Chili, Bowl Games and Metal Up Your Ass
by Baby Huey
The week between Christmas and New Year's Day is probably my favorite week of the entire year. Is it the bonding with family? Is it the sense of giving? Hell no. It's the fact that I get to watch football--COLLEGE football at that, which is most definitely the best kind--nearly uninterrupted for 168 hours straight. That is outstanding. Bowl season, my friends, is officially upon us, starting today.
Slightly out of form for this column, I'd like to take this opportunity as a die hard college football fan to make my predictions for the BCS bowl games. Mostly because I love talking about football, but hopefully also to spark some conversations:
Boise State's got a great, high flying offense when they play in the WAC. Despite a down year for the Big 12, Oklahoma STILL faces tougher competition than BSU did and behind Adrian Peterson will slow the game down and take control out of BSU's hands.
Baby Huey's Prediction: Oklahoma 17, BSU 14
I hate Michigan (see below), and Pete Carroll's a great coach, but Mike Hart and Mario Manningham, along with UM's defensive front 7 will just be entirely too much for the Trojans.
Baby Huey's Prediction: Michigan 28, USC 13
In my mind, the most evenly matched of the BCS bowls. You've got a savvy, make-you-miss offense in Notre Dame against LSU's kick-you-in-the-teeth defense. On the other side of the ball, you've got JaMarcus Russel going against ND's suspect secondary. Brady Quinn's a top 3 draft pick, but he still hasn't shown he can win the big college game.
Baby Huey's Prediction: LSU 24, Notre Dame 17
My two favorite Cinderella stories of the year. Wake's got an impressive defense but they won't be able to stop Brian Brohm and that explosive Louisville offense. There's just too much.
Baby Huey's Prediction: Louisville 34, Wake Forest 21
Ahhhh, my Buckeyes. I will preface this by proclaiming my undying love for Ohio State. That being said, I feel I can say with some objectivity that Florida really doesn't have the greatest shot in this one. Florida's squeezed by against some teams that they should have, for all intents and purposes, whipped. They played a fluff non-conference schedule (yes, I-AA Western Carolina, I'm looking at you...). Ohio State destroyed 10 of the 12 opponents they played. They were never NOT in control of the situation.
Now, some of you may point to 2002, when Ohio State went into the Fiesta Bowl as heavy underdogs against Miami, and won. I watched every snap of that game -- you don't need to bring it up. I've considered it. Consider this. The only "good" team that Miami played that year was Florida State, and they only one because FSU's kicker shanked yet ANOTHER potential game winner. Ohio State gutted out a perfect season in the Big 10, which even in its down years will ALWAYS be better than the Big East. Ohio State this year has only won by less than 17 points twice. They've beaten the #2 team in the nation. Twice. Both times were fairly convincing. Sure, the score of the Michigan game was 42 - 39, but it was two botched snaps away from being 56 - 29.
The Ohio State offense is like a damn nuclear battleship. It's got a lot of different ways to kill you. Two of the best receivers in the country and a few number 3 options will make you pay, and if you pay too much attention to them, they'll give the ball to Antonio Pittman and Beanie Wells and they'll run it right up your ass, and it's all run by an amazing admiral in Troy Smith. The defense bends, but they never break, and they will cause Chris Leak and Tim Tebow to make mistakes.
And finally, think of this: does anyone want to play a Jim Tressel-coached team when he has 50 days to figure out how to beat you?
Baby Huey's Prediction: Ohio State 38, Florida 14
Ok, all that was just to let me rave about the Buckeyes. Who cares. Onto the food. No bowl season would be complete without some serious bowl food. I'm going to do something I never thought I would, fair readers. I'm going to share with you today my chili recipe. Enjoy it.
Baby Huey's 4 alarm chili (it's not really that spicy, I just use four different peppers)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
In a large bowl, toss the meat with the adobo seasoning. Let it sit for 20 - 30 minutes.
In a large (5 to 7 quart) cast iron dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the meat in stages. Only put enough meat in so that it's all in one layer and that no two pieces are touching. This will promote good, even browning. When each batch is browned, take it out of the pan and brown the next batch. For 3 lbs, it should take at least four batches.
After the meat is brown, heat the remaining oil and add the onions, poblano and serrano. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes, till the onions start to get brown. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two. When the tomato paste is a dark brick color, add everything else (including the meat) to the pot except the tequila and beans. Bring this up to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low, or place in a 250 degree oven. You'll want to cook this for at least 2 1/2 - 3 hours. I've cooked it as long as 6. If you do plan on a very long cooking time, keep an eye on it and add a bit of water as necessary to keep the consistency where you like it.
At the end of the simmering time, stir in the tequila and the beans, and cook to heat through. I'm not all for fancy chili garnishes, but the tequila flavor in this really lends itself to a squeeze of lime and some chopped cilantro. For a special treat the next day, serve over Fritos with shredded cheddar for the classic known as Frito Chili Pie.
Simple Chile Powder
1 anaheim chile, seeds removed and cut into pieces
In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add everything and shake occasionally, just till the cumin seeds start to pop. That should take 5 - 6 minutes. Add everything to a coffee grinder or blender and give it a whirl.
So, we're down to the top two records of the year. Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnn. 2006 was a fantastic year for metal. Really it was. Here are numbers 10 - 3:
10. Witchery - Don't Fear the Reaper
2. Lamb of God - Sacrament
In 2003, Lamb of God came out with As the Palaces Burn. I was not impressed. Gotta admit. It was middling metal, guys with potential but that hadn't really found their sound. All my friends had hardons for these guys -- especially their live show. I didn't buy it, and didn't give them much of a second thought.
Then, in 2004, Ashes of the Wake came out and things, as they say, took a turn. They have an incredibly unique tone on their guitars, and like them or not, I've never met someone who didn't appreciate that. Randy Blythe's vocals were aggressive, the drums perfect.
Sacrament came out earlier this month (or late in August, so what if I don't remember, bite me). Kind of a logical progression. The guitars are still there. The drumming is still there. The big change is Randy's vocals -- it's as if he is a man possessed by Phil Anselmo himself (minus the whole racist douchebag thing Anselmo has going on). The first single, "Redneck" makes me want beat the crap out of someone.
Aaaaaaand, the number 1 record of 2006?
1. The Haunted - The Dead Eye
Can I really say more good things about this? No. So here's what I've said before: "Two years ago vocalist Marco Aro left The Haunted, and was replaced on their fourth album, rEVOLVEr, by Peter Dolving, who sang on their self-titled debut. I hadn't heard that album and was concerned - Aro was a brutally aggressive, singularly focused vocalist. He wanted to kick your ass every second and you loved it. Would Dolving stand up? rEVOLVEr took The Haunted in a completely new direction, toying with melody and different tempos. It was critically acclaimed but panned by many of the band's most ardent fans, who loved the thrash label thrust upon them as much by pedigree as by sound. Brothers Anders and Jonas Bjorler were 2 fifths of the ultra-seminal Swedish band At the Gates, and the sound associated with that band followed them to The Haunted. The Dead Eye, however, bucks a lot of those predispositions and stretches both the musicians' boundaries and the listeners' expectations. The classic Haunted balls-to-the-wall thrash anthems are still there, typified by Patrik Jensen's unique guitar tone and Bjorler's classic riff-writing, and they still kick ass. Where they rise above are in the relatively new concept (for them, anyway) of mid-tempo, dark, melodic songs. This album shows off Dolving's formidable vocal stylings, pulling in both aggressive screaming as well as dark, atmospheric crooning a la Maynard James Keenan from Tool or Tom Gabriel Fischer from Celtic Frost. The only downside, in my opinion, is that they didn't let drummer Per Moller Jensen play around as much. He basically kept the rhythm in this album, and that's it. That's a shame, too, because his fills are really excellent, classic metal drumming. This album is, to quote Dolving, "diverse, dynamic, and heavy as fuck." Well, heavy enough in spots to make up for where they take it down a notch."
Josh loves him some college games. And chili. And metal..