Monday, March 2, 2015

Hotter Than Thou Chili Cook-off

Grace Community Church's Men Alive men's ministry hosted a chili cook-off this evening, and it was a hot time!  Over a dozen men and women entered the contest, with winners in four categories, Traditional, Vegetarian, Spicy, and "Unique," competing in a "best in show" with judges determining an overall winner who would represent Grace at on Sunday, March 8, at the fifth annual Hotter Than Thou Chili Cook-off!  Seventeen churches in Howard County will compete in the chili cook-off to raise money for the homeless, each vying for the coveted "Golden Ladle Award."  The Hotter Than Thou Chili Cook-off is sponsored by Bridges to Housing Stability, whose mission is, "To prevent homelessness by providing effective services and compelling advocacy that result in housing stability for Howard County households."

Courtesy of Bridges to Housing Stability
The contest was hotly contested.  I decided to enter my "award-winning" chili recipe.  I have entered my chili in the annual chili cook-off at my office for the past five years, and it has won first prize three times.  I've never made the same chili twice.  Since I no longer keep it written down, I approximate the ingredients as best as I can remember each time I make it, so it truly is unique.  For the Grace chili cook-off, I originally entered my recipe in the "Spicy" category, but after buying all of my ingredients, it became apparent that it would be better suited for the "Unique" category, since I was using a blend of lean ground beef and hot Italian sausage, along with my secret ingredients.  I prepared the chili on Sunday during the ice storm, and after letting it simmer for the evening, I placed it in the refrigerator overnight.  Monday, after returning home from work, I quickly got my crockpot going to reheat the chili.  I then headed up to Grace for the cook-off.

Hey, that "U1" is mine!  Courtesy of Bridges to Housing Stability
It was a nice time.  I hadn't been coming to the Men's ministry meetings on Monday evenings in a while.  I'm in a bit of a bind when it comes to child-care, particularly in the evenings, so I typically stay home with my daughter.  Mondays are also a regular night to have dinner with my in-laws.  Tonight was a little different.  Due to the ice storm last evening, schools in Howard County were closed today, so my darling daughter spent the day with my parents, with plans to spend the night with them on Monday evening.  Though I had planned to take her to the church for the chili cook-off, now that she was not going, I could focus my attention on the chili.

The cook-off rules were simple.  Everyone had five tickets that they could use to "vote" for any chili they wished, placing one or up to five tickets in the chilis they liked best.  My chili got off to a slow start, partly due, in my opinion, to it being in the "unique" category.  However, once word got out, and some folks were very vocal about it, more and more were trying it.  I actually ran out towards the end of the contest, but I had fortunately saved one bowl just in case it made it to the judges round.  When the tickets were tallied, my chili had beaten another chili in the "unique" category by one vote, 57-56!  The judges then tried the chilis a final time to pick out the top chili, and to my surprise, I won!  I really could hardly believe it.  Not only did I win, I would be representing Grace Community Church at the Hotter Than Thou Chili Cook-off!  I was really honored and humbled to win, especially given how many great chilis that were entered.  I tried a lot of great-tasting ones!

So the cook-off is next Sunday, March 8, and will be held at the Church of the Resurrection at 3175 Paulskirk Drive in Ellicott City, MD.  While there is no admission charge, you can vote for your favorite chili (or congregation) by "tipping" money towards your favorites.  All proceeds from the chili cook-off directly benefit Bridges to Housing Stability, so you're encouraged to be generous with your tips.  The "winner" gets the Golden Ladle.  Please come out and support this wonderful charity.  Bridges works to empower local families to maintain stability in their homes and through community partnerships to prevent homelessness in Howard County.

I'm looking forward to this wonderful event.  Thanks for your support.

Have a great evening, everyone!

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