Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ken's Chili


Everyone likes their chili differently, and I am no exception. Here is a recipe that I have fine-tuned over many years for an easy to prepare, delicious chili. I seldom hear any complaints from my guests. 


I use a slow-cooker. It's easy and the slow cooking makes certain that you don't impart a burnt flavor. I also like how the slow cooking breaks down the ground beef into very fine, tender pieces. My favorite model has a low setting for 8-10 hours. I will often start the process in the late evening and allow it to cook over night. 

The recipe easily scales-up for the amount of chili that you want. Each pound of ground beef makes about four servings. The exact amount of each of these ingredients is approximate. Don't get hung-up on being precise. It's cooking for goodness sake, have some fun in the kitchen! 

Ingredients: 

For EACH pound of ground beef you will need... 

1 Tsp garlic seasoning, or diced garlic. 

1 Tsp onion seasoning, or diced onion. 

1 - 12 oz bottle of beer. I prefer Sam Adams Boston Lager for cooking. Your choice. However, the darker the beer, the more of the yeast and hops flavor you will enjoy in the chili. 

2 - 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes. Your choice on type: plain or with peppers, onions, etc. Feel free to dice your own; I'm too lazy. 

1 - 10 oz can of tomato soup. Plain old Campbell's Tomato Soup. Chili seasoning. Your choice here. I am not too proud to simply use a pre-packaged chili mix most of the time. Brand is not important. I do not like my chili spicy hot... only spicy flavorful. If you have a concoction of pepper and spices that works for you, use it. It's the other things I use in this recipe that give this chili its special flavor. 

4 Tbsp flour. Corn flour is best (NOT corn meal), but regular white flour is fine too. 

4 Tbsp brown sugar. 

Milk chocolate (to taste). Not semi-sweet or dark chocolate, but MILK chocolate. I use about 2 Tbsp. 

- or - 

Grape jelly (to taste). I use about 2 Tbsp. 

Salt (to taste) 

Black pepper (to taste) 

Instructions: 

- Turn the slow cooker on low. 
- Place the fresh / thawed ground beef in the slow cooker and use a wooden spoon to break up and loosen the meat. 
- Add the garlic and onion (seasoning or fresh), beer, diced tomatoes, tomato soup, and chili seasoning of choice. 
- Stir completely and thoroughly. 
- Cover and allow to cook. It does not hurt to uncover and stir occasionally, but it is not necessary if your slow cooker is on a low setting. 

- After 6 to 8 hours 

- Turn off the slow cooker. 
- Uncover and BEFORE stirring, ladle-off any surface oil. This step may not be necessary depending upon the ground beef. Some has less fat than others. 
- Stir thoroughly. 
- Lightly spread the flour on top, and stir into the chili. The flour adds both taste and texture. You may use more or less to your taste. 
- Lightly spread the brown sugar on top, and stir into the chili. You may use more or less to your taste.
- Add the milk chocolate - or - grape jelly, and stir into the chili. Do not use both. Each one provides a unique flavor, but I do not think that they go well together in the chili. Experiment and choose the one that you like best. 
- Do not add the brown sugar and milk chocolate / grape jelly until the long slow cooking process is complete. If you add it at the beginning, the sugar is likely to burn on the bottom of the slow cooker and leave you with a bitter flavor. 
- Salt and pepper to taste. I wait for this step to the very end as the need for salt will depend upon your other ingredients. Extra salt may not be needed for your taste. Don't over-salt early, as it's very hard to undo later. 

Serving: 

Notice there are NO BEANS. Sorry, but chili was not meant to have beans. Since some people like beans with their chili, I will prepare them separately so that they can be added by choice. Everyone in the family likes to be creative when eating their chili. I like mine on a bed of corn chips, topped with shredded cheese and sour cream. The kids like a bed of pasta (your choice) or saltines. Diced onion or jalapeƱos are good on top as well. There is no right or wrong way to serve chili at our house. 

Enjoy!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Embedding a Moot Forum in Google Blogger

Moot is a re-imagined forum application introduced as a beta version in April 2013. In the developers' own words, "Moot is a radically different discussion platform, unencumbered by the weight of unnecessary features and distractions. It places the conversation back to the forefront. Clean user interface, persistent content and deep integration into the site will allow a more natural and meaningful discussion to take place. People will focus on topics they care about."

You can read more about Moot at their website. The neat thing is that you can use the Moot application to provide full forum capability, or to provide a simple comment system for blog posts, photos, articles, or whatever you choose.

If you have found this blog post, you probably already know all about Moot. You have likely created a forum to test and now you are interested in embedding the product into your Google Blogger site. This task is actually very easy to accomplish, and I believe the following guides will prove helpful in getting the basic functionality working on your own Blogger site.


To install Moot as a forum.

1) Create a Moot forum at Moot.it

2) Configure your blog to properly host the Moot forum application. Log-on to your Google Blogger account and navigate to the blog's admin menu; select "Template" and then select "Edit HTML"


After the <head> tag, enter the following HTML code (i.e. that code shown below in red characters):

     <head>

     <!-- 1. Moot style -->
     <link href='http://cdn.moot.it/1/moot.css' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'/>

     <!-- 2. jQuery library (v1.7+ required) -->
     <script src='http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1/jquery.min.js'/>

     <!-- 3. Moot application -->
     <script src='http://cdn.moot.it/1/moot.min.js'/>

     <!-- 4. Moot mobile optimization -->
     <meta content='width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0' name='viewport'/>

     <meta content='IE=EmulateIE7' http-equiv='X-UA-Compatible'/>


Select "Save Template" and "Close"

3) Create a new page on your blog to display the forum. From the blog's admin menu; select "Pages," "New Page," and "Blank Page"


Enter a descriptive name for the new page (i.e. Forum) and in the page edit dialog, select "HTML"


Enter the following HTML code to place your Moot forum in this Blogger page.

     <a class="moot" href="http://api.moot.it/[forumname]"></a>

Where [forumname] is the name used when you registered the new forum at Moot.it. Do not include the square brackets.

Select "Update" and "Close"

That's it. You have successfully added a Moot forum to your Google Blogger site. For more information, please refer to the Moot documentation.



To install Moot as a Comments system.

1) Create a Moot forum at Moot.it

2) Configure your blog to properly host the Moot forum application (Please note that this is the same first step as used to install Moot as a forum. If you have already done that, you can skip to the next step). Log-on to your Google Blogger account and navigate to the blog's admin menu; select "Template" and then select "Edit HTML"


After the <head> tag, enter the following HTML code (i.e. that code shown below in red characters):

     <head>

     <!-- 1. Moot style -->
     <link href='http://cdn.moot.it/1/moot.css' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'/>

     <!-- 2. jQuery library (v1.7+ required) -->
     <script src='http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1/jquery.min.js'/>

     <!-- 3. Moot application -->
     <script src='http://cdn.moot.it/1/moot.min.js'/>

     <!-- 4. Moot mobile optimization -->
     <meta content='width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0' name='viewport'/>

     <meta content='IE=EmulateIE7' http-equiv='X-UA-Compatible'/>


Select "Save Template" and "Close"

3) Create a comments feature for your content. From the blog's admin menu; select the existing page or post where you would like to add the comments feature. In the page edit dialog, select "HTML"


Enter the following HTML code where you would like the Moot comments feature to display.

     <a class="moot" href="http://api.moot.it/[forumname]/[pagename]"></a>

Where [forumname] is the name used when you registered the new forum at Moot.it, and [pagename] is a unique name for this comments feature. Each comments feature you add to the Blogger site must have a unique [pagename] to manage the users' comments. Do not include the square brackets.

Select "Update" and "Close"

To be most effective as a comment system, you should consider changing your Blogger site settings to hide Blogger hosted comments (Admin Menu, Settings, Posts and Comments, Comment Location - Hide) and (Admin Menu, Layout, Blog Posts - Edit, Comments - uncheck).

That's it. You have successfully added a Moot comments feature to your Google Blogger site. For more information, please refer to the Moot documentation.


Customizing the Moot application look and feel.

The Moot application automatically inherits the style of your Blogger template. However, if you need to fine-tune the look, you can override the CSS to customize the Moot forum or comments feature as you wish. This may be a more advanced task for some users.

1) Log-on to your Google Blogger account and navigate to the blog's admin menu; select "Template" and then select "Edit HTML"


After the lines of HTML you added to configure your blog for Moot, enter the following HTML code (i.e. that code shown below in red characters):

     <head>

     <!-- 1. Moot style -->
     <link href='http://cdn.moot.it/1/moot.css' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'/>

     <!-- 2. jQuery library (v1.7+ required) -->
     <script src='http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1/jquery.min.js'/>

     <!-- 3. Moot application -->
     <script src='http://cdn.moot.it/1.0/moot.min.js'/>

     <!-- 4. Moot mobile optimization -->
     <meta content='width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0' name='viewport'/>

     <!-- 5. Moot Custom CSS -->
     <style>
     .moot {
         font-size: 14px;
         font-color: #666666;
     }

     </style>


     <meta content='IE=EmulateIE7' http-equiv='X-UA-Compatible'/>


Select "Save Template" and "Close"

In the example above, the CSS customization sets the Moot font size to 14 pixels tall, and the font color to dark gray (#666666). You would enter your own custom CSS here. The Moot CSS reference provides the information used for their application. Use caution changing these values and keep good document on the changes you made. Some edits can render your Blogger site unusable.

I hope that this brief tutorial helps you enjoy the Moot application on your own Google Blogger site.