to take Sandy out to the mall. The one in McAllen is HUGE with some pretty good food places!

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    1. You are SO right! The chances I take for my readers! I agree that this stuff is not for consumption by itself; I only use it as flavored thickener for my own chili. I made sure I had an ample supply of Alka-Seltzer before I embarked on this experiment, I can tell you. And yes, it is past time to move on, and we will be doing so very soon. Thanks for the suggestion about the mall; I may tell Sandy and I may not. HaHa!

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  8. Replies
    1. I hadn't even thought of Costco; I'll check it out. Thanks!

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