Big Life with Ray Waters Neal Campbell no

Julia Child lived a big life. She was a teacher and an epicurean philosopher. To me, Julia was the closest thing I have in my belief system to a saint.

Epicureanism is a philosophy that says the point of life is pleasure. That’s the philosophy Julia believed in and taught.

Hers was not pleasure involving excess. She often repeated the Oscar Wilde quote, “Everything in moderation including moderation.” Epicurus, and Julia taught that the way to attain pleasure was to live modestly, to gain knowledge of the workings of the world, and to limit one’s desires. That’s the moderation thing.

One of Julia Child’s most famous recipes is her version of the classic French dish, Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy).

The dish can be made simply without much effort, but Julia’s method is complicated. It takes most of a day’s worth of time, and requires flipping through her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking to make three different recipes (the beef stew, Oignons Glacés Å Brun, and Champignons Sautés au Beurre) that come together to produce the final dish.

Having spent several days of my life over the last several years making Boeuf Bourguignon for people I love, I’ve come to believe Julia was teaching something deeper when she wrote her recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon.

  1. I think she was teaching people how to cook great tasting food apart from this one dish. There are at least 5 different delicious dishes you cook when you cook Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon that you could serve to satisfy a foodie.
  2. Becoming an expert on several small things, when combined can result in in an extraordinarily super, fantastic thing.

I try to apply the lessons I learned from learning to cook Boeuf Bourguignon Julia’s way to nearly everything I do, and unless you trust me and learn to make it her way too, this blog post won’t help you have a bigger life.

I know most people reading this won’t do it, and for you, I’m offering an easier, less fancy alternative!

I’m going to give you my Chili recipe which is based on what I learned from mastering Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon. It involves four recipes that are good on their own.

The first is my Salsa.


Neal’s Salsa

Here’s What You Need:

  • 1 16oz. Can of Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Jalapeño Peppers
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • SALT

Here’s What You Do:

Neal Campbell's SalsaBlacken the Jalapeño peppers. It’s most fun to do it with a blow torch, but you can do it on an open flame, under a broiler, or in a skillet. When the skin of the pepper is black, rinse off the black stuff under a water faucet.

Do the same thing with the garlic clove, and if you’re brave, toast the onion too. It’s a little dangerous because the onion skin might burn your kitchen down.

Chop up the garlic and onion, then toss the onion, garlic, chopped peppers, and juice of half a lemon in a bowl. Add salt until it tastes good. When that mixture tastes good, Mix it with the diced tomatoes.

This salsa recipe is excellent on it’s own, but it’s also a great addition to other dishes, like Chili.

The second recipe is beans.


Neal’s Bean Recipe

Not everyone like beans in chili. If you make great tasting beans, though, they can be added to a bowl of chili when serving rather than to the master dish.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 lb. beans … whatever you like (play around with different types)
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil

Here’s what you do:

Add salt to a bowl of beans covered with water until you can dip your finger in the water, touch it to your tongue and enjoy the taste. Let the beans soak for 8 hours.

Add a handful of chopped onions to a pan along with about a tablespoon of Olive Oil. You can add more oil, but never less. Add a chopped garlic clove, and pour in the water-soaked beans. Stir it all together and taste the water. If it tastes good, you’re ready to cook. If it doesn’t, add salt until it tastes good.

Boil the beans for 30-minutes, then simmer covered until the beans are tender and taste great.

The third recipe is pepper and onions.


Neal’s Pepper and Onions

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 4 pickled banana peppers chopped
  • 1/8 Cup of ranch dressing mix
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbs. Butter

Here’s what you do:

Throw everything into a pan except for the salt. Cook on medium until the onions are translucent. Add salt until you can take a bite and think it’s yummy.

The fourth recipe is the meat.


Chili Meat

Here’s what you need:

  1. 2 lbs. hamburger
  2. 1/2 Cup chili powder
  3. 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  4. 1 tsp. garlic powder
  5. 1 tsp. white pepper
  6. Salt
  7. Up to 1 Cup Corn Meal

Here’s what you do:

Cook the meat until it isn’t pink. Don’t worry about browning it. Throw in the dry ingredients (except for salt and corn meal) and mix that all up. The exact amounts aren’t that important. You can add more or less of anything. Add Chili powder based on color. Add Cayenne and garlic based on taste. Then add salt until the mixture taste great. Then add the corn meal.

Here’s the deal … fat is flavour, but chili with pools of dark red or orange grease isn’t appealing. Add enough corn meal to soak up the grease. That creates a powerful punch of flavour to the chilli.

After there are no pools of oil, throw in a cup or four of the salsa, the onion and banana pepper dish, and then choose to add beans now or later or not at all. Cover it with water and let it simmer.

If you learn to cook Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon her way or chili my way inspired by what I learned from Julia, you will gain courage to make a recipe that is as unique as you are, and that’s a BEAUTIFUL thing!

Boeuf Bourguignon Song

by Neal Campbell | JC+NC

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