One of the things I enjoy most about cooking and barbecue is just being able to get away from everything and to focus on what I like to do best. This past weekend although I didn't get a chance to cook I was able to do just that. Not only was I able to spend some time on the cooker but our family reunion was just a few hours away in Albany thus the reason for our weekend trip to Brownwood. Several years ago our family purchased a Lake house in Feather Bay on the lake there. We could have not asked for a better place to get away. There is nothing like the aroma of mesquite smoke in the morning, cooking barbecue first thing, while you are watching the sunrise, drinking a cup of coffee and looking out over the lake with a fishing pole in your hand. This was where I actually first learned to cook what many Texans call true "Pit" barbecue. There is really no comparison in cooking barbecue on a big pit VS a small backyard smoker. There is just something magical about the whole process that just makes it so much better. It's the most common type of BBQ in the Hill Country which is part of the reason why BBQ in the Hill Country is so much better than other parts of the state. One thing I have learned is that BBQ pit's without any cover are hard to keep clean from the elements. Our pit is a prime example. I do know with a little maintenance they will last a lot longer and cook a lot better. Although I didn't get to cook this time my father and I did get a chance to fix it up and spend some time on it. Here's a few pictures of the before, halfway point, and after.
Another priority that had to be taken care of while we were there was the issue with the dock. Several week's ago a tornado touched down in Brownwood and destroyed hundreds of dock's including ours. We really enjoyed our dock especially during the fall, spring, and summer month's especially when the fish were biting. Here are a couple of pic's of the damage. Hopefully by the 4th of July we will have a new one.
The main purpose of the trip though was to go to our family reunion in Albany. Albany is a small town just north of Abilene, TX. Albany is known for it's many ranches, it's oil, it's hunting, it's wealth, it's culture, it's heritage and most of all for Watt Matthews who was one of the most well known and respected ranchers in TX. Our family had the pleasure of knowing Watt very well and my Grandfather worked for him many years on the Lambshead Ranch where him and my grandmother started and raised their family. A big portion of our family still lives in Albany today and has since there establishment back in 1918. I have always had a soft place in my heart for Albany for many reasons. Most of the cooking done in that part of the country is done on chuckwagons and dutch oven's. It's not a show they put on just a way of life they want to keep true. Our reunion took place on the Stasney Cook Ranch. My father went to school with one the gentleman that runs it and it's always a joy to visit with him. Here's the pit they like to cook on.
This blog would not be complete if I did not mention that Albany is also home to the number one small steakhouse in all of Texas. The Fort Griffin General Merchandise. There is nothing that compares to this place. The Beehive Saloon which is the "Bar" in the middle of the steakhouse was replicated by Robert Duvall and sits in his home today. He's a regular there while he's in Texas and spent a lot of time there while shooting Lonesome Dove which is actually based off part of the early history of what happened in and around Albany and Ft Griffin. It was also where Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp first met. Pat Garrett of Young Gun's fame also got started here as well as many others hence some of the history of this old Texas town.