Issue #11 June 23rd - July 6th, 2006

All Summers Hold Adventure

Pirates of the Blackened Grill

It has been a sad week aboard the Blackened Grill, for one of original grillman (O.G.) and beloved crewmember has taken permanent shore leave from our galley. Mister Bilbo Daggers, often tanked to the gills, strapped a shiv and lay waste to any and all that might find his deft swordhand. “Who wants to shotgun a beer?” his voice seems to still linger around the pool table.

Mister Daggers has left us for the land of Bob Wills swing, Willie and Lone Star beer, Pro Football and amateur presidents, nice trucks and shitty driving. Yes, he has gone to that magical land south of the Red River to join his lovely wife in preparing for the arrival of their son. Our pride and pleasure for their success is only slightly overshadowed by our excitement and anticipation for the next generation of Swashbucklers of the Meat Department. His family is our family here, there, or anywhere.

When you are a child, summer is a time of camp, bicycles, swimming, ice cold matinee movie theaters, burning hot afternoon asphalt, library books, daytime TV, and adventures. Everything is an adventure when you’re out of school for the summer. If you’re too young to be left to your own design, you get assigned adventures by elders: the Zoo, Omni-Plex, running through the sprinklers or washing the car… all cool enough.

The older you get, the more freedom you have, and the more personal your adventures become. The senior year adventures we pirates have had are a bit too blue to tell in this rag, however the lack of (or at least relaxing of) obligations is perhaps the only thing that makes the life of a minor sufferable.

Summer is, however, the most stressful season for us working slobs. Along with the usual routine of work, family and church (we worship charcoal with burnt offerings), we get the bonus chores of lawn and garden. It wouldn’t be a problem if cleaning the house took less time in the summer the way the gas bill goes down when you start using the A/C and vice versa. There are tree limbs to be trimmed during the ice storms of winter, but that can never be as daunting as the sweltering, burning Sun pouring over you as a poorly tuned push mower vibrates your palms into numbness.

Many of you may remember this feeling as the way you paid for matinee movies; such is the duality of summer. Mowing is a great gig until you own the grass. One thing that stays the same young or old is summer’s chance to play with your friends. Between Art festivals, music concerts, theater in the park and it being the season of bar-b-ques at this buddy or that’s (although we grill all year, weather be damned, we do support the seasonal enthusiasts), it’s hard to make it to the plain ol’ parties, not to mention work.

Someone always wants you to be somewhere, and you want your favorite people to be with you. This is the nagging loss of Mister Daggers. How many times will we start a call to invite our mate along to a kegger, or potluck, or just Frisbee in the park, before the distance between us becomes apparent? Every day, it seems, one or the other of us awakes to hear some event or another within earshot, sets out to join and looks over his shoulder in vein for a glimpse of happy Bilbo, bopping along side, lighting fireworks as he strolls. He’s not out of our lives… just out of reach.

We were of such a sentimental mind this week that our recipe is the personal favorite of Texas Johnson. An heirloom of a maid he did love, lost at the greatest cost he has ever known and, God willing, he will ever know. He cooked it with his own hands to insure authenticity.

Captain Texas Johnson’s Chili Steak Soup

Here’s what he used:

• 2 tb. Olive oil
• 3 tbs salt
• 1 medium onion (diced)
• 1 clove garlic (minced)
• 2 lbs. round steak (cubed)
• 2 qt. water
• 5 7oz. cans mild green chilis (or 9 4oz. cans)
• 1 lb. shredded cheddar
• 1 lb. shredded monteray jack

Here’s what he did:

Heat the oil and salt in a large pot, and then add garlic and onion. Once the onion begins to reduce, add meat and sear in pot, add a taste of beer if you have one in your hand. Try a bite, the beef should be brown on the outside, red on the inside and taste salty. Add 1 qt. of water, and bring to a boil. Add green chilis, return to boil, add other qt. of water and, yeah, you guessed it, get it up to boil. While stirring with a wooden spoon, sprinkle in the cheeses. This is a good time to have a friend, because it never hurts to hold a pot while stirring, remember hot pads. Reduce to simmer, stirring often (every 7 or 15 minutes) for two or three hours. Serve with pieces of flour tortilla torn up and added.

This recipe requires a lot of attention, patience and stirring. It is tempting to eat just after the cheese has melted… however the broth isn’t ready until the cheese becomes tan/gold nuggets next to and surrounding the meat. Have restraint; good things come to those who wait. Perhaps what makes such a haunting flavor, for none that have tasted it hath ever forgotten, is the single tear the Captain adds. The tear for loved ones not present, those unable to enjoy the soup. So with fondest wishes, please join us in raising a bottle (and shotgunning many a can) to Mr. Bill, this summer shall be the greatest adventure ever.
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