“I’ve never made this chili before, so I am not expecting to win.” said May the morning of the ward youth’s Chili Cook-off Contest.

I knew better.

“You’ll win just the same.” I retorted.

But I was determined to make a good showing myself, so I did some serious research which required my serious face. I read recipes, scribbled ideas, and scrolled down web pages of chili glory. It took me all morning to find the right recipe, which I modified for my vegetarian palate. It was an all-spice, cinnamon and clove chili, which I renamed,

(are you ready for this?)

“I Am Done Bean Mister Spice Guy Chili.”

It simmered all day in my white crock-pot until my husband came home to test out a spoonful.

“Wow, it’s like Pumpkin Chili.”

This was a bad sign.

If my husband didn’t approve, neither would the Deacons.

That evening I brought my chili–with it’s cleverly named placard–to the serving bar in the cultural hall. Though our judges, the missionaries, were eager to start the taste testing, we waited for May and her piping pot to arrive. Meanwhile, one of the Elders smelled my entry “Apple Pie Chili?” he asked.

I handed out bowls to the youth as they came through the food line. Everyone skipped over my chili, except one Deacon who was feeling sympathetic. I served him up a ladle full.

“Try that!” I said hopefully.

Then two minutes later I heard, “Dude show me which kind you have so that I don’t get it.”

And the once-sympathetic-Deacon responded,”Shhhh. It’s Sister K’s [big whisper] AND SHE IS RIGHT THERE!”

Strangely, it had been that kind of day where I felt a lot like that chili. Spicy, fun, adventurous, but overly looked-over. So I look a little soupy . . . I can promise full flavor! Pair me up with the jalapeño spice corn bread (which I also brought) and taste PIZAZZ! Try me! Anyone?

But being placed near the sizzling pot called “Not For Vegetarians Chili” was no favoring happenstance. My chili grew cold until the bright faced Elder from Kentucky scooped up a bowl.

“Mmmm. This is real good.”

“Shoot.” I said back, turning a bit pink. “It’s a right darn pity that I am already baptized!” (Where did my sudden Southern drawl come from?)

But all it took was one compliment to bring back my confidence. My chili wasn’t the most popular, but it had one fan, and one fan is all you need. After all, isn’t that the gospel of Jesus Christ?

I was the first to congratulate May after she won.

Her chili was called “Magnificent.”

On second thought, I should of gone with a more simple title.


  1. Cari

    September 5, 2007

    First of all, I loved the name of your chili! Clever and fun just like you! A much better name than “Petey’s”. What the heck was that!?!
    Second, I ate a bowl of your chili and I do recall telling you it was good! I guess a party crasher’s opinion doesn’t count.
    And third, ask Elisabeth about the Elder from Kentucky! Hee, hee, hee!

  2. c jane

    September 5, 2007

    Petey’s is like a Pirate’s Chili.
    You DID give me a compliment, as did a few others, but they all came well after the chili was served and judged leaving me quite vulnerable in the beginning. You can imagine my pain…
    Third of all, I heard about the Elder from Kentucky and your beautiful daughter and I sustain! (He’s adorable!)
    Thanks for crashing!

  3. Carlye

    September 5, 2007

    I LOVE a good Chili cookoff! Here in the South they are really spicy, with all kinds of meats and beans. I have not been brave enough to try some of them, but the vegetarian ones are usually my favorites. To be honest, I go for the corn bread.

  4. Geo

    September 5, 2007

    Great name for your creation, C Jane. You are destined for chili greatness, but like most true artists, public recognition and adoring emulation may not settle over you till you’re out of this world. (Wait a second, you are out of this world!)

  5. Megan

    September 5, 2007

    I love how you tell a story. I knew I had to win so I could enjoy the sweet chocolaty prize at the end.
    I think you should have won a prize for the most unique-ilicious chili. I’ve never had anything like it and if you need to invite someone over for the leftovers, I’m your woman.

  6. Natalie

    September 5, 2007

    i’ve been looking for a good chili recipe. though meat is a requirement (sorry)

    sometimes i am envious of your youth activities. all i get to do is bring STUPID spit cloths to the hundreds of new babies in our ward. not fun. love, nat

  7. Wendy

    September 5, 2007

    “I felt a lot like that chili. Spicy, fun, adventurous, but overly looked-over”

    –Some of my friends, when we were “stil” single, had the theory that those who were married already were like apples, and we were like asparagus. Anybody could walk into a grocery store and think, “Oh, I’ll have an apple.” But only those with a specific taste and goal in mind would want to buy the ever-so-wonderful asparagus. Silly, but it brought a little false comfort!

    Great story, CJane!

  8. Justine

    September 5, 2007

    I have skill! I have talent! Don’t overlook me just because I might taste a little like overcooked rutabega. The taste gets milder as you get to the middle — I promise.

    I get you. I really do.

  9. Lyle

    September 5, 2007

    Oh man, you had to post this just days before our EQ chili cook-ff [which is this Friday]. Now I’m all nervous and am sure to mess things up.

  10. Jake

    September 5, 2007

    I may have been one of the last through the line it’s true, but yours was my favorite, precisely because it was spicier and “hit” more areas of the palate. I mentioned to the sotto voce deacon that yours was the recipe most like my own, to which he responded, “then I’m glad we buy nalleys at home papi”.

    Kudos to your chili which should have won the “Most likely to be found in a restaurant” award.

  11. c jane

    September 5, 2007

    Shucks Jake.

  12. pflower

    September 5, 2007

    My chili has a name too…..I call it “Angie’s Gasless Chili”….aaaaaand I have to say (with pride, mind you) that it IS Gasless Chili!

  13. Brooke

    September 5, 2007

    too bad it just wasn’t a naming contest.

    you totally would’ve won that.

  14. Elisabeth

    September 5, 2007

    You should have taken a picture of the Elder from Kentucky…
    First cheese tasting, now chili? Why didn’t we ever have fun activities like that while I was in young women’s?

  15. c jane

    September 5, 2007

    I am just hitting my stride in year three. Sorry. But cute Elder.

  16. kiki

    September 5, 2007

    Chili and cornbread sound so delicious right now! I love the name of your creation. I need to hear your southern drawl.

  17. RahRahSisBoomBah

    September 5, 2007

    Please, pflower, post your recipe. Having four men in my home, it would be very nice to have.

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