Category Archives: Best Of

2nd Annual Hot Sauce Contest


Posted by Cassie

Last Monday we attended and I participated in the 2nd Annual Rincón Hot Sauce Contest. It was a pretty rainy day, but cleared up quite a bit toward the evening. I competed with a mango-jalapeño sauce that was somewhat similar to my award winning sauce, Hot Kiss, from last year. I gathered and used the mangos that continue to grow and fall from the huge tree above our cabana.

Mango Jalapeno
Some mangos and jalapeños

I also made another cute label. This time the sauce was called Mango Jalapeño Tango.

Mango Jalapeno Tango
Britton says they were ”salsa” dancing :-)

Considering the rain and cooler weather there was a pretty decent turnout. We had fun trying all the different salsas. Of course there were some that were just too hot for my taste and took a whole can of beer to wash the burning sensation away!

Rincon Balneario
Set up at the Rincón Balneario

Caution Hot
¡Cuidado!

We hung out for quite a while. We even saw our neighbor and his uncle hanging out at the Balneario bar. I had him come over to the event and I think he regretted it. His face turned bright red after eating the burning peanuts. I tried to warn him to only have one peanut but he ate about 3! Pobrecito!

Neighbors
Our neighbor José on the far right turned the color of Britton’s shirt after eating the pique.

Later that evening the psychedelic/rock punk band Blacks en Tela played live and we enjoyed hanging out and hula hooping. About half-way through they tallied all the votes and announced the winners. I won 1st place for best label art and 3rd place for best flavor overall! Not too shabby! (You can find a full list of the winners at this page.)

Three winners
Jamie, Trina and I were three of the winners and we won these great tie-died shirts

It was also the evening of the summer solstice and we saw a beautiful sunset before the full moon. Overall a fun, fantastic evening. Thanks Frances and Greg for all your hard work in putting this together!

Walking at sunset
A fiery end to a fiery hot sauce contest

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Rincon Hot Sauce Contest (and my Award-Winning Sauce)!


Posted by Cassie

Living in Rincón is so fun because so many people are living self-directed (and often very unique) lives and when something sounds fun, oftentimes people will just go ahead and do it! That was the case when our friend Frances (and Greg) decided to put on a Hot Sauce contest at the balneario (public beach).

Frances Hot sauce contest
Official Poster of the contest

I have made fresh salsas before, but never a hot sauce. But hey, it was for fun and I love hot sauce and salsas and anything creative. The main difference (as far as I can tell) between a hot sauce and a salsa is that the hot sauce has vinegar in it and usually salsa doesn’t. Also it tends to be used much less liberally than a salsa dip. But in the end it really didn’t matter because at this event there was every type of sauce, salsa, dip, hummus, what-have-you.

As for my hot sauce, I chose to do two jalapeño based ones. In Puerto Rico, pique  as people call it, is often not very picante at all. I often miss the spicy foods and salsas we had at all the Mexican restaurants in Colorado because while some Puerto Rican food is very delicious, it is just not very hot and spicy. I have seen Puerto Ricans get red in the face over mild Pace salsa Ha! Wusses! :-)  Hot spice is just not a thing here. So it was fun to go to an event that set our faces ablaze! Wowza!

I used jalapeño peppers as well as a few poblanos for the base and spicy component of my two hot sauces. I can’t wait till we can do another annual garden for veggies, but for now I just had to get them at the store.

Lot sa jalapenos
Spicy jalapeño peppers

I also thought up a few different hot sauce names and drew out some designs. Here are the two that made the cut:

Hot Kiss Holy Jalapeno

Once the sauces were completed, we headed over to the balneario.

Me and hotsauces
Bringing the heat (they would probably be more in the “medium” category of spiciness)

The event was super fun and crowded! I was surprised how many people showed up with great sauces and food.

Hot Sauce contest
Hanging out under the flamboyan tree with a dj and of course hula hoops for kids of all ages

There were a few categories to enter and I entered Caribbean and Jalapeño. Others included Habanero, Freestyle, and Fruit-based. And there were different ways to win in each category. There must have been about 20 entrants in each category! Really great participation. I really didn’t expect much for mine since it was my first time ever making a hot sauce (and we arrived late, no surprise there), so the next day when the results were announced I was super shocked to find out that I had won in the Jalapeño category for best name (Holy Jalapeño). But more amazing was that Hot Kiss won for best overall flavor in the Caribbean category! Now I can say that I make award-winning hot sauces! Another lifetime first thanks to living in Puerto Rico.

Awards hot sauce Who doesn’t love winning an award or two?!

Some people love recipes, so here’s the basic recipe for Award-Winning Hot Kiss. As my family called my cooking growing up, it’s definitely a Cassie Concoction!

Ingredients
(to sautee/cook)
10-12 Jalapeño peppers (leave one or two to add raw for more heat)
1-2 Poblano peppers
1 cup fresh cut pinapple (sautee some and add some fresh)
tiniest amount of red onion (I am not a fan of onion)
5 cloves garlic (3 to sautee and 2 raw)
Sautee oil (coconut oil)

(to add in fresh)
1 fresh mango
1 fresh passionfruit
1 teaspoon or so salt
pinch or two cumin
dash of ground pepper
dash of ground cayenne
handful of fresh cilantro
juice squeezed from half a fresh grapefruit
juice squeezed from half a fresh lime
dash of chia seeds (thickener but not totally necessary for taste)
2-3 shots of distilled vinegar (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)

Directions:
Sautee in a high heat oil (I used coconut oil) about ten jalapeño peppers after seeding and and slicing length-wise, 3 cloves of garlic, half or 3/4 of the poblano, a little red onion, some pineapple and some salt. Sautee for about 5 minutes. Then add a bunch of water (maybe 1 1/2 cups?) and let it cook some more for about 20 minutes stirring regularly. Wait till it is about room temperature and then start the blending process.

Next take the raw ingredients including the leftover raw garlic, jalapeno/poblano and pineapple and add them with all the rest of the list in the blender with the sautéed/cooked items. Slowly add the vinegar until you like the taste. If you want it spicier, add more fresh jalapeño or poblano. Transfer to a jar of your choice. Refrigerate and then eat when cool! Will last quite a while in the fridge. ¡Buen Provecho!

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Best of the Rincón Film Fest


Posted by Cassie

This weekend we went to our first film festival! It was the 7th Annual Rincón Internationa Film Festival and took place at various locations throughout Rincón for about a week. We decided to go to the Best of the Fest night because it would showcase the award winning short films and we also wanted to check out the Casa Hines Mansion which we had heard about but never actually visited before.

Cassie and Casa Hines
Me at Casa Hines

We loved looking at the property and landscaping as well as the architecture. It is a beautiful place beach front and we enjoyed a nice sunset before the movies began.

mansion

Bill and BrittonBritton and our friend Bill overlooking the courtyard

Inside HinesUpstairs balcony area

We enjoyed the films from each of the categories: Fright Night, Comedy, Puerto Rican Film, Action, Date Night as well as the music videos.

Me and B at sunset

One of our new friends here even made one of the music videos called Johnny, that was featured and it was filmed almost entirely in Rincón and the music is by a local band called The Disfunction. We also watched two other great movies that were filmed in Puerto Rico: Chula and Mi CorazónMi Corazón was interesting as it had a sort of not-so-hidden message about the United States’ impact on Puerto Rico.

Overall, we had a great evening of film and fun even with a little rain thrown in.

Screen at Film

 

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10 Things I Will Miss About Greeley, Colorado


Posted by Cassie

Greeley, Colorado has, for a long time, struggled with its identity. Where other Front Range cities have a good idea who they are and what they stand for, Greeley seems to flounder a bit. It has been the butt of jokes that usually end with “the smell of money” or, more recently, “the exact opposite of Hawaii“. But there is so much good stuff going on in Greeley that it is a shame that we Greeleyites don’t share it more. All this good stuff is a bit of a secret that is finally starting to get out.

That is exactly the aim of the new PR marketing campaign Greeley Unexpected: to start a new conversation about what Greeley is and who and what makes it unique. It got me thinking about how much I really do love Greeley and how much I will miss my hometown when we move to Puerto Rico.

Britton-and-Cassie-at-Greeley-Parade
Britton and me at the Greeley Stampede 4th of July Parade one year

We know what it is like to live in Greeley. Both Britton and I were born and raised in Greeley (though I moved to a small rural town 20 miles away for about 10 years before moving back). We both went to public school here, got our first jobs here, went to college here at both Aims and the University of Northern Colorado, and we bought our house here, as well as a number of rental properties. Our families are here. Our friends. Our memories. Our life! Greeley has in so many ways large and small made us who we are, and so we are so thankful for it and will miss it greatly! Let me count the ways!

(Feel free to click around on the links provided to read more about each one. All photos in this post are taken by us from or for this very site, LifeTransPlanet.)

Kress-Outside Kress Beer and Popcorn
Magical Land of Great Movies, Beer and Popcorn: the Kress Movie Theater in Greeley!

1) Indie Options
I know I will miss our favorite Greeley indie hangouts. Some of these include the Kress Cinema and Lounge, or Margie’s Java Joint (now the Blue Mug at Margie’s). At the Kress you can have a beer with your popcorn or food and watch a free cult classic on late Friday or Sunday nights, or watch a new indie film at other times. At Margie’s you can have a coffee and check out art and it even has a weird doll in the floor! We haven’t yet tried the Moxi Theatre, but that sounds cool too. We even have a local, independent brewery called Crabtree and a new one is slated to open up soon! The downtown Roma restaurant has a totally hippie/indie vibe to it with a loud, rowdy college crowd in a long-ago converted church. And Cafe Panache brings a touch of funky French sophistication. We will also miss all our favorite, local and inexpensive restaurants.

Walking-around-Sandborn-Lake
Westlake/Sandborn Park

2) Beautiful Parks
Greeley really is blessed with some of the most gorgeous and abundant parks in any city I have visited. It has over 30 parks in the city limits from skate parks, to open space parks. All of them are beautifully landscaped and filled with many varieties of trees. We love Josephine B. Jones Park for its natural wandering trails, Bittersweet for its long path, memorial monuments and huge lake, Sandborn for its perched view around the lake and sand volleyball pit, Ramseier Farm Park with its farm animal footprints in the cement, sundial and access to the ditch trail and I have mentioned it before but Glenmere Park just has something magical and alluring about it that is hard to describe. And on and on. Greeley really has it going on with its parks and I will miss them treemendously! :-)

 Awesome sunset
Greeley gets awesome mountain views and sunsets -picture taken from our Greeley backyard!

3) Small Town Charm with Big City Amenities
Greeley is pretty cool because you can get nearly anything you would in a big city (nearly every chain and corporate store you can name), but it just doesn’t feel like a big city. There are nearly 100,000 people, but it still feels like Mayberry a little. We just know each other: our neighbors, our mechanic, our hairdresser, our grocery store clerk, etc. Maybe it’s because I have lived here so long, but it’s a rare occasion that I leave the house and don’t see someone I know. You can be a big fish here pretty easily or you can remain relatively anonymous if you want to as well. And being just on the edge where the prairie meets the front range, we get the most gorgeous 180 full view of the Rocky Mountains of any of the Colorado cities.

Longhorns-in-Parade
Longhorn Cows on Parade

4) Greeley is easy and safe to live in  
There are many pluses to living in Greeley for health, finances, employment and schooling. Greeley passed a smokefree law a full 3 years before the rest of Colorado. There have been huge strides in smart growth. The city has maintained a high standard of living with overall clean water, land and air, honest and effective police, fire and rescue teams, and many medical providers including a large hospital. The job market is shifting from primarily blue collar into a few more white collar, higher paying positions. Gang issues have been overall addressed appropriately and are no bigger a problem than in other large cities. Housing and cost of living in Greeley is dramatically lower than other places. The grid driving system is easy to navigate and parking is FREE nearly everywhere.

There are two Recreation Centers (the Rec Center and the Fun Plex), swimming pools and splash parks, and even an ice skating rink. We have a top of the line library system that we use extensively! There are many learning options including Aims, the beautiful campus of UNC and the vocational schools. Overall, you have everything you need to succeed in Greeley!

Cassie-and-Einstein
Cool Mural next to Lincoln Library

5) Progressive City in a Traditional/Conservative County
This is another rare combination that is hard to find in other places. While most of Weld County is very rural, conservative and very ok with things remaining as they had 50 or 100 years ago, Greeley, the county seat, is, by comparison, remarkably progressive and forward thinking. This combination makes for an interestingly diverse political and social dialogue. I think it has resulted in a city that is rooted in and values its history and what was good about the past, but ready and able to leap into the future as well.


Connie Willis and Me
I met Connie Willis at a book event

6) Its People
What is a city without its people? Truly Greeley has some of the nicest and most interesting people who have lived here or are currently living here. Most are not flashy about living here, because Greeley is not about flashiness. Most are good, friendly, helpful and hardworking people. Some are extraordinary like the people highlighted by Greeley Unexpected: Connie Willis, the sci-fi writer, Amando Silva, the performance artist, or Ryan Mayeda the philanthropist chiropractor, but many are just honest, decent and living good lives. It’s hard not to like people from Greeley and I will miss them dearly!

Quince
A Private Quinceanera Party at Island Grove
 
7) Mexican Influence
Greeley has a large immigrant population, primarily Latinos and specifically mainly from Mexico. Some are second or third generation, but all have brought a distinct and awesome Latino flavor to Greeley. With this cultural influx we have authentic Mexican food, tiendas (shops), events and more. Often I think the general population doesn’t fully take advantage of this great opportunity!

Because of this influence I have been able to become fluent in Spanish and use it in my daily life. Britton and I cannot stand store-bought old Mission tortillas when you can have local tortillas fresh from the comal or made-that-day tamales or barbacoa from Los Comales or La Espiga Dorada. By simply getting to know our neighbors we have been invited to fun Mexican parties including quinceañeras. Because of this Mexican influence, we have also met a curandero (traditional folk healer), and our frozen confection of choice during the summer are those paletas sold from one of the men walking behind the ringing carts throughout Greeley.

Greeley is becoming more and more diverse as well with immigrants from all over the world. I will miss getting to know all of these cultures as well.

ferris-wheel
The Carnival Comes to Town at the Stampede every year around the 4th of July

8) Cultural/Community Events
Greeley has such a plethora of community and cultural events it’s hard to know where to start. Most events occur in the summer like the Arts Picnic, the Blues Jam, Friday Fests, Cinco de Mayo events, and, of course, the Greeley Stampede, but there are also nationally recognized shows, performances and events at the Union Colony Civic Center like the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra and sometimes at the University like the Canvas and Chocolate event I went to or the Gasland event there or at the libraries.

Cassie-at-train-museum
At the Train Station Museum in Greeley

Other cultural hot spots include the Greeley Freight Station Museum, one of the world’s largest miniature model train set museums in Greeley as well as Centennial Village, a village museum of the late 1800s where kids can even have a summer experience as a child of 100 or more years ago, the City of Greeley’s main museum downtown and Nathan Meeker’s home/museum. We also have a summer farmers’ market and a few festivals and charity events like the huge Relay for Life.

Cassie-Ponytail-on-Bike bike-bw
Biking in Greeley

9) Walkablity/Bikeability: This is sort of in the same vein as Parks and Community Events, but I think it merits its own point. Greeley is a very flat city that makes it very easy to ride bikes. Its bicycle infrastructure has improved dramatically as of late with the City of Greeley recently being awarded the Bronze Level as a Bicycle Friendly Community with its 85 miles of bike lanes. There is always a great Bike-to-Work Day event each June as well as the Moonlight Bike Ride  in July put on by the Greeley PD. We are so thankful to have and will miss greatly the Poudre Trail that connects Island Grove in Greeley to Windsor and Fort Collins via a walking/biking trail and other trails like the recent ditch trail by our house. They are also adding more sidewalks and bus stops to encourage alternate forms of transportation than just by car.

Outdoor-Grill

BBQing in our backyard

10) The Summers
In Greeley, the summers are fabulous! There is so much to do. The evenings are cool and it’s sunlight until what feels like 10pm. It is never humid or muggy. People are out in the neighborhoods, going to events, parties, growing gardens, hanging out in their yards, BBQing, swimming, walking, biking. It is such a vibrant community that you really see in its full glory of the summers. For me, summertime in Greeley is the best and I am sure I will miss it a lot, even living in a tropical environment.

PlumsCold-over-the-lake
Plums on a tree in summer and a snowy winter day in our backyard

Many people enjoy the other seasons of the year in Greeley as well with changing leaves and crisper evenings of fall, the cozy indoor lives of warm foods, puffing chimneys and glistening snow of winter, and the new growth and excitement that comes with blooming flowers and trees throughout town in the spring, Some people say that the seasons help them appreciate each one more and they look forward to the (sometimes daily) change in the weather.

Kitty-and-Colors
Our cat Kitty and the changing leaves of a Greeley autum 

Overall, while Greeley has its share of problems that cannot and should not be just brushed aside, there is so much more good about it. I hope you enjoyed hearing about this wonderful place I will always call home.

What do you think? What do you feel are the best parts of Greeley? Do you ever miss your home town?

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