Stuffed friends and the best red chili ever

Y'all, I asked Ol to make his bed this morning, and this fine scene was the result. 

It is my opinion that Ol has enough stuffed friends. He does not share this perspective and to be fair, he tends to each of them with love and appreciation, but my lord. It's Wild Kingdom upstairs.

Adorable. He used to put plastic pancakes in Elmo's mouth and say "Yum, yum, Elmo." Could you die? And that big blue dog on the floor? His name is Big Blue Dog, and Jack used to drink a bottle whilst reclining on BBD's midsection. Such dear and funny memories in this ragtag collection. There is a story behind each and every one of those furry pals.

Friends, it was bliss having the house to myself today and the boys back at school. Let's give it up for schedules and teachers and recess. Woot!

I napped and cooked and wrote and tidied. I even showered and styled my hair. Heaven. The main event in the kitch was the making of this chili, Chili for a Crowd, from The Silver Palate. I enjoyed this at a friend's house last week and have been pining for it ever since. Upon receiving the recipe, I saw that it made enough to serve 35 or 40. I was briefly stopped in my tracks: did I want to buy 8 pounds of ground beef and many jars of ground cumin?

As a matter of fact, I did. And boy am I glad. We ate well tonight, and my freezer is stocked with many sublime future meals. I'm usually not a red chili gal, preferring green or veggie chili instead. But this recipe? Perfection!

Chili doesn't photograph well, y'all. Take my word on this.

Notes: Per Ellen Miller and moi.

Neither of us like olives in chili, so we omitted them.

Ellen felt the chili was pretty damn salty with all four tablespoons of called-for salt. I cut it to 2.5 tablespoons and ended up adding another tablespoon or so later. Better to need to add than to remove, but you might end up using close to the original four.

Folks who are scared of dill: I had no idea what role dill would play in this chili, but I took the leap and used the whole half cup. I couldn't taste it in any overt way so suggest going for it.

Ellen doesn't love kidney beans so only uses two cans. I love kidney beans so used all three cans. Go for what you like.

The recipe suggests draining the tomatoes. I saw no reason to do this and am glad I didn't. It would have been an awfully thick chili without the juice.

I used 5 pounds of ground beef instead of the 8 called for and find it to be plenty!

Do NOT skimp on the cumin. It's critical and deliciously underpins this chili.