- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
- Editor: Suzanne Morikawa
The Solano County 4-H Skills Day is an opportunity for 4-H'ers to show what they've learned in their projects and demonstrate their showmanship skills. From that event, they are finding some great cooks! Read their stories by Kathy Keatley Garvey below – and also get their recipes!
From cavies to chili to chocoflan - Just in time for Valentine's Day!
First time cooks sweep Solano County 4-H Chili Cook-off - Great inspiration for cold weather
It's part cake, part flan.
The chocolate dessert recipe originates “from my Great-Aunt Esther and it's what we serve at all our family gatherings,” she said.
It's a winning one, at that. And just in time for Valentine's Day.
Celeste baked the dessert for the recent Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day—where 4-H'ers share what they're learned in their projects—and her presentation and recipe earned a showmanship award, one of seven awarded.
Last year she won a showmanship pin for her project, “Curls Just Want to Have Fun: How to Care for Your Curly Haired Guinea Pig.”
Celeste, a seventh-grader who just turned 13 at the end of January, is active in 4-H. She serves as the treasurer of her 4-H club and last year served as a Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) officer in the Solano County 4-H Program. This year she's enrolled in five projects: cavies, poultry, dogs, record keeping and rabbits.
Always eager to learn, Celeste decided to “take dogs, rabbits and poultry so I can learn showmanship,” she said, noting that she competed in the Round Robin Small Animal Showmanship at two county fairs last year but was inexperienced at showing animals other than cavies. So this year's she's set her sights on learning more about them. Her goal: to place first in Round Robin.
No stranger in the kitchen, Celeste served as a member of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club's Chili Cook-Off team for the last two years in the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day.
This year, however, she turned from chili to chocoflan. The evaluators loved it! So did the 4-H'ers and their families who sampled it.
Here's the recipe, just in time for Valentine's Day: Chocoflan recipe
The third time is not the charm.
The first time is.
At least it was for four first-time cooks who teamed to enter—and win—the 2019 Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff, held recently in the Sierra Vista Elementary School, Vacaville.
The Cowtown Chili Boys from the Vaca Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville--Xander Lovell, Ian Weber and brothers Francis and Matthew Agbayani-- served "Chili Con Carne," a generational family recipe from Xander's grandmother, Peggy Elgin of Maryland.
“That was the only chili we had growing up and we all loved it,” recalled Xander's mother, Diane Lovell, a Kaiser Permanente physician. “We'd go skiing and look forward to having it at the end of the day. So when the boys decided to enter the contest and asked who had a good recipe, I volunteered ours. They said ‘Hey, let's try it!'”
The youths gathered in the Lovell home where Mom Lovell, a radiologist who works at Vacaville Kaiser, showed them how to chop vegetables, measure the ingredients, and cook. None of the boys is enrolled in a 4-H cooking project.
The judges—Solano County District 4 Supervisor John Vasquez, Vacaville Mayor Ron Rowlett and Vacaville Councilman Raymond Beaty—declared the Cowtown Boys the winner after sampling the chili of six cook-off teams and listening to their presentations. The teams represented clubs in Vacaville, Suisun, Vallejo and Dixon.
The winners each received a 4-H backpack filled with a 4-H shirt, a Baskin Robbins gift card and a 4-H sticker, according to coordinator Deanne Weber of the Vaca Valley 4-H Club.
“The Cowtown Boys' chili was delicious,” said Vasquez, a 16-year member of the Solano County Board of Supervisors and a veteran 4-H chili judge. “Overall, this was the best competition ever. Everyone exceled in at least one area.”
This was the first year of judging for Rowlett and Beaty. Rowlett praised the overall presentations. “They were all very impressive,” he said.
Beaty, a first-year councilman, marveled at how the youths partnered with each other and showed both dedication and skill.
Other chili teams participating: