CHEF JEFF: 11th annual Lions Chili Challenge begins this weekendI suspect it’s not just the 250 anglers who are looking forward to this weekend’s Cats Incredible fishing tournament. Besides fishing fun, there will be multiple raffles, a half-marathon and a 5k run/walk, live music and games. But what draws many people downtown is the 11th annual chili cook-off — the Lions Chili Challenge, also known as “Beans on the Bank.”
I suspect it’s not just the 250 anglers who are looking forward to this weekend’s Cats Incredible fishing tournament.
While tourney entrants probably are itching to get into their boats, since last year’s event was canceled because of high water, the community festival offers much more than the competition that will be held Saturday and Sunday on the Red River.
Besides fishing fun, there will be multiple raffles, a half-marathon and a 5k run/walk, live music and games.
But what draws many people downtown is the 11th annual chili cook-off — the Lions Chili Challenge, also known as “Beans on the Bank.” The contest, which will be held Saturday, involves two- to five-member teams — including ones headed by Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown and East Grand Forks Mayor Lynn Stauss — making chili and competing for cash prizes and awards. (The public is invited to attend and can pay a $5 fee for all-you-can-eat sampling, which starts at noon.)
I plan on taking in this year’s contest — my first in a couple of years — unless something comes up at the last minute. And what will draw me there is my love for beans, which I suspect most of the chili contest entries will contain.
I’ve always been a bean aficionado — whether they’re featured in chili, soup, casseroles or just all by themselves. For several years, we regularly had a dish called spicy beans on Thursday evenings, which has drawn raves from friends and family alike. And I also make chili several times during the year, with and without meat. (My 10-alarm chili became infamous with my hunting and fishing buddies.)
But I’m not the only one in our house who can make a mean bean dish. Twice in the past month, Therese made some delicious calico beans from a recipe she found on the Taste of Home website.
It was a given that I would like the beans, but they received the official seal of approval when a picky eater — our grandson Rakeem’s dad Frank — devoured them on his last visit. (He later suggested that they would be even better with some homemade corn bread.)
Beans are gaining in popularity nationwide, thanks to tight budgets and trends toward healthier eating. (About 7.5 pounds of beans are consumed annually, per capita, in the United States, according to the U.S. Dry Bean Council.) Another reason why beans are so popular is because they are so versatile.
The quickest way to cook with beans is to use canned beans. Canned beans are convenient and every bit as nutritious as packaged dried beans. (When a recipe calls for packaged dry beans, you can substitute canned beans by using twice the amount of beans. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of packaged dry beans, substitute one can — about 2 cups — of canned beans, drained.)
Speaking of nutrition, beans are low in saturated fat and packed with protein, complex carbohydrates, B-vitamins and fiber, which, according to the latest research, can reduce the risk for heart disease and certain types of cancer.
When you get right down to it, beans are quite a catch.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.