This is the third in a series of recipes shared by my grandmother Joanie.
My great-grandmother (my grandfather’s mom) was known as Muzzy. Her full name was Orpha Marie Campbell Wilder, and I think her peers knew her as Marie. But when she had her first grandkids, they struggled with saying “Grandmother” — and thus “Muzzy” became her name. Today, I’m sharing her chili sauce recipe, a relish-like blend of spices and veggies that will make your kitchen fragrant and your meals flavored with Midwestern comfort. The photo above is Muzzy as a young woman. Look at her, rocking the skinny tie with a skirt!
“She was a hell of a go-getter,” Joanie said about Muzzy. “She came up (to Ohio) when she was 15, from Kentucky. She started working in a factory.
“She met CO (Clyde Oscar, her husband) when she was young. He was three or four years older. They got married, and he was the manager of a used car lot, and he also worked on Pullman trains. She worked their whole married life.
“She always had a huge garden, being raised in the country. When we lived at the farm, she came up there and helped us get our garden started.”
There are certain things I remember clearly about Muzzy: her sourdough bread, smothered in butter and jelly. Little jars of candy in her house. Homemade afghans. She died when I was in high school, but I have nothing but good memories of her when I was a child. She had lots of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I always felt loved, well-fed and part of a big, wonderful family in her home.
A few notes about the recipe below: I halved it from what’s written, because I didn’t think I needed 4 quarts of spaghetti sauce. However, I’m including the full version here, in case you really love this stuff. The half-recipe made enough to use some for ground-beef chili (1 lb. ground beef), as well as a batch of lentils later in the week (probably about 2/3 cup dry lentils). Finally, a comment on serving/use: The spices in this are similar to “Cincinnati chili,” which means it will seem pretty unusual to non-Ohioans. I used about two cups of the sauce mixed into cooked ground beef, then served that on top of spaghetti, topped with black beans, cheese and oyster crackers. A few days later, I used another cup or two cooked with cooked lentils. Both versions were home-y, warm comfort food.
- 16 large ripe tomatoes
- 2 large onions
- 4 green peppers
- 2/3 to 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cloves
- 2 stick cinnamon
- 1 tsp. all spice
- 1 tsp. grated nuts
- 1 c. vinegar*
- Wash and peel tomatoes and onions, remove seeds and tongue from green pepper.
- Cut tomatoes and chop onion and green pepper.
- Place all together in kettle, add spices tied in cheese cloth and other ingredients.
- Cook slowly 2 to 2-and-a-1/2 hours or until thick; stir frequently.
- Seal in sterile jar. Makes 4 quarts.