The Maligned Musicians

Think of a professional musician with her instrument. Got it pictured in your head?

What is she playing? Piano? Violin? Flute? Clarinet? Maybe if you are a little younger you may picture guitar or drums. How about a trumpet, sax or trombone? Much less likely I bet. Upright bass? I’m guessing not. Tuba? Impossible.

The tuba player is a much forgotten about and maligned musician. When you think of a tuba player you most likely see some fat guy wearing lederhosen playing oompah music.

As a former tuba player, I know how it feels to be relegated to playing only on beats two and four or to have 150 measures of rest as the string players go to town. For virtually every other instrument there are musical pieces that showcase the instrument. While there are a few for tuba, there are really very, very few. Even in an oompah band, the tuba is relegated to keeping the time and playing background music.

There are two places where the tuba is the star of the show. The Ohio State University Marching Band (known as The Best Damn Band In the Land (TBDBITL)) uses a sousaphone (marching tuba that wraps around the holder) player to “dot the i” in the famous Script Ohio. Only a handful of musicians a year get that honor, so it doesn’t really count for most tuba musicians.

The other place is with Tuba Christmas. Tuba what? You’ve got it, Tuba Christmas. Every year, in cities all over the world, groups of tuba and baritone (think baby tuba) players gather en masse to play holiday music. It could be in local rec centers, school auditoriums, outdoor malls or even in grand concert halls, but it is open to tuba musicians of all levels.

The sound is round, deep and loud. The music is fun and many participants will dress up themselves and their instruments to match the holiday cheer. Often the concerts are free and open to the public. As most concerts occur in November and December, we are approaching the season. Take a look at the web site for more information.

Our Favorite Chili

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This chili is perfect for the colder weather too.

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Unlike most chili, this does not use ground meat.

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Look at all the seeds I took out of these peppers.

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Fry them to get the most flavor out of them.

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Ready to make the paste.

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Ready for the liquids.

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The paste is made.

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Thickening it up.

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Beans are softening in the pot.

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Starting to look good.

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Getting the chunks of beef seared.

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A great tasting chili!

A recipe named “Our Favorite Chili”

Makes: Serves 6 to 8


  • Table salt
  • 1/2 pound dried pinto beans (about 1 cup), rinsed and picked over
  • 6 dried ancho chiles (about 1 3/4 ounces), stems and seeds removed, and flesh torn into 1-inch pieces (see note above)
  • 2-4 dried árbol chiles, stems removed, pods split, and seeds removed (see note above)
  • 3 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 3 small jalapeño chiles, stems and seeds removed and discarded, and flesh cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons light molasses
  • 3 1/2 pounds blade steak, 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of gristle and fat and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (see note above)
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser


1. Combine 3 tablespoons salt, 4 quarts water and beans in large Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pot from heat, cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse well.
2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place ancho chiles in 12-inch skillet set over medium-high heat; toast, stirring frequently, until flesh is fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes, reducing heat if chiles begin to smoke. Transfer to bowl of food processor and cool. Do not wash out skillet.
3. Add árbol chiles, cornmeal, oregano, cumin, cocoa and 1/2 teaspoon salt to food processor with toasted ancho chiles; process until finely ground, about 2 minutes. With processor running, very slowly add 1/2 cup broth until smooth paste forms, about 45 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Transfer paste to small bowl. Place onions in now-empty processor bowl and pulse until roughly chopped, about four 1-second pulses. Add jalapeños and pulse until consistency of chunky salsa, about four 1-second pulses, scraping down bowl as necessary.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture has evaporated and vegetables are softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chile paste, tomatoes and molasses; stir until chili paste is thoroughly combined. Add remaining 2 cups broth and drained beans; bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
5. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Pat beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Add half of beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer meat to Dutch oven. Add 1/2 bottle lager to skillet, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits, and bring to simmer. Transfer lager to Dutch oven. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil, steak, and lager. Once last addition of lager has been added to Dutch oven, stir to combine and return mixture to simmer.
6. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Cook until meat and beans are fully tender, 11/2 to 2 hours. Let chili stand, uncovered, 10 minutes. Stir well and season to taste with salt before serving.


A 4-pound chuck-eye roast, well trimmed of fat, can be substituted for the steak. Because much of the chili flavor is held in the fat of this dish, refrain from skimming fat from the surface. Wear gloves when working with both dried and fresh chiles. Dried New Mexican or guajillo chiles make a good substitute for the anchos; each dried árbol may be substituted with 1/8 teaspoon cayenne. If you prefer not to work with any whole dried chiles, the anchos and árbols can be replaced with 1/2 cup commercial chili powder and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, though the texture of the chili will be slightly compromised. Good choices for condiments include diced avocado, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, lime wedges, sour cream and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese. The chili can be made up to 3 days in advance.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Beef 2, Beer, chili, kosher, Low Carb, Lunch3, Recipes

Author:The Ranting Chef

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One Comment on “The Maligned Musicians”

  1. November 29, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    The use of ancho in this sets it apart. I see you listed cocoa in the tags, but left it out of the ingredient list. A secret perhaps? I use quite a bit of cocoa powder and dark chocolate pieces in my red chili. This sounds like an amazing blend of depth and flavor.


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