September was quite a month for this Chilehead. Coming off of August with my vacation ride to Chicago for the Great Chicago Fiery Food Festival, I traveled even more in September. Starting with the Bowers Chile Festival in eastern PA on Friday the 11th, and then the next day I took off to Sussex County, New Jersey for the NJ Taco Festival for back to back outdoor events. The following Saturday I got back in the car and went to the Jersey Shore for PicklePalooza, and the following Thursday I ventured off to Indiana for Open Fields. That was 1200 miles just by itself. A journey that was well worth the gasoline.
While I will not go into great detail with all of these outdoor festivities, I will say that nothing holds a candle to the experience I get when I do Open Fields. This is just a good time with people coming from all over the country and even had Chileheads from both England and Australia. We share food, drink and camping under the stars. A raffle and auction is held Saturday when most people have arrived and settled in. It is to raise money for several good causes that Jim Campbell, the host, organizer and lifeblood of Open Fields has started with his Step Up for Charity. All the prizes are donated and there are a lot of handcrafted artistic pieces as well as homemade edibles and drinkables. I bid and won a Jerky Cannon and Ultrasonic Humidifier. Don’t ask me why, but it is for a good cause, so that is all I got to say about that. 😀
One of my favorite things about Open Fields is the camaraderie with people of like passions. I love sharing some of the dishes I make and do not get to share too often because the people I know can not handle any heat. I did not make anything too spicy, but with enough kick to at least notice it is there. I made my version of guacamole I call Buddahmole which I won fresh from the fields the first time I was at Open Fields. A little contest they have had in the past by using the chiles from the fields. I also made 2 spicy peanut butter pies, BBQ Sliced sausage, 2 types of meatballs, and a string bean casserole made with Tuscan Tomato Basil Bisque soup instead of the traditional cream soups. I think I may be the only person alive to ever make a string bean casserole on a barbecue grill.
This particular Open Fields has been labeled as the Last Open Fields. Last as in this remote area and perhaps in Indiana as a whole. There was some murmurings among the faithful about moving it elsewhere, but a lot has to happen before a new chapter is written. Either way, this location in Indiana is destined to have a highway built through it starting next year. So, this Open Fields destination is officially closed, but not before we celebrated our love of chiles with each other. The people that come are awfully friendly and sharing. I got to taste some amazing food. The lady from England made this awesome flaky pastry banana thingy that I fell in love with. One guy, Brooke and his lovely wife Kendra were filling our bellies from the start of the day and through the midnight hour. My favorite was his Deep Fried Tamales. Imagine putting some of those in your belly after midnight not too mention some mini fried corn dogs and steak bites. One odd sweet came from my good bud Hudd, who’s wife Betty who could not attend, she made this fiery hot Cheetos and white chocolate treat that was really addictively tasty. It is the pink food pic below.
While it was a long drive, 10 hours, it was something I would do again because there is something very special about sitting around a campfire, sharing stories and eating spicy food. I get a little of that feeling at the Bowers after festival pizza party, but there we all split and return to our hotel rooms. At Open Fields, we wake up together whether it be in a tent or in a car, the smell of bacon is in the air. Bacon and Spam! Peter from NY holds a bacon and spam sammich.
Not too mention the big pig roast we had. Cooking all day and night Friday and it was good to eat on Saturday morning. First pig roast I have ever been a part of.
Just so you know, we did have some bit of healthy food here and there. It wasn’t all fried and piglet products. :@)
The only thing I had that I did not like was the Carolina Reaper soaking in the Jim Beam Fire bottle. I had no clue when I took a shot there was any Reaper in it. It nearly had me lose my tummy treats. I would not go through that stomach wrenching feeling again even if you paid me.
A big thanks to Jim Campbell and his sweeter than a peach wife Abby for all they have done over the years in putting this event together. Thanks to all the donations and people who spent their money for the big tent, the pig roast, and the port-a-potties for which I personally would not have survived the weekend without. It was a wonderful time I will not soon forget.
Before I end my little article for the month. I want to welcome 3 new writers to this month’s Chilehead Monthly. Firstly, our guest writer is Michael Hulquist aka Mike from Madness. Mike just wrote another recipe book, but this time it is something that I know you will find very interesting. It is a cookbook on Superhot Chile Peppers. Mike has broken down all you need to know about these superhot chiles that seem to be the craze in our community. People grow them, but do they know what to do with them afterwards? Learn from the master as Mike teaches you how to put these superhots to good use in so many different forms. Thanks Mike for joining in our October newsletter.
We are also introducing the 1st of many columns from two new writers. We have our new Canadian connection, Martin Lamoureux with his new Habanero Montreal column. He will bring us the latest and greatest with things that are happening in the great North. Then we have J Scott Bushey, the Freakie Foodie. He is going to show you his love of the unique and bizarre food choices and perhaps open your eyes to the possibilities of entering into a realm of flavor you have never encountered before. It all starts with his Seamonster Taco!!! Wait until you get a load of this recipe. Pics that might scare you or make you drool. For the month of Halloween, I see no better recipe than to make you some of these bad boys and pass them along to the tykes who ring your doorbell looking for a treat. (insert insidious laugh here).
We have 10 great articles for you from 10 great Chileheads in our community. I hope you love our offerings and share our newsletter with others that might enjoy it as well. Have a great October and Autumn season! Oh yeah, I wanted to finish up with my buddy’s new commercial. He has one of the best Bloody Mary Mixes in the land and he wanted me to help get his word out, so here she is…