Monday, May 22, 2006

A Desert Ride on Sunday in Grand Junction Colorado

 A Desert Ride on Sunday in Grand Junction Colorado


I was called to help on Friday, this is the time of the year when
Graduation parties are flying high and weddings are all coming up so the
labor is required to pull things together. Then I cooked for the soup
kitchen on Saturday, we turned out a really nice chicken enchilada meal
complete with pasole and refrieds! So Sunday rolls and the weather is
great what to do? The whole family is home and we know the desert floor
will be blooming and a small creature called a collard lizard will be
out for the spring routine!

So load yourself up and ride along as we drop down into Devils Canyon at
the end of Horse Thief Canyon.

This is the area we will be exploring today. The vast high altitude

My wife follows behind on the dunn horse. She does not get in a hurry to
go anywhere. She is the only one of us that is not hyperactive!

The rest of the group follows, first my son taking his recently broke
mare out on the trail for her first ride outside the training pens,

Then my daughter and I, I am riding her trail horse, she is actually on
her show horse. She thought it needed to get out and have a look at the
real world. The whole time the horse kept looking around for the judges!

So off to ride the trail. You here talk of relieving stress and
unwinding. This is how I do that, it is among the most relaxing things I
can think to do when I don't have to work or don't have things to do
around the house.

And when you see the views of the high desert it is not hard to
understand why this area has that effect on you.

The upper end of one box canyon shows the years and years of
stratification caused when the area was the bottom of an ancient sea

The cuts and pock marks and smooth surfaces make you wonder what
happened when all this was underwater and started to push up.

Along the way you run into features that man took advantage of and used
for convenience or shelter. Here a natural cave had some brick hauled in
years before this was a recreation area and was walled up to house or
shelter supplies and provisions. Perhaps and early diner? Probably not,
no ansul system that I could locate.

As we move along about every 100 feet or so you find more cactus out
croppings there are yellow and red and pink. Of course my daughter only
photographed the pink ones.

This time of the year the desert floor plays host to a colorful lizard
population. My son finds these creature interesting and got off to
photograph a bunch of them. So the three of us wait as he runs to
photograph the cold blood creatures. I am holding his horse but you can
not really make it out in the picture.

These are photos of the male collard lizard.

These are pictures of the female

He gets pretty close to them when he is photographing them. His mother
worries they will bite him. I hope for the lizard to take such action!

In the end his new trail horse did well. No real blow ups, no bucking,
just a little crap from time to time but it was all new to her. She will
have the pack saddles added to her next, that usually results in a blow
up or two. But if the diamond hitches are tied true there will be no
gear lost and she will find her place among our hunting pack string. And
with the muscle this one carries she should carry half an elk out in one

We finished up with one of my favorites, so simple, so easy, and great
tasting. Hotdogs, potato salad and chips. Of course we had to have all
beef hotdogs with mustard, but it was very good after riding all

If you have not just gone outdoors on one of your days off, grab up some
people you like and roast some hotdogs at the local park! It does the
mind a world of good to unwind.

Til we ride together again, have a picnic, you will love it!

Chef Bob Ballantyne

The Cowboy and The Rose Catering

Grand Junction, Colorado


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Edna Lewis, 1916-2006 Mother’s Day Memory Dinner

 Edna Lewis, 1916-2006 Mother’s Day Memory Dinner


Edna Lewis was born in 1916 in Freetown Virginia. Freetown was a
community of freed slaves in Virginia.

Edna Lewis lived until March 2006 when she passed on to whatever is

I thought I would put my wife a dinner together that sort of remembered
some of the work of this woman that never had a cooking lesson in her
life, yet was among the best known at getting southern cooking and soul
food put to paper for everyone to enjoy and understand. So to Edna Lewis
RIP this menu is for you!

They had what they grew and they used what they had, so I did the same:

First to prep the sweet peppers for the sweet carrots and roast peppers
with parsley:

Now I have one nice grill, but for roast peppers you can be there for
days. I found a little twenty dollar item at the local hardware store
that helps out a lot, meet my 75,000 BTU pepper friend!

She can take peppers from this state

And help them quickly get to this state

In a very short amount of time. And that is good because the roasted
carrot and pepper with fresh cut parsley needs to have that nasty
membrane off the pepper to taste right!

Root vegetables were very big amoung the freed slaves as they could be
stored for a very long time in root cellars. Here I am using baby
carrots that I peeled, steamed and hit with a little salt and pepper.

After steaming the roasted peppers in a plastic bag for a few minutes I
strip them and place them onto the carrots and fresh parsley.

For the main we are going to bar b q country style pork ribs. These are
from a hog we butchered last year. I sear them first in fennel seed and
corrainder. The fennel seed is toasted first in the oil for a few
minutes to bring the oils out into the olive oil used for searing.

Flip them after they sear for a few minutes

And then set them aside til its time to finish on the grill. Mean time
we still have work to do to complete the Edna Lewis Memorial Dinner! And
nothing says south like Collard Greens: So we set the collards up with a
steamer. A couple things I have done here to enhance the collards

First the beer I am using Tsingtao beer from China. But you can use any
of the greener ales to do this. Just dump about half a bottle in the
bottom of the steamer and add a little salt and pepper. Get them

When you start to get steam up we add the secret ingredient. We know the
yummies on the bottom of the searing pan should never been thrown away.
In Freetown Virginia they did not throw anything away that had another
use! So we do what should be done and deglaze that pan to capture the
essence that is left.

Let them finish and forget them. They will taste great with that fennel
running around in there with the ale background.

Now for a bread, in her writings Edna speaks of cornbread and the many
variations of cornbread that have been used through the years. After
reading her book two years ago I spent a lot of time researching
cornbreads. So many variation, so many additives, so many opinions on
what was best! I finally started to keep track of recipes that had won
awards. I began to see a pattern. The award winners varied as well. With
one exception, most of the award winners had a recipe that called for
the bread to be cooked in a preheated cast iron skillet. And so it is
with me that I now always cook the cornbread in a 450 degree preheated
cast iron skillet.

The above batter is cornmeal, flour, and is using baking powder as the
levin. But oh what it becomes!

This is a very tasted bread enjoyed, with secret family recipes, tricks
and special ingredients. Cornbread in all its forms is a simple dish
that is just great!

Edna speaks of everyone having the ability to raise a couple chickens.
Eggs are perhaps the perfect protien source! Easy to deal with, used in
many many forms and really easy to get as raising and caring for
chickens is not that hard to do. So to this dinner as a little gift we
add the farm raised (we raise our own) deviled eggs, ever popular and
ever easy to make ahead of time!

Now we know cabbage is a fairly easy to grow crop with not a lot of
chance for a crop failure. Edna has written on coleslaw and such. I
agree that a cabbage side is required to round out this southern meal,
but for me it will be a different slaw, a slaw known to some a peppered
cabbage. Very easy to make, first shred your cabbage.

Then add in 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup cane sugar, 1/2 cup
water, salt and pepper. Toss cabbage with dressing. Now fine diced one
green bell pepper, and two stalks of celery. Toss them into the cabbage
and mix well. Cover and let it sit an hour or so.

Hit the ribs to the grill, now we get the aurgument of what to do with
the ribs. I personally like all kinds of Bar B Q. But I have been
playing with vegetation smoke lately. And today as the mint grows wild
and high in Virginia we are going to smoke our ribs over smoldering wild
mint. I am hoping for a nice sweet background. It should match my tomato
and molassas mop nicely.

Finishing the ribs I pull it all together for the Mothers Day Dinner
inspired by one Chef that never took a lesson in her life, but put on
paper a genre of cooking that is so unique to the USA that its loss
would have been a true tragedy!

Plated up she comes out a little like this:

Edna speaks of eggs again and again. So for dessert we use the egg in
all its glory once again as I present the Black Raspberry Creme Brulee!

I hope each of you had a great mothers day.

Til we talk again cook something from the past, it is a blast!

Chef Bob Ballantyne

The Cowboy and The Rose Catering

Grand Junction, Colorado