Chilebrown at home

Monday, January 30, 2017


Kingsford is a very popular brand of charcoal briquettes used to fuel competitive and home bbqs across the nation. It burns consistent and can be reasonably priced if you watch for sales. Within the Kingsford brand of charcoals there are several varieties of briquetes There are; “Match Light, Original, Professional, Lump and flavored (mesquite, applewood and hickory). There is a new sheriff in town by the name of Long-Burning brand charcoal briquetes. This particular charcoal claims to burn 25 percent longer than the Original brand.  We have purchased said bag and will be cooking and performing an uncontrolled burn experiment. Let’s take a look.

We picked up a bag at the local box chain store for ten dollars and change for a 11.1 pound bag. Once we got home we removed 12 charcoals from the bag. We will be comparing the Long-Burning to the blue bag Original bag of charcoal briquettes. We weighed separately both the blue bag and long burning briquets. Surprisingly they both weighted exactly the same at 8 ounces/12 briquetes.  Both charcoals looked identical. We piled the 12 charcoals over a fire lighting pouch and ignited. They both ignited at the same rate. The both seemed to put out the same amount of heat. After one and one half hour the briquetes had exhausted to a small pile of small embers. There was no discernible difference between these two piles. As an unscientific observation we would conclude these two charcoals were the same. We cooked a pork shoulder with the Long Burning charcoal. The charcoals behaved and performed with Kingsford consistency.

After our little experiment and cooking we can see no difference between the two charcoal briquetes. The results put the claim of 25 percent longer burning time into question. This is still a good consistent charcoal briquete and our pork shoulder turned out fantastic. The Long Burning charcoal seems to be at a higher price point. I cannot give you an actual price comparison because there are multiple weights of bags with multiple bundle combinations making it difficult to nail down a per unit cost. We buy a huge quantity of Blue Bag when they are on sale. The Kingsford marketing department has created a new brand of charcoal which we are not totally sold on. In conclusion, in our opinion, the Kingsford Long-Burning Charcoal may be an old friend wearing a new suit.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Have you ever heard of dried cherry husks coffee flour? We stumbled across this item in the bulk section of our new local Sprouts grocery store. I had never heard of this product in fact neither has the produce clerk, produce manager and Sprouts store manager. I asked the produce clerk and he told me it was a baking additive. I wanted more information so I was passed on to the manager. The manager really did not know much about coffee flour and handed me off to the store manager. The store manager in all his corporate wisdom told the clerk in my earshot to “Google” it. We did ‘Google” it when I got home.

     The coffee plant is considered a fruit. When the berries ripen on the vine they turn a bright red. The ripened fruit are called cherries. The outer skin is removed to reveal the coffee bean which is dried and then roasted. Usually the byproduct of the outer skin (cherry husk) is composted and turned back into the field. Recently in search of alternative flours, as for gluten free cooking has brought this unique flour to the table. This is from the coffee plant and does have some caffeine properties. It is supposed to have the same amount of caffeine as chocolate.
   The flour is very fine and resembles a type of cocoa powder. It has a strong floral aroma. While doing research (Google) it recommends using it sparingly with all-purpose flour. Today we are going to make a simple bread. I followed a basic recipe that used four cups of all-purpose flour. I swapped out one cup of all-purpose for the coffee flour. Even though I used only 1 cup of coffee flour it seemed to dominate the mix. I used fresh active yeast but the bread did not seem to rise as normal. This was one dense brick of dough. I cooked it on a baking stone.

We never did get a good rise to this loaf. It was very dense. It still had a very floral aroma. The taste was sort of like a bitter cocoa. It was not the most pleasant flavor. The texture and flavor was a fail. Dried Cherry Husks Coffee Flour may have some nutritional values. It may be a supplemental flavor and additive for a gluten free diet. It does not have the properties of traditional white baking flour. It is not something we will be using. It was fun to give it a try. You learn something new everyday.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


There's talk on the street; it sounds so familiar.
Great expectations, everybody's watching you.
People you meet, they all seem to know you.
Even your old friends treat you like you're something new.
Johnny come lately, the new kid in town.
Everybody loves you, so don't let them down.

There is a new kid in town. This new kid has a man bun and wears skinny jeans. He loves organic and gluten free. This new kid in town is the newly open "Sprouts Farmers Market". I personally am not thrilled with this chain cashing in on the name Farmers Market because I am a manager at the Richmond Certified Farmers Market. Sprouts is a chain grocery store with locations throughout the country. It has been nicknamed the "Poor Mans Whole Foods". I need to do some further research before I pass judgement. With that in mind, it was time to pay a visit to our new local grocery store.

It was a dark and stormy rainy Monday but we still felt lucky to find parking in Sprouts designated parking lot. Since their Grand Opening several weeks ago the place has been a traffic nightmare. We ran through the raindrops and entered this new establishment. Inside we were greeted by a bright shiny new store that probably is the same throughout the country. The produce area was impressive with all the perfect shiny produce. Sprouts has a large selection of bulk grains, spice and even carry that hard to find item; gluten free coffee flour. (stay tuned for coffee flour adventure).Everything seemed so perfect and socially food correct that I was beginning to feel happy and wanted to purchase a beanie but I was on a mission to check out the meat market.

The meat market was nice. I was fascinated watching the clerk rolling fresh sushi rolls. The usual offerings of free range, organic and dare I say, grass fed meats, poultry and fish were displayed. The prices were comparable to other bay areas stores that include bay area inflation.. Sprouts runs a weekly ad and we were going to take advantage of the $2.99/pd stuffed chicken breast. The stuffing's offered were, cordon bleu, cheddar jalapeno, and asparagus jack. We bought two of the latter. (When we got home we discovered the clerk mistakenly gave us two of the asparagus jack). Cooking instructions were included with our purchase. I jest at hipness of this establishment but this was a very good deal for a dinner meal. Let's go home and cook dinner.

The cooking could not be easier. They were baked in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. I have to admit these were tasty. The clerk made a mistake by not including the different flavored stuffing but we forgive her because we devoured them. The stuffed breast had a seasoned breadcrumb covering which was crisp.and flavorful. The breast was juicy and moist. The filling was gooey with cheese and had little flavorful asparagus spears.
   It is too early to pass judgment on our new neighbor Sprouts. We were happy with our dinner. I want to explore more of the meat offerings and have coffee flour in my sights. I do have a problem with the use of Farmers Market in Sprouts name but working at a true Farmers Market makes me biased. With time I may be one of Sprouts best customers? In the meantime I may be shopping for a beanie.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


We are traveling to Texas to sample a bacon themed salsa from; “Mikey V's Foods an award winning, Veteran owned, Texas based food company aimed at offering high quality, hot sauces, salsas, spicy pickles and jerky”. This salsa has sourced an ingredient of beer from the Rentsch Brewery. Today’s salsa is fueled for heat and flavor by the earthy love of the jalapeno pepper. As some of you may know I am a sucker for all bacon themed products. Let’s give this salsa a taste and pray for bacon.

Ingredients:  Tomatoes ( tomatoes, water, citric acid),beer onions, jalapeno peppers, lime juice, fresh garlic, cilantro, spices, Natural Bacon Flavoring, pure cane sugar, kosher salt, spices and cumin are the listed ingredients.

  You would think I would have learned my lesson by now to not read the ingredient list. Right from the git-go the red flag is raised by the ingredient Natural Bacon Flavoring. What the heck is that? One can only assume it is liquid smoke. The top is opened to reveal a smoky tomato aroma. The sauce is thick and chunky. The flavor has a nice tomato flavor with a hint of jalapeno and onions. The heat is mild with a gentle warming. There definitely is a smoke component to this salsa. Does it taste like bacon? No. The beer component is not detectable to my palette. Do not get me wrong though, this is a very decent salsa. I would, and will serve it during the football playoff games. The only reason bacon is on the label was to get my purchase. It worked.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


"Simply Beautiful Homemade Cakes" is the cook book Ms. Goofy received from her sister, Shastina this Christmas. This may be the best Christmas present ever for Ms. Goofy. Well, maybe it is actually yours truly who benefits from this book of sweet delights. Ms. Goofy decided to give the Key Lime Cheesecake a test run for her first endeavor from this book and am I glad she did. This cake is  rich decadent, and just what the doctor ordered. I cannot wait for Ms. Goofy to explore this book some more.

P.S.  I left a bookmark on the Baileys Chocolate Cheesecake recipe just in case.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


One can never have too many knives or barbeques is what I always say. Ms. Goofy may disagree. This latest acquisition is a "German Army Bordmesser Rigg Knife". It has a beautiful 'Marlinspike'. It also comes with a razor sharp blade made of  "AISI 420 stainless steel". This is a quality old stock/new German Navy knife. The gold lettering etched on the handle; 'BUND' translates to army. What is a Marlinspike you might ask?. It is used in marine ropework to assist in tying and untying of knotts. I think it will do well at our next crab feed. Stay sharp my friends.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


My sister, The President of Cookies, has hit another one out of the park this Christmas time.  This box of spices entitled the "Grill & Broil" was under the yule tide tree. Penzeys is a popular retailer of spices throughout the country. I am no stranger to their spice blends and have purchased chili blends in the past. This collection has four different blends of spices: Cajun, BBQ 3000, Galena Street and 4/S seasoned salt. This should be a lot of fun. We are gong to try the BBQ 3000 rub on some stuffed pork chops tonight.

We opened the top of BBQ 3000 to unleash a fragrant bouquet of freshly ground spices. I did glance at the ingredient list and was impressed that no preservatives are listed. The stuffed pork chops were liberally dusted with this blend and given an hour to do its magic. They were browned on the stovetop and finished in the oven. Now before you begin, the brocolli is only a food prop. These chops looked fantastic. The spice blend complimented and enhanced our stuffed pork chop experience. There was a hint of smoke flavoring that was subtle and not overpowering. This blend was fun and we look forward to trying Penzeys other "Grill & Broil" offerings.

Penzeys Spices

Monday, January 9, 2017


This is a new year to continue the journey in search of the ultimate plate of Chileverde. We are visiting El Trompudo in El Sobrante, California. We are going on a hot tip from a friend. El Trompudo is located in an old Foster Freeze. It has been several different restaurants over the years. My understanding is the owners of El Trompudo got their start in the food truck trade. This brick and mortar has their own parking lot so 'Parking Karma' was not needed. Let's begin this new year with our fingers crossed.

The interior of El Trompudo is bright and clean. You place your order at the counter and your meal will be delivered to your table. The menu is small but my favorite go-to dish of Chileverde is offered. With your order you receive a small basket of tortilla chips. You are pointed to the direction of a salsa bar. I love salsa bars. This salsa bar looks fantastic. There is a creamy avocado, roasted chile, pico de gallo,  tomatillo ,dried chile and pickled vegetables for your pleasure. They all taste very good but none are very hot. Our plates were delivered quickly.

This plate of Chileverde looked fantastic. It was a generous plate of cubed pork swimming in a flavorful green gravy of chile love. A very big bonus was the in-house made tortillas that accompanied this dish. The dishwasher duties would be easy because I cleaned this plate very well. Was this the ultimate plate of Chileverde? It comes very close. My only wish was this plate had more chile flavor and heat. This minor critique will spark the continuation of my journey. I would like to mention the prices. They are more than reasonable and a very good deal for a delicous comforiting lunch.The journey continues in search for the ultimate Chileverde but we shall not hesitate to return to El Trompudo. Thumbs Up.

El Trompudo
3850 San Pablo Dam Rd,
 El Sobrante, CA 94803

Friday, January 6, 2017


My sister, "The President of Cookies" knows me pretty well. It is a safe bet to get me bacon themed products for Christmas. She did just that by gifting me a bag of "Slim Jim", 'Maple Flavored Bacon Jerky". This product is made from 100 percent bacon boasts the package. The package also claims; "Made From Stuff Guys Need". All righty then. Let's just skip the ingredient list on this journey. We will only concentrate on the taste today.

This product tastes fantastic. It has all the right moves. It is salty, sweet with maple flavor, and chewy like jerky should be. This is the real bacon deal. I am glad to not look at the ingredient list because the flavor rings the bell. What is nice about this product it needs no refrigeration. I can just shove the bag in my pocket and grab a bacon snack whenever I so desire. Most excellent.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


The new, latest, greatest, fastest, new & improved two channel thermometer from Thermoworks is on the table today. Having an accurate thermometer is a very important tool for successful barbeque. Thermoworks makes quality products and when they came out with "Smoke" myself and the rest of the bbq community lined up for purchase. This is not a review per se but I would like to give you a look and tell you about some of the features. Let's begin with the price. The new 'Smoke' will set you back with shipping about a "C-Note" a Benjamin, and or 100 dollars. Is this a lot of money? Can you put a price on quality? We shall see.

The Smoke system comes with a receiver, a base unit, and two temperature probes with grill clip. The base unit and receiver runs on "AA" batteries which are included. The set up and programming is very simple. The base unit is set up with user friendly interface. To set high and low target temperatures is as easy as pushing a button. There is a handy wrist strap on the receiver to wear it  while watching your favorite sporting event. The range that the base unit will communicate to the receiver is an impressive 300 feet of sight. This unit is splashproof but probably should not be taken deep sea diving. The claim is these are commercial-grade temperature probes. This system has many bells and whistles.

We tested the Smoke system on our New Years ham. It seemed to work very fine. We are happy with the initial cook. Let's go back to our question of; Is this a lot of money? Unfortunately this is a question that only you can answer. I have owned numerous brands and types of thermometers. One common problem is the thermometer probes burn out and replacing them can cost as almost as much as the unit. These probes claim to be professional grade. This unit is the fastest on the market. The interface and programming of the base unit is very simple and user friendly. (big plus) Thermoworks has a reputation for making quality products which I own several. One hundred dollars is a small price to pay if it delivers quality cooks. Stay tuned for updates.