Chili Cook-off Victory is Sweet … and Spicy

On December 3, Ryan (my boyfriend) and I won first place at Andrew and Heather’s 2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off! Our friends Andrew and Heather have a serious chili cook-off every year, so we were prepared to compete. They decked their house out in chili decorations, had t-shirts made and gave out chili-themed prizes. Last year, Ryan and I came in second place, so we felt the pressure, and wanted to beat it! *Side note: Ryan and I are both really competitive.

Our first-place pot of chili.

There were eight different types of chili entered into the contest. Everyone left the kitchen and each pot of chili was given a number. Heather, the host, handed out small cups of every chili and all the guests tasted them, then ranked each chili from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) on their scorecards. After each chili was tasted and ranked, Heather tallied up the rankings. The results are as follows:

3rd place: Chris Lowery

2nd place: Manuel Bermudez, Rachel Henry, and Alberto Bermudez

1st place: Amanda Doumanian and Ryan Reeves

After the contest, everyone enjoyed chili, chili dogs and chili cupcakes. The sweet and spicy chili cupcakes were made by Candace aka Cakes by Candace. This fun night ended with a win and has left us pondering what to do for next year.

Chili cupcakes made by the local baker behind Cakes by Candace.

If you want to learn more about hosting a chili cook-off of your own, email me at tlhbitebybiteAD@gmail.com for more details. If you want to know our chili recipe, too bad — it’s top secret 😉

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Nosh News: Growth Spurt Edition

Whenever I’m in Athens, Ga., I always fuel up at Jittery Joe’s. Several of the microroaster’s excellent coffee blends are now available at Earth Fare here in Tallahassee.

The Red Hills Small Farm Alliance, which runs the Red Hills Online Farmers Market, just announced its Growing Here Workshop Series. During three sessions, local farmers and other agricultural experts will share their knowledge about growing fruits and vegetables successfully in our local climate. The series kicks off with a workshop about planting dates, site selection and seed varieties, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. January 8 at Turkey Hill Farm. Speakers include Louise Divine of Turkey Hill Farm, Lilly Anderson Messec of Native Nurseries and Katie Harris of Full Earth Farm. The series continues with a workshop on organic pest management on Feb. 12 at Miccosukee Root Cellar and a soil health workshop on March 11 at Full Earth Farm in Quincy. Admission is $15 per workshop or $40 for all three workshops for Red Hills Online Farmers Market members; $30 per workshop or $80 for all three workshops for non-members. (Red Hills Online Farmers Market membership is $10, which is reimbursable for members of the Bread and Roses Food Cooperative). For more information about the Growing Here series and to register online, visit the Red Hills Online Farmers Market website.

Throughout my culinary life, cupcakes have been very good to me, the not-so-skilled baker. Homemade cupcakes work for just about any occasion and nearly everyone greets them with glee, even though they’re much simpler to make than, say, a pie or a torte. I never need an excuse to eat cupcakes, but National Cupcake Day on Thursday, Dec. 15, does present me with an opportunity to celebrate by whipping up a flavor I’ve never baked before: Hummingbird Cupcakes, a Southern classic that intrigues me.

Noted around town: Chipotle is now offering, at long last, brown rice for burritos and bowls; Earth Fare has begun carrying coffee beans from one of my favorite indie caffeine purveyors, Jittery Joe’s in Athens, Ga. I recommend the microroaster’s organic, full-bodied Morning Ride blend.

Nosh News: Still Working on Those Leftovers Edition

Lucky Peach Issue 2: The Sweet Spot features rot, apricots, flippant fruit stickers and, um, Anthony Bourdain.

Are you still too stuffed from your Thanksgiving feast, and the leftovers that followed, to begin thinking about what you’re going to bake for all those festivities coming up in December? If so, I’ll make it easy — you can’t go wrong with cupcakes. For a selection of recipes that will work for whichever holidays you’ll be celebrating this season, check out these posts by some of the best bakers in the blogosphere: Cupcake Rehab’s favorite Christmas cupcakes, Bake & Destroy’s Vegan Sweet Potato Cupcakes, Modern Domestic’s Hanukkah Cupcakes and the Gluten-Free Goddess’ Frosted Orange Crème Cupcakes.

McSweeney’s released the second issue of its quarterly journal of food and writing, Lucky Peach, this month. This is not your typical food magazine. Inside the Sweet Spot issue, you’ll find a lengthy Michael Ames piece about rot, Adam Leith Gollner’s story of his search for the world’s sweetest apricots, and several recipes from ultra-trendy dessert purveyor Momofuko Milk Bar, including a Burnt Miso Butterscotch Topping that looks kind of awesome. (New York chef David Chang, king of the Momofuku restaurant empire, partnered with McSweeney’s to create the magazine). Oh yeah, and everyone’s favorite celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, contributes a piece about a conspiracy involving the movie “Road House.” (Where isn’t Bourdain popping up these days?) Best of all, there’s a sheet of 45 fruit stickers with slogans and illustrations that would make Miss Chiquita Banana blush.

Audrey Robbins, owner of Pan-Handlers Kitchen Supply, just announced that she’s selling the Lake Ella shop and her online business. If you’re interested, call John Kraft of Murphy Business Brokers at 222-2001. Fans of Pan-Handlers’ cooking classes, fret not: Chef Bec Kelly will be taking over on Dec. 1, and you can still find all the information you need about upcoming events at the Pan-Handlers Kitchen website.