Barbecue-Less Steaks

Here is the perfect recipe for the college kid who is looking for a steak dinner without having to go out and buy a barbecue. There are plenty of ways that you can do this, but here is my favorite way using items that I believe to be in every kitchen (college or not).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

First thing is first: Steak

I purchased 3, fresh steaks at my local Safeway for around $8.00.

After taking the plastic wrap off of them I simply patted them down with a paper towel to get all of the juice off.



Step 2: The next thing that you are going to do is season it. I sprinkled an even coating of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder over the whole steak with a dash of paprika on top. Gently rub in the seasoning with your fingertips.



Step 3: Get a large frying pan heated up on high with a 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once warm, place each of the steaks in the pan. You want to grill these for about 5 minutes on each side. I dashed some Worchestershire sauce over the top of these while they were sizzling. You may need to turn the heat down depending on your stovetop, this is based off of the fact that you want to start the cooking process on the outside not burn the exterior of the steaks.

Step 4: Line a casserole dish with tin foil. One sheet on the bottom that lays out over the sides and then one sheet to cover the top. Place each of the steaks into the dish and then place a tablespoon of butter on top of each of the steaks. Completely cover with foil and then place in the oven for 25 minutes (rare) – 45 minutes (well done).



Step 5: While you are waiting on the dish to finish I made a gravy sauce out of the left over sauce in the pan. I melted two tablespoons of butter with the juices left in the frying pan and worked it back up to a high heat. Then I added about 1/4 cup of flour that I whisked and cooked on high for about 2 minutes.

Being a college student, it is economical for me to buy things at bulk at Costco; one item I always get is cream of mushroom soup. I use it as a flavor filler in anything! I put it in store bought pasta sauces and to create gravy like I did here. I mixed cream of mushroom soup with 1 cup of water and 1 1/2 cup of milk. I slowly poured the mixture into the frying pan, continually whisking over high heat until it was all joined together. I then let it simmer and thicken and got a delicious mushroom gravy.



Step 6: Once the steaks are done to the wellness that you desire, I pull them out and place the casserole dish on hot pads on the counter. I sauté up about 1 1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms ($1.99) in a frying pan.  Then I quickly put the mushrooms on top of the steaks and fold the foil back up. It is important to let the meat rest for about 10 minutes. This allows all of the juices to combine and for the meat to finish cooking.



Step 7: Plate an enjoy.


I placed some gravy down, placed the steak and mushroom on top and then (this is something I do with almost every meal) I fried an egg and placed it on top. I served the dish with some home canned pears which you can see in the container, placed there because I hate when the juice ruins the rest of the plate of food. The starch for the meal was mashed potatoes. Most nights I don’t have the time to make REAL mashed potatoes but I love them so I have to be content with the powder-mix type. I try to mix it up and add variations and for today’s mashed potatoes I added 1 cup of frozen corn and 1 1/2 cups of frozen crumbled spinach to the water before it started boiling. After I mixed in the mashed potato flakes I added 1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese and crumbled up bacon.


All in all a great meal; it takes about 1 hour to make at the most but it all depends on how well done you like your steak. While the meat is cooking in the oven you can make the rest of the meal and even have time to clean up.


Great idea for college kids who want to treat themselves!

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Finger-Lickin’ Nachos

Have you ever been craving the perfect, country style snack for after school or to power you through a late night of studying? I

Trust me, I have!

Therefore, I have come up with a solution for you. It was an idea that I got from my cousin Rachel, she showed up at Thanksgiving with these delicious nachos. Yes, nachos at Thanksgiving! I was a little perturbed at first, “That isn’t Thanksgiving food!” Then, when you think about my family and Thanksgiving, I realized that it was kind of perfect. You see, we spend the whole day watching the Purina Dog Show before we spend the rest of the day watching football and basketball. Nachos are the perfect snack to have when you are watching TV or reading long textbooks and studying.

These nachos may not be perfect if you need to be typing on a computer or touching a lot of things because they can get a tad bit messy. Spread out all of your paperwork though and you are good to go as you study the night away.

What you need is the Jack Daniels pulled pork or shredded chicken packets. You can get this at Costco fairly inexpensively for a pac of 3 that you can keep for months in your freezer.

I used the shredded chicken version.

I used the shredded chicken version.

Pull out one packet, stab it with some “I’m tired of studying” energy with a knife to poke some holes in it, place it in a microwave safe bowl and nook it for 4 minutes or so.


In the Oven (preheat to 375 degrees):

This is the best way to make potluck style nachos.

You need one bag of “scoop” chips, the ones that look like little bowls.

Lay the chips out on a baking tray.

Dish a small amount of meet mixture in each of the scoops.

Top each scoop with a pinch of cheese.

Bake 10 minutes or so until everything is hot and melted.




If you are like me, you just want a HUGE messy plate of nachos. Put down a layer of chips (I suggest Juanitas), randomly dollop chicken on the chips, sprinkle with cheese, put a smaller layer of chips on, dollop some more chicken on the chips, and coat it with a good amount of cheese. Place in the microwave for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Assembly station.

Assembly station.



Best nachos that you could ever have in about 10 minutes!

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Corvallis Food Tour


Welcome to Corvallis, Oregon!


The exciting home to Oregon State University where we represent our fighting Beaver spirit all day, every day.


4 Day Eating Itinerary Trip


DAY 1: Wednesday

            Head 15 minutes south out of Corvallis and you will find, amidst the middle of farm fields, Grange No. 52 and Greenberry Tavern & Store. It’s Grandma’s fried chicken; for $10 you can have mashed potatoes, corn, a biscuit, and 3 big ole pieces of fried chicken. For a delicious homemade meal in a quaint, PERFECT country diner you will experience the farming community during the rowdy social hour.


DAY 2: Thursday

Since it is springtime or summer you will be catching either an OSU baseball game (spring) or a Corvallis Knights baseball game (summer) at Goss Stadium. Before the game you will stop by the second story of Cobblestone Square on Monroe. There is “Local Boyz” with the best Hawaiian barbeque around. I suggest ordering the 7a and getting ribs and steak for around $7.


Local Boyz; Enough said. Doesn't that make your mouth water?

Local Boyz; Enough said. Doesn’t that make your mouth water?

After the game, in celebration of course (!), you will go to the 9:00 PM happy hour at Flat Tail Brewing. On the riverfront of the Willamette you can experience the home brewed delights that are concocted in the warehouse adjacent to the restaurant. Happy Hour’s best menu items are the $5 Mac’n’Cheese (with extras) and the $4 hummus, pita and veggie plate for the health conscious.


Flat Tail stays true to the original Benny mascot!

Flat Tail stays true to the original Benny mascot!

Day 3: Friday

Today you will visit Brew-BQ on Madison Avenue. A newer diner, it is one of the only true barbeque places that you will find in Corvallis and it combines something that Corvallis, as a college town, is really proud of; home brewed beer. This is an excellent place to sit down and enjoy a break from the afternoon or to stop by for happy hour with their great deals.


Day 4: Saturday

The best place to be in Corvallis on a Saturday is on the waterfront with the Corvallis Farmer’s market. You will experience the artwork, the street performers, the deliciously concocted meals and the fresh ingredients whose fragrances perfume the air.

My suggestion: a handheld meat pie OR a crepe. Or both!

Everyone in Corvallis loves baseball games and Goss Stadium is one of the happiest places you can be. Either an Oregon State University game or a Corvallis Knights game; you are guaranteed a good time!

Everyone in Corvallis loves baseball games and Goss Stadium is one of the happiest places you can be. Either an Oregon State University game or a Corvallis Knights game; you are guaranteed a good time!

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How Will We Feed 9 Billion People?

With the start of a new term, I am fortunate to start a whole new chapter of exciting classes for the winter of 2014. One of these classes is called ‘Agricultural Business Management’ and is taught by a second-term, first-year teacher called Professor Sterns. He has roots in the Willamette Valley via family in the Philomath areas that managed orchards but, he has spent a lot of time in Kansas and Florida. Like so many of my other agricultural professors, Professor Sterns has spent a large chunk of time traveling abroad and learning about other countries (for example France, West Africa, etc.). As a student, I greatly enjoy that he shares this information with us because it helps us understand the agricultural world that we will someday be a part of.

Last Tuesday, Professor Sterns challenged us with a very serious question. He stated, “In your lifetime, and probably mine, you will see the world population reach the 9 billion people mark. That is a ridiculously high number. What I want to ask you, as future managers of the agricultural world, how are we going to feed 9 billion people?”

That’s a very serious question! Have you ever felt worn down and exhausted after a long week? Trying to keep up with classes, homework, extracurriculars, your children, etc.? What if the Earth feels that way too? She has been working hard for a very long time, don’t you think that her resources could be close to being exhausted? Never given a break, we just ask her for more and more.

I feel like a lot of people have misconceptions about farmers. Farmers truly do LOVE the land! They don’t just use and abuse her; which can be hard in today’s times where market demand requires farmers to get as high of a yield as possible. Farmers take a lot of practical and precise measures in order to ensure that they are providing enough resources and nutrients back into the ground that they toil.

When Professor Sterns first asked this question I didn’t have a response. Frankly I was genuinely concerned! You know that panicked feeling you get when people start talking about death, zombies, and aliens? I was feeling the flutterings of that in my heartbeat when I thought about having to feed 9 billion people. That panic was driven by one though: STARVATION. As a victim of high-metabolism the rolls of terror that that word causes almost makes me faint! (Okay, slight exaggeration but I am ALWAYS eating.) I am already painfully aware of how much work it takes to feed the 7 billion people on earth now!

Not even a day later I learned the answer when I was at work: WilcoTRAX, the Ultimate Farmer App.

WilcoTRAX is only relevant to the Northwest United States but the concept is carried all over the U.S. and world with similar ideas. Other countries supporting their own versions of this app being Australia and England. WilcoTRAX is a service package provided by Wilco Cooperative out of the Oregon and Washington states. As learned in my agricultural history class, the Mid-Willamette valley has some of the most diverse and fertile soils; we can grow almost anything up here! WilcoTRAX is bringing an efficiency opportunity to the table that has never before been seen. It has been born by the exponential growth in technology and the handheld tablets that the rest of the industrialized world has been capitalizing on.

With the use of this app, farmers are now able to modernize their growing ability. They are able to plan, measure and connect with other growers, contractors, and agronomists. Wilco Farm Stores prides themselves on their knowledgable agronomists (agricultural economists) that take great pains in continuing their education and assisting the Wilco customers with combating plant diseases, crop failures, and crop yields. Agronomists visit fields as often as once a week or as little as just checking on a crop when it is beginning to bloom (usually regarding orchards).

In the past, the agronomist recording system has been poorly used by no fault other than poor technology. Some agronomists would record their visits and findings via Excel, others by a simple pen and paper (I think all of them have graduated from stone carvings!). What the WilcoTRAX app will allow the agronomists to do is be able to completely trace what each field has done in its lifetime. With GPS coordinate systems built in, detailed maps will be at the agronomists and growers fingertips. The growers will benefit because, via their tablet and app, they will know the cost, the products needed, and the crop yield for that field. The traceability feature for this will be priceless with today’s up and coming processing trend of being able to tell a processor what exactly that crop has been put through in its lifetime.

Agronomists are often consulted by growers to discover what crops they should grow in a field. With the use of the app, the agronomists will be able to tell you what to grow based on the previous crops held in the field, the type of soil in the field and the ability of a crop to grow in that specific environment. This app has been utilized in the corn belt states for something as specific as what TYPE of corn seed to grow; here in the Willamette Valley we not only have different types of seed that can be grown but also a variety of crops to be chosen from.

Another example of the efficiency of this app is when an agronomist visits a field and notices a pesky weed sprouting up between the crop rows. Maybe the agronomist isn’t there though, maybe it is the farmer who notices the weed. He simply pulls out his tablet, takes a picture, sends it to his neighbor.

“Have you seen this?” he asks.

His neighbor replies “Yup!”.

Quickly, in order to stop a weed-invasion, the farmer sends the picture to his agronomist who receives it on his tablet.

“Do you know what this is?” The farmer asks.

The agronomist is able to quickly assess the situation. He can then respond and sends the weed name to the grower and his neighbors, explaining the severity of the situation and what the plant will do to the desired crop. The agronomist also attaches the herbicide option that can be used to remove the weed.

The grower quickly analyzes the costs and effects of each option; clicks a button and the local aerial applicator is alerted via his tablet. Not only is he alerted to what chemical is going to be sent to him by Wilco Farm Stores, but he is alerted to the specifications for that chemical, the GPS coordinates have sent him a map of the field and if there are any nearby areas that cannot be sprayed (schools, rivers, lakes, graveyards, etc.), and also included are the HAZMAT directions and safety regulations for the pilot and his crew.

Efficiency, Professor Sterns. Efficiency is how we are going to feed 9 Billion people.

WilcoTRAX will be kicking off at the annual growers meeting on January 31st. Stay tuned for more details and check it out at your local Wilco Farm Store.

Attached is a short video created by fellow New Media office members at Wilco Farm Stores; produced mainly by video specialist Jessie Copley (check her out online, she has an amazing website and does a lot of family, wedding, etc. pictures).


To join the conversation use #WilcoTRAX on social media sources and @WilcoStores.

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Pizza with the Kiddos

The first time that my coach asked me to babysit his kids I was extremely nervous. Have you ever thought of all of the horrible things that could go wrong when you are watching the offspring of a very important person in your life? I did. In about two point five seconds that followed me answering, “Of course I can!” The best thing about the situation was that they were young enough that they’d probably want to “hang out” with me and would have an early bedtime.

My charges were two of the most adorable kiddos named Kate and Cole; Cole was 8 and Kate 3 or 4. They were highly intelligent kids; their parents had done a phenomenal job of raising them to be mature and responsible at such a young age. I felt my confidence growing the more that I thought about it. Their father, my coach, had always explained the ultimate game strategy is that whenever you are going into an uncomfortable or unknown situation you do what you know. You do what works. You do what YOU are comfortable with to combat the situation. What did I know best? Food. I have been cooking for as long as I can remember and one of my favorite family dishes is Friday Night Pizza.

For as long as I can remember Friday dinner has always belonged to pizza. Pizza has such a bad taboo around it in today’s society of “take & bake” and “5 Dollar Deal” pizzas that are greasy and disgusting. I can’t even eat pizzas at restaurants because of the classy, family dish that we all made together every Friday as a family. It didn’t matter if it was at my grandparents’ house, my parents, or one of my aunts or uncles; no matter what household, it’s the same pizza being made.

I showed up at the house to babysit with my weapon of choice; everything you could need to make pizza! My coach’s wife looked at me a little strangely when I showed up with a grocery bag full of ingredients; apparently, I was the first babysitter who had decided to make food for the kids. She was in a hurry to get to wherever she had to go and as the door closed behind her with finality, I felt like I was getting locked into a jail. I put a big, nervous smile on my face and turned around to see Kate and Cole solemnly staring at me.

“Are you guys hungry?” I asked tentatively, not knowing what I would do if they said they weren’t.

Cole shrugged his shoulders up and his eyes got as big as the cans of olives that were tucked carefully into the bag in my arm.

“Would you guys like to make some pizza?” I asked, taking their noncommittal response as a highway for trucking onward with my pizza-making plan.

“We’re gonna order pizza?” Kate asked, her little voice getting very high pitched on the second syllable or piz-za.

“No silly! We’re gonna make it together!” I triumphantly patted the bag.

They seemed kind of sold on the idea, I figured.

Together we all washed up and found everything that we would need in the kitchen. I was that terrible babysitter who taught the kiddos how to blow bubbles out of their hands while washing up. They weren’t my kids; I wouldn’t have to deal with them blowing bubbles after that night! Together we laid out all of the ingredients and we got to work.

First thing was first: the liquid base (6 tablespoons water, 6 tablespoons olive oil, ¾ cup of milk). I got the kiddos pumped up as they counted out each tablespoon out loud. Then the bowl was placed in the microwave for 45 seconds; I just needed it a touch over lukewarm when I stuck my finger in the mix. The next ingredient is the yeast, about a tablespoon and a half. I am really terrible about the yeast, I just eyeball sprinkle enough in so that it covers the top of the liquid. I let Kate very slowly and carefully stir it until it was mixed.

I placed the bowl to the side for a second, just to let it rest and get the yeast to start activating. I took Kate and Cole through each of the ingredients that I had brought. That is the beauty of making pizza at home; you only use the ingredients that you want to eat. As they debated over writing down a list of what ingredients they wanted (I thought it was a good way to incorporate some school) I added flour until a dough consistency was formed. I placed the kitchen towel over the top of the bowl and placed it inside the warm microwave to give it a chance to rise. The longer you let it sit the fluffier your crust will be. A lot of pizza dough, and this recipe is no different, can even be refrigerated for a day or two before you actually make the pizza.

We made a chain assembly line by the sink. I would open the cans and then Cole would dump the contents into the strainer. Then he would hand the strainer to Kate who would put the topping into a bowl. I showed them how to save the pineapple juice from the can that we then mixed with Cranberry juice from the fridge to drink with our pizza later (for adults you can add Malibu Coconut Rum and ice to make an alcoholic beverage).

I gave each of the kids a section of dough, just enough to make their own individual pizza. They took turns rolling and patting the dough into a circle in Cole’s case and an artistic dough-graffiti shape for Kate. I then solemnly requested them to step back and roll their sleeves up; it was about to get messy. They gasped in excitement as I squirted ketchup all over their dough. They didn’t need to be told twice to spread the ketchup around their respective pizzas with their little hands. I then sent them to the sink to wash up and while they did that I quickly dashed on some salt, pepper, minced garlic, minced onion, and ground oregano to create homemade pizza sauce!

When they came back they covered their pizzas in mozzarella cheese and then I let them put whatever toppings they wanted to on their pizzas; it was theirs after all! The usual toppings that I will pick up are sliced olives, pineapple chunks, pepperoni, leftover ground beef or sausage, Canadian bacon, sliced chicken, and whatever else is leftover in the fridge (one time I put a whole bag of spinach between the sauce and cheese layers just to get rid of it; no one even knew it was there!). When the masterpieces were ready I told the kids to wash up again while I popped the pizzas into the 375 degrees Fahrenheit preheated oven  for about 18-25 minutes. If you make the dough into one big pizza I usually let it go for more around the 22-28 minutes depending. To have a flatter crust you can get your anger out by viciously stabbing the dough randomly even and then bake for about 10 minutes before putting the sauce and toppings on. I don’t suggest doing this if you are making it with kids because then you have to make sure they don’t burn themselves on the casserole dish, baking pan, or stoneware that you are using.

I placed a Disney movie in the VCR and put the kids in front of it. I used this time to get everything quickly cleaned up and put away while the kids were busy. Since I finished so quickly I whipped up some chocolate chip cookies that I put into the oven as soon as I pulled the pizza out. I let the pizza cool before I sliced each of the kiddos’ individual pizzas and brought them to the dinner table with the juice cocktail we had made. By the time the movie was over we had warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies and ice cream. What could be better than a delicious pizza, juice, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, some very happy people and a classic movie? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.


Pictured here is some homemade pizza as well as a side salad; I love to complement homemade pizza with a side salad since I only put meats and cheeses on my pizza. Gives me a well rounded and nutritionally balanced meal.

Pictured here is some homemade pizza as well as a side salad; I love to complement homemade pizza with a side salad since I only put meats and cheeses on my pizza. Gives me a well rounded and nutritionally balanced meal.

I was never asked to babysit for my coach again. Apparently, the kids had held them to the same standard of fun cooking and they didn’t appreciate that I had opened their eyes to it! Don’t worry! I think that they were mainly joking but Cole and Kate would ask me at every basketball game afterwards if we were going to make Friday Night Pizza again someday.

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Corvallis Culinary Week; Aqua

I decided to partake in Corvallis Culinary week this week so I will post just short listings, not a full review, on the places that I visit under the “Random” category.

My mom, dad and our basically family member Craig went to Aqua seafood restaurant in Corvallis on Monday night. Craig Bruno is my cousin’s father-in-law; if you didn’t follow that I don’t blame you. Craig is my dad’s duck and goose hunting buddy who is also helping with the carpentry finishing of the bonus room.

Corvallis Culinary week is an event that happens in Corvallis (imagine that!) where local restaurants who are partaking in the event offer up a few meals of their for only $10. It’s a way that people can try their food without having to go pay the full $20 meal. Aqua was a very, very nice restaurant. Something that is typically hard to find in Corvallis since it is a cheap, burgers, sports bar, etc. college town.

We had three options for the $10 menu: Charbroiled Black Cod with mango rice, seaweed salad; puff pastry wrapped lamb sausage with a sautéed brussel sprout mix; OR crab crepes with a cheese sauce and mashed potatoes. We used and abused their “buy one appetizer get another free” Monday deal where we got dates with bruschetta, pancetta, and a cream drizzle and duck confit spring rolls with an apricot sauce.

The dates were actually quite good. My poor mother got so much flack from the guys for ordering them, apparently they are a pretty hated dish. My mom makes these delicious date cookies… that you can only have so much of. I mean, except for her of course, she eats them like they’re … well… cookies!!! I really like the brown sugar cookie dough batter though! I will try to remember to make those for you sometime, they are the perfect winter holiday treat!

The duck confit was okay… I’ve never really been a huge fan of duck but I figured that was just because of how my dad makes his duck jerky after hunting (that is terribly if anyone was wondering… just kidding I just don’t care for the molasses’ he taste of it). I thought that what ruined it for me was that it was pretty greasy. I didn’t finish it.

The crab crepes were! I would highly reccommend getting them if you go there. I wish that they had had something sweet to go with the savory aspect of the crepe but it was still delicious. I didn’t get a couple pieces of crab shell in with my crab meat but  that kind of thing doesn’t really bother me, but you might take it into account before ordering it.

My mother got the lamb sausage… it was good… but I preferred the crepe. I don’t care for that mutton-y taste that lamb leaves in your mouth but the sausage flavorings did a good job disguising that.

If you have the chance, go check out Aqua in Corvallis this week!

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Ali & Alyssa’s Chili Recipe

This is the perfect chili for a rainy day, a day full of sports games, or a day of apple cider making. Basically any day that you have time for the chili to stew away in the pot while you are working on homework, watching a movie, or doing chores around the house.

Most of my recipes are named after a specific person or story that make it unique – whether it’s whoever always requests it or the specific reason I make it (ex: a holiday, a TV show, etc.).

This particular chili recipe is mainly made off of my mother’s recipe but I added a few suggestions from Damaris Phillips recipe that you can find at food I will note with (Phillips) after ingredients/directions that come from her.

This chili recipe was named after my friends Ali Gibson and Alyssa Martin of Oregon State’s women’s basketball team. I think that the first time we had this chili recipe was when we were all out making homemade apple cider. We had been slaving away over the apple press for about 3 or 4 hours before a basketball game was on TV and were more than ecstatic when we walked into the house to the smell of delicious chili. This is the kind of chili whose aroma pervades the entire house and makes your stomach grumble. It’s the kind of meal that everyone will show up for a family dinner because nobody can wait to eat it! On that first day, we pulled the kitchen table all the way out of the nook into the middle of the kitchen so that we could eat and watch the Stanford women’s basketball game against Tennessee. Ever since then our family has referred to the chili recipe as  “Ali & Alyssa’s Chili”. For another classic Ali & Alyssa visiting the farm story check out the Tall Tales category for “The Deer Carcass”.



Alyssa Martin (#24), Ryley Croghan, Ali Gibson (#14) and myself

Hope you guys enjoy it as much as we do! Please don’t mind that I am very bad at using measuring utensils; I just go for it.



  • Splash of vegetable oil 
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground turkey (my own addition)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 medium onion; small dice
  • 1 large carrot; small dice
  • 1 red bell pepper; small diced (Phillips)
  • 4 cloves of garlic; minced
  • 1 can tomato sauce; 15 oz
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes; 14.5 oz x2
  • 1 can black beans; 15 oz
  • 1 can kidney beans; 15 oz
  • 1 can pinto beans; 15 oz
  • 1 can garbanzo beans; 15 oz (Phillips)
  • 1 package of taco seasoning; 1.25oz
  • 1 can vegetable broth; 14.5 oz (Can be mushroom stock, beef stock, vegetable stock, heck even chicken stock! Whatever you have on hand!)
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Paprika
  • 16 oz. dark beer (Phillips also uses this but she suggests leaving it open for a while) – Doesn’t matter, I just grab whatever is left over from my male-roommates poker nights.
  • 1 cup of corn kernels
  • 2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter (Phillips)
  • Sour cream

In Demaris Phillips recipe she suggests adding liquid smoke at the end but I didn’t adopt this. Why? Because as a college student I can condone buying a bottle of liquid smoke just for one or two recipes; I would need to be using it more often. Phillips also suggests using Greek Yogurt instead of sour cream. I have never tried this, but I can see how it would be pleasant if you made this chili with an extra spice too it to cool off your palette. Another addition that you can use is fresh cilantro as a garnish but, again, my college budget cut that from my ingredient list.

For shopping my roommate Katie and I split up the grocery list. Since she gets her gas at Safeway we look through for the best deals on the Safeway For You deals. We ended up getting the beans and the sauces for about $1.00 a jar. I got the meat at whichever store was cheaper either Winco or Safeway. The corn we already had in our freezer since we stack up on frozen vegetables and fruits when they are on sale.


  1. Since I store my meats in a freezer I set the meat up one by one to defrost in the microwave. While that was happening I diced up the onion, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic.

    Diced onion, red pepper, and minced garlic.

    Diced onion, red pepper, and minced garlic.

  2. With a LARGE pot on just below high heat I splashed in some vegetable oil and, once it was hot, I added in the ground meats to begin browning. I threw in four pinches of salt and two of pepper. Do not brown the meat all of the way since it will be cooking in the stew later; remove it when it has some pink and place on a paper towel covered plate to soak out the grease.
    After the splash of veg. oil gets hot; start browning the ground meats.

    After the splash of veg. oil gets hot; start browning the ground meats.


    Brown until there is some pink and then remove to a paper towel covered plate to drain off the grease.

    Brown until there is some pink and then remove to a paper towel covered plate to drain off the grease.

  3. LEAVE the grease and juices from the meat browning in the pot and add in the diced onions. Cook until translucent.
  4. Add the diced red bell pepper and carrot and cook for a couple minutes until they begin to soften.
  5. Add in the minced garlic for about one minute.
  6. Pour in the can of tomato sauce, stir and allow it to heat to a slight boil.
  7. Pour in both cans of diced tomatoes. Stir well.
    As you can see I just use what's on sale!

    As you can see I just use what’s on sale!


  8. Open up the beer but leave it sitting!
  9. Let the can opening begin! Open all four cans of beans, drain, and rinse. Add them all to the pot and stir well.
    All on sale Safeway brand beans - cheapest option.

    All on sale Safeway brand beans – cheapest option.

    Lots of beautiful colors being incorporated.

    Lots of beautiful colors being incorporated.

  10. Add in the package of taco seasoning, the can of stock and then slowly pour in the beer. Stir well.
  11. Sprinkle over a dash of cayenne pepper and about a tablespoon of paprika – you can skip this step if you don’t like your food to even be remotely spicy.
  12. This is the fun part! After bringing it down to an excited simmer you can either put a lid on or not (I like to put a lid on but leave it propped up to allow steam to get out), but let it SIT for about 2 hours.
  13. Before you serve add in the peanut butter and the corn. Cook for 10 minutes.

The longer it goes the better it will taste but you can open it up for eating at whatever point. The best way to keep myself from trying to eat it too early is by going outside and doing some work OR going into another room where the smell isn’t so enticing and do some homework. 

To serve, ladle into a bowl, add a “dollop” of sour cream and ENJOY! Be prepared for people to want multiple helpings! You can add to the meal by making some box cornbread as well.

Finished product!

Finished product!

Posted in Recipes | 1 Comment

The Deer Carcass

This is a story that goes along with “Ali & Alyssa’s Chili Recipe” because this happened one of the times that we all went out to my parent’s farm for chili and homemade apple pie (I’m saving this recipe for later, it’s a huge favorite of all of my friends). Ali, at the time, was a poor little freshmen, city girl from Woodbridge, California and coming to Oregon State University was probably a little bit of a culture shock for her. Especially because she spent a lot of time with me, a very “home grown, country” kind of kid. Alyssa Martin and I have played basketball together since the summer after my Junior year of high school at our club team, Clutch Players, in the Tualatin area (around Portland for those of you who aren’t familiar with Oregon cities). Ryley was one of my roommates at the time and was a country boy from a small town called Milton-Freewater; trust me, you’ve probably never heard of it. If you are curious just google “Milton-Freewwater Frogs”, yes Frogs. They are a big deal there!

Alyssa Martin #24, Ryley Croghan, Alig Gibson #14, and myself #10

Alyssa Martin #24, Ryley Croghan, Alig Gibson #14, and myself #10

Ryley and I had arrived at the farm before Ali and Alyssa. He had never seen my dad’s aerial application biplane so I took him around back. My father, being my father, had just skinned a deer and it was hanging in the back of the shed by the plane. Ryley immediately started dying of laughter, “This is way too easy!” I looked at him funny. “I’m going to get Ali with this,” he said with a chuckle. I just started laughing.

Back by the garage when Ali and Alyssa showed up Ryley went off on some tangent that basically got him to go show Ali something on the other side of the shop. I think his story had to do with the Oregon Trail, he had told her that she could see the wagon ruts at the back of our property. This was a white lie; you can see the wagon ruts through my neighbors property, just not ours. He took her around back all the while having a complete conversation with her. Alyssa looked at me funny while they were walking away. As soon as they were out of ear shot I told her about the deer carcass hanging up. Alyssa shuddered, “No thank you! I’ll pass on that!” Then she started chuckling because she knew how scarred poor city-kid Ali was going to take this.

About that time my mom pulled up in front of the drive from out running errands in town. She jumped out and started talking to us, asking Alyssa how she was, how the family was, etc. Mid-conversation we hear this blood-curdling scream. Absolutely, bone-chilling scream. My poor mom’s eyes got SO BIG! She had no idea what was going on! Alyssa and I were already laughing so hard that we were crying and weren’t able to get coherent speech out in order to be able to tell her what was going on.

Then we see Ali marching around the corner of the shop, very angry. She was followed by Ryley who was laughing so hard he was crying. Ali didn’t stop when she got to us, she just continued straight into the house. Ryley, on the other hand, told us how he played it out. Apparently he had kept her distracted, spinning this Oregon Trail story about our family arriving on it, etc. Since it was dusky outside, he was able to get her right up until she was right next to it. Then he switched to her other side so she was right next to the carcass. Then he said, “By the way, Katie’s dad is a serial killer, so I wouldn’t piss him off.” Calmly he gestured at the skinned deer… that did look freakishly like a human in the dark.

That is when Ali screamed.

To this day she won’t forgive us for it. Especially since we also “got her” unintentionally by using ground deer meat in the chili. Once she found out you could tell that she was having a huge internal battle; eat deer or eat the very good chili. In the end, the chili won out, and that is a big feat undue itself.

Check out Ali, Alyssa and Oregon State Women’s Basketball as they battle it out in the Pac-12 Conference this year!

Posted in Tall Tales | 2 Comments

Bo Mack’s Barbecue and Grill

Bo Mack’s Barbecue and Grill

Albany, Oregon 

I also did a video review which you can watch below:


1. Location

Easy to find and about a 20 minute drive away the only concern on location that I had was parking during a crowded evening.

2. Building

The waiting room was drafty with only a small plug-in space heater to attempt to keep it warm but I loved the community pictures hung on the wall and other country decorations. The lack of directional signage was confusing for a newcomer like me.

In the dining area they had an old fashioned soda-fountain like bar where they were plating food. There was a glass case with the kind of desserts you would expect to see on your grandmother’s window sill in the middle of summer. The booths were wooden and, unlike normal restaurants, there wasn’t a sense of privacy per booth; it was similar to the set up of a big family gathering at a holiday.

3. Food

The menus were simple; just a front and back – you were having barbecue and that was that! The entrees were labeled uniquely but their big push was that you could order family meals which is what our group of 4 did. It was only $12/person for a 4 person dinner and we brought plenty of left overs home!

We ordered knapsack one which was chicken, pot roast, coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans. The meats were definitely the rockstars of the plate; absolutely divine! The side dishes kept up, they tasted like something that my mom would make (she is a phenomenal chef).


Overall I would give Bo Mack’s 4.25 stars out of 5. It was very good food, the service was great but the warehouse feel to it was kind of a turn off. Maybe a new location is in order?


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Native American Farming

I was pointed towards a website by a longtime friend just the other day when I was pondering my ability to have a good future as a blog writer on Facebook. I found a multitude of stories that I found very intriguing on the site, one of which was labeled “Coming out as a BiRacial”.

Follow that link to go to the story and read it yourself!

In a nutshell, it discusses the pains of the writer as she goes through life looking mostly like a caucasian-american while her mother is African American. She talks about how, when she was younger, she would collect pictures of beautiful African American woman because she knew it was something that she could never be. Then, in high school, people would refer to her as Mexican, since most of the other kids in the school were, so she adapted her style of talking and dressing so that she could qualify as Latina descent although she wasn’t.

I found this article very relatable to me, not because I was the “Michael Jackson child” of my family but because I always felt like there is something more. I am of mainly German with Irish, Dutch and Native American descent. As a small child I full-heartedly believed my older sister Nicole that I was adopted when she would adamantly tell me that the sad truth was that no one wanted me (it’s okay for me to say this now since we are the best of friends!). Growing up on the farm there was neighborhood kids that I could hang out with but most of them were boys and since when do little boys want to hang out with little girls? I entertained myself with my animals; a black lab named Rosie, a large red and white paint horse named Maddy, and a small dirt-brown colored miniature horse namedDude. Oh the adventures we would have!

dude and maddy

This is Maddy, Dude and, ironically, one of the neighbor boys that I grew up with when we did our Senior pictures. 

In my playing I was convinced that I was a full-blooded Native American. I made crude forts, tree houses (usually vacant deer blinds since building one myself would take to much time), weapons and rode my horses into battle with my faithful “wolf” at my side. Imagination was never something that I was lacking in! I taught myself to walk quietly, to be thankful for all of the living things that I consumed and for the animals that I called my friends. I would like to think that this is where it all began.

This summer is where I realized that I had the transformability to turn into whatever race I wanted too. With just a little bit of summer sun I have the ability to tan into a ridiculously dark skin color which caused just a bit of confusion with my summer internship with a local West Coast League baseball team. The number of times that I got asked if I was Native American (to which I always answer yes although it’s not 100% true, in reality only 13% true), Spanish, or even, and this one cracked me up, part African American. The one that I relate to the most is Native American.

I feel a deep connection with my Native American roots, not because I was raised in that culture but because it has been a unique fascination of mine since I was a small child. Therefore in my agricultural history class I was intrigued to learn more about native american farming. My ancestors were in the northwest and the plains; neither were farmers which is ironic since that is what my family does now.

The northwest Native Americans were lucky; the food grew so plentiful that they never had to organize specific agriculture in order to survive. That was what my teacher said at least which I knew to be incorrect. Growing up at a small country school we actually raised our very own camas garden that we planted at the end of our nature trail. We took our Native American planting serious where we burnt the ends of sticks, scraped off the charcoal, and repeated until we had thin flat spades that we could dig the earth with to plant our bulbs. The beautiful blue flowers that appeared as a result were very rewarding; I can’t help but wonder what happened to that garden after my class left and the school was closed down. I felt that it would be rude to correct my teacher but I knew first hand. Maybe I will do a food blog concerning camas and actually try to cook it (although I think it may be poisonous if prepared incorrectly… yikes!).

The plains Native Americans that I am related too, the Sioux, didn’t bother with agriculture either. Living on the plains that Natives lived off of the buffalo and whatever free range growing grains, legumes, etc. that they needed to fortify their meaty diet. As a result my native ancestors never really depended upon agriculture. You could say that the plains Indians depended on ranching… I raised beef cattle for 6 years, it’s kind of the same thing right? Big connection stretch, I know!

plains buffalo vs. angus cross and

What I would like to educate you about is East Coast Native American agriculture. The Natives didn’t grow food that they necessarily enjoyed; they grew food that would grow. It was as simple as that. The Native people had a very scientific order to how they grew their crops to maximize the efficiency of the land. The first thing that they would plant was corn. Now the corn they planted wasn’t the yellow corn that we know of today but a smaller kerneled corn that we would only consider for decoration now. The next thing planted would be beans or legumes of some sort. These legumes were crawlers meaning that they would climb up the corn stalks. Think of the corn as being the “string” in “string beans” but you wouldn’t have to spend all that time and energy stringing it! Next they would plant squash which would completely cover the ground around the corn stalks. This would keep other animals and weeds from taking the seeds or hindering the growing. Talk about economical right?

indian corn

Pulled off Wikipedia’s Indian Corn page. 

These ideas were adopted by the colonists when they first arrived. The Companies that were sent to the New World by King James were usually rich people who had the time and money to go on an “adventure”. They didn’t know how to take care of themselves and if it wasn’t for the help of the native people they never would have survived. Not just that but of the two colonies that went to the New World, King James would not allow them to be closer than 100 miles apart meaning that they were on their own with no way of receiving help. (As you can see I really like history.)

Thinking about surviving off the land like the Native Americans or the early colonists is an excitingly terrifying thought. You are probably thinking that someone would have to be crazy to do that. Maybe they are but today’s reality TV world has made a killing off of people’s desire to prove that they can do it, that they can survive, in a television show called “Survivor”. Everybody, at some point in their life, has thought of trying to survive if your plane crashed or your car broke down in the middle of nowhere (in the United States, not counting Alaska, you are at most 10 miles away from a road at all times, supposedly, you could realistically walk your way out of any stranding episode. Yes, I have looked it up.).

Tracing myself back to my origin is interesting… although I do like the thought of being 1/4 African American, 1/2 Native American, 1/2 German, 1/8 Native American, and whatever else people have genuinely asked me of being. Think of the diverse food background that I would have?! Just because I am not from all of those different cultures doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy in a big part of them, that part being food.

Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you want to do.

Happy Trails!

Posted in Tall Tales, The Farm & Ranch | 2 Comments