Once upon a time, I had small dreams of winning a chili cook-off at my husband's squadron. They were small dreams because up until that point, I'd never really made a pot of chili that didn't come out of a can. (I know. You're probably cringing at the thought eating that canned crap, but I tell you what, it makes for a good chili cheese dog!)
But as I was a volunteer spouse for my husband's squadron at the time, I thought I should participate and give this chili making business a shot. I Googled "Best Chili Ever" and came up with this recipe. Three hundred and six ratings gave it an average rating of 4.65! It had to be good! Forget the fact that it contained unusual ingredients such as beer and a cup of coffee, how could 306 people be wrong? Maybe those strange indgredients were what gave the chili its winning edge!
I cut peppers, I sauteed onions, I combined seasonings with professed hopes of making a moderately decent pot of chili. But in my head, I was secretly imagining the moment they announced my pot as the winning chili, when confetti would drop from the ceiling and somewhere, somehow Queen would start blasting out as I walked to take the coveted apron, with "We are the Champions" blaring in the background.
Sadly, my dreams were crushed. Instead of the coveted apron, I was given a can of Hormel chili and awarded the last place prize. Last place! It wasn't that bad! (I'm sporting the winning chili apron that the commander actually won.)
This year, I knew I had to redeem myself. Luckily, the original chili cook-off inspired me to start making real chili and ever since I've been working on a basic recipe with my own twists. It's nothing crazy original, but it's yummy, and gosh darn it, I like it! So the night before this year's cook-off, I made up a batch, tasting and modifying as I went. My husband brought it in the next morning and made a few contributions, as well.
And all the tweaking and tasting paid off! Because you are now looking at (or reading about!) the 2009 Husband's Squadron Chili Champ! (The apron, hat, spoons and towel were the prizes! Nice!)
Actually, there were two awards. We had three judges from other squadrons come in, and my friend Tina won the Judge's Choice award. And Team Kaz won the People's Choice award! Thanks to all the people! Woo!
It was sweet redemption. Or spicy redemption, I guess, 'cause after trying all seven chilis, my mouth was on fire!