Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chili in the Methow Valley

We originally planned to head to La Push this weekend, but Jim got word that the Methow River was open for Steelhead fishing so guess where we headed to ?  We left Seattle on Friday,it was 7 o'clock am and it was grey,cold and raining. Once we got to Cle Elum it was sunny and beautiful.  We ran into some brief showers while heading out Highway 97,but the showers were very short lived .  You can see the beautiful rainbow that appeared in front of us.  I always think the appearance of a rainbow is magical and a good omen.

The drive to the Methow Valley area was beautiful. The trees are all changing to the gorgeous reds and golds of the Pacific Northwest.

When we planned this trip our destination originally was the Carlton area. But when we drove by the campground we had planned on staying at ,well let's just say the campground vibe was reminiscent of the Bates Motel. We just about did a U-turn on Highway 153.  We had no idea where we were going to stay but we knew we wanted to stay on the Methow River.  We headed south again because on the way north on Highway 153 we thought we saw a campground outside of Methow along the river . We figured we had nothing to lose and if all else failed,we had enough propane and water to just pull down a forest service road somewhere .  We drove about 18 miles,retracing our earlier drive,  until we saw the turn off for the Lightning Pine Campground. It turns out it was a campground we had caught a glimpse of after all.  I'm so glad we caught that little glimpse.

The campground was just what we were looking for,on the river, quiet and surrounded by fruit trees and beautiful cottonwood trees.  The campground is in an old fruit orchard-with some of the apple trees still filled with fruit. (my next post will show you what I did with those apples-Brown Butter Apple Hand Pies-yummy)

We fell in love with Lightning Pine campground. It's small,the sites are all on firm grassy areas,some right on the river and all in all a beautiful spot. (Only downside is that it is across the river from Highway 153-the river is loud enough to drown out the sounds of traffic and seriously it's not a frequently traveled highway-we didn't mind it at all) When we pulled into the park we were met by Randy, the owner who drove me around on his golf cart to pick out a site and then led us into the site. Hookups here are optional and 110 so make sure you have your converter or are prepared to dry camp. Water is optional and no sani dump. The bathrooms are somewhat rustic but very clean-make sure you bring your headlamp to light the way at night. Hot showers and a laundry are also available. The campground has been in Randy's family for 22 years and its a little gem-we would definitely come back. While Jim was out Steelhead fishing I was able to  hike along the river with Hailey or walk up to the dirt road and take off south to explore. No WiFi but if you have a smart phone it's great reception and if you have the service through your provider you can use your phone as a WiFi hot spot.

Jim didn't have much luck fishing late Friday evening, after we got into camp so he took off early Saturday morning to try his luck again.  He's a catch and release fisherman so I don't plan on having trout for dinner !  Instead, I decided  this is perfect weather for some slow cooker chili.

There is nothing better than a bowl of steaming hot chili on a crisp Autumn Day.  I have got to figure out a way to store my slow cooker in Ruby so that she can make the cross country trip with us next year. Taking the slow cooker just for the weekend is one thing-but finding a spot to hide a 7qt cooker the rest of the time is challenging-thinking about downsizing to a smaller one but I hate to have 2 of the same appliances.  I'll have to give this a lot more thought. Maybe one these thermal cookers is the way to go-anyone have any experience using them ?

I discovered this recipe years ago on  I read many of the reviews and came up with my own adaptation.  This is the only chili I make now-it's so easy and so delicious !  I serve it with a little sharp cheese on top and sides of flour tortillas with Mexican Sour Cream.

Turkey Chili
Adapted from Laura's Slow Cooker Chili at
Makes 6 1/2 quarts and freezes well.

2 lbs lean ground turkey
2 large sweet onions (chopped)
5 cans Ro*tel Original with Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
2 cans Black Beans
2 cans Pinto Beans
1 can Kidney Beans
2 can Mexican Corn
4 Tablespoons Chili Powder
2 teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tablespoon Cumin
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
Large pinch of Allspice
Large pinch of Black Pepper
Salt to Taste
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place turkey and onions in the skillet, and cook until evenly brown. Add the cooked turkey and onion to your slow cooker. Add in the Rotel,all the beans and spices.Mix well .Cover, and cook 8 hours on Low or 4 hours on High

This chili will warm you from the top of your head to the tip of your toes on a chilly Autumn Day. And it easily adapts to cooking on your stove top if you don't have a slow cooker ! We are both feeling warm and toasty and going outside to enjoy the sunset.


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