Harry Miller writes:

Dr. John: I have tried to bring up barbeque-store.com and ribsmoker.com, but neither have a URL or listing, at least that is what the Webmaster tells me! Any other address or suggestion? Also, what website can I find Adams Chili Powder on? I was able to find and order Gebhardt's and like it. Is Adams' chili mix better? Thanks for your time.

Harry: Dial up www.ringoffire.net. That will give you more chili and barbecue sites than you can handle.

Also, for Adams powder (they do mail order): Adams Extract Co., 11206 S. IH 35, Austin, TX, 78747-1711, 502-282-1100. Most of the time, Adams is very good. The quality of any commercial chili powder will vary depending on the growing conditions of the pepper crop. Adams may be a little hot for some tastes. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Bill Lewis in Australia writes:

Hey, Dr John! Having purchased W. Park Kerr's Burning Desires, the recipe for homemade chipotle chiles calls for New Mexico chili puree. Can I substitute Sambol Oelek an Indonesian chili puree, for the desired effect? Or alternately, have you a recipe for a good chili puree? Out here in the boonies of Australia, we don't have access to a lot of stuff so we need to make our own. Regards.

Bill: I can't find a reference to your Sambol Oelek. Let me tell you about New Mexico chiles and you can decide whether or not to substitute.

New Mexico is a large, thin rather meaty variety. It is usually dried and used that way. It is mild and mostly departs a nice red color to the chili. Doesn't have a lot of "chile" taste. To make a puree from any dried peppers: Break off the stems and remove any seeds and pith. Put them in a pot and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil and take off heat. Let them cool. Put the peppers in a blender. Taste the water they boiled in. If it's bitter, discard it and put enough stock in the blender to make a thin puree. If the chili water is not bitter, use it in the blender. After blending the chiles, put them through a fine strainer to remove the skins. Discard the skins. If your puree is not thick enough to suit you, simmer it until it thickens to your liking.

Good luck.

Sharon writes:

Do you know anything about Texas beef brisket? I was asked this today, but could not find anything in my books that sounded really good. Thank you.

Hi, Sharon: Are you looking for a recipe or a definition of the cut of meat? Brisket is the favorite cut to barbecue here in Texas. It can also be roasted and "corned" to make corned beef. It's a big, tough cut that takes lots of cooking, but the result is worth the effort. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John
[Note to Sharon: If you're looking for brisket recipes, check out Grandma's Cookbook (search under Beef), and Doctor John's definitive article on smoking a brisket, "Brisket from B to T".

Chuck writes: Dr. John: When a recipe calls for chopped green peppers, what kind of peppers are they talking about? Bell peppers or chili peppers?

Hi, Chuck: For Southwestern recipes, Anaheims are the preferred green peppers. You can get them in a can (I think the brand is Herdz) labeled "chopped green chiles". If you use the fresh ones, you will have to skin them. You can also add a little canned jalepeno for zip. Go easy to start. As for other than Southwestern recipes, I can't tell you to go Bell or not. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Bill from Granbury, Texas writes:

Dear Dr. John: I got a turkey fryer for Christmas and, unfortunately, it came with no recipes or many instructions on how to fry great tasting turkey. Can you please give me some tips to help me fry great tasting turkey?

Dear Bill: Look up www.cajunshoppe.com. These are the folks who started the fried turkey craze. I think you will find everything you need there.

Here's a chili question from Margaret:

Do you have any recipes, on how to make chili from deer meat? I was told that you have to add beef to deer chili as it would be very dry without it, but how much? Do you have any recipes for this kind of chili? Thanks.

Margaret: What you've heard is just an old wives tale. You can use any good chili recipe with venison and have good results. Venison is very lean. The idea of mixing beef or pork with it is to get some fat in the pot. In this age of the fat police, it's just not politically correct to have that layer of red grease floating on the top of the chili.

You will use some shortening or vegetable oil to brown the meat for the pot. This will provide enough fat for the pot. You could use the beef suet that all the old recipes call for, but sometimes it's hard to find and not near as easy to work with as commercial shortenings. (I have heard that in some areas suet is readily available, as it is used as a base for seed balls for feeding wild birds.) Just use your favorite chili recipe for the venison and I'm sure you will be happy with the results. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Addendum: The beef suet mentioned above is the fat from around the kidneys of a beef. It is the cow's version of hog lard. When rendered (fried), it produces a clear, sweet fat that adds flavor and texture to whatever is being cooked in it.

Our ancestors lived long and prospered on a high fat diet because they were engaged in daily, hard physical labor. This burned off the fat calories, rather than having them stored in our hips and thighs. The idea that our ancestors died very young is another of the old wives tales. There were many of them that lived into their seventies and eighties. The thing that brought the average life span down was the high infant mortality rate. Nearly every family lost one or two children before they reached maturity.

Keep them cards and letters coming in. The doctor is always happy to answer your questions.