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

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Chopping Wood

Splitting axe with curious chickens

Splitting axe with curious chickens

It was a few weeks ago, I guess, that I first began to experience it — feelings of inadequacy as a man.

I was in the kitchen cooking some dainty little dish or other when my pal Ernie stopped by. We hugged and had just began to chat when my wife came out of the back.

“Ernie,” she said, “Can I ask you a couple things?” More

Up Popped a Restaurant

In cooking, as in many things in life, it’s all a matter of scale.

The chefs — (l to r) your humble author and pals, Ernie and Peri

The chefs — (l to r) your humble author and pals, Ernie and Peri

“That’s not enough gazpacho for 60 people!” my wife declared, alarmed, as I walked through the kitchen with a gallon bag a quarter full of soup. “I have another bag,” I said.

“It’s still not enough!” More

The Church of Nylen

Sunday morning, as my wife gathered up the children to go to church, I went to a different sort of place of worship, to a service more in keeping with my vision of the divine… I went to make beer.

Cascade hops on the vine outside

It all began last spring, at the fundraiser silent auction for the school my children attend. As I was walking around bidding on various items, I discovered the beer-making session offered by my friend — litigator, Cubmaster, Irish fiddle player, Topanga brewmaster and all around good and generous guy, Greg Nylen. More

Ernie’s Dishes

We live in a colorful neighborhood. The day before a dinner at our friend Ernie’s house, I was out talking a walk and met Ant Patty (who is not a true aunt so she drops the “u”). “Ernie’s been working on his dinner for days,” she said. “but he’s not doing it for us, he’s doing it for you.”

Ernie at his stove

I don’t think he’s doing it for me. I think he’s doing it because he loves to do it. And he loves to share it with people — fortunately including me. More