Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Food…

…an axiom bestowed upon me by my mom’s cousin as we were shoveling beef tenderloin into our mouths at a big family reunion up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. My extended family does lots of family reunions throughout the year. Mountain climbing in the summer, a big feast at Thanksgiving, and of course the ever popular “Bahn Fyre” in February. The fact that our clan boasts not one, but two professional chefs, ensures that the food is really, really, really good. Plus, everyone loves to eat…and drink. So, as we barreled up that New York State Thruway on Saturday en route to the “Bahn Fyre” my stomach grumbled with anticipation.

The “Bahn Fyre” is an annual family tradition, where we all gather at our cousin’s larger than life cabin upstate, eat great food, drink even better Scotch, and watch a giant fire burn. So as we turned onto the long drive up to the cabin, I could practically smell the gourmet food wafting through the winter air. Once inside, I spotted mounds of shrimp cocktail, trays upon trays of meats and cheese, smoked fish, and the pièce de résistance, a 25-pound Serano ham imported from Spain. Suddenly, it didn’t matter that the high winds would prevent us from lighting the bonfire. I was more than fine with curling up in the big comfy leather chairs, and feeding myself a steady stream of Piper-Heidsieck champagne and Serano Ham (provided by the Murphy cousins and expertly carved by Chef Mike).

And that was just the appetizers. Dinner was a delicious array of warm winter comfort foods. From the clam chowder (made by Chef Peter) to the warm loaded potato salad (made by me!) everything was stick to your ribs delectable. Some of my other favorites included, my grandma’s baked beans, topped with strips of bacon, super juicy roasted turkey, and oh so creamy mac’ and cheese. We all had the best time sitting around in the big cozy cabin, telling our infamous family stories, and singing Irish folk songs (that part usual only comes after many an Irish whiskey).

The night before the bonfire my mom and sister came in on a late flight and I cooked up a yummy Mexican supper of some spicy chili, loaded quesedillas, homemade guacamole and blue corn chips. A few weeks ago I got a request from a reader for an easy chili recipe and I think this one fits the bill perfectly. It’s adapted from a Cooking Light cookbook, it’s flavorful, spicy, and really low cal. I can’t say the same of the loaded potato salad, but sometimes you have to splurge on special occasions!

Warm Loaded Potato Salad



1 lb. ground meat (sirloin, turkey, bison, or chicken)

1 onion (diced)

1 green pepper (diced)

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. dried oregano

1 tbsp. chili poder

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. black pepper or cayenne pepper (for extra heat)

1 15 oz. can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)

1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes

16 oz. tomato sauce

Garnish with sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions


In a large stock pot, heat olive oil, saute meat until no longer pink, add onions, pepper, garlic, and spices and saute until pepper and onions are soft. Add beans, tomatoes, and sauce. Simmer for 25 minutes.


3 thoughts on “Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Food…

  1. You make my mouth water for the food, my throat thirst for the champagne and my heart ache that I missed the Bahn Fyre. We are a wonderful family!

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