Texas: Cayenne Pepper and Skillet Essay
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This essay is one that I have used for many years. It is an actual student essay that was published in an old composition textbook that I used for several years. I like for my students to read this essay because it incorporates several good techniques – and a few “what-not-to-do’s.”
A good attention getter in the form of personal thoughts (Note: If you are really creative with your topic, I will allow you to include personal thoughts on your topic.
) The use of personal pronouns must be calculated, not accidental. Note how the author uses transitional sentences at the end of the paragraphs. He gives what is known as “internal previews.” In other words, he gives the audience a “sneak peek” at the next point. ❑ Note how the author has solid topic sentences. This is so important to the understanding of the concept of the process.
The author uses great transitional expressions and signposts (i.e. number words that keep the reader abreast of where he or she is in the process) The author intersperses “warnings” to the reader about situations that he or she will encounter. These warnings are vital to the process analysis essay. Note that the author does not, however, summarize the main points of the process. This is important to the complete understanding of the process. Remember that you must tell your readers what you are going to say, you say it, and then you remind them of what you said!
Some people identify Texas with cowboys, horses, oil, or even J.R. Ewing – but not me. I think of the great food of Texas, and that food is chili. A staple dish in my household, chili is a dish with a long history. From the “pioneer” days of the early West to today, chili remains a favorite among many in the West, but particularly in Texas. My chili recipe is based on the contributions of friends, relatives, and hometown chili parlor. Prepared with its own special ingredients, my Texas Chili will make your guests’ eyes and mouths water and leave them with a satisfied appetite.
First, you will need to get the equipment and ingredients you will need to make Texas Chili. Several pieces of equipment are necessary: an electric skillet (with cover), a small wooden spatula, a can opener, a set of measuring spoons, a measuring cup, a glass plate, a microwave, four to six medium-sized bowls, and four to six spoons. A lengthy but appetizing set of ingredients is also vital to this heavenly dish: one pound of lean ground beef, two sixteen-ounce cans of Del Monte whole peeled tomatoes, four tablespoons of Gebhart chili powder, one tablespoon of garlic powder, two teaspoons of ground black pepper, one teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper, two teaspoons of ground cumin, one teaspoon of table salt, and one-half cup of water. Now that the equipment and ingredients are clear, let’s get started.
When you have obtained all of the specified equipment and ingredients listed above, the next step is to prepare your ingredients. Measure the water and leave it in the measuring cup until you need it. If the beef is frozen, defrost it in the microwave for approximately eight minutes. When it is thawed, unwrap it and place it on a glass plate. Now, place all the measured ingredients, the ground beef, and the tomatoes on the counter and place the electric skillet next to them. Plug the skillet in and turn the dial to 225 degrees. You are now ready to begin the actual cooking.
When the temperature light goes off the electric skillet, or when the inside of the skillet feels warm to a quick touch, it’s time to start cooking the beef. Place the ground beef in the skillet and break it apart with the spatula until it covers the bottom of the skillet. Stirring with the spatula every thirty seconds, cook the ground beef approximately six minutes, or until each piece of beef turns grey inside and out. At the moment the ground beef reaches this stage, pour the garlic powder over the ground beef and stir with the spatula until the garlic is dissolved (approximately ten times around the skillet). When this step is completed, there will be a strong “sinus healing” smell that will tickle the inside of your nose. The garlic makes its presence known.
After the garlic power is dissolved, add the tomatoes and remaining spices. Pour the tomatoes, including the juice, into the skillet. Using the spatula, cut up the tomatoes into small pieces and stir them around with the spatula until they are evenly distributed in the skillet along with the ground beef and garlic powder. At this point, add the chili powder and cayenne pepper to the mixture and stir with the spatula to dissolve these spices. Next, pour the table salt, ground black pepper, and ground cumin into the skillet and stir until these ingredients are also dissolved in the mixture. Add the water to the skillet mixture and stir it approximately twenty times around. After these ingredients are combined, the chili will appear a dark red color and will provide a mixed aroma of sweet-smelling tomatoes and spicy hot chili powder along with its cayenne cousin. Now, raise the heat to 350 degrees by turning up the dial on the skillet.
In the final stage of cooking, the chili will start to boil. This is easy to see because the chili will resemble a miniature lava pool with its dark red mixture giving off steam by its bubbling and belching. Let the mixture boil (and belch) for three minutes, stirring with the spatula every fifteen seconds. Then, turn the dial on the skillet to ‘simmer” and put the cover on top of the skillet. Let the chili simmer for eight minutes, stirring with the spatula every minute and reapplying the cover each time. At the end of eight minutes, turn the dial on the skillet to “off” and take the cover off the skillet. The finished product will be a thick, spicy-smelling red mixture filled with chunks of beef halfway submerged in a hot tub of spicy juices.
The chili is now ready to eat! This recipe serves four Texas-sized portions or six regular portions. With the spatula, place the chili in bowls, and then tell everyone to use a big spoon and “dig in.” This chili is spicy and even hot at times, but its combination of sweet and sour flavors is both unique and delicious. A bottle of Corona, twenty crackers, and a big pickle are optional.