Sunday, April 19, 2020

Classic hummus

The cooks at Oakland Feather River Camp frequently prepare classic hummus throughout the summer season. Hummus frequents the weekly baked potato bar. It's served as a vegan option on the chef's salad lunch. Plus it makes a tasty snack item. Since, hummus is a self-served, campers can use as they like. It's extremely popular on the salad bar.

Hummus is one of my favorite sandwich spreads. Spread inside a pita pocket, hummus compliments my favorite sandwich materials. A big green lettuce leaf, several thin cucumber slices and smoked turkey make the perfect sandwich. And spicing it up with my favorite chili sauce adds a nice bite. Now that I have a new batch at home, I'll enjoy it on sandwiches this week

Hummus is easy to prepare. I find a food processor is the best tool for making a smooth and creamy hummus. I like to first puree the drained and rinsed chickpeas in the food processor for several minutes. It's difficult to give precise times here as all machines run at different speeds. Next the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt go into the bowl. Continue pulsing until until blended.

Make sure to taste and adjust for flavor. This is where your personal tastes come into play. Use the recipe as a beginning point. It gives you basic ingredients and the process. From that point, add or take away ingredients to make it your own. Do you enjoy lemon (as I do)? Add an additional teaspoon or two. It may need a extra pinch salt to suit your personal taste.

It's that easy. Pour into a storage container and keep in the fridge. Remove for sandwiches or snack time. As our campers find, hummus can be used to compliment salads, sandwiches, baked potatoes, burritos or on anything your heart desires.

Enjoy ...

Classic hummus with toasted ciabatta.


Locate tahini in the specialty section of your favorite grocer.

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
½ cup tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
1 garlic cloves, crushed in salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for garnish)
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Drain chickpeas and thoroughly rinse, discarding liquid. In a food processor, blend chickpeas with 2 teaspoons cold water until they become a smooth paste. Add tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasoning and viscosity with water, if necessary. Pour into a bowl. Swirl to form a well. Garnish with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, paprika and parsley. Serve with toasted ciabatta or pita chips.

Monday, March 30, 2020

This, too, shall pass away

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

We have an adage for use in times of difficulty: “This, too, shall pass away.” A favorite expression of President Abraham Lincoln, it provides a certain amount of comfort in times of trial. It gives us the stamina we need to overcome our “light affliction.” When faced with distress or trouble, we instinctively know that in time, it will pass.

At the moment, we cannot visit dearly loved brethren. Civil authorities have directed that we practice “social distancing,” stay inside our homes and only venture out to seek medical attention or to purchase food and supplies. We cannot assemble as a church. It is not clear how long the lock-down will last. Not do we fully understand the ramifications of the novel Coronvirus.

Yet, the words of the Holy Spirit comfort us. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Regardless what happens in the temporal, our faith is in God, not in the things that can be seen. We place our faith in a God that is working to provide a “house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.” Paul, through the Holy Spirit, confidentially teaches us that we will one day “be present with the Lord.” So, whether our “light affliction” passes tomorrow or at some distant time in the future, it will pass.

Lord willing, the members of the church will remain free of the Coronavirus and will have future opportunity to serve His Son Christ Jesus for many years to come. Yet, we cannot predict the future. In the meanwhile, we will do our best to stay in contact with each other and to pray for comfort, guidance and healing. Be assured when we place our confidence on things eternal, God will provide.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Coney Island chili sauce

This Coney Island chili sauce adds an element of spice and richness to any hot dog. With a helping of finely chopped onions and a stream of yellow mustard, you have a dish that is worthy of any camp meal or potluck. And it can also be turned into a stand-alone chili with the addition of beans.

Now I admit that I have never had a hot dog covered in authentic Coney Island chili sauce. The sauce is said to have been originated by Greek and Macedonian immigrants to Indiana and Michigan in the early Nineteenth Century. One day I'll have to search out a Coney Island restaurant in Michigan.

In my quest for a good hot dog chili for my summer camp, I first thought of trying Coney Island chili sauce when I ran across several YouTube videos. Although I enjoyed these recipes, many were lacking in texture and smoothness. After much research, I found that many "authentic" recipes added ground hot dogs to the chili. That was the key ingredient. Along with the addition of masa as a binding agent, I found what I was looking for.

So, while I don't make any claim to the authenticity of this recipe, you have my guarantee of its goodness. Give it a try. You will enjoy it.

Large quantity recipe for Coney Island chili sauce.


Do not brown the ground beef as you would in a pot of chili con carne. Once you puree the hot dog, onion and garlic, place all chili sauce ingredients in a medium pot with the water. As the chili comes up to temperature, break up the ground beef with a potato masher until the chili is smooth. Simmer, thicken and enjoy!

Purchase lean ground beef for this recipe. While I used 90/10 ground beef for this recipe, a leaner grind will work as well. Lean ground beef reduces the amount of grease that rises to the top. I used an all-beef hot dog for the puree.

Hot dog paste:
6 oz hot dog
½ cup onions
3 garlic cloves

Chili sauce:
1 pound 3 ounces lean ground beef
2 cups cold water
⅓ cup ketchup
¼ cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoons celery salt
½ teaspoons ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper

⅓ cup cold water
2 tablespoons masa

In a food processor, process hot dogs, onion and garlic into a smooth paste. Combine hot dog paste, ground beef, water, ketchup, butter or margarine, chili powder, cumin, kosher salt, black pepper, celery salt and cayenne pepper to medium pot. Mix with a potato masher or spatula over med-high heat until mixture has a finely ground consistency and begins to bubble. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and reduces, about 1 hour.

Mix cold water and masa into a smooth paste. Slowly pour into sauce, stirring constantly. Cook until sauce has thickened. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over steamed hot dogs with finely chopped onions and yellow mustard. Makes a bit over 5 cups.

This recipe is based a recipe by Chef John of Food Wishes, also available on YouTube and Allrecipes.

Saturday, November 09, 2019


I am posting these recipes at the request of a follower on Instagram (@fuegobbqco). Since I'm accustomed to preparing scones in bulk, I scaled my professional recipe for 100 scones down to 8. This is a straight-forward process using baker's percent. I'll let you read up on the baker's percent process on your own.

Along with biscuits, scones are a favorite at my summer camp. Scones appear on the menu each week or so during family camps. In the beginning, I'd scoop the scones onto a sheet pan.

Today, I roll the scone dough on the bench in the same manner as biscuits. The only time that I cut the scone dough into wedges is at home. I generally use a 2½" biscuit cutter to cut the scones.


This recipe calls for less than one whole eggs. A whole large eggs weighs 1¾ ounces. Since this recipe requires 1⅛ ounces of egg, I used about two-thirds of the whisked egg in the wet ingredients. The remainder was used as the egg wash.

If desired, you could use a medium egg if you have one, or add a whole large egg. To compensate for the additional moisture, begin with 5 tablespoons of milk. Add additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the right consistence is achieved.

8 ounces all-purpose flour (1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons)
1 ounce sugar (2¼ tablespoons)
½ ounce baking powder (3½ teaspoons)
¼ teaspoon salt
3¼ ounces butter (6½ tablespoons)
1 large egg, whisked, divided use
7 tablespoons milk

Mix dry ingredients until blended. Add butter to flour mixture. Using fingertips, rub chilled butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add ⅔ of the egg and the milk. Stir until wet ingredients are incorporated. Do not over mix. Dough should be as soft as can be handled. Place dough on lightly floured board or table. Knead 15-20 times, turning 90 degrees each stroke. Round up and flatted to ½-inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges.

Place on greased or lined sheet pan. (I like to bake them in a skillet.) Egg wash tops with remaining egg. Bake in a 400° oven for 15-20 minutes.

NOTE: I used the King Arthur Flour "Ingredient Weight Chart" to convert ingredient weights to volume measurements.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Salsa roja picante

Don't let the deep red hue fool you. Salsa roja picante comes with a warning. It carries a bite, and a healthy dose of heartburn if you're not careful!

Warning labels aside, the ubiquitous Mexican red table sauce is good. A common element in every taqueria salsa bar, salsa roja picante flavors any meal part. From chips to huevos rancheros to your go-to burrito, the spicy red sauce will spice up the meal.

And the best part? The recipe couldn't be simpler. Toast dried chile peppers, add water along with garlic, onion and tomato, and simmer 20 minutes. Pour it all into a blender bowl with additional flavors and whirl away. Pure goodness is the result.

Spice up breakfast!


Buy pequin and arbol chile peppers at well stocked markets or on-line from stores like My latest batch of pequin chiles came from Spice Lab via Amazon. If the $60 per pound price tag seems a tab bit high, smaller quantities are available. So, unless you're operating a hot sauce plant, the two-ounce package (at $15) will last months.

1/2 ounce pequin chile peppers, stems pinched off
1/4 ounce arbol chile peppers, stems pinched off
1 medium tomato, core removed & seeded
2 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
2 cloves fresh garlic
2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1-1/2 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Toast chile peppers and garlic in a dry skillet over medium heat, 2 to 3 min., or just until aroma begins to bite. Do not burn. Place chiles, tomato, onion and garlic in a saucepan with the water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 20 min., then cool 10 to 15 minutes. Add cilantro, vinegar, sugar, salt and cumin to chile mixture. Puree in blender 20 sec. or until smooth. Strain if desired. Age in refrigerator. Yields 2 to 2-1/4 cups unstrained.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Oakland Feather River Camp needs cooks and dishwashers

Oakland Feather River Camp began its annual recruitment campaign for summer food service staff this week. To apply,  follow the link to the Sacramento Craigslist post (and here) and click the 'reply' button in the upper left corner of the page. An application can be found on the camp website. A companion ad has been posted to

I am returning to the camp in May as the chef and food service manager for my sixth year.

Oakland Feather River Camp is looking for skilled, flexible, friendly, accountable and mature summer staff for our Family Camp. The staff of Oakland Feather River Camp creates the atmosphere in which campers develop memories that will be treasured for a lifetime.

We will be hiring the following positions:Assistant Food Service Manager/Sous Chef , Camp Cooks and Dishwasher/Kitchen Helpers. Ideal candidates are energetic and enthusiastic people who like to connect with others in an authentic way have experience camping or living out of doors, are friendly, helpful, organized and safety focused. All camp staff must have a desire to serve people while living in a rustic, natural environment.

Under the direction of the Chef & Food Service Manager these staff prepare food for to ensure the timely service of quality meals with ample selection and nutrition for 150 - 300 campers daily. All cooks must be safety oriented, friendly, helpful, organized, knowledgeable about food and cooking and have experience working in a commercial kitchen.

Kitchen staff must be considerate of individuals with special diets and/or food allergies and will participate cooperatively as part of a supportive and cohesive team. Knowledge of a commercial kitchen and the health and safety procedures and regulations associated with food preparation is a priority.

Oakland Feather River Camp is located in Quincy, California, approximately 250 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area. The camp is located at 3,500 feet in elevation on 65 acres in the beautiful Plumas National Forest. In this pristine environment we provide family and youth campers with exciting and fun activities as well as opportunities for laid back relaxation. We offer rustic cabins and tent-cabins on platforms with nearby restrooms and hot showers, and three healthy meals a day. Campers come for as short or long as they like.

All camp positions require a combination of education and relevant experience that would likely provide the required knowledge, skills, certifications and abilities to successfully perform the duties required. Applicants shall be at least 18 years of age, have a valid drivers license and submit to required background checks.

All staff work six days per week. Salary is DOE. Room and board are provided for duration of the summer season.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Grilled chicken tacos

Earlier this week I wrote about my love for tacos. 'Round the Chuckbox featured tacos al pastor on Monday. I cooked the shepherd style tacos on a cast iron grill pan. These tacos mimic the well known Mexico street food.

With a package of chicken thighs thawing in the fridge, I thought tacos de pollo were in order. This morning I quickly assembled a marinade from orange juice, lime juice, white vinegar, olive oil and spices. I let the chicken soak all day in the fridge.

As the chicken marinated, I prepared salsa verde from tomatillos, fresh chili peppers, onion and garlic. The vegetables were cooked over high heat in the grill pan. The char added extra flavor.

At dinner time, the chicken was cooked in the grill pan, condiments prepared and tacos assembled. Although it's not included in the recipe, I shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese because my wife likes cheese on tacos. The homemade hot sauce and salsa verde compliment the tacos well.

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate 4 hours or over night to impart flavors. Chicken and marinade can be placed in a  large zipper lock bag if desired. Discard marinate.
To prepare the salsa verde: In a cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat, char 8 small to medium tomatillos, 1 seeded poblano chili pepper, 1 seeded jalapeƱo chili pepper, 1/4 medium onion and 3 garlic cloves.  Place in food processor bowl with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, squeeze of lime, some chopped cilantro and salt to taste. Pulse to desired consistency. Leave chunky. If desired, remove some of the char on the chili peppers before placing in the food processor.
Grill the chicken thighs, skin-side down, until browned, about 5 minutes. After turning, dial the heat down to medium and continue cooking until done, about 20 to 25 minutes. Covering the chicken at this point will help cook them a little quicker.
For each soft taco, quickly heat two corn tortillas. Each taco gets chicken, diced red onion, chopped cilantro and salsa verde. Avocado and sliced radish add color to the tacos (not pictured). Homemade hot sauce adds extra spice to the tacos (recipe coming soon).

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs can be used for these tacos if desired. Add additional dried chili peppers to the marinade for additional spice. Ground chipotle chili pepper or smoked paprika can be added to marinade to add a smokey flavor.

8 chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed

3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 chilies de arbol, stem removed and broken into pieces
1 teaspoon dried oregano, rubbed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Corn tortillas

Salsa verde
Diced red onion
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place in bowl or other suitable container. Combine marinade ingredients and pour over chicken. Turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Turn chicken every couple hours to ensure coverage.

Pre-heat a cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade and discard. Brush grill pan ribs with oil. Grill chicken skin-side down until skin is browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until done, about 20 to 25 minutes. Do not crowd pan. Grill in batches.

Remove chicken to platter. Loosely cover with aluminum foil. Rest 5 minutes, then shred chicken. Serve with corn tortillas, salsa verde, diced red onion, chopped cilantro and lime wedges. Serves 4 to 8.