Thursday, November 8


What do all these things have in common?

Easy.  They make chili.

Today we had a Chili Cook-off at work.  Employees were asked to prepare and submit a pot of chili for the cook-off.  Then at lunchtime, all employees could pay $6 for as much chili as they wanted (all proceeds went to our Charitable Activities Team).  Each chili pot was anonymous, marked only with a number, so each employee could vote for the best-tasting chili.  Fun, right?

An email went out yesterday afternoon saying that they needed more food for the fundraiser.  I thought - What the heck?  I'll make a pot of chili.  Vegetarian chili.  And I'll put vegetarian "meat" in it and no one will ever know.  Muahahahahha.

So I did.  But I had no igredients for chili.  So yesterday evening played out as follows:

5:00: Melanie is out of work.
5:27: Melanie picks Sol up from daycare.
5:30: Melanie is home.  Melanie runs inside, sets Sol down, runs to grab a coat and some grocery bags.
5:35: Melanie is out the door again.  Melanie puts Sol in the car.
5:36: Melanie's neighbor asks, "Hey, didn't you just get home?"  Melanie says, "Yep, but I'm off to the grocery store now."  Neighbor says, "Yeah, I've been home all afternoon doing laundry.  Gosh, I try to get it done before my wife gets home from work, but it's just so much.  The two of us go through so much laundry.  I just feel like there's not enough time in the day for all this laundry.  Between work and all the things to do around the house, I don't know how my wife and I get it all done."  Melanie cocks her head and thinks, Really, dude?  Is the irony here completely lost on you?  Melanie says, "Yeah, that sounds really tough.  Have a good night."
7:00: Melanie arrives home after completing her grocery shopping.  Melanie, with a sinister vegan smile, prepares a 5-qt batch of vegan chili, in between stepping over Sol on the floor, picking Sol up, setting Sol down, feeding Sol in her high chair, etc.
8:30-9:00: Melanie bathes Sol, feeds Sol, reads to Sol, and takes Sol upstairs to put her to bed.
9:01: Melanie sees herself in the mirror for the first time.  Melanie is still wearing her work clothes, her boots, and her ID badge, while sporting an apron and a baby on the hip.  Ugh.  This is what a mom looks like.
9:15: Melanie is back in the kitchen, finishing the chili.
10:00: Melanie is making cornbread now.
10:47: Exactly 5 hours and 17 minutes after arriving home from work, Melanie sits down.  And falls fast asleep.

But today my hard work paid off.  I didn't win the contest but people thought my chili was daaaaang good.  There were 10 entries, 2 of which were vegetarian (yes, 2) - and the only persons who knew which chilis were meatless were myself and the other veggie chef.  Go us!

My favorite part was sitting down with a group of people who were sampling all the chilis and casting their votes for the best chili.  I had grabbed a big bowl of vegetarian chili, but no one had taken note of which pot I took it from.  When they saw I had chili, they asked why I was eating it, because didn't it have meat in it?  And I told them, "Nope.  I took the vegetarian chili.  Yeah, there are two vegetarian chilis.  And I'm not telling you which ones they are."  Welllll, THAT threw a whole new twist on the cook-off.  Now everyone was more interested in trying to figure out which chili had the fake meat, and which chili had the real meat.

No one could tell the difference.  NO ONE.  Just sayin'.

My chili was rockin', too.  What started out as an attempt at chili turned into more of a "let's-see-what-we-have-in-the-cupboard-and-try-to-incorporate-that-into-this-soup-and-put-some-cumin-in-there-and-call-it-chili."  Aside from the usual chili ingredients, some of the more random things I threw in there: Bell's Expedition Stout, a quinoa/squash puree, sweet potatoes, allspice, cinnamon, and cocoa.  Yeeeeep.  And it was fabulous.

Between the crazy chili and my uber-popular cornbread (which is the absolute best cornbread you will ever try in your whole entire life), it was a good day, culinarily speaking.

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