Monday Munchies: Cowboy Cooking in The High Country!

That doesn’t look like cowboy chili. Photos courtesy of Jefferson VanBilliard

I spend a lot of my free time canvassing the streets of Orange County in search of the ultimate ganja-fueled adventure. Sometimes I come up shorter than a high schooler’s dime bag, and other times I strike pure gold. This past week I was able to get my hands on an extremely limited edition of the glow-in-the-dark Peak vaporizer from Puffco and the results left me speechless, almost.

The updated glass, atomizer and overall aesthetic make this device a must have for anyone who’s serious about their concentrates.

I had the pleasure of taking the newest member of my stoney family on a trip up to a place that few city folk would dare explore, either because of simply not knowing it exists, or the fact that your average Honda Civic would end up throwing in the proverbial towel long before you’d begin to experience the mountain’s scenic lookouts. Sitting at an elevation of about 7,500 feet, Lake Edison is absolutely breathtaking; you can definitely feel the effects a little quicker–and harder–when puffing the magic dragon in the high country.

Stoned on a mountain. 

So, with my Peak in hand and adventure in my heart, I began my journey through the butt crack of California to find my spirit animal, see a bear and get higher than the cost of health care in the United States.

Unfortunately the OC Weekly doesn’t pay me to talk about my lavish vacations unless it involves a potent mix of cannabis and cuisine, so I will save the stories involving bear hikes, migratory mosquitoes and going number two in a hole for another time.

During my time outside of the Orange Bubble, I ate like a king; meaning everything was prepared by someone else and brought to me so I could spend as much time as possible in the cleansing waters of the lake. I’d snuck along a bag of chili mix and a couple pounds of premium angus beef with the intention of treating my travel associates to some good ol’ fashioned cowboy chili, which I planned to prepare in a dutch oven (haha) on our last night in the mountains.

If you want to wow your friends while staying lifted at the campsite cookout, follow my personal recipe below for an unforgettable experience.

  • Before you leave for your trip, purchase a package of Stubbs brand chili mix as well as several pounds of grass-fed angus beef. Don’t be a jerk and buy the cheap stuff because everyone will know but they’ll lie and say it was delicious even though it tastes like lunch meat.
  • Hide all your shameful purchases under the dehydrated peas you bought at REI for $30. Everyone will be impressed by your ability to hike the wilderness while surviving on something most people haven’t had since their last TV dinner, and you can act like Gordon Ramsey when you pull the top off your meat soup that everyone will mistakenly believe you prepared from scratch.
  • Find a nice, flat area to start your coals. Purists will scoff at your use of charcoal in such a picturesque place, but last time I checked this is America and we all need to do our part to keep the coal industry alive and well. Black lungs and Hank Hill aside, I love cooking with charcoal. It smells like summer and if your food comes out more than medium rare, you can blame it on the grill. Once your coals are ready it’s time to empty that Stubbs mix and start to brown the locally sourced beef you bought earlier.
  • It might seem like a lot of work to get to this point and you would be right. It’s time to reward your efforts and take a little time out to have a quick sit down with your old pal Mary Jane. Some people love getting baked in the comforts of their living room but not me. I love the sense of anxiety that creeps up whenever I toke up in the great outdoors. Is it dangerous to impair yourself while miles away from cell phone service, paved roads and a hospital? Sure, but that’s also half the fun. It’s like my great grandfather used to say, “Jeff, you’re a disappointment to this family.” I don’t know why he said that to me before he went to heaven, but I think about it sometimes while I spend my inheritance on that sweet sticky icky and trips to the mountain.
  • It was around this time that I remembered I had left the chili I had previously described to everyone as the single best bowl of food they will ever eat, cooking under half a bag of fiery coals. As I returned to the scene of the crime, I knew that my fellow campers were going to be less than thrilled I had ruined a home run meal with my smoking habits so I blamed it on my granddad and we all ate fish instead.

After careful consideration I don’t think you should follow my chili recipe completely unless you plan on keeping a careful eye on your dutch oven (haha). Lucky for me I had enough battery left on my Puffco to get the entire campsite high enough to forget about my chili disaster long enough to enjoy the epic sunset I’m not talented enough to describe. Happy smoking!

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