Monthly Archives: January 2012

Hooked Rug Sunflower Valance

The hooked sunflower valance is an early birthday present from my mother-in-law Babs. She hooks rugs in a church basement with other seniors. The priest always greets them: “Welcome, hookers!”

Farewell to "Our Funky Cheese Shack"

It’s the end of an era: Annalena and Hannah hung up their headphones last week after more than five years hosting “Our Funky Cheese Shack” on WBCR-lp, Great Barrington’s community radio station. During their final broadcast, the girls played excerpts from their very first show, when they were geeky 7th graders stressing about the middle school semi-formal dance. It’s been a long and hilarious run. We’re so grateful to the station for  for giving our kids such a steadfast and supportive place to find their voices. There’s no shutting them up now…

Words to Live By

This inspirational poster from Baltimore Print Studios adorns the wall above my desk.

Happy Goose in Winter-Spring

What a nutty winter. It’s back to being spring. Goose and I enjoyed a muddy romp this afternoon.

Gorky Gonzalez Song Bird Mug

Morning coffee in my swell new Gorky Gonzalez song bird mug from Camino Silvestre in San Miguel de Allende.

United Bank Team’s Wild and Wonderful Game Chili

In researching Chili Cook-off in a Box, I’ve been struck by how chili’s appeal transcends politics. Republican golfers love it and anarchist vegans do, too.  Here is a game-based chili recipe that United Bank employees cooked up to win the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley‘s Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-off in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Commercial loan officer  Lindsey Anderson kindly gave me the scoop.

United Bank employees Lindsey Anderson, Rita Dotson, and Chad Mildren

Gina: Who were the members of the team and what are their jobs at the bank?

Lindsey: [Me, plus] Rita Dotson (loan document specialist), Chad Mildren (regional president), Stewart Powderly (commercial credit analyst), and Bonnie Rice (external accountant).

Gina: How did the team go about deciding on the recipe?

Lindsey: The recipe was Rita Dotson’s with a little twist.

Gina: I understand that someone at the bank hunted for some of the ingredients. Please tell me that story. 

Lindsey: Chad Mildren took the deer last October with his bow on his farm in Ohio. It was an 8-point that field dressed at 190 pounds. He took the front roast to the butcher who mixed in some cow and pork fat into it as he ran it thru the grinder. [The deer] had soybeans, clover, turnips, acorns, and browse for his main diet. Chad always hangs his deer at 36 degree temperature for 7 to 10 days in a cooler before cutting up. This makes the meat tender and takes the game taste out of it.

Gina: How many chili cook-offs have your team members entered and won?

Lindsey: This was our first cook-off.

Gina: Do you have any tips for chili cook-off competitors?

Lindsey: If you operating in a team, choose your strongest chef, and stick to one recipe.  However, do not be afraid to make some small adjustments to the recipe.

Gina: What do you think makes the difference between a good chili and a great one?

Lindsey: When the heat from spices doesn’t overwhelm the flavor and let it set overnight so the ingredients will blend. If someone wants it so hot it will bring tears, then have a side bowl of jalapenos, habaneros, and a bottle hot sauce or red pepper flakes.

Gina: Lastly, can you say why you love chili?

Lindsey: It warms you up and is a GREAT comfort food served with oyster crackers and sides of peanut butter or grilled cheese sandwiches.

Bonnie Rice and Stewart Powderly at the Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cook-off in Parkersberg, West Virginia (photo by Jill Parsons)

United Bank Team’s Wild and Wonderful Chili

By Rita Dotson

7 pounds elk and deer blend with 1 pound pork

5 pounds ground chuck

3 very large onions (chopped)

4 large green peppers (chopped)

5 tablespoons Tone’s Chili Powder

5 tablespoons Kroger Dark Chili Powder

1 package Mesquite chili seasoning

1 tablespoon pepper

1/4 cup sugar

3  6-pound cans tomato sauce

4  28-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes

5 – 10-ounce cans RO-TEL Original

4 – 52-ounce cans light red kidney beans


This recipe makes approximately  7 to 8 gallons. Use two (2) roasters. Put half of everything in each roaster.

Fry meat until almost done, then add onions and green peppers. Onions will become translucent, at this point add seasonings.

Salt to taste after all ingredients are added and has simmered for a short time. If you want more spices, add more to your taste. Some people like mushrooms added.

Lindsey says, “This is a recipe you can ‘have it your way,’ but this way is a WINNER.”

Goose in Our Woods

First proper winter wonderland of the season.

Goose Playing Frisbee in the Snow

San Miguel de Allende Walls

A few snapshots from my recent trip to San Miguel de Allende. I never tire of poking around town looking at the walls.


Berkshire Bird Feeder

A high of 17 degrees is forecast for today in the Berkshires. This is the view out our living room window.

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