Chili Stories

Last night the public speaking class that I teach on Monday nights came over to my house for dinner. 

Most everyone was there right on time and enjoyed visiting with each other before supper. 

We said thanks before the meal and then everyone went through a line by the island in my kitchen to fill their plates with salad and cornbread.

And then I handed each one a bowl of “tornado stew.” 

Tornado stew is really nothing more than a fast, easy version of chili.  Nothing more than hamburger meat, canned tomatoes and Ranchstyle beans, but you add some onion, chili powder, Tex-Joy steak seasoning and a bay leaf or two, and you’ve got a meal fit for a herd of cowhands.

I grew up eating chili.  Never got to eat any of my grandfather’s chili, but I always heard it was good.  I love the white chili that my aunt makes, made from chicken and navy beans. 

Then there’s my friend Carl who believes that any decent chili requires two ingredients: whole bright green jalapenos and Jack Daniels.  It’ll set you afire, but it sure goes down smooth.  

We renamed my mother’s chili “tornado stew” after the 1979 tornado in Wichita Falls.  That happened the spring of my senior year in high school and when they canceled our senior play because our high school auditorium had been condemned, we decided to have a cast party at our house.

My mother needed something quick and easy to fix for a cast of 30 teenagers. 

Tornado stew was born. 

Funny how aromas and flavors stick with you. 

And cause you to remember moments and people you haven’t thought of since the last time you tasted that. 

Tonight we sat around after dinner, played ball with Chester, and talked about the power of retelling stories.  Theirs.  Mine. 

I think they’ll remember, too. 

Maybe we should have dinner with class more often.





2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kelvin says:

    I’ve eaten many a Marcrest plate of Tornado Stew in Abilene with good friends. It is memories like these that last a lifetime.

  2. Alyssa says:

    Love that story! Tornado stew sounds wonderful!

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