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4-H chili cookoff: Heralding green and white

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What's green and white and wins a county 4-H chili cookoff?

Chili, 4-H chili.

And it's just in time for Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 4 when the New England Patriots square off in Minneapolis, Minn., with the Philadelphia Eagles.

A sibling team from the Dixon Ridge 4-H Club won the 2018 Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff with a recipe titled “4-H Green and White Chili," featuring pork shoulder and pork sausage and four different varieties of peppers. The five-team competition took place at the Pena Adobe Middle School, Vacaville, during the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day.

The members of the Dixon championship chili team - Maritzia Partida Cisneros, Miguel Partida Cisneros, Moncerrat “Monce” Torres Cisneros and Rudolfo “Rudy” Radillo Cisneros - used four different green peppers: pasilla, Anaheim, serrano and green bell pepper to flavor and spice the white (pork) chili.

This is the championship Dixon Ridge 4-H Club Chili Team: (from left) siblings Moncerral “Monce” Torres Cisneros, Maritzia Partida Cisneros, Rudolfo “Rudy” Radillio Cisneros, and Miguel Partida Cisneros. They made “4-H Green and White Chili.” (Photo: Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The siblings competed last year as the “Mean Green Machines,” wearing their official green and white 4-H uniforms and hats. This year they chose the same recipe but adjusted its heat. They also donned different 4-H attire along with white chef hats, inscribed with their names.

The Dixon Ridge team competed against Team Delta of the Rio Vista 4-H Club, which prepared “Chili-licious”; Hillbilly Chili Team from Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, “Hillbilly Chili”; Lil' Peppers Team from the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, “Chicken Enchilada Chili” (the team won last year's competition); and Team Minecraft of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, which prepared “Ruby Redstone Chili.”

They answered questions from the evaluators and served them samples. John Vasquez Jr. of Vacaville, member of the Solano County Board of Supervisors, judged the chili contest with Vacaville police officers Jeremy Johnson, Shawn Windham and Steve Moore. Windham is also the president of the Vacaville Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Sherwood Forest 4-H’ers, Vallejo, prepare to serve the judges. From left are Vacaville police officer Jeremy Johnson; John Vasquez Jr., Solano County Board of Supervisors; and Vacaville police officers Shawn Windham and Steve Moore. Windham is also president of the Vacaville Unified School District Board of Trustees. (Photo: Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The evaluators all described the chili dishes as delicious, said coordinator Kelli Mummert, a community leader in the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville.

"The Chili Cook Off is a great hands-on opportunity for youth to build confidence and spark their creativity," said Valerie Williams, Solano County 4-H Program representative. " Chili team members build food preparation skills, learn food and kitchen safety, and use math and science concepts, as they develop their chili recipes."

Each member of the winning team received a $15 Cold Stone Creamery gift certificate.

“I would have to say that I was extremely impressed with all of the teams and their entries in the contest,” said Windham. “While there was one clear winner of the contest, every one of the teams made a very good chili and showed that they have a strong ability to work together as a team collaboratively and that they have very strong cooking skills.”

“I think all of the teams showed maturity and had a great presentation for their chili,” Windham said. “They were each very enthusiastic about their creation. I found all of the chilis to be very good and I thought the teams did an excellent job of representing 4-H. I was also very pleased we were able to host the event at one of our Vacaville Unified School District  schools.”

Vacaville police officer Shawn Windham, president of the Vacaville Unified School District Board of Trustees, prepares to evaluate the chili of the Pleasants Valley 4-H team (from left) Maliyah Desmarais, Maya Farris, Naomi Lipary and Jessie Means. (Photo: Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Windham added: “I will be honest in that I wasn't sure what to expect because I haven't been involved with the chili contest before. However, I was very pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed each of the teams' creations and the ability to talk with the kids about how they came up with the recipes for their chili.  It is a lot of fun and I hope to get an invite again next year!”

Said Vasquez: "I believe  this year's winning chili had all the qualities that a winning chili should have: flavor, aroma, texture, color and presentation. I enjoyed having three police officers from the Vacaville PD this year as judges. Their skills in remembering in great detail made the job of judging much easier, as we refer back to our notes on each one of the entries. I've had the honor of attending as a judge and as a presenter of awards on both Project Skills Day and the 4-H Achievement Night for 16 years. Over the years, Shelli  (his wife) and I have watched young 4-H'ers grow to become young, impressive adults and that has been rewarding to us.” 

Moore said all the team members were "polite, professional and knowledgeable for their age group. While the consensus was one winner, I feel that each team presented a good product. For me, it was my first time attending a 4-H-sponsored event and I was very impressed." He is interested in involving his two sons in 4-H.

The other participants of the cookoff:

  • Hillbilly Chili Team, Tremont 4-H Club: Alaina Austin, Isabel Martinez, Trinity Road and Sara Yates
  • Lil' Peppers Team, Pleasants Valley: Jessie Means, Maya Farris, Naomi Lipary and Maliyah Desmarais
  • Team Minecraft Team, Sherwood Forest: Darren Stephens, Celeste Harrison, Julietta Wnholds and Hanna Stephens
  • Team Delta, Rio Vista: Olivia Stone, Anuheua Rivas, Maddie Baughman and Sofia Gutierrez

Pleasants Valley 4-H’ers of Vacaville - (from left) Maliyah Desmarais, Maya Farris, Naomi Lipary and Jessie Means - answer questions from Solano County Board of Supervisor John Vasquez Jr. (front left) and Vacaville police officer Steve Moore. (Photo: Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Here's the winning recipe, heralding the green and the white:

4-H Green and White Chili
Dixon Ridge 4-H Club

2 pounds pork shoulder cut in ½-inch chunks

2 pounds ground pork sausage

Olive oil (as needed to brown meat)

Two 28-ounce cans green enchilada sauce

2 onions, coarsely chopped

2 of each pepper diced: pasilla, Anaheim, serrano and green bell pepper

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tomatillos, diced

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

Water, approximately 1 cup

Cornstarch for thickening if needed

Seasonings to taste: chicken bouillon, black pepper, garlic salt and cumin

Directions: In a large stock pot, brown pork in the olive oil. Add the ground sausage and continue cooking over high heat until meat is browned (about 30 minutes). Add the water and seasonings. Cook an additional 30 minutes. Add green enchilada sauce. Turn heat down and simmer for 30 minutes. While mixture is simmering, coarsely chop the onions, mince the garlic, dice the peppers and tomatillos and chop the cilantro. Add these to the pot and continue cooking until the pork is tender (about 30 to 45 minutes). Check flavor and adjust seasonings to taste. If needed, thicken with the cornstarch.

The Dixon Ridge,  Tremont, Pleasants Valley, Rio Vista and Sherwood Forest 4-H Clubs are among the 12 clubs in Solano County. The others are Maine Prairie 4-H, Roving Clovers 4-H, both of Dixon; Elmira 4-H, Vaca Valley 4-H, both of the Vacaville area; Westwind 4-H and Suisun Valley 4-H,  both of Fairfield-Suisun; and Travis Air Force Base 4-H Club from Travis.

This chili cookoff team from the Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, dressed as hillbillies and served “Hillbilly Chili" for the Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff. From left are Alaina Austin, Trinity Roach, Isabel Martinez and Sara Yates. (Photo: Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program is part of the UC Cooperative Extension Program.  The four H's stands for head, heart, health and hands, with the motto “Make the Best Better.” 4-H is open to all youths ages 5 to 19.  In age-appropriate projects, they learn skills through hands-on learning in projects ranging from arts and crafts, computers and leadership to dog care, poultry, rabbits and woodworking. They develop skills they would otherwise not attain at home or in public or private schools. For more information, contact Solano County 4-H Program representative Valerie Williams at vawilliams@ucanr.edu  or link to http://solano4h.ucanr.edu/Get_Involved/.

Posted on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 8:47 AM
Focus Area Tags: 4-H Food

A super bowl of chili: Something to crow about

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Life is just a bowl of…ch...no, not cherries!

Chili!

Make that chicken chili.

When the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons square off at Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 5 in Houston, odds are that feathers will fly and football fans will flock to heaping bowls of chili.

All chili aficionados have their favorite recipes, but white chili proved to be the winning alternative to red chili at the annual Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff, held Jan. 14 in the Community Presbyterian Church in Vallejo.

The winning team, the Lil' Peppers from the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville. From left are Maleah and Elijah Desmarais and Jessie Means. At far right is their advisor, Marlene Means. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Lil' Peppers — three members of the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville — took home top honors with their “White Chili with Avocado Cream.” It was like putting a feather in the caps of chefs Jessie Means and Elijah Desmarais and his sister Maleah Desmarais. Advised by their cooking leader Marlene Means, they made the dish at home, delivered it to the cook-off in a crockpot, and answered a series of questions from four-judge panel.

They based their entry on a Cooking Light magazine recipe, but added agave to suit their tastes (they acknowledged they're not partial to one ingredient, serrano chile). They also substituted a can of white beans for a 15-ounce can of unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans).

The cook-off, which drew a total of five teams, was part of the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day, an opportunity for youths to showcase what they've learned in their projects and to hone their display and presentation skills. The day ended with the cook-off.

4-H'ers from the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, await the judges. From left are Brayden Gish, Justin Means, Maya Prunty and Shayley Gish. They made a recipe reportedly favored by "The Duke": John Wayne. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

“The Chili Cook-Off continues to be a big draw at Project Skills Day,” said Solano County 4-H program representative Valerie Williams. “Through their participation, 4-H team members develop life skills like organization, decision-making and communication. Not to be overlooked, team members gain practical knowledge about kitchen safety, food safety, food preparation and nutrition, while developing their chili recipes.” 

The chili judges — John Vasquez Jr. of Vacaville and Skip Thomson of Dixon, both members of the Solano County Board of Supervisors; and fellow chili enthusiasts Robert Reed of Benicia and Will Cant of Vallejo — said they enjoyed all the dishes, but especially the chicken chili. They went for seconds.

“It was really good,” said Vasquez, a veteran cook-off judge, praising the intermingling of the flavors and the competence of the chefs.

Coordinator Connie Reid of the Sherwood Forrest Club in Vallejo escorted the judges to each team's table, where the 4-H'ers introduced themselves and talked about their chili, the ingredients, the preparation and the outcome.

The Chili Girls of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, dressed as penguins, await the judges. From left are Julietta Wynholds, Selah Deuz, Celeste Harrison and Hanna Stephens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Lil' Peppers' project all started with Jessie Means wanting to participate in the cook-off. She asked her mother and 4-H cooking project leader, Marlene Means, to help, and then Jessie recruited Elijah and Maleah Desmarais.

What to prepare? At most cook-offs, teams make red chili. The Lil Peppers decided on white chili, made with chicken and pork instead of beef.

For the cook-off, they donned blue aprons appliquéd with chili peppers, made by Jessie. They kept the decorations simple: a black tablecloth graced with a few chili peppers.

It was a great learning experience, Marlene Means said.

“The team learned to read and follow the recipe," she said. "They did have a few teary moments — cutting the onions. They were careful working with the peppers.  All three worked very hard.”

When the 4-H'ers tasted their finished product, they decided it was "a little too spicy!” So they added a tablespoon of agave.

Evaluator John Vasquez Jr., (right foreground) talks to the Lil' Peppers. From left are Elijah and Maleah Desmarais, and Jessie Means. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The end result: the team loved it, the judges loved it, and so did the crowd that grouped around their entry for samples.

“There were many repeat tasters,” Marlene Means said.

All three members of the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club are enrolled in cooking projects, but also a variety of other projects. Jessie, the club's historian, is enrolled in swine, rabbits, horse, sewing, food preservation, cooking, outdoor cooking, indoor mini gardens, baking and bread making, and dog care and training. Maleah is enrolled in fine art, outdoor cooking, rabbits, and cooking projects, while Elijah's projects are poultry, outdoor cooking and rabbits.

All the cook-off teams delighted in creating their own costumes. The Chili Girls of Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, dressed as penguins. Two Harry Potter fans from the Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, opted for "tie attire." Another team from the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, donned sunglasses; they were just chillin' when they served a chili reportedly favored by "The Duke" (John Wayne). Another group from Dixon, the Mean Green Chili Cooking Machine of the Dixon Ridge 4-H Club, came as themselves, in 4-H attire.  Their chili lived up to their name; it was the hottest and was quite delicious, the judges agreed.

Chili Cook-Off Cooordinator Connie Reed (far left) of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, tests the temperature of the chili. From left are the Mean Green Chili Cooking Machines of the Dixon Ridge 4-H Club: Maritiza Partida Cisneros, Rudy Cisneros Radillo and Miguel Partida Cisneros. At far right is evaluator Solano County Supervisor John Vasquez Jr. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The members of the other teams:

  • The Chili Girls from the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo: Selah Deuz, Celeste Harrison, Hanna Stephens and Julietta Wynholds
  • Harry Potter and the Order of Chili, Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon: Isabel Martinez and Trinity Roach
  • Just Chillin', Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville: Braydon Gish, Shayley Gish, Justin Means and Maya Prunty
  • Mean Green Chili Cooking Machines, Dixon Ridge 4-H Club, Dixon: Maritiza Partida Cisneros, Miguel Partida Cisneros and Rudy Cisneros Radillo

Here's the winning recipe that the Lil' Peppers prepared:

White Chili with Avocado Cream

Ingredients:
1 serrano chile (this is hot and can be omitted, the 4-H'ers agreed)
1 jalapeño pepper
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
Cooking spray
4 cups unsalted chicken stock, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons adobo sauce
1 chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
2 (15-ounce) cans unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
5 -1/2 teaspoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 pound ground pork
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces, browned
3 cups fresh white corn kernels
1 (15-ounce) can unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained (the 4-H'ers substituted 1 can of white beans)
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/3 cup plus 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, divided
2-3/8 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 medium ripe peeled avocado
1/3 cup light sour cream
3/4 cup diced tomatillo
1 tablespoon agave or honey

Preparation:

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Arrange first 3 ingredients on a foil-lined baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray. Place pan on middle oven rack; broil 15 minutes or until charred on all sides, turning occasionally. Wrap peppers in foil; let stand 5 minutes. Peel peppers; discard peels, stems, and seeds. Combine peppers, onion, 1/2 cup stock, flour, adobo sauce, chipotle, and 1 can cannellini beans in a blender; process until smooth.
  3. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds. Add cumin, oregano, and coriander to pan; sauté 30 seconds. Add pork; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble. Stir in onion mixture and remaining 3-1/2 cups stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes. Stir in remaining can of cannellini beans, corn, and white beans; cook 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in half-and-half, 1/2 cup cilantro, and 1/3 cup juice; cook 3 minutes. Stir in 2-1/4 teaspoons salt.
  5. Place avocado in a small bowl; mash with the back of a fork. Stir in sour cream, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons juice, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Serve chili with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro, avocado cream, and tomatillo.

(Nutritional Information. Amount per serving: Calories 380; fat 18.6 grams; saturated fat 6 grams; monofat 8.3 g; polyfat 1.9 g; protein 30 g; carbohydrate 24 g; fiber 6 g; cholesterol 85 mg; iron 2 mg; sodium 592 mg; and calcium 86 mg)

Solano County, said 4-H Program Representative Valerie Williams, has nearly 500 4-H members enrolled in a total of 11 clubs:

  • Dixon: Dixon Ridge 4-H, Maine Prairie 4-H, Roving Clovers 4-H and Tremont 4-H
  • Vacaville: Elmira 4-H, Pleasants Valley 4-H and Vaca Valley 4-H
  • Fairfield-Suisun: Westwind 4-H and Suisun Valley 4-H
  • Rio Vista: Rio Vista 4-H
  • Vallejo-Benicia: Sherwood Forest 4-H

The Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program, part of the UC Cooperative Extension Program of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR),  follows the motto, “Making the best better.” 4-H, which stands for head, heart, health and hands, is open to youths ages 5 to 19.  In age-appropriate projects, they learn skills through hands-on learning in projects ranging from arts and crafts, computers and leadership to dog care, poultry, rabbits and woodworking. They develop skills they would otherwise not attain at home or in public or private schools, said Williams, who may be reached at vawilliams@ucanr.edu for further information on the program.

 

Isabel Martinez (left) and Trinity Roach of the Tremont 4-H Club watch as judges sample their chili. From left are Robert Reed of Benicia, Will Cant of Vallejo, and Solano County Board of Supervisor Skip Thomson of Dixon. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
 
The scenario: crockpot of chili, gloved hands, spoons, and a judge's clipboard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Attached Files
Evaluator John Vasquez Jr., (right foreground) talks to the Lil' Peppers. From left are Elijah and Maleah Desmarais, and Jessie Means. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Chili Cook-Off Cooordinator Connie Reed (far left) of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, tests the temperature of the chili. From left are the Mean Green Chili Cooking Machines of the Dixon Ridge 4-H Club: Maritiza Partida Cisneros, Rudy Cisneros Radillo and Miguel Partida Cisneros. At far right is evaluator Solano County Supervisor John Vasquez Jr. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Isabel Martinez (left) and Trinity Roach of the Tremont 4-H Club watch as judges sample their chili. From left are Robert Reed of Benicia, Will Cant of Vallejo, and Solano County Board of Supervisor Skip Thomson of Dixon. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
4-H'ers from the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, await the judges. From left are Brayden Gish, Justin Means, Maya Prunty and Shayley Gish. They made a recipe reportedly favored by "The Duke": John Wayne. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Chili Girls of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, dressed as penguins, await the judges. From left are Julietta Wynholds, Selah Deuz, Celeste Harrison and Hanna Stephens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The winning team, the Lil' Peppers from the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville. From left are Maleah and Elijah Desmarais and Jessie Means. At far right is their advisor, Marlene Means. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The scenario: crockpot of chili, gloved hands, spoons, and a judge's clipboard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

'Four Little Pigs' blow the house down with a super bowl of chili

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Jaxson Ivie of the Pleasants Valley 4-Club listens intently to the panel of evaluators. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Their first time proved to be the charm — just as Super (souper) Bowl Sunday beckons.

Using a grandmother's favorite recipe and all locally grown ingredients, the Four Little PIGS (Pork in Green Sauce) from the Suisun Valley 4-H Club swept the five-team competition at the Solano County 4-H Chili Cook-Off. The event took place at the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day in the Community Presbyterian Church, Vallejo.

The quartet — Spencer Merodio, 10, Alexis Taliaferro, 11, Natalie Frenkel, 12, and Kate Frenkel, 10 — drew a round of applause as they appeared on stage to accept the award, movie tickets to the Brenden Theatre. It was their first time entering the annual competition.

The Suisun Valley 4-H'ers opted for Spencer's grandmother's recipe, “Chili Verde, aka Pork in Green Sauce,” using cubed pork shoulder, tomatillos, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, garlic cloves and black beans. The condiments: sour cream, cilantro and diced radishes.

“We made it from scratch with vegetables purchased from Larry's Produce in Suisun Valley,” they told the evaluators, Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert of District 2 and James Luka and his son, Jim, of Vallejo. “Nothing from a can.”
Competition proved keen, as all the dishes were delicious, the evaluators said.

Suisun Valley 4-H'er Alexis Taliaferro smiles as her team is announced the winner. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
“It was almost impossible to decide  among the five outstanding chilis,” said Seifert. “They varied from pork and chicken to vegan.”

“I could eat any of the five chilis any day of the week,” said James Luka,  a retired network administrator for the U.S. and Europe stock market in Illinois.

Son Jim, a maintenance worker at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, agreed. “They all did an amazing job.”

The evaluators praised the flavor and texture of the champion chili, but also the enthusiasm of the presenters and their eagerness to share the recipe and answer questions.
 
For the occasion, the youths wore special pig costumes. They decorated their long-sleeved pink T-shirts with pig drawings and lettering on both the front and the back. An added touch: little chef hats, complete with pink pig ears.

The members of the championship team are enrolled in their club's food and nutrition project and other projects, including Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) and outdoor adventures.

“They're all close friends and competitive swimmers,” said Spencer's mother, Heather. They swim competitively with SASO of Fairfield-Suisun, which holds practices at Solano Community College.

The other teams competing were:

Chili Peeps of Suisun Valley 4-H Club (Irma Brown, Arianna Henriquez, Enrique Henriquez and Clairese Wright) who made “Chipotle Chicken Chili”

The Chilibaccas of Dixon Ridge 4-H Club (Brayden Gish, Shayley Gish and Maya Prunty) who made “2/2/2 Chili”

Los Verdes of Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville (Coleman Ivie, Jaxson Ivie, Kyndal Kelly and Justin Means)  who made “Los Verdes Chili”

ExtraVEGANza of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo (Jarred Burkett, Halle Newell, Megan Torres and Julietta Wynholds) who made “Mama B's Vegan Chili.”

Valerie Williams serves as the Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program representative.  Some 500 members are enrolled in Solano County 4-H. For more information on the 4-H program, contact Williams at vawilliams@ucanr.edu or access the web site at http://cesolano.ucanr.edu/

The recipes:

The Four Little P.I.G.S. (Pork In Green Sauce)
Chile Verde  
Suisun Valley 4-H Club

Sauce Ingredients
10 fresh tomatillos (firm, medium sized)
4 jalapeño peppers
2 bunches of cilantro (about 2 cups)
Small garlic clove, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste

Other Ingredients
6 pounds pork shoulder cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 yellow onions
Garlic to taste 

Preparation
Peel and rinse tomatillos. Add tomatillos and jalapeños to sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil and watch for tomatillos to change color. Add garlic and cilantro to a blender followed by tomatillos and peppers from boiling water, reserving water. Blend with up to 1/2 to 3/4 cup water from pan depending on the consistency desired. Set sauce aside. Season cubed pork generously with salt and pepper. Sear meat over high heat and par cook. Sauté onions and garlic until golden and caramelized. Add sauce to pan and scrape pan bottom to release cooked ingredients. Stir in onions, garlic and pork. Simmer for two hours and serve with minced onions, radishes, and cilantro on top, and a warm tortilla as desired.

Suggested condiments:
Crema (sour cream)
Cilantro
Diced radishes

Chipotle Chicken Chili
By the Chili Peeps
Suisun Valley 4-H Club

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole onion, diced 
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into a small dice
1 bottle (12-ounce bottle) Good Beer
1 can (14-ounce size) diced tomatoes 
1 whole chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce, minced (more can be added, up to 3)
1 can (14-ounce size) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14-ounce size) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14-ounce size) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/4 cup masa harina 
1 lime, juiced

Condiments, for serving 
Grated sharp cheddar cheese
Cilantro
Lime wedges

Instructions
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat then add the onions and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until onions soften. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Add 3/4 of the beer, reserving the rest, then cook for a couple of minutes to reduce.

Add the tomatoes, chipotles, beans, chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir to combine, then cover the pot and cook for 1 hour.

Combine the masa harina with the rest of the beer and stir to make a paste. Add this into the chili, along with the lime juice. Stir and cook for 10 more minutes or until thick. 

Serve with sour cream, cheese, cilantro, and another squeeze of lime!

The Chilibaccas Recipe
2/2/2 Chili
Dixon Ridge 4-H Club

2 pounds pork shoulder cut in 1/2-inch chunks
2 pounds ground beef
Olive oil (as needed to brown meat)
2 cans of tomatoes (chopped or diced work best)
2 cans of beans (1 kidney and 1 pinto), drained
2 Pasilla peppers      
2 Serrano peppers
2 Anaheim peppers
2 green bell peppers
2 onions
2 cloves garlic
Water (approximately 1 cup)
Cornstarch

Seasonings to taste:
Beef bouillon  
Chili powder              
Ground cumin 
Garlic salt 
Black pepper

In a large stock pot, brown pork in the olive oil. Add in the ground beef and continue cooking over high heat until beef is browned (about 30 minutes). Add the water and seasonings. Cook an additional 30 minutes. Add tomatoes and beans. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. While mixture is simmering, coarsely chop onions and peppers and finely chop garlic. Add these to the pot and continue cooking until pork is tender ( about another 30-45 minutes). Check flavor and add seasonings to taste. If needed, thicken chili with cornstarch.

Mama B's Vegan Chili
ExtraVEGANza
Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo

3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 ­ 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup bulgur, rinsed
1 medium purple onion, diced
1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground saigon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4  teaspoon cayenne powder
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 ­ 15-ounce can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1 ­ 15-ounce can organic red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 ­ 15-ounce can organic pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Ghirardelli cocoa powder, unsweetened

Instructions
In a large heavy skillet, roast corn kernels over medium­high heat, stirring constantly, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet over medium heat and cook eggplant, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper with a pinch of salt until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the bulgur and stir until well combined. Set aside. 

In a large saucepan, heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in jalapeño, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes, beans, vegetable broth and lime juice. Bring to a simmer. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in corn and eggplant. Add chocolate and stir just until melted. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Los Verdes Chili Recipe
Los Verdes, Pleasants Valley 4-H Club

3 pounds pork shoulder roast
1 pound pork sausage
3 large cans green enchilada sauce
2 cans white beans
2 white onions
3 green bell peppers
2 poblano peppers
1 serrano pepper
2 bunches cilantro
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons cumin
3 tablespoons chicken stock powder

Brown the meat, add spices and sauce, then onions, peppers and cook on medium high in a large pot on the stovetop for about 2 hours or until meat is done. Add corn starch to thicken. 

The Four Little PIGS (Pork in Green Sauce) drew applause as the winners of the 2016 Solano County 4-H Chili Contest. From left are Spencer Merodio, Alexis Taliaferro, Natalie Frenkel and Kate Frenkel, all of the Suisun Valley 4-H Club. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Four Little PIGS (Pork in Green Sauce) drew applause as the winners of the 2016 Solano County 4-H Chili Contest. From left are Spencer Merodio, Alexis Taliaferro, Natalie Frenkel and Kate Frenkel, all of the Suisun Valley 4-H Club. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Four Little PIGS (Pork in Green Sauce) drew applause as the winners of the 2016 Solano County 4-H Chili Contest. From left are Spencer Merodio, Alexis Taliaferro, Natalie Frenkel and Kate Frenkel, all of the Suisun Valley 4-H Club. (Photo by Kathy Keatey Garvey)

Judging the Solano County Chili-Cookoff are evauators (from left) Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert of District 2 and James Luka and his son, Jim, of Vallejo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Judging the Solano County Chili-Cookoff are evauators (from left) Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert of District 2 and James Luka and his son, Jim, of Vallejo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Judging the Solano County Chili-Cookoff are evauators (from left) Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert of District 2 and James Luka and his son, Jim, of Vallejo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Pleasants Valley 4-H Club member Justin Means (right, in black hat), Vacaville, serves the evaluators with fellow 4-H'ers youths Coleman Ivie (next to him) and Jaxcson Ivie (foreground). The evaluators are (from left) Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert, James Luka and Jim Luka. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Pleasants Valley 4-H Club member Justin Means (right, in black hat), Vacaville, serves the evaluators with fellow 4-H'ers youths Coleman Ivie (next to him) and Jaxcson Ivie (foreground). The evaluators are (from left) Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert, James Luka and Jim Luka. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Pleasants Valley 4-H Club member Justin Means (right, in black hat), Vacaville, serves the evaluators with fellow 4-H'ers youths Coleman Ivie (next to him) and Jaxcson Ivie (foreground). The evaluators are (from left) Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert, James Luka and Jim Luka. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of the champion chili, Chili Verde, aka Pork in Green Sauce. At right are black beans and at left, condiments. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of the champion chili, Chili Verde, aka Pork in Green Sauce. At right are black beans and at left, condiments. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of the champion chili, Chili Verde, aka Pork in Green Sauce. At right are black beans and at left, condiments. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 8:27 AM

Nurturing culinary skills in 4-H

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Julianna Payne with her gluten-free cupcakes. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Many young adults entering the workforce know little about meal preparation.

Not so for those enrolled in the foods and nutrition program in UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' (UC ANR) 4-H Youth Development Program. Youths as young as five learn how to prepare healthy nutritious food.

And yes, they learn how to make desserts, such as special treats for their family and friends at Halloween.

Former Solano County 4-H All-Star Ambassador Julianna Payne was so interested in the foods and nutrition project offered by the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, she plans a culinary career.

"That's where I found my love of cooking and most especially, baking," said Payne, 19, who just completed her 14th year in 4-H, including 10 years in foods and nutrition.

4-H is administered by UC ANR Cooperative Extension offices in every California county. The program focuses on leadership and life skills.

"I believe that one of the most important life skills a person needs is knowing how to cook for themselves," Julianna said.

Payne, a 2014 high school graduate, is in her second year at Solano Community College, Fairfield. In the spring, she plans to attend an area culinary school to earn her associate degree in baking and pastry.

"During my 10 years in the food and nutrition project, I made so many things I could not even begin to count," she recalled. "I have made savory things like tamales, empanadas, raviolis, and chilis and I have made sweet things like, peppermint bark, pumpkin scones, toffees, and chocolate orange cupcakes."

Julianna, who joined 4-H at age 5, went on to serve as president of her club for three years. Her experience, enthusiasm and commitment to 4-H led to her being selected for the county's highest 4-H honor: Solano County 4-H All-Star Ambassador.

Her mother, Sharon Payne, is a former community leader of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club and a past president of the Solano County 4-H Leaders' Council.

“4-H is a fantastic youth development organization that teaches youth life skills, leadership and citizenship,” said Sharon Payne, a 13-year 4-H volunteer.  “Within their projects, youth can learn about whatever topic that interests them, from foods to computers or animals to robotics. Project work stimulates interests and skills and can introduce youth to careers they may not have otherwise considered.”

A perfect dessert or Halloween treat. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
So it's not surprising that the youth development program (now in the midst of enrolling new members for the 2015-2016 year) nurtures interests, teaches life skills and molds careers, including culinary careers. 

Said Valerie Williams, Solano County 4-H Program representative: “The 4-H Youth Development Program has a long history of promoting healthy living among youth and their families.  Reconnecting youth to a healthy food system and teaching them how to grow and prepare fresh food is the focus of many 4-H healthy living programs.  4-H adult volunteer leaders provide mentoring to 4-H members, which plays a vital role in helping them select career paths and achieve success.”

As for Julianna Payne, she is continuing to hone her skills. She entered her gluten-free chocolate/orange cupcakes at the recent Solano County Fair, Vallejo and drew rave reviews from the judges,  staff and volunteers who sampled the cupcakes.

Soon she will be teaching other 4-H'ers as she herself was taught.

“I plan on giving back to 4-H this year by becoming a project leader myself," Julianna said. "I will be teaching a cupcake project for 5-to-8-year-olds in the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club."

Here's the recipe:

Gluten Free Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, Chocolate Drizzle and Candied Orange Peel

For the Cupcakes:

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup boiling water
1-3/4 cups all-purpose gluten free flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°F. Line about 30 muffin cups (2-1/2 inch in diameter) with paper or foil baking cups.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Fill cups 2/3 full with batter.

Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool completely in pans on wire rack. Makes about 30 cupcakes.

For the Frosting:

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon Orange zest

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract the orange juice and orange zest.

For the Garnish:

3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate baking bar
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1 orange

Melt chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler. Drizzle over cupcakes. Peel the orange and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Boil in water until tender. Drain. Heat sugar and water in pot until dissolved. Simmer orange peels in sugar water for 30 minutes. Set on cooling rack to cool. Once cool, toss in granulated sugar and set as garnish on top of cupcakes. Enjoy.

Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey

Julianna Payne's cupcakes were a big hit at the Solano County Fair. From left are Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall; Julianna Payne; Sharon Payne, assistant superintendent; and Angelica Gonzalez, staff. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey).
Julianna Payne's cupcakes were a big hit at the Solano County Fair. From left are Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall; Julianna Payne; Sharon Payne, assistant superintendent; and Angelica Gonzalez, staff. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey).

Julianna Payne's cupcakes were a big hit at the Solano County Fair. From left are Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall; Julianna Payne; Sharon Payne, assistant superintendent; and Angelica Gonzalez, staff. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey).

Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 at 8:10 PM

A souper bowl of chili

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Get a winning recipe for chili, just in time for the Super Bowl.
If it's Super Bowl time (and it is on Sunday, Feb. 1, when the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots clash for the National Football League championship), it's also time for a "Souper Bowl."

A souper bowl of chili, that is.

Question is, which recipe to prepare? Well, the Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program to the rescue.

Every year the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day includes a Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff. Teams sign up, prepare their chili in advance, and transport it in a crockpot or slow cooker to the venue (this year it was the C. A. Jacobs Middle School in Dixon). They field questions from the judges, who sample it, score it and select the winning team.

This year's winner was a pepper-loving  team that used four different kinds of peppers and the secret ingredient — love.

The group, all members of the Dixon Ridge 4-H Club and enrolled in the countywide Outdoor Cooking Project, chose Pasilla, Serrano, Anaheim and green bell peppers and also displayed "specimens" in front of their crockpot.

Team members Quincy and Fallon Decious and Shaley and Braydon Gish said they plan to make the chili for their families on Super Bowl Sunday. “It's really good,” they all agreed. 

While preparing the peppers, they said they wore “doctor gloves” to prevent the potent pepper oils from reaching their skin. 

The judges praised the flavor and texture, the display and their enthusiasm. Judges were Cutter Hicks, reporter with the Dixon Tribune; Jim  Nessen of Dixon, who works for a data company in Sacramento, and Kathy Keatley Garvey, a University of California, Davis employee and a longtime 4-H volunteer and food columnist. 

Valerie Williams, Solano County 4-H Program representative, said the cookoff competition teaches the participants public speaking as well as cooking and presentation skills.

“Public speaking has been a cornerstone of the 4-H Youth Development Program,” she said. “Public speaking skills are ranked No. 1 among the skill sets of professionals.” Youths participating in the Project Skills Day “develop many life skills, including public speaking, organizing ideas, and creating and using graphics, resulting in increased self-esteem and confidence.” 

Four teams competed in the annual cookoff. Others were:

  • Los Chileros, Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, comprised of Gracie O'Dell, Randy Marley and Justin Means
  • Chuck and the Three Frijolitos of Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, comprised of -Anna and Charlotte Kent and Sheridan Parks
  • The Chili Dogs, Suisun Valley 4-H Club, comprised of Xavier Copeland, Christopher Lang, and Robert and Clairese Wright.

The Los Chileros used both pork and beef and fire-roasted peppers. Another addition was corn, for a southwestern-style chili.

Chuck and the Three Frijolitos' recipe opted for beef stew meat and three different kinds of beans: pinto, black and kidney.

The Chili Dogs' key ingredients were hot dogs and carrots. Each wore a t-shirt with an image and name of their family dog. They made biscuit-shaped rolls to accompany their chili.

The winning recipe:
Outdoor Cooking Project
By Fallon and Quincy Decious, and Brayden and Shaley Gish
Dixon Ridge 4-H Club, Countywide Outdoor Cooking Project  

2 pounds of pork shoulder, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
2 pounds ground beef
Olive oil (as needed to brown meat)
2 cans of tomatoes, chopped or diced
2 cans of beans, one kidney and one pinto, drained
2 Pasilla peppers
2 Serrano peppers
2 Anaheim peppers
2 green bell peppers
2 onions
2 cloves garlic
Water, approximately 1 cup
Cornstarch
Seasonings to taste: Beef boullion, chili powder, ground cumin, garlic salt, black pepper, paprika

In a large stock pot, brown pork in the olive oil. Add the ground beef and continue cooking over high heat until beef is browned, about 30 minutes. Add the water and seasons. Cook an additional 30 minutes. Add tomatoes and beans. Turn down beef and simmer for 30 minutes. While mixture is simmering, coarsely chop onions and peppers and finely copped garlic. Add these to the pot and continue cooking until pork is tender, about another 30 to 45 minutes. Check flavor and add seasonings to taste. If needed, thicken chili with cornstarch.

Here's another recipe to try that the judges favored for the flavor:

Los Chileros
By Randy Marley, Justin Means and Gracie O'Dell
Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville

Three 15-ounce cans of tomatoes
One 15-ounce can of corn
One 15-ounce can of black beans
One 15-ounce can of kidney beans
One six-ounce can of tomato paste
2 green bell peppers
2 Pasilla peppers
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, depending on taste
2 Anaheim peppers
2 onions
1 to 4 stems of cilantro
3 pounds steak
A half pound of pork sausage
2 tablespoons chicken stock powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon garlic
4-ounce package of chili spices
Salt and pepper to taste

The ingredients "can be adjusted to suit your taste," they said.

Brown meat in a skillet and then put in crock pot. Cut vegetables and add to crock pot. Add spices and canned tomatoes and paste. Cook on high for six hours. Add the corn and beans the last 30 to 45 minutes.  

The winning chili team at the 2015 Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff is this group of Dixon Ridge 4-H Club members who are enrolled in the countywide Outdoor Cooking Project. From left are Quincy Decious, Fallon Decious, Shayley Gish and Braydon Gish. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The winning chili team at the 2015 Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff is this group of Dixon Ridge 4-H Club members who are enrolled in the countywide Outdoor Cooking Project. From left are Quincy Decious, Fallon Decious, Shayley Gish and Braydon Gish. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The winning chili team at the 2015 Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff is this group of Dixon Ridge 4-H Club members who are enrolled in the countywide Outdoor Cooking Project. From left are Quincy Decious, Fallon Decious, Shayley Gish and Braydon Gish. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Los Chilerios team from Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, made a very good chili at the Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff, the judges agreed. From left are Justin Means, Randy Marley and Gracie O’Dell. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Los Chilerios team from Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, made a very good chili at the Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff, the judges agreed. From left are Justin Means, Randy Marley and Gracie O’Dell. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Los Chilerios team from Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, made a very good chili at the Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff, the judges agreed. From left are Justin Means, Randy Marley and Gracie O’Dell. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 3:05 PM

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