Resident spices up Oak Creek market

Rachel Green takes her Smokin' BBQ sauce on the road

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Rachel Green was visiting her mother more than a decade ago in San Antonio, Texas, and the pair stopped in a restaurant for a barbecued beef sandwich.

When Green got her plate, she took a bite and grimaced.

"The meat was wonderful, but the sauce was terrible," she said. "I couldn't believe someone would ruin good meat like that."

So she pushed the sandwich to the side and made a resolution.

"I said I could do better," she said.

Now, she's making bottles and bottles of "Rachel's Smokin' BBQ sauce," which she sells at shows such as Steamboat Springs' Art in the Park. She recently started bringing the sauce to Oak Creek's new Farmer's Market.

When people look at the glass jars and can see the chunks of pepper, garlic, onion and habañero peppers, they can't help but sigh with anticipation, Green said.

The sale of one jar almost always results in the sale of at least a case, Green said. And the people who buy the sauce use it in a variety of dishes -- from meat, sloppy joes and spaghetti to vegetables and tofu.

"I had one lady call me and say I saved her tofu diet," Green said. "She put it on all her meals and ate the tofu and lost the weight."

Another woman wrote a letter saying, "Please send sauce. Husband going through withdrawal. Send quick."

Oak Creek's first Farmer's Market on July 26 was a success for Green and for the half-dozen or so other vendors, said David Epstein, an Oak Creek resident who got the market going and owns the land that the market uses.

Green is set up on a corner at the south end to be the "anchor" for the market, Epstein said. She must have done a good job at attracting people: all of the vendors, who sold products such as Western memorabilia, silver jewelry, garden art, homemade bread, dried fruit and nuts, and fresh fruit and vegetables, sold out.

"We really feel that we'll be filling a niche for South Routt and offering tourists a chance to stop in a unique historic mining town like Oak Creek," Epstein said. "And this gives (residents) the opportunity to shop in Oak Creek and not have to drive all the way back to Steamboat."

For Green, the market offers a chance to bring a taste of something special to her to a lot of people.

"Barbecue sauce just warms your soul," Green said. "It just, oh, it just brings back your memories of watermelon and barbecue and fried chicken."

At her corner stand, she'll be selling bottles of different sauces -- chipotle and habañero barbecue sauce, that also come in raspberry, apricot and pineapple flavors, and a cocktail sauce that's so spicy there's "no room for the shrimp to get lonely." She also sells barbecue sandwiches, such as brisket, pulled-pork and sausage.

Green makes all of her sauces in the kitchen at Dos Amigos restaurant in Steamboat Springs, where she has worked for about 14 years.

With all of her cooking, Green said she aims for the type of flavors and dishes one would expect from a good down-home meal.

"It's just mother in the kitchen hustling and cooking good things all day long, and you're smelling it," Green said. "And you're just happy to be home and happy to enjoy your meal."

Growing up in southern Texas with a self-ordained preacher for a father and a "down-home country cook" for a mother, Green's childhood memories are steeped in the smells and tastes of good food, and mixed in with promises of God. Like her three siblings, she is named after a Biblical character.

Cooking is something she loves and cannot escape, no matter where she is.

"If I go to a wedding or anything, I'd rather be cooking or busy than sitting there, going through the wine," she said. "It's what I enjoy."

For Green, part of her reason for being here was to meet and marry her husband -- Terry Green -- of 31 years.

The pair met in Steamboat when she was 16 and he was 20. She was a tanned beach bum from Texas, who loved the water and sun. He was a cowboy, who spent his days haying and working.

The first time they saw each other, "we weren't impressed with each other at all," Green said.

But that all changed at a dance Green attended with her friend. She bought $18 cowboy boots at F.M. Light & Sons, a tuck-in shirt and a pair of slim brown Wranglers. When the two met again, that was it.

"He looked at me, and I looked at him and we met head-on," she said.

They married a year later, and Green swears part of her husband's decision to marry her was that she was a good cook. The first dish she made for him was enchiladas.

And, perhaps he was attracted by her fiery spirit: Green said the name of her sauce -- Rachel's Smokin' BBQ sauce -- is almost a family name.

"I'm just smokin'," she said to describe why she named her sauce what she did. "I tried to get a smokin' license plate, but a fireman had it in Denver and he won't let go of it."

To order barbecue sauce, call Rachel Green at 879-6357.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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