By Marina Adair
While I love a good summer barbeque, nothing beats a warm bowl of soup and fresh baked bread on a brisk winter night. With the days getting shorter and the night longer, we tend to stay indoors. A good way to beat the cold-day chill is a home cooked meal of comfort food. For three generations, my family’s favorite winter meal is a pot of my grandmothers chili and warm cornbread—and I can’t forget the honey butter.
I may have been corn in California, but with my family hailing from Arkansas and a live in grandparents, my upbringing was more the Clampetts than the Cleavers. I grew up on chicken fried steak, scratch biscuits smothered in white gravy. And that was just breakfast.
Over the years I’ve kept up my family tradition, making Friday night chili and cornbread night. A hot meal around the table, sharing our stories from the day, is the foundation of our family. It keeps us connected and up to date on each other lives—it also creates a safe place to nurture our love and better understand each other as we grow and change.
In my book, Hopeless Romantic, family dinners, limoncello soaked cake, and family recipes meals play a large part in creating the romance between my main characters. My heroine has never had much luck in the love department. As the sole caretaker of her brother, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, she’s had to put her own life on hold, which makes creating relationships difficult. Until she meets a man who is willing to do things on her terms, embracing her unique situation.
After a particularly stressful day, Levi takes Beckett on a spontaneous date. Just them, the stars, and a tailgate picnic made from his favorite family foods—recipes his parents brought with them from Greece when they moved to America. It isn’t only their share love of food, it creates a common ground between them and shares a small piece of who they each are.
My family is based in southern roots and is the cornerstone to our connection as a family. So from my family to yours, here is one of my favorite family recipes—straight from the Ozarks of Arkansas.
Grannie Stowell’s Chili
- 3 15oz cans diced tomatoes
- 3 cans pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 1 cup red wine
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 tbsp butter
- 6 oz Ortega chili
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp dry mustard
- 1tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp tobacco
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- In large pot, over med-low heat, add butter, onion and celery.
- Sauté for 10 minutes.
- Add garlic and Ortega chilies and sauté for 4 minutes.
- Add ground beef and cook until browned.
- Stir in tomato paste, chili powder, salt, dry mustard, cumin, oregano, red chili flakes, tobacco, black pepper, cayenne pepper.
- Add diced tomatoes, red wine and simmer on low for 20 minutes, with lid on.
- Add beans and simmer for 1 hour covered, stirring occasionally.
Set against the breezy backdrop of coastal Rhode Island, the latest novel from bestselling author Marina Adair asks whether two of a small town’s biggest hearts can learn to put themselves first–in the name of love…
As caregiver for her autistic brother, Beckett Hayes knows how meaningful a little extra help can be when life happens. Which is why she runs Consider It Done, a personal concierge service in her small town. Her job also gives her the flexibility to follow her passion, being Rome, Rhode Island’s unofficial special needs advocate, training emotional support companions in her spare time. There’s not much of that, though, and certainly not enough for serious dating. It’s always been family first for Beck. But one unquestionably gorgeous, good-natured man is suddenly a temptation that’s getting tougher to resist…
Sixteen years ago, Levi Rhodes was ready to sail off into the sunset–literally. But then his father’s death and his sister’s unexpected pregnancy postponed his sailing scholarship and the adventures he had planned. Running the family marina and bar was the least he could do for his grieving mother. Plus, his niece needed a father-figure. But now that she’s in high school and has her bio-dad in her life, Levi’s wondering if it’s time to get his sea legs under him again…until curvy, caring Beck showed up in his bar, and then in his dreams…
A portion of royalties to benefit The Organization of Autism Research.