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General Barbecue / Traditional / Dr. John

  • Mud Daubers Festival and Chili Cook-Off - This year two historic events came together on the same day at Luckenbach, Texas: the mud daubers returned and so did the chili.
  • Luckenbach Texas: Then and Now
  • Book Review: America's Best Ribs
    by Ardie A. Davis, Ph.B, Chef Paul Kirk, Ph.B
  • Food Fads - Everyone loves a good fad. Popular fads run from hairstyles to clothing to colors to hula-hoops. John Raven talks about the fads in food over the years including TV dinners, instant coffee, sauces and more.
  • Goodbye, Old Friend Chili What is responsible for, as John Raven sees it, the decline in quality of chili? He ponders the probable reasons and discuses the differences between today's cook-off chili and championship chili from several years ago.
  • Show Off: The Rise and Fall of Chili Cook-Off Showmanship - Everything changes. John Raven chronicles the importance of showmanship in chili cook-off compettitons, and how it has diminished.
  • Easy Meatloaf Recipes - After finding a good value on good hamburger meat, John Raven decides to make his favorite meatloaf: Aunt Lola's Meatloaf. John also shares his recipes for German Meatloaf and Mexican Meatloaf.
  • Friends Share Recipes: Tex-Mex - One of the great things about having food for a hobby and an essential is making friends with like minded folks. The last article here on the subject of Tex-Mex style foods got a good bit of attention, so I have set about gathering recipes from personal friends to share with Texas Cooking folk.
  • The Foundation of Tex-Mex - The basic Tex-Mex menu has evolved from the original peasant-style food to an exotic scramble of ridiculous proportions. It is not unusual to see something like lime-papaya- chipotle sauce for a sad little piece of tilapia.
  • Pork Chops - The tender, tasty pork chop is hewn from the spine of the hog with parts of the rib and vertebrae attached, and for many years it was a staple on the Texas dinner table. The classic pork chop contains a seven-shaped bone very like the bone in a beef T-bone steak. Depending on the angle of the cut, the individual pork chop will have different amounts of bone in it. You can even get boneless pork chops, which is essentially pork loin.
  • First Texas Foods - People have been eating in Texas for a long time. As close as the historians can calculate, folks started showing up in Texas about 13,000 years ago. We can only assume that they ate to keep going.
  • Visions of Sugar Plums - Although John Raven satisfies our curiosity about Sugar Plums (they are not what you thought) and even provides a recipe, he also includes recipes for more traditional treats everyone looks forward to during the holidays, including Real Chocolate Fudge, Sweet and Spicy Pecans, Spice Cake and Old-Fashioned Banana Cake.
  • Women Can Cook Chili - Chili cooking is mostly thought of as "man's work". We have the image of the old cowboy hunkered down by the campfire with the black pot hanging over the coals.
  • Texas Cooking: The Way It Was - Texas was not and is not all cowboys and rodeo. That part of our heritage is the most glamorous and, therefore, gets the most attention. The majority of the people I knew at the end of the Great Depression were farmers. The principal crop was cotton. On any given farm, there would be land not suited for growing cotton, so it was pasture where cattle were raised.
  • Pasta for Supper: What to Eat When No One is Watching - It's a well-known fact that John Raven is an accomplished cook, not just in the realms of chili and barbecue, but in all kinds of food. There are times, however, when he enjoys a plate of food that just might have come out of a can. These dishes won't be on the table when company is coming, but something quick and easy he can enjoy when no one's around.
  • What's so Good about Texas Cooking? - This month, John Raven takes a moment to just sit and talk about Texas cooking for a while.
  • Hamburgers in Texas - Classic to Exotic - Several days ago John Raven and a friend visited the famous Alamo Springs Café for one of their famous hamburgers to test the validity of their recently claimed "Best Hamburgers in Texas" award. Here's what he found, and what he thinks hamburgers should be.
  • Back in the Old Days - John Raven shares personal memories of growing up in 1940's Texas, and the typical kinds of meals during wartime. Food rationing caused a number of different peculiar methods of cooking. Still, there was a lot to like about living during the old days.
  • Some Spicy Meatball - John Raven loves meatballs -- all kinds of meatballs. This month he shares his personal meatball history and fondness, along with his technical expertise, in creating a variety of meatballs. As always, he encourages cooks to experiment with ingredients, namely spices, to create the meatball of their dreams. You'll be thinking about your own plate of meatballs by the time you finish this article.
  • Black Beans Get a Second Chance - Years ago, John Raven had an experience with black beans that resulted in a black bean ban. Recently, however, he decided to give them another try. Since John Raven is something of a bean expert, how he now includes black beans among his favorites.
  • Mexican Buffet - I've been thinking what would be good to feed a few friends that did not involve a whole lot of expense or manual labor, and I think a Mexican buffet is the way to go. You provide the parts, and your friends assemble their own dishes according to the way they like it.
  • Flaky Biscuits from the Best - Dr. John considers himself to be the best biscuit maker in Texas, so he's excited to share this month his secrets with TexasCooking.com readers. Covering subjects as using buttermilk, baking power or canned, he leaves no biscuit unturned.
  • Warm Drinks: Finding Inner Warmth in the Cold Season - The human body is a remarkable piece of work. One thing the body really likes is to be kept at the temperature of 98.6° F. In the winter, steps have to be taken to keep the temperature adjusted or things just fall apart. Dr. John looks at ways to keep the body warm during these cold months, namely by enjoying some hot drinks like Mexican Hot Chocolate, Hot Lemonade and a traditonal Hot Toddy.
  • My Dream Kitchen - Not long ago one of my faithful readers emailed and wanted to know why I have not done an article on my dream kitchen. To be truthful, I had not thought about it. I will now correct the oversight.
  • National Hog Lard Month Explained - November is National Hog Lard Month, and John Raven dives right into the discussion of the fat, which is very popularly used in Tex-Mex tortilla making. From greasing wagon axles to preserving meat to frying supper, the rendering of hog fat has served America well. He also shows its many uses in making soaps.
  • Chuck Wagon Cooking for Cowboys
    • Part One
      Dr. John traces the history of the legendary chuck wagon, cowboy life before it and all that came after. Texas and cowboys have a place in people’s hearts around the world. Texas is Texas, no other description needed. A cowboy is a man or boy who works with cows or cattle. The name cowboy probably grew out of the Spanish word "caballero", meaning "horseman".
    • Part Two
      Chuck wagon meals and trail menus.
  • Summer Salads - In this, the hottest of the hot months, Dr. John walks through five different salad recipes that will help keep the temperatures down. Stay at the height of Texas food fashion with the cold barbecue salad.
  • Chicken Fried Steak: One-third of the Big Three - The Big Three of Texas cooking are chili, barbecue and chicken fried steak. I have expounded on chili and barbecue often. Recently a reader asked why I had not shown chicken fried steak the respect it deserves. I was remiss and will now attempt to atone for my oversight.
  • Pot Roast: Always in Season - An old favorite, pot roast, is just a chunk of meat cooked in a pot. The actual process is braising; that is, cooking in a limited amount of liquid. If you use a lot of liquid you are boiling. My method of making pot roast is using a combination of braising and steaming. This method guarantees tenderness of anything you cook.
  • Trusty Coleman Lanterns Shine When Camping - Camping is not what it used to be. When I was just a child my daddy would take me on overnight fishing trips. The supplies and equipment we took was a quilt each. We could have done with one quilt but Daddy snored something fierce.
  • Smoker Evolution - My good friend and neighbor George Pearce inherited the job of being Camp Boss down at Luckenbach, Texas for the Hug-In. The Hug-In is what remains of an old tradition started by chili heads way back when. It is still about the most popular event for Luckenbach.
  • Celebrated Texas Fare - Texas has a deep background of various ethnic groups. This has led to the many different kinds of "Texas" recipes. (The only dish that Texans can claim as their very own is chili. Hundreds of chili cook-offs take place all round the state, just about year round.) So it seems only fitting to make a quick tour of the various Texas food festivals.
  • Sandwich Time - The most popular version of the invention of the sandwich is that John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, ordered sliced cold meat between two slices of bread so he could eat and not get his hands greasy while playing cards.
  • Buck and Ozzy's Last Chance - There is a new kid on the Texas Barbecue Restaurant scene. A little over a year ago, Buck and Ozzy's Last Chance opened on Highway 46 at Sun Valley Drive, which is about two and a half miles east of Highway 281. The "city" is listed as either Bulverde, Spring Branch or Smithson Valley, depending on where you look it up. The restaurant is of interest to me, as it is owned and operated by Todd Page and Vickie Cooper, two children of the guy who was my best friend in Temple.
  • The History of Chili Cook-Offs - John Raven's five-part series relates how the chili cook-off came to be, together with all the colorful characters, controversies and chili politics that have resulted in the chili cook-off phenomenon of today. Numerous prize-winning chili recipes are included.
  • Sourdough Baking: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask - The whole thing started when a nice gentleman named John from Montgomery, Texas sent me a picture of his prized sourdough biscuits. John volunteered to share his wealth of sourdough experience with me, and I was inspired.
  • Dutch Oven Cooking: Cast Your Irons in the Fire - Dutch oven cookery has gained a real following as outdoor cooking grows in popularity. It's an ancient method of cooking. When man learned to cast bronze and iron, first he made bells. From the bells, it was a short step to cannons, and then on to all the other things that are made of cast iron.
  • Talkin Turkey With the holidays upon us, and this is the best time to make use of turkey fryers. Of course, there are other ways to prepare a bird, like roasting and smoking. John Raven covers all the bases in his article Talkin' Turkey.
  • Dutch Oven Drill - Join John Raven around the campfire as he holds forth on one of his favorite cooking containers, the cast iron Dutch oven. According to John, "the Dutch oven is sort of squatty. Even with the largest models, the lid is no more than six or eight inches above the bottom. There is a reason for this. Coals are meant to be placed on the top of the oven for baking operations, and the distance must be kept to a minimum for the heat to radiate down. "
  • Barbecue Joints I Have Known - Join John Raven's tour of some of his favorite and most memorable Texas barbecue joints -- past and present. Even if you're nowhere near Texas, you may learn how to recognize a good "joint," if you know the earmarks. He will also teach you to distinguish between a barbecue joint and a beer joint -- as opposed to a honky-tonk.