WARREN - Sandy Anastasiadis is used to sharing her chili.
In fact, she says if she doesn't, she's in big trouble.
"My family would shoot me if I didn't make chili," she joked recently in her Warren home.
Trumbull Cook Sandy Anastasiadis serves up a bowl of her chili.
Her sister-in-law is not the culinary type, so she's a regular recipient of the ready-to-serve recipe. And the rest of her family will take some, as well.
"I'll deliver it or they'll pick it up," Anastasiadis said.
When there are leftovers - "sometimes it don't get that far" - she takes them to the Warren Family Mission.
Chili, submitted by Sandy Anastasiadis
5 pounds ground chuck
1 1/2 large onions, diced
2 large peppers, diced
2 tablespoons Lawry's seasoned salt
1/2 cup water
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
23 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 cup chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
2 tablespoons garlic
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 40.5-ounce can kidney beans
Brown the meat and drain. Add onions and peppers to pot, and cook until soft (just a few minutes, because meat is already cooked and renders it).
Add remaining ingredients in order listed.
Cook for at least an hour more, stirring occasionally with a flat-top spoon.
Serve with chopped onions, shredded cheese, sour cream, bread or oyster crackers.
Makes 5 pounds chili.
And when she worked at the Trumbull Country Club, she said it was the special every Wednesday.
"They would go nuts over it," she said. "They'd get mad if I
didn't make it."
The Campbell native and her husband, Steve, both have cooked for years at eateries in the Valley, and even tried their own for a year. She now works in the bakery at Walmart, and he's a welder.
The chili is a recipe she's been making for about 30 years, and she has a lot of tips for readers who want to make it. Here are some:
"We tweak it. Change things to make them your own - that's the best way to do things."
"I sometimes put parsley in it, but some people don't like it."
"The longer you let it go, the thicker (and the better) it gets."
Some people add bread crumbs to thicken it, but she doesn't drain the canned beans, which does the job.
Use small-dice tomatoes. Some are bigger than others and may not break down as well.
"Sour cream really mellows it out."
"If you want it hotter, add more chili powder and more hot sauce."
Use a flat-top spoon so nothing sticks on the bottom. With a regular spoon, you go round and round and "you're beatin' up the beans."
Once this tasty stuff is complete - and the more complete the better, because the day-old chili served this day was delicious - Anastasiadis serves it with shredded cheese, chopped onion, sour cream and small crackers or bread.
"I like to get the brothy part and dip my bread in it," she said.
She shared some with the Tribune staff, too.
"This reminds me of my mom's chili," said Joe Landsberger, design editor.
"Yummy," was the first-bite response from copy editor Bonnie Hazen.
Anastasiadis has been sharing a lot more than chili, including her passion for cooking. Her five children include a son who served as a chef at a hotel and a daughter who's a cook at a school.
"They all know it," she said. "Most of them could probably work rings around me."
She also bakes cookies - a lot of cookies, just this week sending off 128 dozen for a wedding.
She makes cakes for special occasions - the big, tiered, flower-covered kind. And she makes gingerbread houses at Christmastime.
Anastasiadis, 59, and her husband also enjoy chili-cheese fries. She makes her own fries and potato chips. And ricotta cheese, which she says saves money.
"I make almost everything from scratch," she said.
She also cans - salsa, peppers, pickles and sauces.
"You name it, I can it," she said.
Other favorites are meatloaf, ugly bread and stuffed grape leaves.
Many of this cook's herbs come from her backyard, although two chili ingredients come from a lot further away. Her father-in-law travels to Greece almost every year, bringing back cumin and bay leaves.
"The bay leaves are so big, people see them on the side of the jar and freak out," she said.
Her girlfriend called her Martha Stewart, which Anastasiadis denied. With all that homemade food and a spotless house and kitchen, though, it's understandable.
Maybe one difference - there's a boombox big enough to cover the top of the refrigerator, tuned to the oldies.
"I dance all the time," Anastasiadis said.