Four Alarm Passage Chili and Software Development - January 20, 2021

Our next passage, starting tomorrow afternoon, will be a relatively short one, although it will be an overnight. I prefer daytime passages, not because i don’t like to sail at night. We have digital radar and autopilot (Thank You, Poseidon or whoever else needs attention and reverence so that this stuff continues to work) and we can operate the boat primarily from inside so we aren’t exposed to the elements overnight, which is great.


The reason I prefer to be anchored at night is because I like to relax over dinner with a nice glass of wine (or two) in a stationary situation, as opposed to bumping and bouncing over the waves while both preparing and subsequently attempting to enjoy my evening meal. It’s just not a nice, relaxing experience. But, sometimes ya have to transit overnight, so we do what we gotta do. It’s all good.


So in the spirit of minimizing a sub-optimal situation, I thought I’d whip up something today that will be easy to heat up for dinner underway tomorrow, since I’m not super fond of doing lots of cooking while movin’ and groovin’. Back in Punta Gorda I bought these little refrigerated cornbread rolls that are just screaming out to be eaten with chili, so I figured that would be a good meal to prepare for tomorrow’s - chili and cornbread for the overnight passage. Mmm!


So I went to my recipe database that I’ve been working on developing for a good few years now, and pulled up a chili recipe. Usually I just wing it with chili and don’t use a recipe, but something told me today… “goooo to the recipe database,” so I did.


I cut up the onions and peppers and garlic that were called for, and sweated them in a little salt and threw in the ground beef and tomatoes and beer, and I was putting in the spices and I looked at that recipe and it called for 2 Tablespoons of Cayenne pepper. Now this is in addition to the Rotel tomatoes (which are mild/medium in heat) plus half a fresh jalapeño pepper…


I thought to myself, wow TWO TABLESPOONS of Cayenne, that sounds really CRAZY. Based on my notes in the recipe I had made this recipe before, and I didn’t have any notes about what was up with that amount of Cayenne, but I still decided I was going to back it down to 1 teaspoon and see how that went and if it seemed like more was required, I’d add it.


The recipe also called for TWO TABLESPOONS of Paprika, again, that seemed a little aggressive (I was making a 4 serving batch of chili here) but Paprika’s not super hot, so I said, OK, I’ll pony up one tablespoon of Paprika and adjust later if needed.


So the chili simmered for a while and was smelling good and I tasted it and indeed, WOO HOO! FOUR ALARM! Yikes!


So I went to the database to make a note that TWO TABLESPOONS of Cayenne was not the best idea, I saw what had happened! The original recipe was for 8 servings and the data entry that had been done to reflect the amount of Cayenne needed in the original 8 serving recipe was entered in a way that, let’s just say the bits and bytes and fractions and decimals all collided and went a little wonky when I told the system I wanted 4 servings instead of 8 (because my database adjusts the quantities of ingredients based on the number of servings requested… or attempts to…).


So when things went wrong, the quantity went from a HALF TEASPOON for 8 servings to SIX TEASPOONS (aka 2 Tablespoons) for 4 servings. This is TWELVE TIMES the amount! This is what happens when the charter chef is also the software developer! To be fair, long story short, it was actually a data entry problem, the software was just fine. I’ll spare you the technicalities.


Nothing like having Four Alarm Chili for dinner on an overnight passage… Maybe we shouldn’t tell the Captain until after dinner tomorrow!


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