Today began as usual. Opening the blinds to let in the day, I pushed the “on” button on the coffee maker and released Mouse the cat to terrorize the neighbors. After a few sips of coffee, I remembered I needed to thaw some puff pastry. Opening the freezer door I was greeted with an unexpected early morning surprise compliments of my other half. Nooooo, it was not a delicate frozen orchid with a note of undying love pinned to it perched on top of the ice-cube bin, nor was it a pair of airline tickets to somewhere terribly exotic. It was, however, the mess incurred when an individual puts an unopened soda can in the freezer to chill and forgets they did so. Ach. It looked like a Slurpee machine on steroids. Clumps of mushy brown crystals were adhered to everything.
I peeked through the crack in the bedroom door to find my hero still sawing that cord of dry oak he’d been working on when I got up. Looking too peaceful to disturb, I resisted the urge to throw a pillow in his direction. Fortunately, my mother raised me to comport myself with a certain amount of decorum, so instead I sighed, grabbed a bowl, threw in a sponge and some soap and water, and got to work cleaning up the mess. Afterwards, I was astonished one small can of soda could wreak so much havoc.
Being somewhat uncoordinated myself, as witnessed by my writings here, I could not summon up anything more than a slight prickly irritation as I’ve done so much more devastation over the years than the average chick. An equal opportunity disaster, I have not always limited my faux pas to the comfort of my own home. Often I have taken my one woman show on the road.
To cite some examples, there was the time my girlfriend and I went to pick up fast food for a crowd of people attending her pool party. Filling the extensive list provided us, including two huge to-go containers piled high with salad and all the fixings slathered with ranch dressing, we loaded the bags in the back seat. Seatbelts secured, music on, we backed out of our parking space. Young, single, and somewhat full of ourselves so it appeared, we noticed two nice looking young men standing by their car waving at us. Smiling like two Cheshire cats we waved back and giggled with the power of feminine wiles. At this point they began to gesture and point towards the sky, which we construed as another testament to the irresistable potency of our desirability. Merging onto the main highway it wasn’t long before honking began behind us. “Good God, we should bottle our essence.” Looking in the rear view mirror, I noticed the car behind us had their window wipers on high in the middle of August. Odd. Frantically, the occupants were trying to rid their window of the huge smears of cherry tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and bacon bits topped with a generous helping of ranch dressing. Whoops. Once again the man was gesturing at us, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a tribute to our beauty.
Another time friends had invited my first husband and I over for dinner. Our hostess hailed from a large Italian family. All the women in the group were known as fabulous cooks and she was no exception. Delicious aromas wafted over us as we walked through the door. Joining her in the kitchen, I could see she had her hands full. Not being one to sit when someone else is pulling a plow, I asked if I could help. As I said Mother brought me up right. Spaghetti sauce with the most delicious aroma was bubbling and squeaking in a large stock pot on a front burner of the stove. In response to my offer, I was handed an enormous salt shaker. Apparently their family didn’t suffer with heart issues, or simply ignored them. Salt flask in hand I was tasked with the simple job of sampling the sauce and adding salt if necessary. Really, this was not rocket science. Tasting the rich sauce, it did indeed seem a bit light on salt so with one flick of the wrist I waved the salt over the top. The lid not secured properly popped and plopped into the sauce along with the sizable amount of salt remaining in the shaker. Umm. Horrified, the hostess tried to spoon off the huge mound but in the end too much was absorbed so we had to toss the entire pot and go with store-bought bottles she had in the cupboard. Apparently, for an Italian this is tantamount to abducting one of their children. Good natured about it, I did notice she downed a bottle of pinot grigio without a glass and was quick on the trigger to decline my offer of any help whatsoever at her next dinner party.
Another time my other half and I were invited to a prime rib affair at a family members home. I was to bring the horseradish sauce and enough au jus for the substantial crowd expected to be attending. Thinking that the smaller of my crockpots would be the ideal vehicle for transporting such an amount, I made enough gravy to fill it 3/4 of the way and placed it in the back of our SUV. Not worrying about it tipping because it was heavy, I didn’t take into account we were to be traveling down very windy roads to get to our destination. On our arrival there was about a cup and a half of gravy in the crockpot with the remainder totally saturating the relatively new carpet in the back of our car. Even after a thorough cleaning it took months for the “pot roast” smell to dissipate from the car. Actually it wasn’t totally unpleasant, though every time I got behind the wheel I found myself immediately hungry.
So, I guess I don’t have much room for finger-pointing here, but instead will direct you to these ribs which were out of this world. We ate one rack ourselves. Hope your had a good Fourth.
Succulent Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs
2 racks of baby back ribs
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda)
1/4 cup salt
1/8 cup dark brown sugar, dried
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil. Spread brown sugar on top and leave for several hours to dry. Mash any large clumps.
Mix all dry ingredients together including dried brown sugar.
Wash racks of ribs and pat dry. Spread dry rub all over both sides of ribs and wrap with tin foil sprayed with cooking spray. Place in refrigerator for 24 hrs.
Cover large cookie sheet with tin foil. Remove racks of ribs from refrigerator 1 hr. prior to placing in oven.
Preheat oven to 315 degrees. Place ribs on covered cookie sheet still wrapped in foil and cook for 3 hrs.
Remove from oven and slather on both sides generously with barbecue sauce. Turn heat up to 350 degrees. Re-cover and place in oven for 40 mins. (This step can be done on the barbecue if you prefer.)
Serve with extra sauce.
Spicy Barbecue Sauce
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 14 1/2 oz. can tomatoes with jalapenos (pureed)
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
Sauce onion and garlic in oil until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant.
Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins., stirring often. Allow to cool and refrigerate until ready to use.