Some might say I am a fair-weather football fan. I've been that way all my life. If the Vassar High School Vulcans, the Michigan State University Spartans, the North Hills Indians or the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't on the field, who cares?
So forgive me if I stifle a yawn over this year's Super Bowl. Who's playing, anyway? One of these days, I'll have to amble over to the sports department and find out. Not that it matters.
Next Sunday, only chocolate could make me feel whole again.
It is true that once, in the first flash of true love, I sat in the relentless drizzle that permeated the University of Washington Huskies games. Never mind that the slanting rain quickly slipped under the black garbage bags that passed as our game gear. It was always a special treat to watch the USC cheerleaders, they of the land of sun and smog, try to cope with their suntans liquefying.
There remains an aura about those long-gone days in the Pacific Northwest. Until this year the Huskies, one of two bowl-eligible teams that didn't go bowl-ing (the other was Syracuse), usually had winning seasons.
The same could be said of our sad-sack Steelers' off year. "I remain loyal," said our friend Mike, but he's a fan of a more sturdy stripe than I. Even my husband, Ace, got discouraged.
Generally, the super part of the Super Bowl is the food anyway. The timing is discombobulating, in any case. In recent memory, has the Super Bowl ever been played in February? February is the month of giddy romance, not of burly guys in crash helmets. Should we even be eating chili or wings this year? Shouldn't we save them for Groundhog Day?
Maybe a time of penance and introspection is due. Maybe next year will be the year.
Coming off the Year of Obesity -- a longtime problem magnified to hysterical urgency by the media -- the low-fat, low-cal, low-carb, low-down recipes crowd my e-mail. Luckily, I saved a recipe from long before the Steelers season began, when some were predicting that black and gold would be the theme colors at next Sunday's Super Bowl party.
The biblical poet in Ecclesiastes proclaimed, "To every thing there is a season."
Baseball bumps into football and football lasts into basketball and hockey is an overlap atop them all. That's probably why we need so many TV stations. Something's always on.
Next Sunday, though, while the Super Bowl is being played, I'm going to finish up my super-duper chili -- it contains my favorite ingredients of cocoa and corn -- and escape to the mall. I may catch a game prediction from a groundhog in the parking lot.
This recipe has more than 30 ingredients and so much chopping, measuring and cookin', we might consider it penance. But, oh, baby, what a chili! They might want to include it in "Heinz Field Cookbook II," if there ever is one.
The recipe makes lots, so maybe I'll freeze some.
I admit I haven't totally given up. Ecclesiastes again: "A time to weep, and a time to laugh."
And another season is on its way, one with no time-outs, just outs. I bought Ace a gift in black and gold, enclosing a needy note:
"Hope springs eternal."
Beer 'n' Brat Cocoa Chili
- 10 links (two 19.76-ounce packages) bratwurst links
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dark chili powder (we used chipotle chile pepper)
- 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 28-ounce can whole stewed tomatoes
- 29-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups beer
- 30-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 15.5-ounce can hot chili beans
- 16-ounce bag frozen whole kernel corn
- 16-ounce bag frozen whole small (pearled) onions (we left this out)
- 3 cups celery, cut in large chunks
- 2 cups onion, cut in large chunks
- 1 green bell pepper, roasted and cut in chunks (we substituted 1/2 cup fresh green pepper)
- 1 red bell pepper, roasted and cut in chunks (we used jarred roasted red pepper)
- 4 cups water
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced in 1/2-inch lengths (we used these)
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 6 tablespoons dark chili powder (add only for additional heat)
- 1 fresh lime, juiced with pulp
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded pepperjack, sharp cheddar or fontina
In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium. Add bratwurst (cut in 1-inch chunks) and remaining ingredients in first step as noted. Saute while stirring until sausage is fully cooked, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Stir in all ingredients in second step. Simmer on low for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Blend ingredients noted in final step, and simmer an extra 15 minutes.
Serve topped with sour cream or your favorite cheese and a crusty French, Italian or sourdough bread.
Post-Gazette food editor Suzanne Martinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1760.