Tag Archives: wine

So Many Recipes. So Little Time.

As Dirk and I embark on our first camping trip of the season, I must leave you, dear readers for 5 days. It’s probably for the best. I doubt we have internet access where we are headed, and the whole point of getting away with car, camp gear and dog is pretty obvious.

But, before I leave tomorrow morning, I want to leave you with a recipe for a dish we are taking with. (The other recipes, which I have prepared and documented, will have to wait until I return next week to hit the internet.)

Although the emphasis is on camping this week, the recipes can all be made and enjoyed in your home kitchen, as they have been prepared in my little, meager 4’x8′ cooking space. Even since I have lived on my own, and cooked in various kitchens for a living, (most of them small), I rather find a tighter, smaller fit, well, a proper fit.

This is not to say that when I am privy to cooking in family and friend’s larger, spacious and very well equipped kitchen’s I don’t find myself yearning for that, because honestly? I do. I dream about those lovely spaces. Constantly. But for now, this is my reality, and I will deal with what is.

Speaking of spaces, ours is about to grow, profoundly. The outdoor living area in our campsite will be grand enough to view the clear, dark skies which only highlight the stars as they shine close to our tent. The flames of our campfire will jump and dance with great strength and colors, warming us through. The tales we tell throughout the night may even grow themselves, as the wine and song fill our ever expanding hearts and souls.

So, it is only proper that our nights of camping call for big, grand food. I have adapted a very favorite dish of ours to embrace the rich, deep colors and feelings of the great outdoors.

Bison? Why, Yes.

Nothing like a good pot of chile while camping.

I love campfire chili, not to be confused with New Mexican, or Mexican chile. This is chili and beans. Tex Mex, I guess is probably a better comparison. This trip I prepared this dish with Bison, a hearty, grand red meat. Despite its lean calories and iron rich nutrition, the well rounded flavor and richness of the meat stands up to the red wine and cocoa (!) I add to the dish. The result? A bowl of beans and meat that while lean, is robust, round, rich and perfect with a good glass of Zinfandel and a roaring fire.

Throw another log on the fire. There is more wine to finish.

Bison Chili

I rarely eat red meat these days, but when I do, I want it to be worth it. This dish fits the bill. I have always been a fan of more meat than beans ratio when I make chili, so I use 2 pounds in this recipe. If you prefer, you could cut back to just 1 pound, and I am sure it would still be rockin’.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground bison (or any meat you like, ground sirloin, turkey, etc.)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 2 – 14.5 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 – 14.5 canned beans, your choice (black, pinto, red, etc), drained
  • 1 cup red wine

Simmering on the stove

This looks good, right?

Directions:

In large sauce pan or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, celery, garlic and bell peppers; saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add chile powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, tomato paste and worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and cook out slightly, about 5 minutes. Add ground meat. Turn up heat to medium high and saute all ingredients until meat is cooked through. Drain any fat, if necessary.

Add wine and diced tomatoes. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Yumba

Now, it looks and smells even better, after a couple hours.

Remove lid, add beans and continue to cook over low simmer, without lid for an additional 30 minutes. Taste, and season as necessary.

At this point, the chili can be cooled, then refrigerated for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen, up to 2 months.

This dish will get better with time, so if you must eat this the day you prepare it and you have leftovers, they will taste even more epic a day or two later!

Feeds a campfire crowd of 8 to 10. If you cut this recipe in half, you will feed a normal household of 4 with little or nothing to spare.

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A Weekend of Food.

Most of my days are filled with work, obligations, errands, chores and some fun thrown in between. Meals are planned, shopped for, and consumed.

Some are better than others. The weekends are always met with fond anticipation. Plans (or better yet), NO plans are made, and the basis of the next 48 hours revolve around sleep and food.

Yes, I’m pretty easy. Feed me. Give me some lovin’ and put me to bed. I am a happy, happy girl.

Who doesn't love food?

This stuff is awful. Honestly. Just. Walk. Away.

This weekend was no different. Woke up late on Saturday and ventured out for breakfast at one of my favorite bakeries. Croissant, eggs, cheese and strong coffee were consumed. Oh, and an almond bear claw too. Not a bear. Not a claw. Just pure love.

Lunch a few, meager hours later was at Rose’s Cafe, a local mexican joint on the strip of SB Haley St. Our Abuela usually prepares our food, but I think she must have been away, as the lunch while good, lacked the love. Still, the salsa rocked, the chips were warm, the beer was icy cold.

Home for a long, long nap. Dinner out? But of course.

Meal 3 at a new place, Square One. A new chef, some great wine and food later, we were happy folks indeed. Started with a bit of champagne. Foie and a lovely spring beet dish made us hungry all over again. How is that possible?

Our entrees were delightful. Beef cheeks (yes, who knew beef and cheeks could taste so luscious together?) over house made german noodles… Ding! Ding! Ding! A Winnaaa!

Lamb Ragu with sweet potato gnocchi? Bring it. Good thing we had a full bodied Syrah to wash it all down – otherwise we could have made ourselves sick.

Dessert was the only fail of the night. Rhubarb crisp. Not nearly enough sugar, and not crisp. But, the scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a 10 year old port made up for it.

This is my savior.

If I want to eat like this, I have to run with these... 25 miles a week.

Sunday morning – How can it be I am hungry? Well, I am. So feed me. NOW.

English muffins with fried eggs, ham and cheddar. Salmon Benedict. Hash Browns. Oh, and throw some fruit in there for good measure, toot sweet.

Lunch? Uh, no. Nap? Certainly!

Aged cheeses, Mahon and Wesleydale woke me right up. Oh, and a Mortadella sammie helped the fog clear right out of my head.

Dinner of local Sole, potatoes and greens was a redeeming factor for my dietary journal. Food Journal? Really? Bwahahahaha!! Like I need a written trail of this debauchery to prove I am a food whore. C’mon people.

Fish is lovely.

Sole. With Soul.

Honestly, who do you think you are dealing with?

Okay, off to bed to enjoy a couple of chocolate chunk cookies. I kid. NOT.

The weekends rock.

It’s Like Africa Hot

My brain is not working at full capacity. Summer finally came to Santa Barbara in late August, and currently the temperatures are hovering around 90 degrees. My guess is our 1950’s beach shack is even hotter. I am hoping during the next hour as the sun travels further west, it will leave our humble home in a shady um, shade and I’ll be able to cool down and think about dinner.

I told you my brain wasn’t fully functioning.

I think about food. A lot. I think about food when I’m eating. Not only about what I’m eating at the moment, but what I’ll be preparing and enjoying later. When I’m on my morning run, I’m planning lunch. I plan entire meals in my head when I should be engrossed in work. I can’t help it, the random thoughts invade my head, and although I try to focus, food trumps all. Over the years I have learned to embrace it (and thank the Angels my darling husband can also get lost in anything food related). I was even able to make a living with my obsession, so I guess it’s not a serious problem.

Right?

What currently fills my mind is how to make dinner without an additional rise in the mercury of our thermometer. Because I have raw chicken or beef for dinner choices, tonight I must create fire. A crisp garden salad will round things out. Thank goodness I can escape the heat of my kitchen and fire up our outdoor grill. A fabulous invention and one of my favorite kitchen gadgets.

Fire + meat = yum

Fire + meat = yum

Several years ago, my dear father in-law who lives in Holland suggested buying us a barbecue for our house warming gift when we moved to Santa Barbara. We didn’t have a barbecue and the thought of owning a fine gas or propane grill to cook large amounts of food for our friends and family was a great adventure I eagerly awaited. We began our research immediately, visiting many hardware stores, the small independent shops and the ginormous home club venues. I looked online as well.

The one thing we kept coming across were the enormous grills, which wasn’t a bad thing. However, the quality or lack thereof did not impress. Flimsy hardware, rust just waiting to invade every surface, and those weird ‘volcanic briquettes’? What’s up with those things? You can’t even throw some mesquite or hard wood chips in there? Odd. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the cost of these things! My father in-law is a very generous man, but I didn’t think any of these grills deserved consideration.

Grill with goodies

Grill with goodies

I remember as a child we had an old Weber Grill in the back yard. It always fired right up, offering the chef the choice of hard wood, mesquite or coals, and you could cook with direct or indirect heat. You could prepare a shwack of food or just a couple of burgers. Clean up was a breeze, it never rusted, and it was a fraction of the price of most grills. It didn’t rely on gas, propane or phony rocks, just some crumbled up newspaper, briquettes of your choice and a match. Sold!

After several years of abuse, this grill has never let me down. It cooks evenly, it’s dependable, rust-free and a joy to use. The best thing about it right now? It’s outside. In the shade. Next to a picnic table where I will enjoy a glass of wine (or two) and let the grill do the work.

Cool.

Hello Blog World!

Today is my first post on my new Blog, Total Rogue. I am going to be writing about food, food and uh, food.

I will tackle many aspects of the culinary world, from recipes to restaurant reviews, general cooking tips and all things related to the pleasure of dining, drinking and devouring great food.

A little bit about myself, my name is Kat and I have been involved in the culinary world most of my life. I developed a love and appreciation for good food at a young age, probably around the age of 5. My grandmother was a fantastic cook and even owned and operated a bakery in Los Angeles in the 1930’s. She was quite a talent in the kitchen, both home and professional.

My Mom? Not so much. I began cooking at home around the age of 12 when I realized there had to be more to life than fish sticks and well done lamb chops. (No offense Mama, you know I love you to pieces!)

My love of food continued, and after years of waiting tables and various bar positions, I was curious to venture into the ‘back of the house’. I stretched the truth a bit to get my first kitchen position (they didn’t know my 10 plus years of restaurant history centered mostly around making endless batches of margaritas and cutting bar fruit, they figured it was more centered around actual prep and line work).

Within 6 months, I advanced through the kitchen and within 1 year I was on the ‘line’. My work as a self taught cook continued to evolve over several years, and I advanced to sous chef, chef de cuisine and eventually went on to open a couple restaurants and finally got into private catering and chef as well.

If you know anything about the restaurant business, you will know that 20+ years of existing in said environment is harrowing at best. You deal day in and day out with various degrees of nasty people. Nasty purveyors, nasty chefs, waiters and customers, drunk employees (sometimes your wretched self, I am not proud to admit), and endless hours which both physically and emotionally suck your life dry. As I reached 40, I became aware  I may be a pretty talented cook, but I too, had become nasty and a very miserable human being.

With the love and support of my wonderful husband, I walked away from the professional world of food, moved across the country (actually twice, but that’s another blog), and found my love and passion again for food.

In my own kitchen. No time clock. No dead lines. No ordering. No food costs. No damn annoying chef throwing plates, or insults at me. This is my second journey. The story begins now.