Wednesday, March 23, 2016


How often have you heard a writer say their protagonist started calling the shots during the writing process of a novel? That the character in question objected when the words felt wrong? Or twisted the plot in a completely different direction, even though the author had outlined the scene or chapter in excruciating detail?

When a writer's subconscious takes over and dictates the next move, chances are it is a sign of a well-developed character.

In the case of my Pepper Bibeau mysteries, the protagonist has even taken over some of my cooking duties. Below is a recipe Pepper developed, with little or no help from me. Chili is one of my favorite meals. And while Pepper leans toward pie whenever possible, it comes as no surprise that she also loves to prepare a kettle of chili for football game week-ends, especially when the snow is deep and the wind chill factor dips below minus 20 degrees in the land known as the frozen tundra.

But chili always tastes great, no matter if Pepper is working in Chicago or Green Bay. Even her home town of Honolulu has famous restaurants noted for their ono (delicious) chili. In Hawaii, though, the chili is served with "two scoops rice."

Pepper's Wisconsin Chili

1 softball-sized sweet onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup walnut oil
3 lbs. 85% lean Ground Round
3 cans chili beans in medium sauce
2 pkgs. chili seasoning mix
2 - 29oz. cans of tomato sauce
1 - 14.5 oz. can of beef broth
3 cups dried macaroni noodles, cooked

Heat oil and add chopped onion, cook until tender.


Add Ground Round, and brown the meat in the onion mix.
Shake chili seasoning onto the meat; add chili beans with sauce, tomato sauce, and the can of beef broth.
Let chili simmer while boiling the macaroni, then add the cooked macaroni to the chili. Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes.
Serve with freshly grated Wisconsin cheddar cheese and oyster crackers.
(Salad and Wine optional . . . nah, just kidding, they're necessary!)


These two Pepper Bibeau mysteries
are set in Wisconsin:
(Brown County, Wisconsin)
(Manitowoc County, Wisconsin)

Warm up with the chili, stay cozy with a soft-boiled mystery!




  1. I'm a vegetarian, so I can't take advantage of Pepper's recipe for chili. But I'm with you about curling up with a good soft-boiled mystery. (Love that term.) I have started going to restaurants I think my protagonist would enjoy in the cozy mystery i'm re-writing. These protagonists do enhance our lives, don't they!

  2. Luv your idea of going to restaurants your protagonist would enjoy. A friend from CA is visiting soon and I am looking forward to doing just that!

  3. My characters always take over the story on me. It's part of the fun. =)

  4. Your recipe sounds so good. A totally different style from the chili style I learned while living in Texas, but why not?


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