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If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc

March 2, 2010

March is here and surly spring is lurking somewhere nearby. We had a nice snow in the beautiful Texas Hills unless, of course, you had to work out in it. As long as everyone bundled up and avoided patches of ice things were fine.

It is time to get to the problems Texas Cooking and Dr. John's readers bring to the office. The doctor seems to be writing some good prescriptions as the number or minor problems are slowing down and the ones that cause the doctor to have to do a lot of research are coming more frequently. That is why the doctor is here. We can foresee a day when everyone in the world will be filled to the brim with Traditional Texas Fare.

Let's see who is first this month..

J. Mark from Boerne, Texas has a bean question: I recently started entering chili cook-offs and notice that quite a few have bean competitions also. Do you have any recipes on the Texas Cooking site or have you written an article on the bean competitions? I read your Eatin' vs. Competition Chili article, and it was helpful. Just tweaking my recipe and expecting fame and fortune (yeah, sure). I enjoy your columns and look forward to hearing from you.

Hello Boerne: Got snow?

I have not been around any of the bean competitions in a long time. They started out as a way to get the cooks to feed themselves at the Friday night parties. The competitions were pretty much a joke. I have seen jelly beans win.

The best way for you to get started is to see if you can get in the bean judging. And/or go around and get a taste of what is happening. Find out who wins and check their product. Also check for any contest rules. There have been a lot of bean contests won with Bush's canned pintos souped up with a little flavor. Good luck. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

James is looking for pasta cutter: My wife and I are having trouble finding a hand-held, rolling egg noodle cutter. Just wondering if you know any manufacturer who still makes these.

Thanks, and keep up the great work you do. We love the recipes and reading your site offers.

James: The website has the rolling pin-style noodle cutter. I use a pizza cutter and a straight edge. My mama used a pair of scissors. Whatever works for you. Thanks for saying nice things and for writing.
Dr. John

Jackson asks about seven steak: I've been looking for a recipe to suit this cut of meat, but I'm coming up empty. I had a really disappointing "smothered" seven steak that consisted of seared meat simmered in bland water gravy until flavorless, tough and chewy a while back (a friend said he knew how to cook!) and I'd appreciate any tips/recipes you can provide. Thanks.

Hey Jackson: Sorry to be so long getting back to you. This is my busy season.

My family used to eat a lot of seven steak. Ours was always pan fried. That is, it was given a seasoning of salt and pepper and then a coating of flour and then fried in about a half inch of oil until it was done. My mama always fried steak real dead, nearly crisp. If you just cook them until they are a tad pink in the middle, they are much better.

Now that I am avoiding as much fat as possible, I pan broil a lot of my steak. I use a heavy cast iron skillet. Heat it very hot just using enough oil to keep the meat from sticking. My favorite seasoning for this method is Lawry's seasoned salt.

Grilling the steak in either the oven or over open coals also produce very good results. Use a brisket/barbecue rub for seasoning. You want a really hot fire, and the process should not take over four or five minutes. Put on an extra one to use for testing for doneness by cutting a small slit in it.

With any of the cooking methods, let the meat come up to room temperature before you put it in the pan or on the grill. If you want some onions to go with the steak. Sauté some sliced onion and mushroom caps in a little oil. Then add some stout beef stock and simmer it down a good bit. Of course, a twice-baked potato is a great accompaniment for steak of any cooking method. I hope this gets you on the track. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

From Jason: I have an old refrigerator in my basement and want to convert it to a smoker. My Grandpa smoked a lot of fish when I was younger, and I would like to be able to do that now with our fish and wild game. Any help on converting it would be appreciated. Thanks!

Hi Jason: First make sure the ice box has metal interior. Plastic will deteriorate too soon. About all you need to do is take out the freezer part if it has one. Then you need a smoke stack. About a two-inch hole should do it; put in a piece of pipe about a foot taller than the top.

Best deal I've seen is taking an electric light base and putting it in the bottom of the ice box. Put a can with both ends cut out over the 100-watt light bulb. Put an aluminum pie plate with wood chips or saw dust on top of that. The light will make enough heat to make the chips smoke.

You need to read up on cold smoking so you can apply all the safety measures. (Don't forget that many areas have laws about keeping refrigerators out-of-doors. Check and see what you need to do to comply.) These things were real popular here in Texas for a while. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc
end article

Traditional Texas Food Articles
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