Chilebrown at home

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


This should be a fun one. The weather promises to shine its spring splendor on this event. Boots, Buckles and B-B=Q is the theme of this festival. We are looking forward to this event and hope you can join us.

Elk Grove Western Festival
8502 Elk Grove Blvd,
 Elk Grove, CA 95758
May 1-3

Monday, April 27, 2015


Believe it or not, I actually enjoy a salad once in awhile. My favorite flavors of spring, asparagus, home grown fava beans and a very simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar is all I need. A dash of salt & pepper and we are set. Enjoy it while you can.

Friday, April 24, 2015


With all that talk of beef ribs it was time to visit one of our go-to bbq restaurant in the City. (San Francisco). We are no strangers to Memphis Minnie's but is has been several years since our last visit. Memphis Minnies's has consistently produced very tasty and meaty beef ribs. Bob Kantor the original owner passed away last year. We had the opportunity to meet him several times. Bob was very passionate about bbq and it showed in his very special bbq. We found a parking spot right across the street which as you know in the City is unheard of. Parking karma, or a good sign of the great bbq to come?

Wednesday happens to be corned beef day at Memphis Minnei's. Ms. Goofy was all over that. I of course had to have my beef ribs. Both of our meals were excellent. Bob would be proud. I still had room for dessert and pecan pie was calling my name. The staff gave me the piece of pie compliments of the house. I am not sure if it was because they recognized me or the Memphis Minnie's t-shirt I was wearing but it defiantly put a smile on my face. If you are looking for great bbq including beef ribs and pastrami come to Memphis Minnie's.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


The next several weeks will be full of fava bean splendor. Fava beans are very easy to grow. One can almost just throw them out the window and three months later harvest. California is in a serious drought these days but our beans were only irrigated by the limited rainfall we did have. Fava beans can be a little involved in their preparation. The beans need to be peeled out of their pod. There is a membrane on these seeds that can be removed by a quick blanching with salted water. They are then ready for seasoning for many dishes. I like salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A steak accompanied by fava beans is a spring treat that I love.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Last year we were very disappointed when we heard the Asparagus festival had been disbanded by the city of Stockton. A new group has revived this festival celebrating the spears of spring resurrecting as the "San Joaquin Asparagus Festival'. A new venue of the San Joaquin County Fair Grounds (Stockton) is the new location of one of our favorite festivals. This is the first year of the new festival and we had to attend. There will be no asparagus eating contest so I will have to step up my eating game.

The San Juaquin fair grounds is an old time step back into memory lane. The entrance spills out onto the midway. The same thrill rides from half a century ago are still there. Carnival barkers still trying to entice you to win the oversize stuffed animal sing their song. A nostalgic feeling brings on a craving of a corn dog slathered in mustard. Instead, we have a scrumptious 'Smoked Dakota' bratwurst from our friends from Lockford Sausage.

We wander the grounds browsing the numerous vendors trying to avoid the temptations. Will I get that henna tattoo this year? I really do not need that time share in Cabo do I?. We are treated to a car show. Lots of pride and chrome was shining at this display. I liked the rat-rod pictured. We happened across the "Asparagus Queen" who graciously put down her 150 ounce soda for this image. (I found out later that she was not the Asparagus Queen. Who reads labels?).

There was a roller derby demonstration. This was my highlight of the day. I used to love roller derby as a child. I still do. They skated a small oval right on the rough cement. These warriors on wheels are true athletes. There weer spills and thrills on this unforgiving track. I do not remember which team won but victory was seen on my smiling face.

The new 'San Joaguin Asparagus Festival' is smaller in scope than past festivals. It has potential to regain its past glory. We had a fun time at this old time venue. We did sample some very delicious asparagus lumpia. We will return next year so I can finally get that henna tattoo.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


It is time to dust off the black iron and resurrect the dutch oven competition cooking team of 'The Meatmen". A rock and roll group has borrowed our team name and created this fine team name patch. They can use our name if I can wear their patch. It has been awhile since our dutch ovenss have sung beautiful award winning culinary treats. I am putting out the challenge to my fellow team members. I have my new bling. Let's show'em what we got.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Christmas came early this year. The good people at ‘Southern Living’ have published a brand new book called ‘Ultimate Book of BBQ”. Yours truly was sent a copy to read and test drive. This book is an all inclusive book of everything bbq with ‘Southern Flair’. Pitmaster Christopher Prieto of North Carolina’s restaurant ‘Prime’ and television personality (BBQ Pitmasters) is driving this book with his expertise. He does get a little help  with cooking tips from other seasoned pitmastes like Troy Black, Mryon Mixon and Robb Walch.  There are over 200 recipes in this book with 200 mouth watering images to match. Pull up a beef rib and let’s take a look at this book.

I need to warn you that you may acquire an undeniable urge to eat bbq after thumbing through this book. The illustrations speak thousands of silent words tempting your appetite. I do not like the phrase ‘Food Porn’ but, the images do titillate, seduce, entice and provide plenty of temptation. I have not even begun to actually read the text of the book because of all the wonderful illustrations. It is time to read all about bbq.

This book is very thorough in its all encompassing look at Southern BBQ styles.  We start with bbq definitions, history, and various cuts of meat to bbq. Christopher Prieto discusses different type of cookers, cooking fuel and smokers. We then move on to the meat of the matter. Recipes, recipes and more recipes are categorized by meat categories; chicken, pork, brisket and etc. Each recipe has a beautiful mouth watering illustration to accompany. Is it raining outside? No problem because there is a chapter in cooking bbq inside using the oven and or a slow cooker. We then move on to sides. There are lots of regional dishes that I definitely will be making. There is a section on sauces and even making pickles. There is a recipe for everyone.

One thing I like about Pitmaster Prieto” recipes are the simple instructions and un-complication of method. .It was a tough decision to choose a couple of recipes to share with you. We are going to make some ‘Grilled Molasses Flank Steak’ and accompany it with a ‘Eastern Carolina Slaw’. Come on over and lets fire up the grill.

Grilled Molasses Flank Steak 

  • ¾ cup of molasses
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce 
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried crushed red pepper.
  • 1  2lb flank steak

1. Place first 8 ingredients in a 2-gal. zip-top freezer bag; squeezed bag to combine. Add steak; seal bag, and chill 4 to 12 hours. Remove steak from marinade, discarding marinade.

2. Preheat grill to 400 to 450 (high) heat. Grill steak covered with grill likd, 9 minutes each side or to desired degree of doneness. Remove form grill and let stand 10 minutes. Cut diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Season with table salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Eastern North Carolina Slaw.

  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
  • ½ head cabbage grated
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • hot sauce

1. Whist together vinegar and next 3 ingredients. Add cabbage and celery; toss to coat.
2. Let stand 1 hour before serving, tossing occasionally. Serve with hot sauce.

Both of these recipes are  simple but so rewarding in taste. The Molasses flank steak was deep and rich with beef flavor. The molasses added a sweet component with the ginger, garlic, Worcestershire and soy adding a savory finish. The slaw was a good accompaniment to add a freshness and compliment to the rich beef.

This is a fun and colorful book. It would go great on any bbq enthusiast’s coffee table. The illustrations are ‘darn tootin’ dangerous if you are on any kind of diet. Christopher Prieto gives a very full and comprehensive take on Southern BBQ. This book is a great reference book for any and all bbq questions. With so many tasty recipes to try, this book will keep you busy for awhile. Fathers Day is not to far away and this would be a wonderful gift for Dad. Good bye for now. I have more recipes to try.

Ultimate book of BBQ: The Complete Year Round Guide to Grilling, Smoking & Barbecuing.
By The Editors of Southern Living and Chris Prieto
Oxmoor House
April 7, 2016
ISBN 978-0-8487-4480-9

Monday, April 13, 2015


I love beef ribs and the Cattlewomen who cook them. This weekend we judged beef and pork ribs at the annual Western Days put on by the Colusa Cattlewomen. This is a small local event that is one of our favorites to attend. This is community at their best. This is a two day event that focuses on horse themed events but it is so much more.Ms. Goofy and I polished our Master Judges Badges and I donned my best and only cowboy hat. We were ready to have some fun.

We only attended Sunday. We missed the parade and the Dutch oven cook-off. There were numerous horse events that this city slicker likes to watch. We watched an event were they released a calf  and a cowboy on a horse had to heard the calf as fast as possible to a pen. This maneuver was timed. I fit right in with my cowboy hat and jeans. Do you think my shiny white tennis shoes gave me away?

It was time to judge and we were ready. Did I ever tell you I love beef ribs? We were not disappointed. We tasted and scored some of the best beef ribs ever. There were nine teams and I sampled each and every teams entry twice or more. Usually, only a bite or two is taken to score an entry. Not today. Finger lickin, lip smackin, juicy, messy, sweet, spicy savory ribs plastered this happy judges face. I barely had enough room to score the next round of pork ribs. It is a tough job but I am dedicated.

What a fun way to spend Sunday. My cowboy hat is packed away and ready for next year. The belt notch is loosened and I am content. I love beef ribs and today was a great beef rib day.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Last month, I attended the California Small Farm Conference in San Diego California. We had the opportunity to visit some local farms and farmers markets on our field courses. One particular farmer’s market vender, ‘Edible Alchemy’ had a product that intrigued. This was mushroom jerky. They did not offer samples so my curiosity made this purchase. Here is the ingredient list: Mixed San Diego County mushrooms (may contain beach, oyster, king trumpet, crimini, shitake) Brags liquid Aminos, sesame seed oil, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar,  filtered water, onion powder, garlic powder, molasses, allspice, cayenne, and liquid smoke. I assume that after a marinating period the mushrooms are dehydrated like conventional jerky.

The package was opened and it was time to sample this unique product. It had similar properties as meat based jerky. It was chewy but not tough. The long ingredient list melded together to create pleasant flavors. I tasted onions, garlic and possibly a little sweetness from the vinegars and molasses. The finish was of a mushroom umami experience that made you crave more. Liquid smoke is listed as an ingredient but my palette did not detect its presence. This product makes for a nice little snack. Is it jerky? Sure, why not. It still is just dehydrated flavored mushrooms.

Edible Alchemy

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


We have refueled and replenished our spirits after visiting Andersen's in Santa Nella. We are back on the long straight interstate heading towards LaLa land.(Los Angeles) The next must stop destination is Harris Ranch.Harris Ranch is the largest beef producer on the West Coast. You know you are getting close when your eyes start to water and you turn around to blame it on the dog and the dog is not even in the car. Let's just say a very pungent barnyard aroma will penetrate through open windows and air conditioners to let you know Harris Ranch is near. You will see thousand of cattle before your destination. Harris Ranch has the good sense to locate the restaurant several miles away from the stockyards. Even though the distance, the smell will still linger on your mind.

Harris Ranch is set up for the interstate traveler. Restaurant, bar, clean bathrooms and of course a gift shop. This gift shop is typical of most gift shops. They have an extensive line of dust gathers, candy, preserves and trinkets that you have always needed. There is one section of the gift shop that makes this stop so worth while. They have a meat market right in the middle of the gift shop. Well, Harris is the biggest beef producer on the West Coast.

This meat market is stocked with USDA Choice grade beef. The prices are reasonable. The helpful clerks will assist you in your meat purchase and they will even pack them in dry ice for your traveling convenience. I was like a kid in the candy store. My cart was filled with Porter House, Baseball cut sirloin and a beautiful Cowboy cut rib-eye.

Harris Ranch is a must stop if you are travailing the I-5 corridor. It is not to hard to find. In fact I can safety say; Follow your nose. Harris Ranch has a good restaurant if you would like to try some of their beef. Walking to the front entrance you will see some huge beef roasts cooking for meal service. Harris Ranch beef is found at many West Coast stores if you are not an interstate traveler. When and if we venture to Southern California again we will definitely stop at Harris Ranch.

Shot taken out of Racing Honda at warp speeds.

Harris Ranch

Saturday, April 4, 2015


A lot of us will have a beautiful ham bone left over from our Easter meal. Split pea soup is the perfect way to use that scraggly scrap of meat. Those of you that have traveled through the valley in California will remember the billboards advertising Anderson’s. As a child the cartoon characters of two guy s splitting a pea was a welcome site on the long road. Anderson’s served mainly travelers on the busy interstate. Their specialty was serving down home meals and their famous split pea soup. We stopped there recently and bought a gift bag of split peas. This will be perfect for our leftover ham bone.

Anderson Split Pea Soup

  • 2 cups split peas
  • 1 stalk of celery chopped
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of cayenne

Sort through peas and remove any dirt or stones; rinse. Combine all ingredients with 2 quarts of water. Simmer for about 11/2 hour or until peas are cooked. Run mixture through a food mill. Season to taste.

This is the basic recipe provided by our gift bag of split peas. Since we have a ham bone, let's use it. Put this in the soup mix. When the peas are tender remove the bone. If there is any remaining ham, chop it and return it to the soup. I like to keep my soup rustic and skip the food mill process. I also have to have some bacon the best bacon I have available. I crisp up a cup of cubed bacon and reserve to add at the end. I use some of the leftover love (fat) and briefly saute the vegetables before adding the water. Another ingredient I feel is necessary is a teaspoon of cumin. It adds that little earthy flavor component. Of course feel free to add or subtract any ingredient to make this soup your own.

Split pea soup is a comforting bowl of nostalgia for me. I have to admit I did pick up a can of the “Original w/bacon) from the gift shop too. Anderson's also sells a fairly decent hot house hot sauce. I do not really have fond memories of the long interstate trip but the billboards of Anderson’s made it a little more fun. I do love split pea soup. Ham bones and split pea soup just seem to go together. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


It sounded so promising. The combination of potato chips, bacon and chocolate may be too good to be true. After closer inspection the lights are dimmed slightly with the disclaimer of bacon flavored. The wrapper is removed to reveal a crunchy, salty chocolate bar that reminds me of a Nestle's Crunch bar. It is quit good but where is the bacon? Bacon flavor escaped my palette. Sometimes things are too good to be true.