Sunday, December 4, 2016

Finding Billy Battles - Ronald E. Yates, Author



Kaw River Kitchen Mystery
(Make sure you read the story behind this dish which will be at the end of book review)

(A premium chili recipe created along the banks of the Kansas River by a Jayhawker. You may use ground beef, cubes of beef or pork, or ground meatless soy/vegetable crumbles. In each case, the amounts listed for each ingredient in the list below remains the same. I usually double or triple the ingredients so I have enough to enjoy for several days.)


INGREDIENTS

Main Ingredients

2 lbs. coarsely ground beef  (or soy/vegetable crumbles)
2 lbs. (or a 40 oz. can) of kidney or pinto beans
2 medium onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
2, 14 oz. cans of chopped tomatoes (note: some are “chili ready”)
1 garlic clove, minced (in lieu of garlic glove, use 1 tsp. garlic powder)
3 Tblsp. Canola or Olive oil (or other vegetable oil)

Herbs & Spices

2 Tsp. salt
3-1/2 Tsp. chili powder
½ Tsp. black pepper
½ Tsp. crushed red pepper
½ Tsp. paprika
½ Tsp. oregano
2 Tsp. cumin seed, ground
1 Tblsp. brown sugar
½ Tblsp. dry mustard
1 Tsp. celery salt
1 bay leaf
1 dash Tabasco sauce
1 Tblsp. white vinegar

1 cup water

Optional: I cup of red wine (or you may substitute another cup of water, if a thinner chili is desired). Add the wine about ½ hour before serving.

Directions

It is best to use a large professional-quality heavy steel or aluminum pot, though a Teflon-coated pot is fine. It should be at least 6 quarts and preferably 8 quarts or more in size.

Prepare all ingredients BEFORE beginning to cook!

Add onions and oil to pot and sauté for a few minutes. Add meat (or veggie-crumbles) and stir. Add beans. Add remaining ingredients to meat, beans and onions. Simmer uncovered for about 2 hours. Cook longer for better flavor—6-8 hours. (For even better flavor, after cooking, put chili in refrigerator overnight and when ready to eat, heat up for about 1 hour). Add wine about ½ hour before serving. Serves 10.


Finding Billy Battles - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of - Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

"I made it a point during my life to keep a record of my comings and goings, events that I experienced, people I met - both good and bad - and places I traveled to," he continued.  "I have written something like twelve journals.  About a dozen years back, I began writing my memoirs based on those journals.  Never finished it.  I don't expect you to understand what I am about to tell you right now.  You are still a boy.  But later, when you are grown and you have finished your education, you will better understand things.  It is just as well, because I prefer that a lot of what I am writing not be available to others until after your grandmother and I are gone."  "Ted, I want you to take my journals, my memoirs, all my belongings, and someday, perhaps twenty years from now, you can help me set the record straight about some things I did, people I met, and some events I witnessed."

These were the instructions Ted Sayles' great-grandfather Billy Battles gave him at the young age of 12.  Forty years later, Ted received some old chests filled with a historian's treasure - firsthand accounts of some of the most significant events and people in nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century history.  The journals within brought to life places such as Tombstone, the Crystal Palace Saloon, and the OK Corral, as well as people such as Wyatt and Virgil Earp, Doc Holliday and even Bat Masterson.

As you read Finding Billy Battles, you'll travel with him as he works as a scribbler for several newspapers that had sprung up in the west.  You'll also feel his fears as he faces some truly dangerous men of the time.

I don't normally enjoy books of this time but following Billy became a truly exciting journey for me.  It became a book I didn't want to stop reading.  It's educational as well as enjoyable and one I would recommend for everyone.  I do believe you will enjoy it as I did.  Now I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series titles The Improbable Journals of Billy Battles.  I expect it will be just as good.


THE STORY OF KAW RIVER KITCHEN MYSTERY
(This goes with the recipe above)

  The Kaw River, also known as the Kansas River, cuts through the heart of the rolling Kansas plains, fed by the Big Blue and Black Vermillion rivers that flow from the north. It is neither an especially impressive nor noteworthy stream. For example, it doesn't compare with more majestic tributaries like the Mississippi or the Missouri Rivers, which are known for their breadths and lengths and histories as rivers of commerce.

  Instead, the Kaw was known by the Cheyenne, Comanche, Oglala Sioux, Kiowa and Kickapoo Indians who lived for centuries along its banks as the "water of the tall grass." The Kaw was a good place to water horses and livestock and to hunt the millions of buffalo and antelope which once ruled the Kansas plains.

  Both the Oregon and Santa Fe trails followed the Kaw's banks before the two famous routes leading west from Westport, Mo. (now Kansas City) separated with one leading off into the vast northwestern prairies and the other into the arid badlands of the southwest. The wagon ruts left by thousands of covered wagons and buckboards can still be seen along the Kaw's banks. 

  Not far from its western source, is Ft. Riley, home of the 7th Cavalry. And this is where the story of the chili you are about to consume begins.

  Most people will remember the 7th Cavalry for its disastrous encounter with the Sioux and Cheyenne Nations at The Little Big Horn River in what is now Montana. Among those with Gen. George Armstrong Custer on that fateful day on June 25, 1876 was Capt. George W. Yates, an officer attached to the 7th Cavalry since 1874 and a veteran of countless battles and skirmishes with the plains Indians.

  Prior to his posting at Ft. Riley and his untimely demise at the crest of a hill overlooking the Little Big Horn, Capt. Yates had served in the Southwest Territories. There he met and married Estella del Carmen Huerta, a woman whose ancestors were Spanish landowners in New Mexico. It was the Huerta family cook who first introduced Capt. Yates to Southwestern chili--a piquant and biting concoction made with suet, pork and beef shoulder and spiced with coriander and ancho, pastilla and casbel peppers.

  When he and Estella moved to Kansas, Capt. Yates had to adapt his chili recipe accordingly. There was no coriander or ancho, nor did pastilla and casbel peppers grow along the Kaw River. 

  The result is what has come to be known in the Yates clan as Kaw River Kitchen Mystery. 

  Why mystery? 

  Because when asked what he put into his chili, Capt. Yates would only say: 

  "I go out along the Kaw and whatever I find growing wild that hasn't been buried under buffalo chips or defiled by cattle and horses I put into my saddle bag. Then I just add meat and beans. And I'll be damned if it isn't a mystery to me why the outcome is edible."

  Capt. Yates's creation has undergone a few subtle "adjustments" in the intervening years. For example, you won't find many of the exotic flora (or fauna) indigenous to the Kaw River in the current version. 

  But by and large the Kaw River Kitchen Mystery of today is pretty close to the original version--except for the occasional buffalo chip flake or two that old-timers swore gave Capt. Yates's concoction just the right touch of "mystery."  

Enjoy!


Ron Yates,

 
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