Friday, March 11, 2011

Don't Forget the Beer

When you cook or bake or write, here's an ingredient you might want to keep in mind. . . BEER!

Beer is the "adventure" ingredient that helped Elaine Barbee from St. Charles, Missouri, win $10,000 in a national cupcake baking contest. According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Barbee used stout beer to make her "You Make Me Want to Stout" chocolate cupcakes. Here's a link to her prize winning recipe.

Reading the article reminded me of my prize-winning recipe.

Being from St. Louis, the home of "the King of Beers," it's not unusual to use beer in the kitchen--not just for drinking or rinsing your hair--but also in recipes.

About ten years ago I entered a national chili recipe contest. The judging criteria weighed heavily on creativity, so I got creative. When thinking about chili, an image of the desert Southwest usually comes to mind, so I went in a different direction.

I concocted a recipe in homage to my home of birth (St. Louis) and my husband Walt's Bavarian roots. The recipe I created and submitted in hopes of winning a truck for my husband was "Walt's Bavarian Chili." Ingredients included potatoes, sauerkraut--and you guessed it--beer. In this case (make that a can) it was locally brewed Busch Bavarian beer.

"Walt's Bavarian Chili" didn't win the grand prize of a Ford F-150 4x4 shiny red pick-up truck, but it did win a first prize, which took a truck to deliver.

When the delivery truck showed up in our driveway, Walt and the driver needed a dolly and strong backs to unload the prizes, which filled up about a quarter of our garage.

Prizes included a state-of-the-art Weber barbeque grill and utensils, a portable stereo system with a dozen CDs, an apron and a hot pad, a cast-iron dutch oven, chili pepper and little pink piggie lights, boxes of hot sauce, chili seasoning and hot peppers, a dozen ceramic chili bowls and ceramic cups, two boxes of matching silverware sets, a gift certificate for Omaha steaks to be delivered to our door, and several other items I can't remember.

Wow! Hot exciting. Our excitement was tempered a bit the following January when our 1099 arrived and we had to pay taxes on almost $3,000 for the value of the prizes. Still it was fun, and the non-perishable prizes lasted for years and years.

So, if you're thinking about being creative in cooking or baking or writing--don't forget the beer!


  1. I loved this! There is so much I don't know about you, you wild and wacky woman, you! How exciting!! But, yeah..bummer on the taxes! I never have understand why someone would have to pay taxes on prizes or gifts....They've already been taxed at least once already! Great post, Donna!

  2. Hey Becky,
    Paying taxes did dull some of the glow off the shine of winning, but it still was fun!

  3. How exciting. And although I love to cook, I never think about including beer. Perhaps because I'm not a drinker.

  4. Ouch, the tax man awarded the final prize. I must say don't drink it but I do cook with it, that and bourbon. My state's claim to fame :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  5. Hi Lynn,
    Loving to cook is a passion, one my husband has as well. He is not much of a drinker and he doesn't cook with alcohol often.

    Hi Jules,
    Yep. That stung.
    Lots of restaurants use bourbon in their recipes.

  6. I know that most chili "returns" the next day for an encore "performance" but your chili waited until January before it caused some discomfort.

    I have friends who make "drunken chicken" by upending the whole chicken onto a can of opened beer and BBQing it. (Now there are frames for purchase that keep the chicken from falling off.)

  7. Hi Sioux,
    I'd never heard of drunken chicken before. Sounds interesting.

  8. That is so much fun! Creativity always pays off - although not always in such a big way :)

  9. That sure was a creative chili recipe. Congratulations on the win. We've won a few small contests before, but none of that size. It's always fun to win.

  10. When you got to the part about the delivery truck, I thought you were getting a leg lamp, like Darren McGavin's major award in A Christmas Story.

    Those prizes were well-deserved. I've never heard of a more unique chili recipe.

  11. Jemi,
    Sometimes the act of creativity is so liberating it is its own reward.

    Hi Janet,
    You are so right.

    Hi Val,
    That is such a great movie. A Christmas classic.

  12. Wow! Now this is a winning story. Creativity and thinking out of the box does pay off.

  13. Hi Linda,
    You are so right!

  14. Ben and I often attempt to comfort ourselves about not winning the lottery (and etc.) by thinking of how much we would have to shell out in taxes but I'll admit it is not nearly as much fun as it would be to actually have some kind of loot in our hot little hands. In your case at least it filled up the garage and you could look at it and/or eat parts of it for awhile. Ha. Keep on trying. Its worth it all, right?

  15. I grew up around Milwaukee Wisconsin and beer is a common ingredient there as well. I'm not a drinker but beer pancakes and beer battered fish are among my favorites. Good going on the chili win, it makes me want to have chili!

  16. Hi Donna...I keep reading about beer as a major ingredient...(maybe it is a sign of the times?)

    Pretty impressive win there girlfriend! That is so awesome!!

    I am going to have to try it. I am fascinated with the whole chicken sitting on a beer can...or something like that...

  17. What a fun story! You know Chicken Soup has a call-out for stories about food, right?! And I would love to see that sauerkraut-chili recipe!

  18. Oh, great, Donna. Now I REALLY want a beer--but I have tons of work left to do!

  19. Wow, just saw this. Thanks so much for mentioning me.
    Elaine Barbee
    BTW love the chili recipe.

    1. Thanks, Elaine. Your recipe was awesome too!


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