Herb Mericle's Granger Island Chili
Herb Mericle acquired the Granger Island in the 1950s. He built a one bedroom cottage on the highest point of the island to prevent flooding and his whole family enjoyed spending time there. In a 2006 interview Herb said, “We had great times over there. You know, what was so nice about it – some people got a cottage up on some lake and would drive 40 or 50 miles, but I could either drive or cross in a boat. No traffic, no sidewalks, no roads, coal oil lights. It was just perfect. It was just another world.”
Herb had a large a large vegetable garden on the island, which he learned to share with the wildlife like deer and foxes. He would find Indian artifacts; a skinning stone and ‘a real good tomahawk.” Herb had a great recipe that was printed in a newspaper at one time for Granger Island Chili
Granger Island Chili
4 pounds hamburger
Canola oil to coat the pan
2 cups onions diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, cut into small pieces
1 can (46 Ounces) tomato juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Cook’s notes: “I like for there to be a good bite, a chunk, of hamburger in every spoonful of chilie. So you shouldn’t mix it up too much,” says Herb Mericle, explaining his approach to an old favorite. That’s why he mixes the seasonings with some of the liquid ingredients before combining all the solid ingredients. “Instead of just dumping a lot of dry powder into the chili pot and stirring, I put all my seasonings into the tomato juice,” Mr. Mericle stated.
Procedure: Brown the hamburger in large, heavy pan coated with canola oil. Don’t break the meat up’ you want a bit of meat in every bite of chili. Drain fat from the meat thoroughly.
In a stew pot, gently combine the onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes along with the browned beef; set aside. Stir salt, pepper, chili powder, hot pepper flakes and garlic powder into the tomato juice, then stir the seasoned juice into the onion-meat mixture. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and let it cook about ¾ hour, over low heat, covered. Stir it every so often.
Unfortunately, the cottage was burned in 1984, probably by vandals. Herb sold the island in 1980 to Joseph Braden of Maumee, Ohio. Granger Island was acquired by Metroparks of the Toledo Area on December 20, 2011. This summer the Metroparks will offer camping experiences at Granger Island. The Island now has a cabin, outhouse and several tent platforms that the Penta Career Center helped construct. Canoers will be able to camp overnight on the island.
The Blade photo is by Herral Long 1998