Moralers’ Chilly Night Chili

This is a recipe post, I promise.
For the past three years, I have been part of an amazing group of people who have experienced tragedy and heartache and found the strength, courage, wisdom and honesty to not only survive it, but to the make it their mission “to raise awareness of the Four Diamonds Fund in every community that [we] run while bridging the gap between the patients on Marathon Avenue and the students at PSU THON.”

It’s impossible to explain what The Hope Express really is. Technically, it’s the dream of the Angus Family that has evolved into a year-long effort to raise funds and awareness for the Four Diamonds Fund with the finale being a 135-mile Hope Team and 140-mile Extreme Team relay run from the 7th floor of the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA to the THON stage at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, PA, carrying letters and art from the children at Hershey who were too sick to attend THON.

But how do you really explain the essence of a spirit greater than words?

The Hope Express is unique to each person whose life it touches. Individually we hold it in our hearts, as we are spread throughout the United States living our lives, fighting through the difficult days and rejoicing in the good ones. And somewhere in the busy everyday, we prepare for our yearly journey- raising money, networking, raising awareness, caring for the kids, planning, etc. And when that one day each year finally arrives, we all come together (the founding family, drivers, runners, moralers, Four Diamonds’ children and families, doctors, and many others) to embark on our 135-mile/140-mile journey over the next 24 hours, For The Kids.  

But let’s go back one week to the weekend my team, the moralers, gather to put the finishing touches on the many facets that make up The Hope Express. The is the weekend that the moralers, those that are responsible for keeping everyone spirits up, receive our final boost of strength, courage, wisdom and honesty needed to carry their runners and drivers through the night and onward to State College.

Together we glue, paint, glitter, construct, organize, decorate and create. We are inspired by stories from Four Diamonds families and their children, who have survived cancer and together with siblings and friends, help us to help kids who still have a lot more fighting to do.

One tradition of the weekend is for everyone to bring a special dish or snack. It may be regional, seasonal, homemade, or a little something picked up en route. As we gather, share, eat and talk, we learn each other’s personal stories of Hope and prepare our souls for the next week’s momentous run.

Moments like this, on any occasion, are often shared over a good meal.  I think that is what makes taking recipes and making them your own so special. These recipes are made with care and nourish the body and the soul alike. They are then put in a little box for safe keeping to one day be passed down, both directions and memories.

This is the recipe for Moralers’ Chilly Night Chili, which the special dish that I bring every year to Moralers’ Weekend. It is simple, classic and can be manipulated in a variety of ways so that you can create your own signature chili. Enjoy.

 Moralers’ Chilly Night Chili
  •  24 oz Fresh or Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • 16 oz Gravy (Tomato Sauce) 
  • 1 pack Extra Firm Tofu or 1 pound Choice Ground Meat
  • 3 Fresh or Frozen Bell Peppers
  • 1 large Chopped Onions
  • 1 cup Frozen or Fresh Corn  
  • 1 Chili Packet Mix or a Mix of Choice Spices
    • Suggestion: 3 tbl Chili Powder, 1 tsp Cumin, 1 tsp Black Pepper, Salt, 1 tbl Tabasco sauce
  • Garlic
  • Choose two (or three or four) canned beans totaling 16 oz
    • Kidney Beans
    • Black Beans
    • Pinto Beans
    • Garbanzo Beans
Optional: Craft beer is always an option in my recipes.

Optional: Because the heat index is a personal preference, the above will be very mild. For more heat, add chillies, additional chili powder and spices, or a variety of hot peppers.
The measurements above are guesses and suggestions. My cooking and recipe writing is very old fashion. I don't measure what I add, I just add what I like and list the ingredients. If you have any suggestions or additions for ingredients or measurements (or anything) please comment. I would love try them.  

  1. Brown and chop the meat or tofu
  2. Put everything together on a crock pot (can be made stove top if with meat)
  3. The amount of each ingredient of entirely up to you. More of what you like best, less or none of others. I usual put a 16 oz can of diced tomatoes and try to evenly distribute everything else to about a cup each.
  4. Add spices and stir thoroughly
  5. Cook in a crock pot on medium for 4-5 hours or until the taste and texture is as you like it. I suggest eating it next day to give all of the flavors to come together.
Garnish: Shredded cheese, sour cream and/or green onions
Leftovers: Try using left overs on hot dogs, or in a taco or quesadilla.

 There is only one week until Moralers' Weekend, so photographs to accompany this recipe are coming soon!

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