Marcia Rose-Ritchie enjoys a happy family moment with husband Ian and son Aidan. Marcia’s job with the U.S. Forest Service takes her to Little Medicine River Falls in Wyoming (below).

“I work fulltime as a recreation manager for the United States Forest Service,” says Marcia Rose-Ritchie of Douglas, Wyoming. “I love coming home after a full day and taking the time to prepare a great meal for my husband Ian and me.”

One of Marcia and Ian’s favorites is Thunder on the Basin Chili, whose namesake is the Thunder Basin National Grassland, a place Marcia highly recommends visiting.

“Time spent in the field is the absolute best thing about my job, and I think it’s safe to say that it’s true for almost every Forest Service employee I know. One of my favorite places to go in Thunder Basin is on top of Rochelle Hills, where you can see nearly 100 miles across the plains to the east. We often quote in our office, ‘Anyone can love the mountains, but it takes soul to love the grasslands.’

The grassland is like the ocean without the water. It has the same vastness, the wind, the big weather, and that experience of making you feel small in the midst of it all. To be in the middle of a grassland is to know space in a way most people can never imagine.”

We caught up with Marcia just as she was walking in the door from cooking for a free community dinner at her church. “I made turkey soup using Penzeys Chicken Soup Base and poultry seasoning. It got raves! As I serve the meal, I get the privilege of mingling with those who come, from regular church members, to residents from the senior housing next door, to those who either need a meal, the company, or both.”

Marcia also cooks for her crew during week-long volunteer projects in the mountains. She and her team do preservation work on historic cabins and share delicious dinners after a long day of

labor. At LaPrele Guard Station, built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in 1936, Marcia cooks in a rustic kitchen with appliances. Not so with the cabin called Rainbow’s End at the bottom of the North Laramie Canyon. “There I cook over a two-burner propane camp stove, have no refrigeration and it is much more challenging,” she laughs.

Marcia and Ian love family dinners when their children Aidan and Marja travel home from school. “Aidan is studying instrumental music performance. And Marja’s latest goal is to be an opera singer.”

Marja is always singing praises for her mom’s Homemade Pizza, made with beer batter dough. “Same with Aidan,” says Marcia, of her kids’ most-requested dinner. “It’s ALWAYS pizza.” Click here to find the pizza recipe in the Summer catalog and scroll down for Marcia’s Garlic and Shrimp Pasta and Thunder on the Basin Black Bean Chili recipes.

----As told to Emily Tyra

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Thunder on the Basin
Black Bean Chili

Marcia shares, “The name of this chili has a story that's too long to recount here, but is partially derived from Thunder Basin National Grassland, which is managed out of my office, and a place I highly recommend visiting. As we often quote in my office, ‘Anyone can love the mountains, but it takes soul to love the grasslands.’”

  • 2 lbs. beef or bison, top or bottom round, cut in 1/2-3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 TB. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 TB. flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 TB. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. GROUND CUMIN
  • 3 16 oz. cans black beans, drained and juice reserved
  • 11/2 Cups (10 1/2 oz. can) tomato puree
  • 1/2-1 Cup hot water (as needed)
  • 1 small can (31/2 oz.) chopped green chiles
  • 1 TB. red wine vinegar
  • 1 TB. tequila

Preheat oven to 325°. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the beef a few pieces at a time. Brown thoroughly, removing the pieces as they are done to a lidded, ovenproof casserole dish or Dutch oven. Cook the onion and pepper in the skillet, adding more oil if needed. Cook until the onion is golden and wilted. Add to the casserole. Turn the heat on low under the casserole. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until it is absorbed and no white shows.
Mash the garlic and salt together and add to the casserole with the CAYENNE, OREGANO, CUMIN, CHILI POWDER, and PAPRIKA. Stir to mix well.
Add the juice from the beans and the tomato puree (do not add the beans yet). Add a little hot water if the liquid is too thick. Liquid should almost cover the casserole contents. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven; reduce heat to 300° so a simmer is just maintained. Check after 10 minutes and adjust the temperature if necessary. Cook for 11/2-2 hours or until the beef is tender. Stir occasionally and add hot water in small quantities if the liquid gets too thick. Taste and add more CHILI POWDER if desired.
Add the beans, stirring carefully. Add the canned chiles. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, cover and return to the oven. Cook another 15-20 minutes or until the beans are well heated. Check the seasoning again after adding the beans.
Just before serving, add the red wine vinegar and tequila. Stir to combine and enjoy!
Note: You can also cook this in a slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours, or high for 2-4 hours.

Prep. time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours
Serves: 10-12

Nutritional Information: Servings 12;
Serving Size 1 cup (278g); Calories 220; Calories from fat 50; Total fat 6g; Cholesterol 45mg; Sodium 1020mg; Carbohydrate 22g; Dietary Fiber 6g.

Need any spices for this recipe?

Spice Price Quantity
Oregano Mexican .2 oz. 1/4 cup jar $2.19
Cayenne Red Pepper Powder 1.0 oz. 1/4 cup jar $3.45
Cumin Ground .9 oz. 1/4 cup jar $3.55
Regular Chili Powder 1.1 oz. 1/4 cup jar $3.99
Hungarian Sweet Kulonleges Paprika 1.0 oz. 1/4 cup jar $3.89

Marcia's Garlic Oil and Shrimp Pasta

Marcia shares, “This is probably enough for two with a salad, but I eat the whole thing myself. It's great with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc.”

  • 4 oz. dry whole wheat or regular thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta
  • 4 oz. whole frozen shelled/deveined shrimp, thawed (Marcia prefers medium-sized for this dish)
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. KOSHER FLAKE SALT
  • 1-2 whole dried hot red pepper (ARBOL, SANAAN or TIEN TSIN) or 1/4-1/2 tsp. CRUSHED RED PEPPERS
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed (or 1/2 tsp. MINCED GARLIC rehydrated in 1 1/2 tsp. water)
  • 1/4 Cup sliced mushrooms (6 or so regular-sized mushrooms)
  • 1 TB. pine nuts
  • 1-2 TB. Romano cheese, shredded (Marcia loves Pecorino Romano)

Cook the pasta according to package directions, without oil or salt. Drain and set aside. Cook the shrimp briefly in lightly salted, boiling water (just so they start to curl and pink up slightly). Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent further cooking. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a large dash of salt, the WHOLE or CRUSHED RED PEPPERS and GARLIC; stir occasionally and let the garlic start to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms cook down some. Add the pine nuts and continue cooking until the mushrooms start to caramelize nicely, and the pine nuts brown. Add the shrimp to heat them up and finish cooking if needed. If you used whole peppers, discard them at this time. Lastly, add the pasta and toss so it is thoroughly coated. Transfer to a pasta bowl and shred the Romano cheese on top.

Prep. time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes (with pasta cooking time)
Serves: 1-2

Nutritional Information: Servings 2;
Serving Size 3/4 cup (168g); Calories 440; Calories from fat 170; Total fat 19g; Cholesterol 85mg; Sodium 250mg; Carbohydrate 47g; Dietary Fiber 2g.

Need any spices for this recipe?

Spice Price Quantity
Garlic Minced 1.2 oz. 1/4 cup jar $3.79
Kosher Style Flake Salt 1 lb. bag $2.29
Arbol Chili Peppers 1 oz. bag $3.45
Sanaam Chili Peppers 1 oz. bag $2.65
Tien Tsin Chili Peppers 1 oz. bag $2.65
Crushed Red Peppers California .5 oz. 1/4 cup jar $3.09