Tag Archives: dried chilies

Chile-Brined Fresh Whole Ham

Last November when I was trying to make a decision about the turkey we’d prepare for Thanksgiving, quite by accident, I saw a news segment about a local turkey farmer In San Diego?  I immediately researched to find that yes, we really did have someone who raised turkeys in Valley Center, just north of San Diego.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity and ended up not only with an excellent organic turkey, but I was able to meet the farmer, Jack Ford of Taj Farms who delivered the bird to my kitchen.  We had a great talk about how he started raising poultry and other animals on a farm that actually began as a hobby.  But this isn’t about the turkey.

It’s about pork.

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Chunky Beef Chili with Butternut Squash

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If you’d asked me even at age 25, I’d have told you squash wasn’t something I thought I’d enjoy eating at any point in my life.  I’d just begun to experiment with zucchini about then and that’s only because I had a small garden and harvested a few that were more than a foot long and five inches in diameter.  I quickly became someone who could cook anything with zucchini.

It was the yellow and orange squash I continued to not like the idea of, and I think it may have had something to do with texture.  When I saw it prepared, it was always soft and mushy, and ironically, sweet.  It’s always been a challenge for me to consider eating meat or vegetables that have been sweetened…well, as long as nobody counts Sweet & Sour Chicken, right?

Thankfully, I’ve gotten past the few issues I’ve had with squash, so when I saw the copper pot full of glistening “Texas Beef Brisket Chili” on the cover of Bon Appetit last month and realized those orange chunks nestled up against the beef were nuggets of savory butternut squash, I knew what we were having for dinner and quick.

But there was just one thing…this dish was anything but quick.  In fact, it was the epitome of slow and low — and just perfect for football watching on Sunday.

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BBQ Beef Sandwiches with Bacon Cheese Slaw

Nothing like a little blogging break, huh?  It wasn’t planned, exactly, but the combination of finally moving my Mac back up to the office from where it sat for a few weeks on the kitchen counter, and a very busy weekend left me completely not interested in climbing the stairs to even check email for the past few days.

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Carne Asada with Anaheim Chili Sauce


We love Mexican food.  But I’m the one that loves the heat the most.  Not so much that I can’t taste the food, but enough to get my guys to say, “It’s spicy,” after they’ve taken only one bite.  I generally tell them to suck it up and keep eating, that it’s an acquired taste and if they keep an open mind, they’ll get to the point that they can keep up with me.

So when I happened onto a conversation about grilling and “Barbeque” at Great Cooks Community in the Barbecue College group, it was easy to join in the debate about whether using propane constitutes real grilling.  Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants said, “No problem,” when I said, “Saddle up, dude, and we’ll find out.”  I’m always good for a debate even if it’s about apples and oranges which I think this is.  No, not grilling apples and oranges — debating whether using propane vs charcoal vs wood is best.  They’re all different methods of the same thing, allowing the cook to explore different options.

So with my new Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen cookbook in hand that I finally splurged for a few weeks ago, and a propane BBQ out on the patio, I was ready to roll…erm…grill.  Sans my husband, of course.  He was still buried at work, and I figured I could somewhat live without my sous chef on this one.  After all, how difficult is it to turn a knob on our grill?

Evidently, more difficult than I thought.  The plan was to delve into Bayless’ recipes (and a few others  as well…)throughout the entire week, with one recipe leading to the next, whether focusing on a dry rub, or type of salsa, or a slow grilled roast. It would be quite the tasty experiment.

Sounds great, right?

Well, I only got as far as the carne asada the first night, freezing left overs for later use.  The next day, slow grilled boneless “country style” ribs were planned right up to the part where the barbeque wouldn’t light.  Apparently, we were out of propane.  And because I didn’t feel like dragging out the small Weber we keep around for outings, I ended up cooking inside that night.  Not one to throw in the towel where food is concerned, I also thawed a gorgeous six pound rib eye roast I had delicious plans for.  So I took the time to go to Home Depot to get a new canister of propane.

I brought it home, we hooked it up, and guess what?

It was empty.  I paid for an empty canister of propane.  I know.  I should have been paying attention.

So there was no roast at that point.  I decided to put it back in the fridge until the next day, then put it in the oven with some salt and pepper late one night, long after a ridiculously busy day at work.  At least it would be cooked, and then I could refrigerate it to be used for a couple of dinners later in the week.

Can you hear the violins accompanying my sad story?  Jeez.  We still haven’t gotten around to returning the canister to The Home Depot to inquire about why they sell empties to trusting foodies.

In the meantime, I do actually have a recipe for you, and over the next few days, I’ll do my best to put them up just to prove I actually had a plan.  Maybe in the meantime, I’ll drag out that little Weber and throw some Hickory in it.  It all depends on whether I can light the wood.
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