Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ray's Tavern Since 1943..

Ray's Tavern

25 South Broadway
Green River, Utah, 84525

Phone: (435) 564-3511


Hours of Operation: Monday thru Sunday, 11am to 9pm

Patio Seating

We were told by friends, Joseph Venus and Dwane Cude (Utah Artists), about Ray's Tavern; let me correct that, they raved about Ray's Tavern.  Looking at it from the outside, it looks like any other bar establishment; inside is pretty much the same look.  The huge difference is everyone is there having a great time; from locals to tourists, family, friends, couples and solos.  The owners and staff of Ray's Tavern pride themselves on their service; fresh cooked, high quality foods; welcoming atmosphere...they have achieved restaurant nirvana.

Walking in, we were immediately greeted and told to sit anywhere we wanted.  We did the Southwest thing and "bellied up to the bar"; my hubby ordering a Polygamy Porter and fresh brewed coffee for myself.  The staff is very, very friendly; answering our questions easily and offering up tips on the food.  Now while we had heard the burgers were the best, we weren't in a burger mood; hey, it happens!  However, a lovely couple sitting in one of the booths had just received their burger and fries orders, and let me take a photo.  They were from Moab, but didn't think twice about taking a one-hour drive up to Ray's Tavern when in a burger mood.  They said they had been coming here for years, and no place could outdo them; and we quickly found out why.

My hubby ordered the Double Pork Chops; nice char on the bone-in chops, thick cut, juicy with an order of handcut fries.  The fries are cut fresh every morning, and it's not unusual to have to do a second batch of cutting between the lunch and dinner hours.
Carlos - Look at that Smile!!!

I ordered the New York Strip Steak, medium-rare, and I got it exactly the way I like it...medium-rare.  Again, that nice char on a perfectly cooked, juicy, meaty steak; along with those handcut fries, it was dinner heaven.

Before our orders we dived into the dinner salad; a large portion of chopped lettuce covered with sliced olives, red bell peppers, pickled beet and croutons.  While my hubby had ranch dressing, I went for the honey mustard; made in-house and so plate licking good!

The portions are not chintzy, so we took some food home; and had no room left for that fresh apple pie (ala mode is an option); maybe next time.  Oh yes, there will be a next time, and we want to be in a burger mood.

Mary Cokenour

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Another Asian Chicken in the Crock Pot Recipe.

First it was Hawaiian Chicken in the Crock Pot recipes that kept popping up on the sidebar or newsfeed of Facebook. Now it's Asian chicken recipes; just because you add soy sauce to a recipe, that doesn't necessarily mean its an Asian recipe.

So here I go creating my own version, but while the others use boneless, skinless chicken breasts; I used bone-in chicken legs and thighs.  I tried to remove as much skin as possible, but the 10 hours cooking time took care of what did remain.

Savory Pineapple Chicken
8 chicken legs, skin removed
8 chicken thighs, skin removed
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1 (15 oz.) can pineapple chunks, reserve juice
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. Hoisin sauce
Spray the inside of a 6 quart crock pot with cooking spray; layer the chicken legs and thighs inside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine soy sauce, reserved juice from pineapple chunks, garlic, ginger and Hoisin sauce.  Pour over the chicken; top with pineapple chunks; cover, set crock pot on low and cook for 10 hours.

If the sauce is too thin, remove the chicken and whisk in a tablespoon of cornstarch; add more until your desired thickness achieved.  I left mine just the way it was after cooking; next day's leftovers, the sauce had thickened on its own.  The chicken does come right off the bone, so makes it easier to serve over rice.

Makes 8 servings.

Mary Cokenour


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mexican Night at R & F Restaurant.

R & F Restaurant

149 East Center Street (Route 491)
Monticello, Utah, 84535

Phone: (435) 587-2440

Serving Breakfast, Lunch& Dinner
Wednesday is Mexican Food Night

Parking lot full, parking on the street stretches from the corner and past the restaurant, patient patrons sit or stand inside the entry way waiting.  That’s right, it’s Mexican Night at the R & F Restaurant!  Locals plan on this special night of dining, tourists are very lucky they were directed here, or just stopped in.


Ray and Fana Arballo, with the help of Gen Atencio, have been serving up their version of diner comfort food for nine years now; but Wednesday has always been the special night.  Fana admits that they tried doing the specials twice a week, but then it just was not very special anymore.  Knowing the fresh made, stupendously delicious Mexican delicacies were only available once a week is what the locals enjoyed most; the planning to go out, and looking forward to it.  Families, couples, even solos greet each other cheerfully; catch up on local and county news.  Fana works her way around the tables greeting everyone, asking everyone is doing, are they enjoying the food.  Ray likes being back in the kitchen, but took a moment to come sit with us and talk about R & F.


Ray and Fana were both born and raised in Monticello, Utah.  Being of Mexican descent (Ray’s mother is from New Mexico of Spanish/Apache descent; his dad from East LA, but originally Mexico), this trio know how to do it up homemade and authentic.  All meats are purchased locally through Blue Mountain Meats; Utah’s Own products are delivered via wholesalers Nicholas and Company; potatoes are pure Idaho born and raised.  Tortillas are cut up and deep fried for the chips; or lightly deep fried to get the shape for a taco, then finished up on the grill.  Salsa, served with the chips, is freshly made.   Clean, pure taste of the tomatoes, onions and chile peppers comes on strong, with medium heat that makes the back of the tongue do the cha-cha.

The Smothered Burrito is a good one pounder packed with shredded beef or chicken, or ground beef.  While both the red and green chile sauce (medium heat) are delicious on their own, I particularly enjoy the “half and half” or “Christmas style” which is a generous topping of both sauces.  Sides are Spanish Rice, Refried Beans; moist, flavorful, and the garnish of chopped lettuce and tomatoes simply adds more texture and flavor.  Sour cream is by request.


Combo Meal
The Enchiladas are topped with melted cheese which makes a delicious meal even yummier!  As I stated before, the Tacos are finished up on the grill and packed with meat, freshly chopped lettuce and tomatoes.  Make sure to ask for more of the salsa that came with the chips if you want to punch up the flavor combinations even more.


Sopapilla, a deep fried tortilla that puffs up, comes with each meal, along with a packet of honey.  I always make sure to leave room for this treat!  Along with the Mexican specialties, R & F offers its regular menu as well; a salad bar packed with fresh vegetables and dressings.  Homemade pies are available featuring cherry, blueberry and apple.

Salad Bar
R & F Restaurant; friendly owners and staff, welcoming atmosphere, comforting food at reasonable prices.  Oh, for Pioneer Week, veterans will be offered meals at special discounts; so make sure to ask about this.  Thank you for serving in the military and protecting our country.
Mary Cokenour




Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Lickity Split Bakes Up Fine Character.

Lickity Split Bakery
87 South Main Street (Hwy. 191)
Blanding, Utah, 84511

Phone: (435) 459-9455

Hours of Operation:  Monday thru Friday, 8am to 1pm; Seasonal
Nowadays, the American economy is full of unemployment; federal and state funds being consumed by teenagers living on welfare due to unplanned pregnancies; an American school system that does not provide skills for adulthood.  Small towns can no longer expect their children to live on the laurels of their ancestors; this does not bring food to the family table, nor put savings in the bank to reach financial goals.  In fact, small towns will eventually shrink smaller and become ghost towns; adult age young people are leaving for the big cities where the jobs, and money, are.

How about a concept that is not novel, but might save the future of a small town?  A business that employs youths between the ages of 10 to 18; teaches them business and life skills; manners and customer relations; teaches them skills that provides a platform to grow in life???  Yes, such a business does exist, right here in Blanding, Utah; established in 2004 by Elaine Borgen, a volunteer with AmeriCorps Vista.  Currently, she resides in Henderson, Nevada where she runs an Artisan Bakery for homeless women; teaching them skills to go forth in life with goals.  At first the shop was known as “Lickity Split Chocolates”, homemade chocolates that were so delicious and scrumptious; however, it became too well known and successful.  Orders for locals, and for shipping to other areas, simply became too much to handle.  The youth worked primarily just to fill orders; education was becoming second best.

Back to the drawing board, and “Lickity Split Bakery” was born in 2008; baked in the shop cakes, cookies and pies; breakfast fare such as quiche and crepes; lunch specials all locals love, Navajo Tacos.  2016 and the bakery is going strong, and I was able to stop in one Wednesday to speak with Chef Leon Sampson; one of the instructors and mentors of the children.  This gentleman beams with pride as he talks about “the little bakers”; while mainly Navajo, any child between the age of 10 to 18, who resides in San Juan County, is welcomed to come to the shop to learn and work.  He shows off the goods they have created and explains, “Lickity Split Bakery provides a community service for young people; they become skilled in business/work ethics, nutrition in food, life in general.  After high school graduation, they now know where their next step in life leads; whether to college or business directly, they can make a choice on their own.”


Leon’s own son, Trevor Sampson, is currently a CEO of Lickity Split Bakery…he’s only 16 years old!  Elysia is one of the Navajo young ladies who has worked at the Bakery for five years now; she is not only adept at baked goods, but runs the front counter with ease.  Her favorite part of the entire experience, well the baking of course!


Two items tried out that morning were the, and this was literally a mouthful, “Pumpkin Almond Cinnamon Roll with Orange Scented Cream Cheese Frosting”; try saying that three times fast.  As with any cinnamon roll, the outside layer had a crispness, but the inside layers were pillowy soft and moist; the frosting silky smooth with the correct hint of orange to tease the senses.  Then there was the Biscuit Crusted Bacon Cheddar Quiche; rich, eggy goodness full of onions, bacon and cheddar that slapped the taste buds up one side and down the other.   It was difficult, oh so difficult, not to buy and try the Blueberry Scone (I swear it was about 5” x 7” large); colorful Ice Box Cookies; or chocolate drizzled Chocolate Almond Cookies.

Pumpkin Almond Cinnamon Roll with Orange Scented Cream Cheese Frosting
Inside the Cinnamon Roll

Bacon Cheddar Quiche with Biscuit Crust
Blueberry Scones
Chocolate Almond Cookies

Icebox Cookies


New Ice Cream Shoppe
Currently, Lickity Split Bakery is open Monday thru Friday, 8am to 1pm; it is also only open seasonally, due to the fact the children must attend their regular schools during the year.  On July 4, 2016, a second shop was opened on Main Street, next to the San Juan Theatre, which will serve ice cream, cookies and crepes.


Imagine though, if a work study program could be established; where these wonderful, bright, imaginative 10 to 18 year olds could gain school credit for the skills learned at the bakery.  Imagine if such a program could happen in all the small towns, not just within San Juan County, but throughout the United States.  No, not a novel concept; perhaps a scary one to those who hold on tightly to the laurels of their ancestors; but then again, this is the 21st century and the universe is infinite.

Mary Cokenour