Every time I make chili it reminds me of something you would take to a funeral. I have never once in my life brought chili to a funeral. In fact, I have never once been to a funeral where I had to bring a dish of any type. So I’m not sure why it reminds me of funerals. Maybe it’s that I have always longed to be from down South where everyone brings a covered dish to potlucks and funerals and such. We don’t tend to do that much in the North. At least I never have. Maybe it’s because Chili would be an easy dish to travel with for something like a funeral or potluck.
Of course when I think of funerals, I also remember one of my most embarrassing moments. (There are many of these for me. Sometimes on a daily basis).
My husband and I had to attend the funeral of a friend’s father who had passed away. We went the second night of the viewing and arrived about a half hour after it started. While I won’t say it was crowded, there was certainly enough people to witness my less than graceful maneuver.
My husband took a seat and I handed my jacket and purse to him. Being the good Catholic girl that I am, I proceeded up to the casket to kneel and say a quick prayer. Catholics pray for the release of a soul from purgatory, so this was important business I had to see to! It’s important to note that the service was an open casket. Remember that for later.
I approached the casket and right in front of it was an ornately carved, wooden kneeling bench that was perched on the top of a small wooden platform. I kneeled down ready to do the sign of the cross when all of a sudden I felt the bench shift. One of the legs was not fully on top of the platform it had been placed on, and of course I was the first lucky person to kneel down on it.
You know that instinct that you have when you are about to fall ass over elbows? You know the one where you automatically reach out in front of you with your hands to grab on to something to help stop yourself from falling on your face? That’s what I did. The problem was the only thing in front of me to grab on to was the casket. The casket that was open. The one with my poor friend’s father in it. As I felt the bench slip I grabbed the edge of the casket and knew immediately this was a mistake. The casket shook, the bench made a loud bang as the top of it hit into the front of the casket, and the hinged open top of the casket began vibrating. I clung to the side of it with all my strength until I could feel it stabilize, praying all the while that the top of the casket would not come crashing down on my fingers. This probably was only about a ten second episode, but it was the longest ten seconds of my life.
Things finally stabilized and I could feel my face burning with embarrassment. I wanted to climb into that casket and pull the top down on myself so I wouldn’t have to turn around and face all of those people sitting behind me. I immediately did the sign of the cross and began to pray;
Dear Father in Heaven, please don’t let anyone have seen that! Please don’t let them all be looking at me now! Forgive me for almost flinging this dearly departed man out of his resting place and launching him across the funeral home head first! Please don’t let this bench give way when I attempt to stand, causing me to fall face first into this openly waiting casket. Please erase the last ten seconds from every single persons mind that is sitting in this room. Please! In the name of Jesus Christ my Saviour. Amen.
I stood up VERY carefully. Thankfully, God had answered one part of my prayer and allowed me not to fall face first on top of the deceased. I took a deep breath and turned around to meekly return to my seat. The one next to my waiting husband. My eyes immediately locked with my husbands and I saw him with this small smirk on his face as he slowly shook his head and looked down. I knew what he was thinking. That this could not have happened to anyone other than his extremely graceful wife. It was so typical of something that I would do.
I immediately sat next to him and whispered between my teeth, “Don’t say a word or I will punch you. Not. One. Word.”
Shortly after I had returned to my seat I saw the funeral director go up to the casket, look down at the kneeling bench and re-arrange it so that it was sitting securely in place. On his way down the aisle he stopped next to my seat, apologized and asked if I was okay.
“It’s okay! Really, I’m fine”, I repeated. This is what I said. What I thought was, “Sure! Come fix the stupid thing AFTER I almost buried myself alive! And make sure you stop to apologize to me so that EVERYONE can look over at me as I become even more red in the face.”
My husband and I stayed long enough to pay our respects and then left. I knew he could only hold it in so long. As soon as we got into the car and shut the doors, he put the key in the ignition, gave that little smirk and looked over at me and started laughing.
“Oh. My. God,” I said. “Do you think anyone saw me?” I really didn’t need an answer because I already knew EVERYONE saw me.
I realized as we were driving home I had never said a prayer for this poor, deceased man! Oh sure, I prayed. But I prayed for myself and my growing embarrassment. I never prayed for this poor man’s soul! All this time he could be stuck in purgatory so much longer because I had never prayed for his heavenly release! I envisioned he was probably looking down on me thinking, “You stupid imbecile! Because of your clumsiness you never prayed for the release of my soul and now I’m stuck here! Too bad the casket lid didn’t come crashing down on your fingers!”
As soon as I got home I said my prayer. I apologized for my less than graceful showing of respect for this man and begged for the release of his soul. I hope someone upstairs got the message. I already felt bad enough as it was!
So if you have a funeral to attend you might want to try this recipe. It travels well and tastes delicious. Just try not to power launch the deceased out of the casket when you attend. It’s really tacky!
CHILI WITH BLACK BEANS:
- 2 Lbs. Ground Turkey or Lean Ground Beef
- 1 Can black beans
- 1 Green Bell Pepper
- 1 Medium Onion
- 1 28 oz. Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp. Cumin
- 2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
- 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp. Paprika
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Begin by browning your ground turkey or beef in a large pot or dutch oven and drain the fat.
Dice up the green bell pepper and the onion. Rinse and drain the can of black beans. Now add all the above ingredients followed by the crushed tomatoes and all of your spices. Stir it all together, cover, and simmer it on low for an hour, stirring occasionally.
I like to serve this with some Frito Scoops chips, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top. I tone down the heat of the chili because of my children, but my husband always adds a few dashes of hot sauce to his serving. Also, I prefer the black beans to Kidney Beans. They have firmer texture and tend to hold up better. I always find the Kidney Beans to become too mushy. But that’s just my weirdness.