Monday, May 24, 2010
Tonight was a party! I mean even more of a party than normal food fest Monday. We got down and dirty... with paint, that is. mr and I decided it was high time to tackle that play room paint job we’ve been meaning to do for... well, we’re good at procrastinating, let’s just say. We asked mom if she’d be willing to help paint, and she’s a sport, so of course said yes. Then my brother IL invited he and Lise and K over for dinner, which I said was totally cool if they stayed to help paint too! They’re troopers, and painting parties are pretty normal in my family (we’ve all had them) so they agreed. So tonight we had 8 of us eating instead of our normal 5!
Yesterday dad was pretty intent on some southern comfort food he found in the paper. Unfortunately, we don’t have a grill. Or, actually, we do now - as of Saturday and mr’s anniversary present from yours truly! - (just a little charcoal one, I thought we ought to start small since we don’t know how to grill anyway...) but it isn’t set up yet. mr has to put it together. So, no grill. And the ribs he desperately wanted were grilled, so that was a no go. He seemed to deal with that disappointment well, due to the promise of his other pick - Mountain Molasses Stack Cake. You’ll find the recipe below.
So it was up to me to put the menu together again. I decided that since dad was craving southern comforts, I’d just have to find him a rib recipe I COULD make. I looked on Epicurious and found this recipe for Sticky Spicy Ribs. It looked doable and even though grilling was recommended, it included instructions for baking and broiling instead. Well, you can’t have BBQ ribs without corn on the cob, watermelon and some potato salad, so we threw all that in there too! The corn on the cob and watermelon are pretty self explanatory and for the potato salad, I decided to try this little number I found on Recipezaar. It’s called Loaded Baked Potato Salad, but I think I’m officially changing it to Loaded Baked Potato BAKE when I make it, just because I like the repetition and it’s more accurate anyway.
So, for this gala event, I actually began the second the kids went down for a nap. I usually don’t start cooking until around 4 when K gets picked up, but having ACTUALLY READ THE DIRECTIONS AHEAD OF TIME (yes, I know, I seem to have developed a handy new habit) I knew the ribs would have to chill and marinate for a while. So I got started early.
Actually, to be honest, I felt a little like superwoman today. bug and mini both got up earlier than normal, which meant that we were all dressed, fed, buffed and shined on our way to grocery shopping by 9:30. It was a miracle. The 2’s seemed to have gotten all of their bad behavior out last Friday, which was also a miracle. I was done shopping in record time, the normal store actually had the meat I needed and no screamed, cried, threw a tantrum or their shoes - all of which were miracles. Then we came home, did a painting craft project, (which I left outside to dry under some rocks and when I went to retrieve them they had disappeared, carried away on the wind to brighten some unsuspecting neighbors backyard bush. Sad.) ran around outside, and ate lunch. All the kids took a nap, and although I wanted to as well, I instead began cooking while at the same time doing last night’s dishes and cleaning the kitchen which we had procrastinated doing... I got the kids up from nap, kept cooking while they colored and had snack, finished cleaning, unloaded the playroom of all of its toys and shelves, and set the table all in time for dinner to start a little before 6. It was amazing and - you guessed it - a miracle. I have to love those crazy, hectic, CHOAS-FILLED days because they truly make me appreciate the miraculously smoothly flowing days that happen all too infrequently! So, yes, I felt a little like superwoman today after we finally got the last coat of paint on the walls in the playroom. I think I may have inherited a few powers from my mom. Maybe. Jury’s still out.
Back to dinner. I’ve never made ribs before. You probably knew that. Do you remember the chicken breast tree from this post? It really extends to all forms of meat - chops, hamburger, steak, you name it. Well, I know now that it applies to ribs as well, except that ribs are the absolute HARDEST type of meat to prepare while suspending your disbelief. If you have made ribs, then you know exactly what I mean. These things definitely came off some animal. I tried my hardest not to think about it as I cut the package open and placed them on the aluminum-foiled baking sheet. But as I mixed up my “rub” and then proceeded to give the squishy little animal a spicy massage, it was all I could do not to sing him a little death song and let him know it would all be alright. I had to imagine that it was his dying wish to become this incredibly tasty BBQ dinner to 8 very hungry and grateful people.
And were those ribs tasty? Well, mr and dad - independently of each other because my dad had to come late and ate after we had all finished - both insisted that no one needed to go to Famous Dave’s again with these around, my sister wanted to bottle the sauce and serve it on everything from chicken to bread, Brother IL sucked the bones clean and my mom simply sat with her ribs to her mouth saying, “mmmmmmmmm.” bug even managed a few bites - which surprised me since they are pretty spicy. The rating for the ribs was a resounding 10 all around. When I put this in my cookbook, I am typing the sauce up separately as I know I will use it for chicken in the future. It really is an amazing BBQ sauce - mr was shocked to discover that it was not store bought.
The potatoes were gobbled up fast - seconds all around. Brother IL commented after tasting them that he could kiss me, so I guess that means they were good. I’m a huge fan of potatoes in all forms, so this dish was a hit with me! I give it a 10, but I think others were still hung up on the ribs... I did add garlic salt and onion salt to the "dressing" mixture before adding it to the potatoes. If I were to make this again I would use mayo instead of miracle whip, because, quite frankly, I think miracle whip is ucky. I tried it in the recipe because I like to make recipes pretty close to exact the first time around before making major changes and I thought maybe the miracle whip would be ok mixed in with stuff. And it was. But it would be even better with mayo. If you are a supporter of miracle whip, ew - gross. I mean, you can keep it in.
As for the corn, well, it was corn. It’s a little early in the season for fresh corn, but it was pretty good anyway. I know you all know this already, but heck, I didn’t learn it until last year, so I’m putting it in here anyway and maybe it’ll help someone out - you can just microwave corn instead of putting it in the oven or grilling it, right? Yep. Shuck the corn up (shuck? huck? pluck? whatever the right word is...) wash it down, wrap it in wax paper and twist the ends, stick it in the microwave for 15 minutes and it’s done to perfection! The secret, so I learned, is this. You need to soak it for just a little while prior to wrapping it in the wax paper, then when you wrap it, you don’t dry it off but try to leave it as wet as you can so that it doesn’t burn but rather steams in its own little twisted cocoon. Rub it down with butter, sprinkle it with salt and it’s a midwesterners dream!
Now, I know this will come as a shock to you. Be prepared for the most surprising revelation EVER - well, since you started reading this blog, anyway. I liked the dinner more than the dessert. First time EVER. The dessert was good, don’t get me wrong. It was kind of like a strong spice cake. It just wasn’t my favorite. Probably because it wasn’t oozing chocolatey goodness all over. I’ve never actually been in the presence of molasses before, and when I uncapped the jar I thought I just may toss my cookies - that stuff smells BAD. But I persevered, for my dad’s sake. The cake tasted much better than the molasses smelled, so that’s a plus. It’s unfortunate that it looked so ridiculous - apparently I can’t stack things straight to save my life. I really hope that when I ask my kids what they want for a birthday cake they reply, “a flat, uncomplicated, single-layer un-elaborate, simply frosted baked good” and not “Ironman battling Darth Vadar on the Starship Enterprise with Spock in the background standing on a pirate ship with Elmo and Dora.” Because I really don’t think I could do that. Anyway, my mom, dad and Lise liked the cake - I’d say probably 7 or 8 stars. mr and Brother IL were unable to comment due to a death by rib comatose state. I give it maybe 4 stars, because I’m partial to chocolate and the darn thing almost made me urp. bug hated it. Took a bite and ran, no kidding. That’s also a first.
(courtesy of our local newspaper, the Northwestern)
And then we turned this
with more to come!