A Chili in the Air

If it’s early fall in Topanga, it must be chili time.

My ingredient list

My ingredient list

Every year, around the first weekend in November, the Topanga Swap Meet & Chili Cook Off rolls around. For a couple years, I was a judge. And then two autumns back, I was convinced by my friend Nonie who helps run the local community house to enter the contest, along with her husband Dan who was also entering. More

The Fastest Chili in the West!

I was in a pinch! I had to go out and needed to feed my family. Desperately searching my nearly empty fridge (we were going on vacation), freezer and cupboards, I found a can of beans. Inspiration took over — I could make a quick chili!

Practically instant chili

Practically instant chili

Despite what the chili-heads and aficionados will try to tell you (and sell you), chili doesn’t have to be a complicated or obtuse affair. Indeed, some of the chili I’ve thrown together in a pinch with ground turkey and tomato paste, for example, have been better than the fancy versions with heirloom tomatoes and tri-tip that I’ve labored over across the course of days. More

More Adventures in the New Soy Technology

When I was a kid, all the hippies were crazy for soy. It was the new thing. They had discovered tofu and tempeh, and were putting it in everything.

Today, soy is in the culinary dog house. Vegans, yoga students and Birkenstock wearers have moved on to quinoa, textured vegetable protein and nut cutlets. Websites with names like Natural Health Strategies and Hidden Soy decry the dangers of soy, and expose the nefarious secret intentions of the soy industry. All of this just as it seems to me that soy is finally getting its act together!

Michael Portnoy soy bombs Bob Dylan at the 1998 Grammy Awards

Performance artist Michael Portnoy soy bombs Bob Dylan at the 1998 Grammy Awards

It was the Halloween carnival fundraiser last year at my children’s elementary school. I was approached beforehand: Sean, could you make a large pot of chili to sell at the fundraiser? More

The American Series, Pt. II — Chili

Many a cook has been judged on the quality of his or her chili. Whole lives on the cook-off circuit have been made or ruined based on their deftness of hand with garlic and chili powder.

Last year, I almost entered the local Malibu Labor Day chili cook off. I may do so this year. There’s something decidedly appealing and American about these events. Every municipality, from the upscale resort to the redneck town, has one. More