Chili Dogs

I am a very shy person. There are a lot of people nowadays who would argue this, but it’s true. I barely spoke to a soul outside my family until I was 13. My mom likes to tell the story of taking me and my sister to K-mart and letting us go buy Icees at the front while she was in line at the register. I was probably 7 and my sister 4, but I held my sister up to the counter to order so I didn’t have to do it. I’ve spent a lot of time since then using the “fake it till you make it” approach to pretend I have confidence. This has helped (at least enough to get people around me to believe it), but if there’s a human interaction I can avoid, I still will.

This year, I decided to give up shyness for Lent. I did it mainly to avoid having to give up cheese, the thought of which had me binge cheesing immediately. I’ve given up some interesting things in my past- yelling, the mirror, meat, indecisiveness- and each opened up new worlds for me. Some of them even stuck. It truly is amazing what you can convince yourself to do when you convince yourself that you “have to.”

Anyway, this year’s choice has been really successful. I started talking to people- even initiating conversations- in places like the climbing gym and the hair salon. I hung out with my next door neighbors and became a member of a CSA, since I wasn’t afraid to answer the door. I went to see Wes give a talk at the college where he teaches, and I raised my hand and asked a question! I even went to NPR’s studios and spoke into a microphone. Giving up shyness has gotten me more web development work, new friends, and maybe even a little confidence that I could continue being unshy after Lent is over next week. It’s a little like that “Yes Man” movie.

We just had our annual family Easter Camping Extravaganza this weekend, and Lent is over, so no more forcing me to make phone calls or go shopping alone (notice how I didn’t admit what I gave up for Lent until after it was over). A bunch of fabulous recipes came out of the weekend, especially since it was a birthday party for my mom (and Uncle Steve- her brother that was born on her second birthday) as well.

For now, here’s a man-friendly recipe we had in Joshua Tree last week. We were just on a day trip, and not even there to climb. And hey- I know these pictures aren’t the most glamorous. But would you really want to eat a glamorous chili dog? I had to run 13 miles, and running through wildflowers in the desert was the thing that motivated me to do it. I can’t believe I’m still not excited about running! I was hoping that after my marathon, I’d just be a runner, but I’m not sure that’s gonna happen. Maybe next Lent, I’ll figure out what to give up that will help me achieve self-motivation.

Chili Dogs


4 servings

Prep Time / Cook Time


Activity Guide

Car Camping


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp of each: smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 large can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 3 cans of beans (I use black, red kidney, and chili beans whatever those are)
  • 1 beer (PBR) plus about 2 cups water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 Hot Dogs
  • 4 Hoagies (which are bigger than buns and hold more chili)


  • Can opener
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixing spoon
  • Campfire or Stove
  • Dutch Oven or Skillet


For the Chili

  1. Saute onions in olive oil until tender. Add spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  2. Add can of tomatoes. Cook for one minute. Add salt. Add beans. Cook for one minute. Add beer and water until consistency is a little too soupy for chili.
  3. Cover and turn to low. Simmer for 1 hour until delicious.
  4. Pack up for the trip

For the Chili Dogs

  1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil on high in a pan.
  2. Fry up hot dog or dogs until crispy and a little charred, flipping it around to get an even cook.
  3. Add some chili to the pan- enough to top the dog or dogs that you are cooking. Add an extra splash of beer if desired. Cook just until heated through.
  4. Remove pan from heat and hold hoagie over the flame with tongs until toasty.
  5. Pour the chili and dog over the bun (on a plate). Add condiments (our faves: yellow mustard, fresh chopped onions, and grilled jalapenos). Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Chili Dogs

  1. I, too was dealt the shy gene – I spent most of my childhood clutching a book any and all times I was out in public. I suppose it was my safety blanket.

    My older brother was a chatter box and actually spoke FOR me until my parents made him stop. Now I have a chatter box husband who does the extrovert stuff, so I can comfortably introvert it up. But you’re right, pushing yourself out there can help. I’ve gotten much, much better..heck, I even moved to NYC on my own, and made that work. But I still hate phone calls, shopping on my own, and being in the spotlight.

    PS. That meal looks ridiculous, and I am totally making it for an upcoming bbq birthday party. Love that you used PBR. 🙂 Thanks!!

    1. @ Ted: If you are going car camping, put the chili in a zip top bag or leak-proof container in the cooler and it should be fine. If you are going backpacking, you should definitely freeze it and serve on the first night out.

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