Chilebrown at home

Monday, October 28, 2019


Last summer I visited David Yelowhorse on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. I picked up a native food item that I had never heard of or experienced. This product in the Navajo tongue is called Neeshjjizhii. (Dried Steam Corn) What actualy is Neeshjizhii? Here is a description that I have cut and pasted from the World Wide Web.

To prepare Navajo steamed corn, one must build a fire in an adobe oven and have it heated throughout the day. Clean out the ashes and place the ears of the corn, including the husk. Pour ½-of-a-bucket of water into the oven. Seal the oven with mud and a rock. Let the corn steam in the oven all night. In the morning scrape the kernels off the ear and dry in the sun. Dried corn can be used in many different dishes once it is prepared. The most popular dish is hominy stew

 Finding a recipe to use this dried corn was not so easy. I asked the Navajo Indian who I bought the grain and he basically said boil it for hours. I did some research and this recipe was confirmed. I opted to use a crock pot and added some water, vegetables, pork, salt & pepper and bacon later in the cook. I cooked it on low heat. When you take the the grain out of the bag it has a slight smoky aroma and this smell was reinforced throughout the cook.

I served my Dried Steam Corn in a small bowl as an accompaniment to my meal. It still had texture but was soft tot he bite after a 10 hour cook. I would compare the flavor and texture to hominy with a smoky component. I am glad I added the vegetables and pork to add a little more flavor. There was a wonderful corn flavor with the added bonus of smoke. This was a comforting and filling dish. One fun thing was this dish brought back memories of my Navajo Nation visit last summer.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


The Great White Hunter "woke" from a long slumber and decided to join us on a Meat Adventure. We were operating on a hot tip from our friend the butcher Angelo to visit Giacomo's Ristaurante in Petaluma California. The hot tip was a two edged sword because Angleo also told us Giacomo's is in the process of changing owners. It was our duty to experience the old Giacomo's before this happened.

The Great White Hunter was driving today so Parking Karma did not come into play. Even though Giacomos was not very crowded and is located in a small strip mall we had to park at least 20 parking spots away from the entrance. It was good to walk a little to work up an appetite. Giacomo's' is a family run Italian restaurant that has been around for 26 years. Where have we been? The interior was bright and comfortable. There was Italian kitch on the wall and side shelves. The menu has many familiar favorites..Just scanning the menu made you hungry and you just got the feeling it was going to be good.

We started out with some very nice fried calamari. It had the right amount of crunch of crust and a slight tender chew of the calamari. You had a choice of soup or salad. The Great White hunter enjoyed his house made minestrone that was hot and full of vegetables. My salad was fresh and probably the most healthy thing I have eaten in weeks. This was served with french bread and bread sticks that were flavorful

My ravioli and meatballs was just what the doctored ordered. The waitress brought out a small container filled with freshly grated Parmesan cheese to put this dish high on my comfort food scale. These little meat pillows were tender and meaty which put a smile on my face. The Great White Hunter ordered some sort of carbonara/fettuccine (?)  dish which he devoured and grunted his approval at the end of the carnage.

I wish we knew about Giacomo's 26 years ago because we would definitely be regular customers. I am not sure how much longer Giacomo's will be around for. Thankyou Angelo for the intel. I hope we can return before the transition.

Sunday, October 20, 2019


I won a contest. I won a 25 dollar gift certificate to a local grocer and a box of frozen wings and tator tots. At least I thought they were tator tots and wings. I was so excited to be a winner I did not even read the ingredient list. I did read the cooking instructions. They were simple enough and was basically heating and browning in a hot oven. Let's give them a try.

I bit into a wing and immediately thought this tastes like cauliflower. I dug out the box and read the fine print."Finger Lickin, No Chicken, Cauliflower Wings. I felt a little embarrassed and did not eat any more. The tater tots tasted fine to me but Ms. Goofy said they tasted horrid. I went back to the container and sure enough I had been duped again. Is there a moral to this story? I will think of one but first I have 25 contest dollars to spend.



Thursday, October 17, 2019


Our local bakery shop has been an institution in Pinole, California for generations. The Bear Claw Bakery has served donuts, pastries and bear claws that the locals love.. They recently announced they would be opening for dinner hours and serving pizza. We decided to give them a try. I like pizza and of course who does not like a good bear claw.

The Bear Claw Bakery is a small family run business that is very popular in the morning hours. We were there on their inaugural weekend of opening for dinner hours. The menu is small with a variety of pizza and of all things tater-tots. We ordered the :Grizzly Bear Pizza"; creamy marinara sauce, pepperoni, salami, ham, chicken and bacon. The bacon was the selling point for me. It was very decent and we were satisfied. The service was genuinely sincere in trying to please. It did need a little polish but this was the opening weekend. We may return to try other pizzas and of course the Bear Claws.

Monday, October 14, 2019


There were some dogs at our Dutch Oven Gathering.(D.O.G.) but there was no shortage of food and camaraderie We are in El Sobrante California at the Elk's Lodge back parking lot with the NorCal chapter of the International Dutch Oven Society semi annual gathering. This is an event that one needs to bring an appetite.

This was the Fall addition of our semi annual gathering. We all dusted off our finest black iron kettles to cook and share  food dishes. What ever one can cook in your home oven can be replicated and cooked probably more efficiently in a dutch oven. There was no shortage of creative dishes today.

Fried chicken, frosted brownies (my contribution), lumpia, 'Sopa de frijoles con hueso (bean soup with short ribs), chili, cowboy beans, yams, bacon wrapped meatloaf and so much more was offered today. We set a target time of 4:00 pm for dinner and we were darn close. The smells of charcoal and wafting cooking aromas permeated our gathering area. Conversation and a few liquid libations were shared throughout this cooking time. This is what a D.O.G is all about.

A D.O.G. is a wonderful way to share food with friends with a special twist. The twist being everything was cooked in a dutch oven. We all left with full stomachs and a smile on our face. We cannot wait for our next Spring D.O.G. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019


Last July I was visiting David Yellowhorse. an artist and knifemaker at the Navajo  reservation in Lupton, Arizona. Lupton sits right on the border of Arizona and New Mexico. This was a visit that I fondly remember. The historic Route 66 at one time ran right through Lupton and it was a destination stop. The main highway bypasses the historic route now but several tourist stops still remain. I was being a tourist and wanted mementos from my visit. This brightly chili pepper covered packaged bread mix caught my eye for purchase.

This bread contains Hot Pepper so my first instinct was to read the ingredient list. I will spare you the long list  but will tell you red pepper is included. The instructions could not of been easier. Add a can of beer and bake for 50 minutes. This was just too easy and I included some bacon to add a Chilebrown twist. The house smelled scrumptious during the baking period. 

Fifty minutes later and a quick rest it was time to taste. This was a very pleasant tasting bread. It had a slight warmth from red pepper. The texture was of a cross between a soda bread and a biscuit. My bacon twist was an added bonus. I am not sure if I would ever purchase this again. What this bread was was a fond memory of my trip to Lupton this summer. This was priceless. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019


Silicon Valley Pig Jig was a fantastic bbq event held yesterday. It had a little twist being held in Silicon Valley. It was a fundraiser for NephCure Kidney International. Silicon Valley is the heart of the Tech World and corporations were invited to participate in this amateur bbq competition. I understand each team had to donate at least 2500. dollars to enter a team in this competition. This event was held at the San Jose Municipal Stadium which is home to a minor league baseball team;San Jose Giants. This was a fun day and we would like to share a couple of images with you.

The public was invited to this event. You could purchase different levels of participation. The entry fees ranged from 30 dollars to the all inclusive V.I.P. pass for a 150 dollars. We judges were included in a semi V.I.P pass that gave us access to free beverages, food and close access to the music stage. Ms. Goofy participated in the free beverages and I was a little too full after judging to consume any additional bbq.

Today we judged three categories of tri-tip, ribs and a third category of "Anything Goes" Anything Goes is an opportunity to impress the judges with all sorts of culinary delights. We were presented with pies, half chickens, pork belly sliders, beef ribs, brisket, cocktails and even a dist of octopus. This extra category was a lot of fun.

 They must of known, I do like pie.

This was another fun day of bbq all in the name of a good cause. The venue of a minor league ballpark added a little extra pizzazz to this event. The corporate teams did their best to impress. Us judges were treated like V.I.P. This all added up for a great bbq day.