My friend Arlene mentioned Texas Straw Hat that was sold at the Oldtime Farming Festival in Centerburg a few weeks ago. So many people immediately had flashbacks to our school days. Personally, I loved it until I walked into the cafeteria kitchen one morning to say "Hi" to Gramma and saw her grinding the kidney beans.
That might explain my to-this-day aversion to beans. I'm going to try to not gross anyone out with the image I still carry in my mind of those beans coming out of the grinder.
Texas Straw Hat is so simple - and I've seen it on restaurant menus as Frito Pie. Take a handful or so of Frito's, cover it with chili and shredded cheese. I would cheat a bit when my kids were teens and use Chili-O with Onions seasoning mix - it wasn't bad and if I did it right, we had enough left over for chili-dogs the next night.
Gramma loved sharing her recipes. The Centerburg United Methodist Church used to do what Gramma called her "circle cookbooks" and as I thumb through the pages of these books, Gramma always submitted a lot of recipes. How I cherish this collection. It's not only Gramma in those pages - Mrs. Debolt is there, Bertha Wright, Jacque Cordle and Justine Reynolds - although Justine never gave up her recipe for her amazing Butterscotch Pie that I've been able to find.
If you're really looking for a school-days Texas Straw Hat flashback, here's the recipe - according to Gramma, who cooked at the school when they really used to cook. It's cut down to a normal quantity, maybe 6 or 7 servings.
1 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped green pepper
3 tablespoons fat (yes, the word is FAT - I have no idea what they used in the 70s!)
2 pounds ground beef
2-3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
2 cups water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1 large can kidney beans, drained and ground up (hmmm...large? probably not a #10 can!)
2 (6 ounce) package corn chips (maybe they weren't Fritos in the 70s?)
2 cups American or sharp cheese, ground up (I'm almost positive it would have been the surplus government American cheese back then)
In large skillet cook onion, celery and green pepper in hot fat until tender, but not brown. Add ground beef and brown lightly. Add remaining ingredients, except corn chips and cheese. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve over corn chips and top with a generous serving of the cheese.
There it is - when I make it, I always add diced raw onion on top of the chili and under the cheese.
Enjoy the memories!