Guest Fox: Denise Williams Salter

                                                    By Jeff Salter 

            Every now and then this ole Hound Dog is thrown for a loop at the week’s assigned topic.  Favorite recipes?  I don’t cook!  I can barely boil an egg.  I only prepare dishes which have a maximum of two steps:  (1) open container … and (2) nuke what’s inside it.
            So I was whining a bit to my spouse about not knowing what to write about.  She began rattling off an entire treatise on chili.  “You could say this, and you could say that.”  But she was speaking in fully formed paragraphs.
            Naturally, I responded:  “Well, YOU write it.”
            So she did.
            Without further ado, here’s my wife (for two-thirds of my life), Denise Williams Salter … my Guest Fox for October. 

                                                        Speakin’ ‘Bout Chili
                                                     By Denise Williams Salter 

            Autumn.  Less humidity.  Shorter days.  Longer nights.  Cool mornings.  Cool enough that you don’t mind heating up the kitchen to cook gumbo, vegetable beef soup, or chili. The lip smackin’, tummy warmin’, can’t hardly wait ‘til Fall food.
            Gumbo and vegetable beef soup – YUM – ‘nuf said.  But, Chili.  I got some words that have to get out! 

            Growing up in Louisiana, I learned to eat Chili the way it’s intended to be made.  Beans, beef, onion, and enough chili powder to make your eyes water and your voice hoarse!  Simple, straight-forward Chili.  The beans can be any combination of red, pinto, black, kidney or any other dark colored beans.  Pale navy beans are not allowed!  Ground beef, leftover brisket, and minced steak are all acceptable meat for real Chili.  Even sausage tastes better simmered in the Chili.  [Keep the turkey for Thanksgiving!]  Onion sautéed in bacon grease with some bell pepper tossed in (do not tell Jeff) sets the stage for the remaining ingredient.  Chili Pepper!  The amount of chili pepper separates the La-Tex Chili apart from chili made anywhere else in the nation!  Chili just is not Chili without it!
            (One time, at the request of a cousin raised inNorth Kentucky, I cut back on the correct amount of chili pepper powder in my recipe.  The result tasted like beans and ground beef swimming in ketchup.  Bleeeechhhh!)
            Once you get your bowl of Chili, add cheese and crackers to bring the consistency of the liquid to a paste.  This is not soup!  It’s Chili!  You should be able to eat it with a fork!
            I have been told that Cincinnatimakes a fine chili, however I would not call it chili.  The Cincinnati folks pour their chili over spaghetti.  Then, they sprinkle onions, cheese, and crackers over the top.  This is not Chili.  This is a spaghetti sauce without the onions cooked in it.  Cincinnati-style chili substitute tastes okay … UNLESS you’re expecting it to taste like authentic Chili. The ersatz ‘chili’ does have a tomato base, but what is that other taste in it?  Some say nutmeg.  Others say chocolate.  Still, this is not Chili.
            And, while I am on the subject of spaghetti, real Chili does not have spaghetti or alphabet noodles cooked in it!
           Cool evenings plead for authentic, hot and spicy La-Tex Chili!

 Question
            Well now that my wife has issued this formal proclamation, tell us what YOU put in the chili you make?  And how HOT do you make it?

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About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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54 Responses to Guest Fox: Denise Williams Salter

  1. Tonya Kappes says:

    I LOVE chili!!! I use Tabasco Chili Starter to give my chili the kick it needs.

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      When we were first married, Denise used to give a lot of ‘kick’ to the spaghetti she made — one of a handful of dishes she had mastered at that point. I always needed an extra napkin must to wipe the sweat off my brow.
      Tabasco is made somewhere in LA, so we’ve always used it liberally.

      Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Tonya, this is Denise’s reply, which I just moved to the correct spot.

      “Liberal shaking of the cayenne pepper into the spaghetti sauce adds a glow to the body and wards off flu.”

      Like

  2. Jillian says:

    I agree with everything you said except the super spicy part. I’m a big ole wimp. I do not like my lips to be on fire. I can’t enjoy the food when the fire dept has to spray water down my throat. One of my favorite words of all time is ersatz and I love that you used it!!

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      LOL, Jillian. Wells aid. And me neither.
      In fact, just within the past two years, we were at a rest. in TN and I ordered Buffalo Shrimp. I had even asked the waitress a question about how it was prepared because I didn’t want fried. She never said a thing about HEAT.
      [I truly did NOT have any idea that tht word ‘buffalo’ is restaurant code for ‘screaming pain’]
      Wow. I felt like I’d eaten a mouthful of fire ants! a full cup of water didn’t quench the fire.
      I sat there and tried to rub off the HEAT with napkins. Nope. Couldn’t. I took them away in a to-go box with the idea that I might later WASH them off with water.
      But even that was foiled, because once my son-in-law saw them, he popped them like cracker-jacks. He loves the heat.
      Yeah, I like the word ‘ersatz’ also. It features prominently in my 4th novel ms.

      Like

    • denise salter says:

      Thanks, Jillian. Taste is personal! Just ask Jeff about chocolate!!!

      Like

  3. Hello Mrs. Salter! It’s great to meet Jeff’s other half! Loved the post and I have to say a few things of my own. First, I love your idea of chili – with lots of chili powder! You are so right…it has to have this or it is NOT chili! That said, I’m from Northern KY and yes, I like the Cinci chili too….A LOT! However, it is not chili – as you said. It’s just different and a great twist on the recipe. I can appreciate the diversity in recipes. In fact, a few of my friends from Ireland had come to KY once and of course I had them try the Cinci chili, (along with some other Cinci stuff) Graeter’s Ice Cream, and goetta. All were a big hit. haha Though the Cinci chili took some getting used to hahaha

    Great to have you guest blog today. And it was nice to meet someone else who eats their chili with a fork! My kind of woman! I do hope you blog again sometime! (no offence, Jeff) 😉

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Renee, what on earth is “goetta”? I think I had an elderly great-aunt by that name. Ha.
      Denise has bunches of cousins, (plus some aunts & uncles) in the greater Cincy area … so she’s always razzing them about their version of chili.
      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed meeting Denise. It’s been a very cordial reception so far. A lot nicer than having to go to a spouse’s “office party” and stand around being bored. LOL

      Like

      • Goetta is a German breakfast meat. VERY good, but only available in the Cinci/Northern KY area. It’s a mixture of a lot of things, most of which you’d probably rather not know. But let me tell you it is the best!

        Like

      • Jeff Salter says:

        sounds similar to a meat speciality of LA called ‘boudin’ — though I’m not sure that’s the correct spelling.
        You don’t want to look at it too closely and you definitely don’t want to know the entire list of ingredients.

        Like

    • denise salter says:

      Howdy, to you too! Thank you for reminding me of goetta! My Cincinnati cousins tried to get me to taste goetta this summer. After I heard what was in it, I declined with the comment ” When you eat my boiled crawfish and suck the heads, I will eat your goetta!” (I figured since I can not find enough crawfish here in KY to make a good sized meal, I am safe from trying the goetta!)

      Like

      • The next time you are up this way in Cinci, go to a restaurant called Knotty Pine on the Bayou – it’s in KY off the AA highway and it’s the best Cajun food around. Very authentic – 5 star kind of place, but the building itself is VERY interesting. If you like crawfish, you’ll love this place!

        And I’ll suck the heads off your crawfish any day to get you to try goetta. You don’t know what you are missing!

        Like

      • Jeff Salter says:

        Renee, sucking the crawfish’s heads means you’re actually consuming their BRAINS. Or what passes for brains in those skittish crustaceans. I’ve poked around and LOOKED at the gunk inside those heads, but couldn’t bring myself to taste it.

        Like

      • Jeff Salter says:

        I ate a raw oyster ONE time … and it briefly got stuck about half-way down my gullet. I couldn’t quite swallow it and worried the whole thing might get barfed out. Fortunately, the remainder slid down and the crisis was over. But never again!

        Like

  4. I LOVE chili! And my family hails from Louisiana, although my Grandma moved to VA when she married my Grandfather, who was in the service. Still, I spent a great many summers down there south of “Ellic” (that’s how they referred to Alexandria in their neck of the woods, lol). Since most of my days there were scorching hot, we didn’t spend much time over a cauldron of chili, but it’s a definite favorite here. I make mine with ground beef, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and lots of beans and onion. Only my 10yo son and I like it really hot, so we add extra chili powder and hot sauce to our own bowls. For everyone else it’s served rich and seasoned but without the kick. They eat it over rice or with chili crackers, but I don’t like to dilute my spice so I tend to eat mine straight – *grin* – but I do like a nice hot slice of buttered homemade cornbread on the side.

    Mrs. Salter, it’s a pleasure to “meet” you and I have to say I’m impressed there was nary a mention of a M&M in your chili. I wonder how many swats of a wooden spoon it took to make Jeff give up that notion? ;c)

    Like

    • denise salter says:

      Thank you. It is nice meeting all of ya’ll!

      As to the M&Ms – I wonder if that is what’s in the Cincinnati Chili! If I find ANY of those little critters in my chili, then Jeff has some ‘spaninn’ to do!!!

      Chili over rice, hmmm.

      Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Yep, Sarah, that’s exactly what they call Alexandria … in SE LA and Central LA also. I don’t recall hearing it in NW LA.
      But I grew up thinking of it as Aleck. Or … depending on how your vowel is stressed, Eleck.
      Nice of you to make two versions for your family.
      Sometimes that happens here … when a casserole calls for celery, for ex.

      Like

  5. sandra tilley says:

    Hello, Denise! It was great meeting you. Being from the South, your chili is my kind of dish. However, not everyone shares our discriminating taste buds. So when I make chili at home, I make two pots: one mild, and one for the brave at heart.
    Come see us again. Maybe with a red beans and rice recipe!!

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Sandra, I love Red Beans & Rice even better than chili. With cornbread, of course!
      And I like the version Denise makes with sausage ‘doubloons’.
      What part of the south are you from, Sandra?

      Like

    • denise salter says:

      Hello, Sandra. Thank you. Two pots! Great idea when the cousins come for chili! I think I’ll steal it, but not tell them which pot is the Real chili! RB&R! Yum! Every other Friday, the school cafeteria in Madisionville, LA would serve red beans and rice. The cafeteria ladies knew which children to serve the sausage!

      Like

  6. Hello Jeff’s wife 🙂

    I don’t make chile, but I sure like to eat it and your recipe sounds delish.

    Come back again sometime!

    Meredith

    Like

  7. Lois Grant says:

    Denise, we love chili also at our house, but I cheat in that I use False Alarm Chili mix and use just half the red pepper provided. I put lots of onion, green onion, bellpepper, celery AND GARLIC to my pot. My husband likes lots of beans with his although I have had to learn to like that. I like to use the Ranch style chili beans with onions and sometimes jalapeno peppers, but can’t find them up here in the North, so I use kidney beans and black beans in mine, plus lots of tomato sauce. I like mine thick enough to stand a spoon in it, but Ronny likes his thinner. I have to watch him so that he doesn’t add extra water to the pot. I tell him that he can make it soupier in his bowl. Chili in the bowl requires Fritos and cheese and maybe a little sour cream, our side dish is my cole slaw made with grated onion, celery salt, pepper, a little sugar and mayo and ranch dressing. Oh boy! It is time to make chili for this house hold!

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Glad you mentioned cole slaw, Sug. Because one of Denise’s relatives dumps a mound of cole slaw right on top of the chili … yep, in the bowl.
      I like Cole slaw okay, but have no desire to mix it with chili.
      Of course fritos & cheese is always appropriate.

      Like

  8. jbrayweber says:

    Hi Denise! Great to meet Jeff’s better half.
    I’m not a big chili eater though I’m from Texas. gasp! I know, it’s sacrilege! LOL! But my mouth began to water reading your post. I’m so going to try this recipe. The emphasis is on the try as I’m a lot like Jeff when it comes to cooking. Good thing my hubby loves to Bar B Que. Ha!

    Jenn!

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Jenn, you — like our daughter — were fortunate to marry a man who can BBQ. Her husband can also cook indoors, especially when it involves meat. and he was raised in Rockport TX

      Like

      • jbrayweber says:

        I think it’s in a Texan’s genes to be able to BBQ. My hubby has perfected cooking all kinds of meat and fish. I’m good at pasts. Still, I’ve managed to fail at boiling the noodles before. 🙂

        Like

      • jbrayweber says:

        That’s PASTA not pasts. Sheesh.

        Like

      • Jeff Salter says:

        Well, Jenn, boiling pasta is more difficult than it looks. Plus, I’ve tried that ‘test’ they show on TV where you toss the pasta against the wall. Supposedly if it sticks it means the pasta is ready. Or it’s not ready. Or it needs another minute … whatever.
        But what is really means is you have to crawl back there and clean it OFF!

        Like

  9. Denise! What a pleasure; Jeff’s been hiding you from us…a woman after my own heart! You are spot-on when it comes to chili…here I thought I was alone in the universe after moving to N.Cen.,KY. My mother always taught me to make thick chili,with light and dark kidney beans.I can’t take it hot, so mine gets filled with saltines, but I make it hot enough for everyone else. Here, they make weak soupy something and add what they call noodles, (which is actually broken spaghett).Once at a Scout chili luncheon I was asked how much to put in and I said,”You are asking the wrong person!” As for turkey, no matter what anyone says, there is not enough chili powder in the world to mask the taste and make it readl chili! (They also serve their chili accompanied by pimento cheese sandwiches on white bread…ALWAYS).
    This was fun…Jeff, have Denise shine her light our way more often.You are a great couple.

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks, Tonette, for the gracious welcome. I’ll definitely invite her back for another visit … especially if the topic has me stumped. Ha.
      Re: turkey. I’m not a fan of turkey meat at all. But, strangely, I have grown very fond of Turkey BACON. Now I like it better than the pork bacon. Weird.

      Like

  10. everwriting says:

    Hi, Denise,
    So good to have a clear explanation of what real chili is all about. Coincidentally, I had three-bean chili tonight for my dinner. No spaghetti, no alphabet noodles. Where it may have failed your heat-level test, it was otherwise unadulterated by crackers, white bread or ‘noodles’. When my husband makes chili (yes, Jeff, my husband cooks – in fact, he IS the cook in this household), we usually have corn bread. That’s the way my mother served it – Maine-style.
    Thanks for the fun and bailing Jeff out of a hot spot, Denise.
    -Leigh

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Glad you could stop by, Leigh. And thanks for welcoming Denise in her first guest fox appearance.
      Your husband learned how to make chili in WALES? I would have bet a dollar that chili had never reached that part of the world.
      Is the Maine cornbread … the sweet yellow kind …or the un-sweet white kind? I prefer the sweet yellow.

      Like

  11. crbwrites says:

    Denise, I’m so happy to make your acquaintance. Glad you joined Jeff for the blog. My husband makes the chili here, but it’s about the same as you described. Beef, kidney beans, onions, chili powder. Our additions would be minced garlic, diced tomatoes (no ketchup, ever–too sweet) and diced green peppers. I’m the sous chef–I get to cut up the veggies. He adds Tabasco to most food. I usually find it’s hot enough without it. Nothing else goes under or on top. And usually nothing alongside. Earlier this week, we had a bit of chili weather, but summer’s back. So now I’m longing for the taste, but not the heat. Fajitas!

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks, Chris. Not sure where Denise is right now, but if she returns, I’ll tell her that you live in Alabama, so she’ll know why your weather is too warm for chili.
      Up here it was prob. slightly too warm today, but in about a week, it will be perfect again.

      Like

  12. LOVE IT! Great post, Jeff. Good work from Denise, too!

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks, Katharine. Glad you could visit. Come back any Thursday for words of wisdom from the Hound … and any of the other weekdays to see what our Resident Foxes have to say.

      Like

  13. Jeff, you should know better than to get me talking about food! The only way that I like gound turkey is as turkey burgers, if you don’t expect them to be hamburgers. I fry them with onions, a little salt and white pepper, then serve them on a roll,(preferably an onion roll, or in Italian bread) ,with a little mayo. Nice.

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Denise has auditioned turkey burgers a few times here. I don’t care for them. I don’t have a good enough imagination to pretend that’s a burger. Maybe it they called it “ground & compressed turkey meat on a bun” I wouldn’t be so offended.

      Like

  14. denise salter says:

    Hey, ya’ll. Thanks for letting me spew a few words!
    I tried to trade off calories one time (can you say diet – ugh) and used ground turkey instead of ground beef. Even though I hid the package deep in the garbage and added a smidgeon more fire than usual, Jeff and our son still ferretted out the difference! Second day chili is great as the base for Frito Pie as Lois described. All this talk about chili means I will have to make some this weekend! One tip I learned from my mom (when we lived on the North Shore in Covington, LA) – If the weather does not cooperate to be cold enough for fires in the fireplace and cold weather food, then turn the air conditioner to as cold as you can get away with! So, LaTex Chili this weekend regardless of the weather!

    Like

  15. Jeff Salter says:

    Well, I’m shutting down for the night. It’s close to midnight here. I want to thank my wife for writing the column and appearing today … and I’m really gratified at how cordial everybody was. You made Denise feel very welcome and I truly appreciate it.
    Good night!

    Like

  16. I’m a little late to the party, but I’d like to say Hi to a great guest fox!! It’s about time Jeff share the spotlight with his beautiful wife. She also talks true when she discusses chili! My people are from Texas and Louisiana and if it’s not spicy, it’s not worth eating! True chili is an art made with simple ingredients. It represents history out on the open range and folks in covered wagons. Thanks for sharing your thoughts…I’m making chili today and yes, you will be able to eat it with a fork!!

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks, Stacey. It sounds like we’ve started a chili revolution. Ha.
      Up here in S. central KY, our church has an annual chili contest where all the interested men — no ladies allowed — bring in their best formula and the judging begins.
      The ladies bring desserts.

      Like

  17. Ted Talley says:

    Great post, Denise. Yep. It’s getting to be chili time here in the Ozarks, too. Gumbo time. Beef/vegetable soup time, too. Just about anything that simmers on the stove top for best and deepest flavor. Noticed the leaves are beginning to change here just yesterday. Denise is right about the Cincinnati chili. Had some earlier this year while in Cincy. It was decent, interesting….but not chili. Sort of like those Olympic/competition ice dancers when those dying scenes, flat out on the ice, became the ‘thing’. Finally judges convened and said, “Enough. We don’t know what this is, but it’s not ice skating.” So yeah, I don’t know what that stuff in Cincy is, but it’s not chili. Actually, in Joplin (and elsewhere in Missouri I think) they name it Spaghetti Red. Good call.

    I vacillate between chili with meat only (some Texans swear that no-bean chili is REAL chili) and the chili with beans. Considering the probable root of the dish (working-class/agrarian native American/Mexican/Southwest cowboy probably and not unlike the roots of some of the best dishes of similar pedigree from hardworking folks of yore in the Provence in France), I suppose REAL chili would probably be WITH beans because of the cheap and convenient protein source. I like Denise’s take, then. My favorite source for the seasoning and the ‘heat’ though is Gebhardt’s Chili Powder, widely available in most Texas supermarkets. I have to grab some when down there same as I have to stock up on Community Coffee when in Louisiana. In addition, I drop some Tabasco sparingly near the end of cooking, to taste.

    But you, Jeff! Reared in Louisiana and not knowing exactly where Tabasco Sauce is from? For shame. It’s Avery Island, south of New Iberia. And in case it comes up, Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning is concocted in Opelousas and Bruce’s popular Louisiana Hot Sauce in New Iberia. My favorite ‘regular’ Louisiana hot sauce (like Bruce’s, the kind in the the pointy top bottle with the tiny red cap) is actually the Panola brand, made just north of Lake Providence, La, mere yards from the Mississippi River levee in the heart of Louisiana/Arkansas delta country. Now I’m hungry for chili, and it’s barely past breakfast time.

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      LOL, Ted. I never can remember names like that. But when you said Avery Island, I remembered. I don’t think I’ve sampled those other sauces … since I tend to eat mostly ‘tame’ dishes these days.
      But BBQ sauce — diff. subject — I like Sweet Baby Ray’s the best.
      I’ve sampled chili without beans, but much prefer WITH beans.
      And, for me, cornbread is a necessity.

      Like

  18. Ted Talley says:

    PS. My favorite canned brand of chili is Wolf brand….once cooked at a small factory in Corsicana, TX, I think it, as many regional brands, has been taken over my an international conglomerate. But it still tastes the same. If nothing else, I like it for those little 10 second TV spots of decades ago. They were ahead of their time in length before these days of our short attention spans when now a 60 second TV spot seems like a PBS documentary. Remember the spot? A weathered ol’ cowboy, in the ranch house kitchen or by the cattle drive campfire, with a voice as deep as the Palo Duro Canyon: “Neighbor, how long’s it been since you had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili? (momentary pause and gravelly chuckle). Well, that’s too long.”

    They have a new cowboy in their commercials who delivers the same line in a TV spot but he’s much too young and a tenor…more like the line being delivered by Jeff Foxworthy.

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      I used to love those commercials, Ted. And you have a very colorful way of describing them. Ha.
      As for Wolf Brand itself, it was good chili when used in “frito pie” but I didn’t like it plain.

      Like

  19. Micki Gibson says:

    Well I’m a day late (and probably a dollar short), but hello Mrs. Thursday Hound aka Mrs. Salter. Chili is one of those things I love in the cooler months. And if there’s a grilled cheese sandwich to go along with it? Even better. I haven’t tried eating mine with a fork, but it sounds heavenly. As for the serving it over pasta concoction? Thanks, but I’ll pass. To me that’s just spiced up spaghetti sauce and chili is a whole other ball game.

    Like

    • Jeff Salter says:

      LOL — “spiced up spaghetti sauce” — that’s a great description, Micki.
      I guess I could tolerate a grilled cheese S/W along with chili, but only if cornbread was not available.
      You see, I can make a full meal just out of grilled cheese S/W.

      Like

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