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4-H chili cookoff: Heralding green and white

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  or link to

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

No chill in these chili dishes

When Solano County 4-H’ers compete in their annual Chili Cookoff, part of the countywide Project Skills Day, the competition is as fierce as some of the hot peppers. This year’s cookoff was no different.

When it was all over but the tasting, the “Beanless Babes Do Beans,” a duo from the Maine Prairie 4-H Club, Dixon,  won the championship, followed by “The Golden Spice Girls,” a trio from the Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon.

Both teams provided unusual recipes: the Beanless Babes opted for elk burger instead of the traditional beef and named their chili, “Hunter’s Chili.” The Golden Spice Girls used beer, chocolate, coffee and sugar in their chili, naming it “Bad Character Chili.” The Tremont 4-H’ers derived the name from a great-grandmother who used to refer to folks who indulged too much as “bad characters.”

Judges proclaimed both dishes as delicious, but especially the Beanless Babes' dish made by Lauren Kett and Rebecca Ivanusich.

“It was really good,” said judge Jim Baumann, owner of The Point Restaurant, Rio Vista. Fellow judges Trish San Nicolas of the Golden Hills 4-H Club, Vacaville, and Jose Topete of the U.S. Coast Guard, based in Rio Vista, agreed. They said they were impressed with the taste, creativity and presentation.

The recipe was based on a recipe published by the North American Hunting Club. “This was the first time we made it,” said Rebecca. Lauren's father provided the elk burger.

The second-place chili, made by Kaylee Lindgren, Savannah Woodruff and Hannah Crawford-Steward, also drew praise from the judges. "Wonderful!" said San Nicolas.

Eight teams from 4-H clubs throughout the county competed in the Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff, held earlier this year in Riverview School, Rio Vista.

Also participating were six other teams: the Three Amigos from the Rio Vista 4-H Club; Red Hot Chili Peppers from Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo; Suisun Valley Cowboys from the Suisun Valley 4-H Club, Fairfield-Suisun; 4-H Iron Chefs from Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon;  and the Chili Chicks and Firecrackers, two teams from the Vaca Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville.

Here are the winning recipes. Add more hot peppers for "more kick"; adjust to preferred taste.

Hunter’s Chili
By Beanless Babes Do Beans
Lauren Kett and Rebecca Ivanusich
Maine Prairie 4-H Club, Dixon

1-1/2 to 2-1/2 pounds elk burger (traditional hamburger can be substituted if there's no hunter in the family)
1 large onion
2 hot peppers
1 bell pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup water
1 beef bouillon cube
2 cans kidney beans
1/2 teaspoon garlic
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 bay leaf

Brown meat. Chop onion and peppers and fry in butter until limp. Add all ingredients. Simmer for at least two hours. Serves several hungry persons.

Bad Character Chili
By Southern Spice Girls
Hannah Crawford-Stewart, Kaylee Lindgren and Savannah Woodruff, Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon

3 cups onions, diced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 can (14-ounces) dark beer
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
2 teaspoons chipotle spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 28-ounce can drained, diced tomatoes
1-1/2 cups coffee, made from caramel-flavored beans
1-1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 pound beef sirloin, cubed
4 ounces of espresso
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
1 packet beefy onion soup mix
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 28-ounce cans drained kidney beans
1 7-ounce can mild green chilies, diced

In a large pot, cook onions, garlic and meat until brown. Add beer and stir over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add espresso, brown sugar and tomato paste. Stir in cocoa, soup mix and spices. Stir in one can of kidney beans, tomatoes and green chilies. Reduce heat and simmer for 1-1/2 hours, stir occasionally. Add flavored coffee and one can of kidney beans. Reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour, stir occasionally. Optional toppings: fried onions and sour cream. Serves 6 to 8.

The Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program is headquartered at 501 Texas St., Fairfield.

They won with hunter's chili
They won with hunter's chili

Lauren Kett (left) and Rebecca Ivanusich of the Maine Prairie 4-H Club, Dixon, dressed as hunters and served "Hunter's Chili" to win the annual Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff. Their chili featured elk burger. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Runner-Up Team
Runner-Up Team

The Southern Spice Girls (from left, Kaylee Lindgren, Savannah Woodruff and Hannah Crawford-Stewart) of the Tremont-4-H Club, Dixon, won runner-up honors in the Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff with their recipe, "Bad Character Chili." Ingredients included beer, chocolate, coffee and sugar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, February 19, 2010 at 1:15 PM
Tags: 4-H (11), chili (2), cookoff (1), Solano County (1)

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