Archive | July, 2011

Haboobalooba-a-whomp-bam-boom: Toutin’ tootin chili. (Or “It sure don’t taste like tomato juice.”)

12 Jul

Where were you when the haboob hit? Popular question echoing about all through the weekend. Me and my better 2/3rds spent an evening with the wonderful work (and world) of Bill Cunningham: photo-documentarian of global street fashion and NYC black tie society events, gentleman, saint.  Which had me pondering, Sunday, at this awesome “black bean” event

“De donde estamos everybody?” (Or something to that effect.)

HTJCCO&SF, pretty much the only game in town – not MLB related – in Phoenix this past weekend. Pre-haboob we are the 5th most populous metropolitan area in the USA. An occasion celebrating homegrown chili, salsa, radio, business, and lemonade (with strawberries) to raise money for Gabriel’s Angels, an organization that  provides dog therapy “to abused, neglected and at-risk children, nurturing their ability to love and trust, thereby freeing them from the cycle of violence” and yet…not even the most opportunistic politician bothered to pop by.

Repeat after me: PUPPIES AND CHILDREN.

No excuses folks. Haboobs blow through, what, only once every 7 million years? We had ours. Get over it.

The draw: “Hotter Than July” was highly publicized (Google it) and the heat really wasn’t that bad…and oh, yeah PUPPIES AND CHILDREN and of equal import – to me: CHILI (con and sans carne).

We donated. We sampled. We voted. We sampled some more. We drank 50 cent lemonade (not to be confused with Curtis Jackson’s Vitamin Water). We sweat. We danced.  While lines were not of the Space Mountain variety, we raised money for PUPPIES AND CHILDREN.

Here’s all what went down – literally and figuratively – before the lovely converted filling station, Copper Star Coffee.

Chili #1

The home team’s entry: Copper Star’s multi-bean, corn, onion, tomato-esque and spice galaxy. Classic ingredients and a little sumpin sumpin.

Decent heat index. Not of the face plant into a saguaro variety. (Note to “chiliheads” a correlation btw chili heat and chili deliciousness does not exist.) But, this batch was still kickin long after the last drop.

Chili #2

Sandy’s Too Shot To Shoot Crew’s Phoenix Five Chili Bowl o’ Rojo

For my money (all of 5 bux) best presentation, aroma, warmth (of the amigable variety) and use of elk and funk. Tempted to eat both contents, spoon and pot. Gorgeous. (Got my vote)

Chili #3

All Star (and now reigning champ) from Winsdor (yes, the place with all the cassettes) and considering its elegant presentation, something of a beauty queen.

Black beans, beefs, 6  spices, onion, jalapeno, serrano, tomato, etcetero. Topped with green onions, cheese, corn bread. Quite lovely. The least spicy and roundest flavor, but perhaps too polished for these taste buds. Voted the winner. The nearby a plate of FREE COOKIES may or may not have influenced balloting, certainly inspired me to return for thirds, helpings, not votes, that is.

FREE COOKIES, saving PUPPIES and helping CHILDREN and you did what? Stayed at home to watch youtube cat videos?

Heat is no excuse. For beneath the gently misting misters a cart, no, an ark worthy of covetedness, okay, it was an adorable ice pop cart: all-natural ice pops hand-crafted from seasonal, local, sustainable, delectable, foodstuffs own and operated by FruFru Frau Korina Adkins. Her delectable FruFruPops are crackish. I inhaled 2.5: cardamon/saffron, Mexican chocolate (brilliantly picante), and some of the better 2/3rds blueberry. Seek these out at local local confabs, events, etc.

Meanwhile, inside the Copper Star, local DJ/drummer Tom Coulson spun jazz and blues CDs btw interviews with anyone within an earshot for ” his show “Full Moon Hacksaw”  to be broadcast over the www real soon. Check in with or back here for times and dates.

To y’all that missed out: Byeboobs.

It’s a dry beef.

9 Jul

124 degrees flashed car thermometers Valley wide. 119 read Mt. Caramel’s red LED display – without any ironic axioms about choice climate in the after life. “It’s a dry heat,” to be sure. And so is the face of the sun.

The A/C in “The Guvnuh” – my flaking red ’84 Landcruiser – being of the WD 40 variety: Windows Down 40 MPH, and the thought of my melting to death in line at the JITB drive-thru window for a two dollar taco dinner was still no way to go. No, the time and temp was ripe for homemade honky-fied carne seca burros.

Carne seca, carne machaca, Jack Links, any way you shred it, Los Dios Del Sonora, Mexico’s divine gift of dried, stringy, vaca may be the quickest and rico-ist and most tipica dish a gring@ can make en la casita in summertime and the catfish are boiling.



All ingredients are available at Food City.


The main ingredient, pre-prepared carne seca, sits in plastic bags on the butcher’s counter and looks something like this:

What might collect in the Maytag lint trap should you accidentally toss a wet brown cur in the drier? Perhaps. But the only other option, say you want to build your machaca from scratch? Well my friend, you will need a drying cage:

and a crane to hoist it up towards the sun out of reach from, well,

Enough of my blogging, fire up the stove-top…


Carne Seca Gring@ Burros


1 16 oz pouch of Carne Seca

3 Roma tomatoes – diced/seeded

½ yellow onion – diced

6-12 chopped and roasted fresh NM green chiles (Big Jims)

tbsp cooking oil

salt to taste

Red Eagle Brand flour tortillas – or anything made locally

Dental floss



Yellow cheese

Rosarita brand canned refried beans



Avocado slices


How to:

In large skillet on medium, heat oil.

Fry onions soft. Add tomatoes and chiles, fry warm.

Pick apart carne seca. Cover skillet surface.

Stir and fry as seca changes color and texture. Drinking up chile, tomato and onion juice.

Cook thoroughly hot or until seared. Remove from heat.

Fold into a flour tortilla. Eat. Repeat as necessary.






1. Pre-shredded yellow cheese. (Upgrade el queso actual if you think your guests will notice the difference.)

2. Start with a warm smear of refried beans. (Canned Rositas are as good as a gring@ gets.)

3. Crack egg or eggs into seca once warmed. Fry ‘till cooked.

4. Avacado

5. A drop ‘o lime

Don’t forget to floss

*Confession: prior to tracking down El Ranchero, I made many a batch of juicy and tasty machaca based on Big Dave’s recipe, subsituting jalapenos with NM greens and canned toms with fresh one, sans cumin (and therefore heartburn). Yep, I googled ‘cumim’ images and up popped Warren Zevon.


Come fly the friendly refrieds…

6 Jul

Though we lost naming rights of our beloved Dbx stadium:

Before: The Bob

Ahora: JP Morgan (Chase)

Phoenix still owns the bragging rights on the coolest of airport names:

Sky Harbor International Airport.


Mira: We may not have any water but our air supply, even as it thickens and browns into a delectable lung gravy, shall never run dry.

Abundant airplane dockin‘ rhymes with rockin’.

Word from the omniscient Sky Harbor PA goddess – at annoyingly five-minute intervals – our airport also trades in abundant amicability as “America’s Friendliest Airport.”

Am I alone in suggesting here that replacing this self-proclamation with a stream of DJ Lengua Mix Tapes might upgrade this Sky Harbor to the coolest airport in the world?

But alas dear bloggee, I digress: How does one measure friendliness?

Here it is stands smartly packaged as AARP members sporting purple hues. Like their second-class cousins The Wal Mart greeter, these ambassadors of amicability block passage by standing at the head and foot of every escalator. The are part Barney part wikipedia part google in cargo shorts. To a fault. The only time I asked one for information I nearly missed my plane. Sucked into the friendliness vortex – smiles are like crack to me – I endured a brief history of Arizona banking fees when all I asked was “Is there a Wells Fargo ATM nearby?”

Consider yourself warned.

All of which is a rather long-winded way of saying, as my gently beating heart told me I could trust one of these purple pastors of congeniality on airport lipator, fresh underwear, my bellowing stomach well, for most, dire hunger is a multi-headed hyrda in the face of friendliness. With 5 hours and only snack boxes between me and Florida I knew the day’s desayuno question would be better served by the cleaning crew.

I started asking around asked using a technique I perfected under the sleazy glow of a giant neon beaver in front of Larry Flynt’s Hustler’s Lounge in Lafayette, Louisiana. People have to eat. Everyone has to eat. The casinos offered only buffets. So I asked a bouncer large enough to eat me to recommend some local grub. He stuck to the party line, suggested the buffet run by the casinos. I held my ground, and replied, for some reason in a the voice of an Southern Belle, “That’s fine. But where do you eat?” Cut to me stuffing my face with black pepper ground beef and gravy steak, two Southern sides and hot corn bread followed by sweet potato pie drizzled with big salt man tears.

The only Mexican cleaning woman I could find brought her own lunch refused to sell me tamale. That was when I noticed a ratio of five uniformed airport workers to one fat midwestern tourist in line at Oaxaca Mexican Food. I figured, to misquote Brigham Young upon seeing Salt Lake City, “This is the place.”

I nearly drooled onto my hurraches, awed as chef rocked the spatula in/about/around/on machaca, egg, potato and cheese burro across the griddle in the style of a Philly Cheese Steak chef. “If you happened to accidentally slide the fillings of my burro across some bacon grease via the tortilla,” I prayed, “Who’s to know?” Red salsa fresh and cucumber cool and crisp, made from a chili powder free of cumin, powdered garlic, tomatoes, cilantro and oregano. The tortillas: Mama Lolas. 602 area code. Local and brilliant and oh crap, I’m about to miss my flight.