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Feb 13th
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Chili Craze

chiliCULTUREBEAT > Hot meals and warm weather at the second annual chili cook-off

The enticing aroma of freshly made chili laced with salty ocean air greeted visitors to the boardwalk this Saturday, Oct. 22. More than 50 teams competed for glory—and the accompanying prize money-- at the second annual Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Chili Cook-Off.

Both professional chefs and amateur cooks assembled bright and early to prepare their specialties, with contestants offering tastes to the public at 1 p.m.  Attendees could purchase a tasting kit for $8, which allowed them to taste up to five different chilis and cast a vote for their favorite. A portion of the proceeds benefitted the Santa Cruz Teen Center.

The unseasonably warm weather drew large crowds to the boardwalk and most booths were cleaned out of chili well before the 4 p.m. judging time. The chili offerings were as uniquely Santa Cruzan as the venue itself, with many cooks featuring locally raised meat and local, organic vegetables.

Prizes were awarded for both vegetarian and meat chilis in categories like “Most Tasted,” “People’s Choice,” “Best Amateur” and “Best Professional.”  Sacramento Chef Toussaint Potter took home the gold for “Best Professional Chili Con Carne.” The Penny Ice Creamery’s newest outpost, The Picnic Basket, nabbed the title for “Best Professional Vegetarian Chili,” with its corn and squash-laden offering.

Entrants were encouraged to deck out their booths and their bodies with inventive decorations and were awarded for their originality. Some teams took this as a call to arms, with pirates, monsters and pigs serving up cupfuls of the spicy stuff. Others chose to let their chili speak for itself, like amateur John Beck, whose only decoration was a white poster board sign inscribed with a simple message: “John’s Awesome Chili: No fancy sign, just chili.”

Winners in each category were awarded with cash prizes ranging up to $500. But as the dozens of cook-off contestants know, being crowned best chili out of 54 different varieties is reward enough, at least until next year.

 


Photo courtesy of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

 

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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