the catching up begins today. hopefully you all are prepared for a trip somewhere in time, because today's (first of hopefully many) return engagement to the 52 new things occurred on super bowl sunday. if you will, try to hearken back to the days when two things in the world seemed inevitable: the undefeated season of the new england patriots and the nomination of hillary clinton as the democratic presidential candidate. well, apparently the new york giants got the memo from will.i.am. and found that they were the ones that they had been waiting for. inevitability, schmenevitability. for the fifth of the 52 new things, i did not one-- but two-- new things: i used a crock pot for the first time and participated in a chili cook-off.
so, the first half of this fifth new thing addressed one of my long held biases in cooking. i simply don't like the idea of a crock pot. never have. i'm the first to admit that i am a little bit of a worrier, some might even say slightly paranoid. so the idea of plugging in an appliance, turning it on, and then leaving the house for up to 10 hours doesn't sit well with my doomsday mentality. i mean, i'm the girl who had a ridiculously vivid dream about my apartment in nashville being destroyed by some world war II axis of evil b-2 bombers and madison being trapped in the rubble in her wire kennel soon after finishing sarah waters' period lesbian novel the night watch. active imaginations aren't necessarily a good thing if you have a less than rosy picture of the "what ifs". but everyone must face their fears someday. so i dusted off the box for the hamilton beach crock pot my mom bought me for christmas two years ago (yes, it was still in the box) and set out to concoct a culinary masterpiece. first half of the fifth new thing accomplished.
the second half of the fifth new thing meant i would need a chili recipe which illustrates another of my odd characteristics. if placed in a competition where i know i am at a disadvantage (did i mention i had only made chili once in my life before this cook-off? no? huh, i wonder why i would keep that to myself? weird...), i always follow the will schroter way of thinking: go big or go home. so, with a little help from paula deen, i set out sunday morning on a white chicken chili makin' adventcha!
yummmmm. chopped chicken breasts. perfectly cooked and seasoned. aren't. they. fabulous? add some chicken broth, navy beans, garlic, onions and green chilies and you have a recipe for success. and you will have to take my word for it because i kinda forgot to document this part of the experience. i guess i was distracted by my own culinary genius. how could i not win with the only white chili and what would invariably be the most witty, original name at the cook-off. a win was, dare i say, inevitable.
with the chili simmering away in the crock pot, i packed up for my trip out to the boondocks for some company and a chili championship. once i arrived at our lovely hosts' humble abode, i unpacked my crock pot with the swagger of a preordained winner. surely i could whip the odd concoctions of 3 or 4 other people. it didn't matter that my "chili" hadn't thickened yet and looked more like a dr. seuss soup, all the who's down in whoville would love it anyway. but as the other participants trickled in it became glaringly apparent that i was facing an uphill battle. the ringer was no longer guaranteed a win.
9. that's how many chili contestants there were to sample. and i mean that in every sense of the word. just the very thought of eating 9 bowls of chili makes me want to loose my lunch. and the seriousness of this process. goodness. discussions of bison verses lean beef. sweet sausage verses spicy sausage. chocolate verses dr. pepper. measured ingredients verses the kitchen sink approach. and me. with my white bean chicken soup. awesome. though i garnered many compliments on my submission (i still sometimes think these people are nice to me because i am new to the group...) the overwhelming response was "it's not chili". alas, my first foray into cook-off territory ended poorly. and i had the evidence to prove it: two weeks worth of white chicken chili leftovers.
ps: the night of the super bowl also marked the awarding of the trophies for our fantasy football league the joey harrington era. i humbly accepted the metternich cup for all vanderbilt graduates everywhere. in true vanderbilt fashion, my team "jay cutler is a douche" (no, no. this jay cutler, not that jay cutler. though i am sure he is a douche, too.) opened the season 2 and 6 and then went on an 9 game winning streak, defeating team ericksen who had been crowned the inevitable winner of the league in the last game of the season. huh. there's that word again. inevitable. i do not think it means what you think it means.