Cowboy Chili in the Canyon

I guess it wouldn’t be Topanga if our annual Chili Cook-off was a legitimate competition.

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Goofy chilis often win. Last year, in the traditional chili category, the top prize went to a Moroccan lamb chili. This year, second place went to friend Kali’s chili — which featured habanero whipped cream and strawberries. (And was actually quite tasty, once I got enough past my initial shock to try some.)

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Spooks, Sandwiches & Sympathy for the Devil

It couldn’t really have started any worse.

The day of our school’s annual Halloween Carnival — the new, experimental 2015 edition in which I would be cooking for somewhere apparently between 450 and 600 people — had arrived.

Rennie at work

Rennie at work

I got to the ballfield at the local community center around 1:30 for the 3:30 start time. I unloaded my coolers full of meat, boxes of bread and bags of slaw — far more food than was necessary, I was certain, and felt confident I would be bringing things home at the evening’s conclusion. But the event organizer, my friend Danielle, had asked me to err on the side of abundance. To cook on, there was a large and rusty Santa Maria grill that had rolled in on wheels and parked itself beneath the backstop. More

Keeping it Local

I was a bit skeptical when I first got the email. Our local community club, which is always having some event or other, had dreamed up a new one: the Fiddle & Griddle family campout.

Albacore & shrimp ceviche

Albacore & shrimp ceviche

It was to take place on the baseball field on a Saturday in August, there would be a Santa Maria-style grill to cook on, games for the kids, campfire singalongs and so forth. It sounded interesting, but probably wasn’t our style of thing — I’m a reluctant camper, I find the packing up, unloading, setting up camp, breaking down, packing back up and unloading again a laborious process, especially for a single night a couple miles from home. More