My Sister’s Green Chili continued

Well, I never did find the green chili powder, so my daughter and I gave the recipe a whirl without substitutions. I am glad we did.  The aroma of roasted pork fused with oregano and garlic with hints of green chilies wafted throughout the kitchen.  It was an amazing warm stew-type dish. A bowl of the hearty meat mixture went well with soft corn tortillas and queso fresco cheese.

When I had completed the cooking, the eating and was driving home with my share of the bounty; I felt disappointed. I had envisioned the experience as one of fun and laughter, like many family cooking adventures. I went into this project with the full knowledge that I was dancing around the grief process and could get burned.  Anyone in the grief process knows what I mean. You crack your heart open and start stirring the pot of feelings, memories, etc and you are going to get singed by the rawness.

As the emotional event percolated from my soul through my mind, I realized I was experiencing a letdown of sorts.  I couldn’t reinvent a day and experience my sister. Yes, I could take her favorite recipe and think about it and talk about her, but in the end she wasn’t here to cook with. In my memoir,  I call it “yearning”. We do things to connect with the person who is no longer here. For the first time since her death, I was more disappointing then soothing. In some ways, it made me feel sadder and even more aware of the emptiness that she once occupied.

The craziness of grief is I will probably keep doing things to feel close to her. Reminisce with my mom; talk with her kids, and other activities that bring her back into my life. No matter how disappointing or fleeting it may be.

Hand approaches hot burner

 

 

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My Sister’s Green Chili

I am planning on cooking my sister’s famous Green Chili.  Let’s clarify, famous in regards to our family and friends; not famous as in tv show or cookbook.  At her grave site service which was less formal and with mostly family, everyone raved about Debbie’s green chili.  We were pleased when her husband distributed copies of the recipe.

I have fond memories of chatting with her on the phone, while she was busy cooking her green chili for her office Christmas party.  She would be cooking until 2 or 3 in the morning chopping and cooking.  Many things stand out in my mind about this memory. First, that she would be up all night cooking. I am not a late night person, like she was. I am the one who gets up at 4 in the morning to get a head start. Second, her secret ingredient is green chili powder. Even though I live in California, I am having a hard time finding it.

Cooking her green chili is going to be a challenge. The recipe is just list of ingredients no directions and lots of scribbles. My first challenge is to take what I have and somehow put it together. Maybe now is the time to confess. I have never had her green chili before. I have heard how great it was from our family and her friends.  But, have never actually tasted it. We would see each other maybe every year or two and our time together did not include cooking her chili. Instead we would have summer picnics and barbeques.

Another challenge is her tweaking. Debbie, had taken the recipe originally given to her by a neighbor and had been modifying parts of the recipe for the best results. Not that the original wasn’t outstanding, for I am sure it was. But, my sister and I are a family of tweakers. Not like meth users. Instead we take a recipe and say, “Hmm, let’s make changes. Spice it up a bit; add more onions and most definitely more garlic!”

My sister is not only a tweaker, but the recipe is technically in her head. Yes, many of us are guilty of having an outline of a recipe, but the true details and nuances stuck in the gray matter.  So here I am. I have most of the ingredients and the pork is cooking away. Tomorrow, I am going over to my daughter’s house. We both love to cook and I am anxious to see how Debbie’s famous green chili turns out. We have her scribbles with no clear directions of what to do after we shred the pork, but we will do our best. Check back and I will share with you the results.Soup image