Good friends really are priceless. They stick with you when you’re having a bad day or being irrational or need a good cry. Over a glass of pinot noir and pulled-pork sandwiches, my girlfriends Molly and Cheryl listened to my grievances tonight as if every day was Festivus. Sometimes a good cry does the trick. Toffee triangle bar cookies and a warm cup of Vanilla Chai Tea afterwards don’t hurt. (Get the recipe for Toffee Triangles here.) Good friends are good people. Since I first started building my “jam empire”, as my brother in-law Matt calls it, I’ve met many good people.
One night in August, I had a dream that I started a jam business, quite literally a dream. So I did what every normal person does and applied for a business license and a website address the next day. I figured why not? What’s the worst that can happen? Even if I fail and I’m left with jars of jam, I don’t think I’ll have trouble offloading them on my friends and family. On my way home from work, I stopped by Trader Joe’s for some inexpensive wine, par baked bread, marcona almonds and white cheddar cheese. It was there that I met Big Tony Brown. He was serving free wine samples. Being a girl who never turns down free food, I was more than happy to participate. I casually mentioned that I was thinking about starting a jam business. I’m a verbal processor, so I talk or write things out as I mull them over. Tony and his wife Lori make BBQ sauce and dry marinade for grilling meat. It’s been a dream of his for many years. He asked me a bunch of questions about my jam, what flavors would I make, how did I want to sell it, etc. I promised to return with a sample gift basket for Tony and Lori to taste and get their input.
A week or so later, I returned laden with a full basket of jams, recipes, almond coconut granola and cornbread (for the Summer Apple Butter). The next time I was at TJ’s, Tony brought me a variety of BBQ sauce to try. He suggested dipping tater tots in the sauce. Tater tots! I haven’t had those since middle school! But I figured the chef knew best and I bought a bag for dipping. He was right! Tater tots dipped in Big Tony Brown BBQ sauce is pretty amazing! The sauce is sweet and savory and has a bit of spice to it. The super spicy is my favorite. It’s the only spicy food I’ve ever eaten that doesn’t burn my esophagus and ruin my taste buds for the rest of the day. And I can actually taste the flavors.
A few weeks passed and I stopped by a Big Tony Brown BBQ sample table at the Made in Oregon store and met Lori. Well, don’t they go together! Lori says when she doesn’t feel well, she asks Tony to make her some tots with a light coating of special seasoning “dust” and cheddar cheese that she then dips in sauce. With a mouth stuffed full of meat balls coated in marinade and sauce, my response went something like this…Seasoning dust?!? You can put cheese on the tots?!? What!! Why am I just learning about this!! Needless to say, I liked her right away, like I liked Tony right away. They’re good people. I brought them a bag of cranberry sauce and fruit butters I recently cooked up. Like me, Tony’s favorite is Cherry Pie Plum Fruit Spread, so I included a jar as well. Tony and Lori promised me a sampling of marinade and sauce. Good to their word, they delivered.
My last official craft show was last Saturday. I’ve been itching to try a new recipe. Armed with a new jar of Big Tony Brown Mild Dry Marinade and some freshly canned Spiced Pear Butter, I tried an experiment. This is the resulting recipe. Now I don’t want to say it will change your life. I hate it when people oversell a movie that you then think is just okay. But this is definitely better than okay. Honestly, I might have been happy with just the dry marinade and a spoon.
Cornish Game Hens
- 2 Cornish game hens
- 1/2 cup Pinot noir or other red wine
- 1/2 cup Spiced Pear Butter
- 4+ tbsp. Big Tony Brown Mild or Spicy Dry Marinade (you can get your own at the Made in Oregon store or on the BTB BBQ website)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you have a convection oven with a roasting setting, use it
- Rinse Cornish game hens and pat dry
- Rub all over with 2 tbsp. Marinade
- Mix wine and Spiced Pear Butter in a bowl and baste over Cornish game hens
- Sprinkle with remaining dry marinade
- Place on roasting rack and baste every 15 minutes
- Roast for 45 to 60 minutes until temperature reaches 180 degrees
- Serve with extra dry marinade for dipping if desired (which I did desire!)
- Baked Yukon gold potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with marinade won’t hurt
- Wear stretchy pants because the flavor combination of the fruit butter and the dry marinade won’t leaving you hungry