• Birria Tacos

      Not your average “Taco Tuesday” evening dinner. By MIKE EDGAR, Photos by TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY Birria tacos are becoming all the rage and after one bite, you’ll want them for supper every night too. Birria is traditionally a Mexican dish consisting of a meat stew made from goat meat, and occasionally beef or mutton (but… [Continue Reading]

      Birria Tacos
    • KEEPING IT 100

      This model slash influencer, slash broker and barrel racer has an impressive list of credentials on his resume. His positive attitude and continued conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing makes him a game-changer for the ages. By Aleesha Harris Charles McKay of Vancouver, BC, recalls with a laugh, the transaction that garnered him his first… [Continue Reading]

      KEEPING IT 100
    • Fireside Trout

      By Chef Mike Edgar This Rainbow Trout dish is best enjoyed next to the fire with your favourite people and a setting sun. Fireside Trout Pouches go amazingly well with Fennel Roast Baby Potatoes and Bannock on a Stick. Make these recipes over the campfire on your next trail ride and it’s a trip no… [Continue Reading]

      Fireside Trout
    • Mental Wellness Pt. II

      This blog is a continuation from our Embracing Mental Health blog. If you’re struggling with mental health, you’re not alone. The pressures added to society due to Covid-19 are two-fold. Here, we get some meaningful advice from Psychologist Vanessa Goodchild, for navigating the world we currently live in. THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOMDepression looks different… [Continue Reading]

      Mental Wellness Pt. II
    • Johnny Cakes

      These old fashioned pancakes are best served stacked high and with sides of Saskatoon blueberry compote or vanilla whipped cream. Sunday morning breakfast will never be the same again. By MIKE EDGAR, Photos by TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY Ingredients• 1 Cup Flour• 1 Cup Cornmeal• 2 Eggs• 2 1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder• 2 Tbsp. Sugar• 1 Tsp. Salt• 3/4 Cup Buttermilk• 1/2 Cup Water•… [Continue Reading]

      Johnny Cakes
    • Embracing Mental Wellness

      With so much loss associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s easy to understand why a significant number of mental health issues started rearing their ugly heads in 2020. The good news is, horses are a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with it all. In this two-part blog, we get some meaningful advice from Psychologist Vanessa… [Continue Reading]

      Embracing Mental Wellness
    • New Years 2021

      By JENN WEBSTER, PHOTOS BY TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY What are you doing for New Year’s Eve? I can tell you – my family has been waiting for this day all year long… That’s not to say we expect 2021 to morph us immediately into an easier time, but we do have hope for the upcoming… [Continue Reading]

      New Years 2021
    • Making the Most of Everything

      The following is an excerpt from my current Publisher’s Note in Western Horse Review. Considering the new restrictions / changes / happenings of the past week, I’ve needed to re-look at my own writing. My own history. I needed this reminder. Perhaps many of you will find it helpful too… Growing up as the young… [Continue Reading]

      Making the Most of Everything

home_b4_blog

Birria Tacos


Not your average “Taco Tuesday” evening dinner.

By MIKE EDGAR, Photos by TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY

Birria tacos are becoming all the rage and after one bite, you’ll want them for supper every night too. Birria is traditionally a Mexican dish consisting of a meat stew made from goat meat, and occasionally beef or mutton (but never pork). The stew is slow-cooked and has a savoury, sweet and sour flavour, with a hint of spice.

In Birria tacos, the stew is placed inside a tortilla shell with cheese, dipped in broth and fried up. This isn’t an easy dish to prepare, but once you taste a bite of a Birria taco’s sizzled, cheesy, crispy, goodness – you’ll never want a normal taco again.

BIRRIA STEW INGREDIENTS
 
For the Meat:
1 lb Beef Chuck
1 lb Beef Shank
1 lb Beef Shortrib
2 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
2 Tsp. Ground Cumin
 
For the Broth:
4 Dried New Mexico Chilies
4 Dried Ancho Chilies
1 Can Chipotle Pepper in Adobo
2 Tsp. Whole Peppercorns
2 Cloves
10 Whole Star Anise, Dry
4 Bay Leaves
5 Three-Inch Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Tsp. Ground Ginger
8 Garlic Cloves
1 Spanish Onion, Sliced
2 Cups Crushed Tomato
1 Litre Beef Stock
2 Oranges Sliced
1 Tbsp. Salt
1 Cup Brown Sugar
 
For the Tacos:
Tortillas of Your Choice
Diced White Onion
Fresh Cilantro
2 Cups Oaxaca Cheese, Shredded 
Fresh Lime
Fresh Jalapeño
Shredded Stew Meat

METHOD FOR THE MEAT
Remove stems and seeds from chilies. In a pot, bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the chilies and simmer until tender (around two minutes). Add chillies and half the water to a blender and puree until smooth, then add the canned chipotle and puree again until smooth. Set aside until its time to build the stew.
 
Cut your meat into manageable pieces and season with salt pepper and cumin. In a heavy dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil until you start to see it smoke. Brown your meat a little at a time, ensuring you get a good sear. Then remove it from the pot.

Using the same pot, sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add peppercorns, cumin, ginger, bay leaves, clove, star anise, cinnamon sticks and salt. Sauté for another two minutes. Add your beef, crushed tomato, beef broth, oranges, sugar, and chillie puree.

If the meat is not covered by liquid, add an appropriate amount of water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover and place in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for four hours. If after four hours the meat is not tender enough to shred, then put the lid back on and continue to cook until tender.
 
After the meat has reached desired texture, remove from the oven and let the meat cool in the broth. Once cooled, remove the meat from the broth and shred with a fork or by hand. Set aside in a bowl.
 
Strain the broth into a pot, making sure all the spices are removed. Keep the broth in the fridge until needed.
 

The stewed meat is placed inside a tortilla with cheese, dipped into broth and then placed into your cast iron pan for frying.
Once one side is fried to crispy goodness, fold the tortilla and fry the other side.

METHOD FOR THE TACOS
Mix the oaxaca cheese into the shredded stew meat. Remove the broth from the fridge and place half of it into a bowl or shallow plastic container. Warm the other remaining half of the broth on low heat, on the stove.

In a large cast iron pan on medium high heat, warm some vegetable oil. Fill your tortillas with the shredded meat and cheese, then quickly dip into the cold broth (which was set aside in a bowl) and fry in your cast iron pan on each side – until golden brown and until the cheese melts.

Place the now fried Birria tacos on a serving platter. Pour the warm broth into a ramekin or bowl and place next to the tacos for dipping. Garnish with chopped onion, sliced jalapeños, lime wedges, and cilantro. Grab a taco and plunge it into the warm Birria broth and enjoy! 

When you are ready to enjoy your Birria tacos, dip into the warm broth and enjoy!

KEEPING IT 100

Charles McKay believes it’s important to continue evolving the conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing as a professional sport. Sheila Armstrong Photography.

This model slash influencer, slash broker and barrel racer has an impressive list of credentials on his resume. His positive attitude and continued conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing makes him a game-changer for the ages.

By Aleesha Harris

Charles McKay of Vancouver, BC, recalls with a laugh, the transaction that garnered him his first horse. 

“My mom traded our neighbour up the street a case of beer for this 26-year-old, half-dead horse that they had,” McKay says. “Her name was Shelly.”

Introduced to horses by his aunt and uncle, Sandy Douglas, an avid barrel racer and her husband, Lincoln Douglas, a professional chuckwagon racer, McKay and his sister Megan fell in love with horseback riding. Eventually they tagged along with their aunt and uncle to ride at the variety of events throughout British Columbia they hauled to.
 
“We travelled to all the Little Britches rodeos and my aunt and uncle took us all over BC, wherever my uncle was competing at the time with the chuckwagons” McKay recalls of his introduction to rodeo and gymkhana events. Noting the siblings’ horse hobby wasn’t likely to lessen any time soon, the horses were moved from the Douglas’ farm to the McKay family home in Chilliwack, BC, so the kids could focus even more on their horsemanship. 

“It kind of just took off from there,” McKay says of his involvement in the horse industry. “I’ve never really looked back since.”

McKay got Shelly when he was in the third grade. He’s 33 now. Safe to say, his horsepower has evolved from that first, senior-aged mare, though. 

“Quite a bit,” McKay confirms with a laugh.

Like many young riders, McKay’s evolution in horsepower was a gradual one. From that bought-for-a-beer sorrel Appaloosa mare, he was given an old Arabian show horse by long-time Chilliwack horse trainer and family friend, Tom Berry. 

“He was super broke,” McKay recalls of the gelding. “And I ended up training that horse for all the gymkhana events. I won all the year-end high points and whatever there was to win in the Chilliwack Riding Club.”

It was at that point that McKay says “the bug for barrel racing” was firmly seeded. When McKay’s sister Megan briefly stepped away from riding, McKay began riding a horse that she had named CJ. 

“I jumped on CJ and started competing,” McKay says.” I won a saddle and buckles and everything on him. He took me pretty far. I went to the BRN4D Finals on him. And that’s kind of how it all evolved for me.”

While the speed and level of competition in the sport of barrel racing, which sees a horse and rider run a pattern around three barrels set up in a cloverleaf pattern, is enticing, McKay says he’s always been more drawn to the development of young horses — and the incommunicable bond that comes with. 

“I love training horses and I love bringing a young horse along and seeing them progress,” McKay says. “And seeing what they’re learning and how far they come in the time that you work with them. Becoming a team with your horse, that’s really what I’ve always loved.” 

Being a man in barrel racing, McKay admits he feels there’s a “bit of a stigma” that lingers around male competitors in the sport.  

“I think it stems from the rodeo world, where only women are allowed to compete at the professional level and go to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR),” McKay says. “When you’re a fan and you’re watching rodeo, whether it’s the National Finals Rodeo or the Calgary Stampede, it’s referred to as Ladies Barrel Racing.”

That designation has to do with the fact that barrel racing in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) events is run by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA). Riders competing in PRCA barrel racing events must also be a WPRA membership permit holder.

While McKay acknowledges the significance of the history and triumphs of the WPRA, which began in 1948 as the Girl’s Rodeo Association before becoming the WPRA in 1981, he says it’s important to continue evolving the conversation around inclusivity in barrel racing as a professional sport. 

“I understand why it has been preserved that way,” McKay says. “But I feel like some of the best barrel racers in the world are, in fact, men. There are many male barrel racers. Lance Graves, Troy Crumrine and Brandon Cullins, they’ve won millions of dollars in futurities and derbies barrel racing.  

“I think that men should be given a shot to compete at the highest level of barrel racing.”

The topic, of course, isn’t new. In fact, in a 1989 lawsuit, Graves v. Women’s Professional Rodeo Ass’n, Inc., barrel racer Lance Graves challenged the inclusivity standards of the WPRA, stating the rules “discriminated against him by reason of his sex.” He lost the case.

Men are allowed to compete in the various association open 4D races, slot races, futurities and derbies. Some barrel racing associations have also amended the membership eligibility criteria in order to embrace all riders. McKay points to Valley Girls Barrel Racing Association in the U.S. as an example of a group within the sport that has “evolved” beyond gender restrictions, allowing everyone to compete. The well-known The American rodeo holds qualifiers throughout North America, which are also open to both men and women. 

“Many men have qualified and made it to the final round. No man has won it yet,” McKay says of the competition. “But I think it has been received really well, having men compete in that. So, I don’t know why it should be any different for the rest of the pro rodeos.”

The seasoned barrel racer also points to the apparent double standard in professional rodeo, which sees women allowed to compete alongside men in roughstock and roping events at PRCA rodeos, pointing to Chilliwack saddle bronc rider Kaila Mussell as a prime example. 

“Men are competing alongside women at the professional level in almost every other equestrian event, so why not the barrel racing?” McKay says. “Let’s not limit the sport to just one gender. Let’s have inclusivity for everyone.”

McKay at work in his other profession, modelling. CREDIT: Mark Stout.

Being one of the only male barrel racers in his area, McKay says people often look to him as a kind of “influencer” in the sport. His presence on social media platforms including Instagram (he goes by the handle @_cowboyken), where he shares many images running the barrel pattern, also undoubtedly helps with that. 

“I want to be able to use my voice for good,” McKay says. “And I really want to see this sport grow and evolve.”

On his social media channels, McKay also offers a glimpse into his other resumé-padding project: modelling. 

“With any of the modelling stuff too, you never know who is looking,” McKay says of the fashionable photography on his feeds. “I’m always on the lookout for different work with that, too.”

McKay started modelling in 2016, after a breakup saw him step away from horses in order to leave the Fraser Valley in an attempt to start fresh in Vancouver. 

“Being single and young and having these horses, I kept finding myself looking for more and wanting to make more friends. I was at a bit of a crossroads where I loved the horses so much, but I wanted to travel and do other things,” McKay recalls. 

Not long after that transition was made, McKay packed up and moved to Australia, where he lived for about a year. Upon his return to BC, McKay moved back to downtown Vancouver, taking over as a manager at Joey Restaurants. Through the company, he was transferred to Los Angeles. And that’s where he was living before the pandemic hit. 

“I was on a five-year work visa. I would have probably stayed on that career path with the company, because we were so rapidly growing,” McKay says. “But, once the pandemic hit, it changed the course of my life and I realized how much I missed having horses.”

McKay moved back to Canada and bought a few young horses. While his travels and career had taken him away from horses physically, McKay had maintained a connection within the industry through his business Horse Brokers International (www.facebook.com/Horsebrokersint), which sees him curate a virtual sale feed of barrel racing horses for buyers throughout North America. 

“I had a friend of mine who had this really nice horse that she just couldn’t seem to click with. She said, why don’t you just take him and ride him and see how he is?” McKays says of his first foray into brokering. “So, I brought him to my barn in Langley at the time and started riding him and he was awesome.”

He helped his friend sell the horse by posting him on his personal Facebook page. The horse sold within an hour. Seeing how quickly the horse sold, another friend approached McKay to help sell her horse. It also sold in the same day. 

“I love training horses and I love bringing a young horse along and seeing them progress. And seeing what they’re learning and how far they come in the time that you work with them. Becoming a team with your horse – that’s really what I’ve always loved.” – Charles McKay. Sheila Armstrong Photography

“It kind of just snowballed from there. I just happened to have a lot of great connections on my Facebook through friends and I ended up selling a whole bunch of horses,” McKay recalls. “Before long, I was busy full-time selling horses.”
 
He focuses on offering performance prospects or proven competition horse that he can personally vouch for. 

“I want to be known for representing quality animals,” McKay says. “That’s my primary focus.”

McKay also recently purchased a stallion prospect out of Texas to add to his growing program.  

“He’s by Epic Leader, out of a daughter of Darkelly that sired Paige (CP Dark Moon), the horse of Amber Moore’s that she went to the NFR multiple times on,” McKay says of the horse, named Epic Ruler, that he purchased from barrel futurity trainer Kassie Mowry. “The bloodlines are amazing on this stallion. And I’m really excited to have him in Canada.”

This new direction of his horse business, will soon see ‘breeder’ added to his already unique resume. 

“I guess I’m a model, a horse broker, a barrel racer, and an influencer in the horse world, as well,” McKay summarizes with a laugh. “I’m all of the above.”

Fireside Trout

This beautiful trout recipe is so easy to cook and a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography

By Chef Mike Edgar

This Rainbow Trout dish is best enjoyed next to the fire with your favourite people and a setting sun. Fireside Trout Pouches go amazingly well with Fennel Roast Baby Potatoes and Bannock on a Stick. Make these recipes over the campfire on your next trail ride and it’s a trip no one will forget!

Trout Pouches
 
INGREDIENTS:
6 Whole, Deboned Rainbow Trout (Roughly, two pounds each)
1 Package Fresh Cherry Tomatoes
250 Grams Whole Olives
1/2 Pound Sliced Butter
4 Lemons Sliced
Fresh Basil
Fresh Parsley
Salt 
Pepper
6 Large Sheets Tinfoil
18 Slices Sliced Pancetta
2 Bulbs Fresh Fennel
2 Pounds Baby Potatoes
24 Fresh Clams
 
Pancetta Method:
In a cast iron, pan fry the pancetta until crispy. Set aside for garnish.

These roasted fennel baby potatoes are a delicious and hearty side-dish, cooked easily over a grill. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Fennel Roast Baby Potatoes Method:
Cut potatoes in half and boil in water for five minutes to soften them up. Remove from water and set aside. Slice your fennel as thin as you can and sauté over medium heat in butter or oil in a cast iron pan. When the fennel starts to caramelize, add the potatoes and another tablespoon of butter or oil, cover and continue to cook. Stir often until potatoes are nicely roasted and fennel is sweet and crunchy – approximately 20 minutes. Wrap in a tinfoil pouch and set aside to reheat.
 
Trout Method:
To begin, cut your sheets of tinfoil to make your pouches. Place lemon slices and fresh torn herbs down first. Season the trout inside and out with salt and pepper, stuff with some herbs and some lemon slices. Place two to three slices of butter over the trout. Add four tomatoes, four olives and four clams.

Fold the tinfoil around everything to make a sealed pouch. Ensure there are no leaks and is everything is sealed, (you can always wrap a second tinfoil sheet around if need be.) Place your pouches either next to the fire as close to the heat as possible, or over the fire on a grill. Depending on the heat of your fire, the trout should take no more than 20 minutes to cook. Flip the pouches every five minutes. Make sure you put your pouch of fennel potatoes on the fire as well to heat up again!
 
Open your pouches. If you feel that your fish needs more time, just wrap it back up and put back on the heat. Discard any clams that have not opened. Top your trout with chopped parsley and basil, the crispy pancetta and a drizzle of olive oil. Place your potatoes around the trout and dig in.

Bannock on a stick is a great recipe to enjoy with kids! Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Bannock on a Stick
 
INGREDIENTS:
1 Cup Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Powdered Milk
1 Tbsp. Melted Butter
 
Once you have combined all the above ingredients and created your dough, take the dough and role into a long thin shape. Start wrapping the dough around a carefully chosen stick, (an ideal stick is one that would work for cooking hot dogs or marshmallows over a fire.) As you wrap, spiral the dough down down the stick and compress and spread it, so the dough is half-an-inch thick.
 
The inside of the dough needs to cook before the outside over-cooks. Therefore, you need to find the perfect distance from the fire. The best way to do this is to find a spot where you can hold your hand over the fire for 15 to 20 seconds.
 
Once you have found the perfect cooking spot, hold the bannock in place, rotating so all sides cook evenly. This should take 10 minutes. The dough should easily come off the stick when cooked. If it sticks, the dough is not cooked.
 
Serve with warm butter and jam of your choice.

Wojabi
 
Wojabi is an American Indian Berry sauce. You can use any mix of berries you like. For this recipe, w used Saskatoon berries and blueberries.
 
2 1/2 Cups of each Berry
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Honey
 
After washing your fruit, place all ingredients into a pot and mash with a fork or potato masher. Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for an hour stirring occasionally so nothing burns. Let cool and enjoy! 

For some expert trail riding advice, check WHR’s recent article here. Photo by Monique Noble.

Mental Wellness Pt. II

This blog is a continuation from our Embracing Mental Health blog. If you’re struggling with mental health, you’re not alone. The pressures added to society due to Covid-19 are two-fold. Here, we get some meaningful advice from Psychologist Vanessa Goodchild, for navigating the world we currently live in. THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOMDepression looks different […]

[Continue reading…]

Johnny Cakes

These old fashioned pancakes are best served stacked high and with sides of Saskatoon blueberry compote or vanilla whipped cream. Sunday morning breakfast will never be the same again. By MIKE EDGAR, Photos by TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY Ingredients• 1 Cup Flour• 1 Cup Cornmeal• 2 Eggs• 2 1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder• 2 Tbsp. Sugar• 1 Tsp. Salt• 3/4 Cup Buttermilk• 1/2 Cup Water• […]

[Continue reading…]

Embracing Mental Wellness

With so much loss associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s easy to understand why a significant number of mental health issues started rearing their ugly heads in 2020. The good news is, horses are a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with it all. In this two-part blog, we get some meaningful advice from Psychologist Vanessa […]

[Continue reading…]

New Years 2021

By JENN WEBSTER, PHOTOS BY TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY What are you doing for New Year’s Eve? I can tell you – my family has been waiting for this day all year long… That’s not to say we expect 2021 to morph us immediately into an easier time, but we do have hope for the upcoming […]

[Continue reading…]

Making the Most of Everything

The following is an excerpt from my current Publisher’s Note in Western Horse Review. Considering the new restrictions / changes / happenings of the past week, I’ve needed to re-look at my own writing. My own history. I needed this reminder. Perhaps many of you will find it helpful too… Growing up as the young […]

[Continue reading…]

THE YEAR THAT WASN’T

BY JENN WEBSTER As we approach the end of 2020 and reflect back, it’s crazy to think about the events of the past year. In fact, some of the events were the strangest of the strange… Yet, what might be even odder is the notion that we began to accept them as normal, almost cliché. […]

[Continue reading…]