What do you do the day after????

     I’m not going to deny that I’m a foodie. I use any and all reasons to celebrate. A great meal is a terrific reward for a job well done, a goal met, a Tuesday night……So if you climb a mountain Saturday, what do you do Sunday? Make ribs, of course. And with the Fourth of July coming up, I thought I’d share a little of my BBQ prowess – straight from the south.

     BBQ is an art. You can’t rush art. The mistakes most people make are cooking at too high a temperature, for too short a time, with the sauce on. For an average sized rack of St. Louis style ribs, I was suggest at least 5, if not 6 hours at 200 degrees, with an additional 20-30 minutes at 450 degrees after adding the sauce at the end. It may seem excessive, but there’s no substitute for meat that falls off the bone. It’s the way BBQ is supposed to be.

     Sauce can be tricky – if it’s cooked too long, the taste loses the integrity of its flavor. That’s why you coat he ribs with a dry rub before you set them to cook for hours. I always use a brown sugar base with some cinnamon, paprika, and dry mustard powder. I don’t measure, I judge by taste. You want to make more than you think you’ll need – the meat will actually absorb a bit, so I rub it in, let it sit, rub some more, and so on until the rub stops getting damp. Then I flip and do the other side.

     You cook the ribs bone side up, so the juice drips down on the meat. And a tight seal, either with tinfoil or a lid is very important (otherwise, you’ll ruin your pan and the ribs won’t be as good). Disposable tinfoil pans work, but you should have the ribs on a roasting rack, and make sure to get a tight seal with a tinfoil cover.

     After 5-6 hours at 200, take the ribs out, turn the oven up to 450, and uncover. Tip the ribs so any excess juice runs off, coat the bone side with sauce, flip over, then coat the meat side generously with sauce. Cook another 20-30 minutes, uncovered at 450, or pop on the grill.

     As for sauce, any bottle of the cheap stuff will do after a little doctoring. I chop one sweet Vidalia onion, saute in a bit of olive oil until translucent, then I add brown sugar and stir. After a minute I add apple cider vinegar and some Jack Daniels. I let this boil down for 10-15 minutes, stirring every minute or two, until it thickens into a nice syrup consistency. Then I add the bottle of BBQ sauce and mix well. Again, I don’t measure. Start with a little, add more as you feel necessary. Make it your own, to your own taste.

     This sauce is a little sweet, but tends to please all. If you want to make a spicier sauce, say for dipping, simply add some cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, crushed red pepper, chili powder – even finely chopped jalapeno peppers.

     So here it is – my day after mountain climbing rib recipe. If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it went. Or if you have any suggestions of your own, feel free to share.

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Greetings from the Top

029     Well……I conquered Mount Monadnock. They estimate that it takes about 4 hours to climb round trip. We did it in less, including a small picnic snack at the top and taking a longer route down, so I feel a bit like a rock star. Except that I had to stop every 10-20 minutes on the way up to catch my breath. A minor detail, right? We took the ‘White Dot’ trail up, which is the most direct route, then the ‘Red Spot’ trail down, which takes you hiking across the top of the mountain and down a different side, where you eventually take a trail leading back over to the White Dot. There are some amazing views, and the scenery is gorgeous.

Next on the list is Mount Greylock, which is the highest peak in Massachusetts at just under 3,500 feet. And the new goal for the end of the summer is Mount Washington in New Hampshire, which is almost 6,300 feet.

The best part about climbing a mountain is the celebratory feasting for the rest of the weekend. Or maybe that’s just my opinion? The worst part is the guilt I feel when I come home to my dogs after leaving them alone all day. Not that the spoiled pups don’t get reparation in every form possible. Lately, they’ve been pre-occupied with the sudden surge in the rabbit population around the house. They’re quite certain that it’s their duty to try and narrow the numbers. Having had pet rabbits for a while as a child, I know that their teeth, and surprisingly their claws, make them much more formidable foes than their cuddly appearance would lead one to believe.

Two different dogs means two different hunting tactics, of course. My Jack Russell, Tempest, is a silent assassin, who will stalk and ultimately pounce on her prey (even when it’s my other dog) without making a sound. Sullivan, however, is a Schnauzer mix with a war cry that could rival that of any warrior princess. His high pitched shrieking let’s every creature within hearing distance know that he’s either A) seen another creature that moves or B) is being tortured and abused in the worst possible way. Both are rescues, and have their quirks, but are wonderful little pups that I’m happy to spoil rotten.

So, weather permitting, I will makes the pups ever so comfortable on the couch, with their pillows and blankets, surrounded by their toys, while I go climb Mount Greylock this weekend. After another long week at work, where the minutes seem like hours and the hours seem like days, I’m really looking forward to it.

View from the top.

You’ve got to take a step to climb a mountain….

013     It’s Wednesday night, which means the much awaited weekend is finally approaching. I’m supposed to climb Mount Monadnock this weekend, but my pride is still recovering from Mount Wachusett last weekend. Mount Wachusett is great for beginners; it only takes about 45 minutes to get to the top. Too bad I had to take a break halfway up, huffing and puffing like an asthmatic geriatric. I comforted myself with the idea that someone who spent the first 30+ years of their life living at sea level probably has trouble adjusting to variations in altitude. The cold hard truth is that I’m out of shape. I sit behind a desk 5 days a week, and when I come home, I spend my time cooking a fancy dinner and eating it instead of exercising. Cardio has never been something I enjoy.

However, I made both the climb and the descent without injury, a major victory for someone like myself who has a knack for mishaps. By the end of the summer (or is it before the next snow up here in New England?), I will conquer one of the 4,000+ foot peaks found among the White Mountains in New Hampshire. So, I vow to do my best to rally and make my way up Monadnock this weekend, one step at a time.