Monday Musings: Traveling, Perks, and Chili Recipes

We were away again this weekend. Well, just Friday night. We were running the judging area at the ARF/DARE cook off in Woodbury, CT. It benefited the Animal Rescue Fund and the police department’s DARE program. It’s a new cook off, so it was listed as a District, but we got our 20 cooks, so it was automatically bumped up to a Regional, which means all three categories qualify for a spot at the Worlds Championship in October. We arrived at our hotel on Friday afternoon- a Crowne Plaza. We’ve stayed there before. They must have a new supplier of their toiletries, because, in addition to the usual  soap, shampoo, etc., there was a folder on the bed that contained two lotion packets and a small spray vial. The pack said it was an aromatherapy kit to help you get a good, restful night. One lotion was for your legs and feet, to invigorate and refresh. One was a moisturizer with essential oils for relaxing. The spray was essential  oils to encourage relaxation and sleep. We used them. I can’t say for sure, since one night is not a valid sample, but I didn’t sleep badly. I also brought the rest of the spray home, and used it last night. Again, not saying it was the spray because I was exhausted last night, but I slept well. We’ll see how it goes until it is empty.

We had asked the organizer of the cook off for a dinner recommendation, and she suggested an Italian place,Elennis ( They know the people there, and she called to make a reservation for us. When we arrived and ordered drinks, we were told the first round was on Nicci and Rich. Very nice. Dinner was good. I had gnocchi with meat sauce which was very good, and there was enough to take some home. The BaldMan had steak pizzaiola, and the sauce on his was excellent. I would eat there again. Nicci also recommended a place called Dottie’s for breakfast, and told us to tell our waitress to tell them we were sent. And breakfast was no charge! Really nice people there. And breakfast was very good, as well. Basic diner type stuff, but well cooked and tasty.

The cook off went well, with no real glitches. The park it was held in is very pretty and we had a lot of big, leafy tress to shade us from the sun. It was warm, but there was a nice breeze blowing through those trees most of the day. All in all, it was a good day, a good cook off, and a good trip.

Our next cook off will be Vermont State in Arlington, VT at the end of July. We will be cooking at that one. As I have already won red, I will be doing verde and salsa- I think. I’ve contemplated not cooking verde this year, since my green chilis have been less than wonderful lately. I know what I am changing in my salsa to adjust for what seems to be a shift in tastes lately. But I really don’t know what to do with my verde. At the same time, since this is likely our last year cooking, do I want to go out without at least trying for one more Hat Trick? Not sure yet. Hmmmm.

Oh, when I said “chili recipes” up there, did you think I was giving you some? Well, okay, go to There are recipes there. Good ones. That taste like chili. There are salsa recipes, too. Enjoy!