Last week when I surprised my Mom at church, after the service they were selling tickets for their annual Chili Supper.  I heard my Mom and another woman talking about how they were going to be short staffed in the kitchen this year.  I thought – bummer I have to work on Friday!

But then I remembered I had originally taken Friday off for my photo shoot and switched my mammogram appointment to Friday – so I was off of work!  I realized Thursday afternoon that I could again surprise my Mom and show up and help them cook!  I told my sister about it on my drive home from work on Thursday.

Since we had a lazy morning yesterday, I didn’t realize my Mom had called my cell phone at 8:30.  Odd.  My Mom usually doesn’t call me on my cell phone on a work day.  I called my sister and said “why would Mom be calling me?”  There was a pause.  She said “I accidentally told her you were coming today.”  WTF?!

So the surprise was ruined.  I called my Mom back, and she said even though she knew I was coming, she was so grateful for the help!  And that’s all that matters, right?

I ended up getting gas and then hitting up McDonald’s for breakfast.  My mouth was about to say “I’ll have the Sausage McMuffin with Egg and a Hash Brown!”  But I quickly caught myself and got the oatmeal – 290 calories – done.   The apples were actually really tart which I liked because the oatmeal was on the border of being too sweet for me.

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When I got to church my Mom and another woman had already started chopping veggies.  We were making enough chili for 300 PEOPLE which, if you don’t know, is a lot of chili!  First thing I smelled when I walked in?  Fricken onions!

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And guess who’s job it was to chop the rest of the onions?  That would be me.  I must really love my Momma to cut all those onions!

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I did two bowls of onions like the one above – and that was just for the garnish on TOP of the chili!

Momma was working her ass off – checking her timeline, making sure we had the right ingredients for each chili.  We did a traditional chili, a meat only chili (no beans!) and a vegetarian chili.

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She needed a little help though reaching the back pots of chili though!

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After a while we were getting hungry, so my Mom sent me across the street to the deli to pick up some sandwiches.  Tony and I recently watched an episode of Dinners and Drive-ins where they went to a bunch of Jewish deli’s – Tony and I always drool at the pastrami and corned beef!

So when I saw “corn beef” on the menu, I knew that’s the sandwich I was going to have.

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I had to laugh because it isn’t “corn beef” it’s “corned beef” but whatevs.  But then I heard these words: “sorry, we are out of corn beef.”  Waaaaaa.  So I got the Roast beef.  Tony thought I should have gotten the Italian, but the roast beef was good.  I ate half at lunch and then the other half mid-afternoon.

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They got all the canned goods at Aldi – my Mom says they are so cheap, and they get the no tax discount because they are a non-profit.

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And Ultra Foods gave them a discount on the ground beef.  Since it was 80/20, we browned it, then drained the fat before adding it to the chili.

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While I was chopping up onions, I asked my Mom “how much chili powder do you use in your chili?”  She said “I don’t use chili powder.”  Um, what?  Nope, turns out my Mom’s secret weapon is . . .still a secret!!   Whatever it is, it’s a perfect balance of seasonings and just enough heat.

Just when I thought I was done chopping onions?  “Hey Biz, can you slice up some red onion for the garnish for the salads?”  I think I cut a lifetime supply of onions yesterday!

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I also helped cook – making sure the beef was browning and the veggies weren’t overcooking.  I love this circa 1950’s apron – I had two aprons to bring with me, and I walked off without them!

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Can I just say that even though this church stove is old, I loved cooking on a 10 burner gas stove again!  I hate my electric stove.

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Hannah had texted me earlier in the day to ask how things were going.  I told her that Aunt Jennifer had ruined the surprise and she said she was sorry.  Later in the afternoon I was cutting up corn bread when I heard my Mom say “Hannah!”  Yep, she felt bad about my surprise being ruined so she surprised me and drove to church after she got off of work.  #love

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Three generations of chili makers!!  It was so nice to see her and she ended being a big help making sure we had a clean stock of chili bowls.  I hope they made a lot of money – it was $10 for an adult and $5 for kids – one guy paid $250 for a ticket!

What better way to spend a Friday – cooking up a storm and hanging out with family – it was a great day!  And my Mom really appreciated the help.  So that keeps me as the #1 child and of course, Hannah is the #1 grandchild.  Duh.

While its in the 50s today, its rainy and overcast.  I have cans of pumpkin in my pantry calling my name!  I may need to make some scones for the week.

Question of the Day:  Do you top your chili with fresh white onions?  If you do, I’ll still like you, but just wondering. Open-mouthed smile

Have a great weekend – see you Monday!