Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Memories linger from my 4th of July holiday in Michigan and interfere with my “back to work” reality. Lazy days at our lake house are now replaced with the daily grind that is NYC. Happily over the long weekend I was able to cook casual meals for us to enjoy al fresco.

We all had a hankering for ribs, so I reached for my iPhone to reference some recipes on BigOven – my latest app obsession. List in hand we headed to a supermarket. I loaded up on all the necessary spices and ingredients to satisfy our current craving.

Back at the homestead, I mixed together a dry rub of smoked paprika, garlic, chili and onion powder, cayenne and white pepper, salt, and sugar. I generously applied the dry rub to the meaty ribs and let them relax in the refrigerator for two hours.

After kicking back on the pontoon boat for a leisure putt-putt around the lake I returned to preheat the oven to 300 degrees and to start making the saucy glaze. Equal parts of cider vinegar, brown sugar and Dijon mustard are slowly heated in a saucepan and reduced to a thick syrupy sauce. Taste testing along the way, I added more brown sugar to balance the acidity of the vinegar.

With two racks of ribs in the oven I basted them every half hour for the next three hours. The house was filled with the scent of aromatic spices and the zing of cider vinegar.

To keep my stomach distracted and my head occupied I focused on building the evening’s bonfire. S’mores are traditionally on the dessert menu and there’s really nothing like a fire-toasted marshmallow, melted chocolate and graham cracker treat.

Every visit to the oven door was in anticipation of dinner. Fresh corn on the cob was prepped for the grill with silks and husk removed. Each cob was nestled in a foil blanket with pats of butter, salt and cracked black pepper. With the grill heating up I removed the ribs from the oven and placed them on the grill with ears of corn outlining the two beautiful racks. Basting once more helped the ribs attain a crispy caramelization and I rushed them to a serving platter. The ears of corn were sweet, buttery and the kernels were slightly charred and meltingly tender.

And the ribs,… meaty, succulent, sweet, spicy, smoky, and fall off the bone perfect accompanied by sticky fingers and smiles. Memories like this will just have to sustain us until we return.

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