{Recipe} Perfect Baby Back Ribs- an art or a science?

There’s nothing worse than a chewy, tough rib! I have had my share of terrible ribs, at home and at restaurants. BUT, when I finally get a finger-licking, out-of-this-world rib, I instantly forget all those bad experience and only hear angels singing from above. It’s a crap-shoot when it comes to ribs. I made it my personal mission to perfect The Rib.

Ribs are prepared in a variety of ways…. smoked or grilled or baked or boiled, dry rub or wet rub, sweet or spicy.  It makes me wonder… is it an art or a science? Should I go with pork or beef? What destroys a rib? I’ve been playing around with ribs for years, and I’ve definitely had some hits and misses. I fondly remember when Nick and his roomie Terry first cooked for me a delectable batch of finger-licking ribs. They had an amazing amount of flavor that was intensified due to slow cooking on a charcoal grill. Apparently, Nick doesn’t remember this 16 years later, but I do. Maybe Terry remembers, too? Those ribs have never been recreated, but I still smile when I think about those good ol’ college cooking days.

After a a few dozen practice rounds, I think I have finally perfected my favorite way to prepare ribs. I only use baby back ribs, as I find that St. Louis style ribs are too meaty and chewy for my taste. Nothing wrong with them- hey, I use to live in St. Louis! I just haven’t found a good way to make them tender or enjoyable at home. I just have better results with baby back. I also allow for some resting time during the process… it’s part of the “art.”

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{Trip Report} LAVA LAVA LAVA

NOTE: This trip report details the Big Island portion of our 2 week Hawaiian adventure. To read about Maui, click HERE.

Day Eight:  Even though we had to say goodbye to Maui, a new adventure awaited us on the Big Island. We flew via Hawaiian Airlines (booked for $100 per person via Orbitz.com), and we found the quick flight pleasant and refreshing (mist shoots out from overhead- a welcome after sitting in the hot airport). The plane flew over Maui, so I ‘sorta’ got to see the road to Hana. The staggering terrain looked lush, unpopulated, and very, very green. I determined in that moment to come back and see more of that beautiful island.

We soon lost sight of Maui, flying over the azure waters before making our descent to Kona. The ride was so brief; maybe 20 minutes total flight time- barely enough time for the attendants to pass out juice cups.

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Outdoor baggage claim

We landed on time and pulled right up to the outdoor airport. Literally! We hopped off the plane, walked through a flimsy fence to a covered waiting area. The airport was basically a cluster of pavilions! Xander kept saying “This isn’t an airport.” Our suitcases arrived promptly, and we picked up our Malibu rental from National soon thereafter. The agency had many more fees than Hotwire estimated- $75 more! I wasn’t happy about that.

My first reaction when I saw the Big Island from above was to say “wow!” Its has a unique, unusual, surreal landscape. Rugged black lava rock is everywhere. There’s so much of it that it’s shocking,  and … well, pretty cool.

I spy lava!

I spy lava… AND a peace sign.

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{Trip Report} Montreal is not Paris

Scenario: It seems sacrilegious to post this report since I haven’t yet publicly documented the Big Island or Sanibel, but I was strongly motivated for some odd reason to write about this most recent adventure. Montreal has been in our sights since we lived in New Hampshire. I had always heard it was a city reminiscent of Paris, so it intrigued me. Last year, I decided we HAD to check it out. Ultimately, Christmas break seemed the most logical considering our remaining vacation time. In the end, we booked a two night stay.

Friday– We loaded the car and set out from NY for Montreal by 9 a.m. With no winter weather to delay us, the four hour drive was quite smooth. Nick wasn’t feeling 100% (too much Christmas egg nog), so I drove the entire way. The wait at the border was less than 10 minutes, and we had a pleasant agent interview us. The 1000 Islands looked quite pretty as we crossed the handful of tall bridges from the USA to Ontario. It is on my list of places to check out one summer. The Canadian portion of the drive was simple thanks to my GPS which still worked in airplane mode since I had downloaded the map prior to crossing the border.
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As we approached the city, the traffic picked up and Nick kept remarking, “It looks like WWIII.” I agree, there were industrial areas, graffiti, trash, and an abundance of train tracks. The gray day did not improve the scenery. We did experience a couple hiccups though once we got to Montreal. I had selected 3 restaurants to try, but once we got to Montreal, they were all closed!
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Closed 😦

What a disappointment! In fact, everything seemed to be closed due to the holiday season. We were starved by this point since it was nearly 2pm so we had to settle on a less than desirable place. As expected, the food was subpar and I left most of my poutine untouched. Once we had some sustenance (Nick ate everything on his plate) we were in better spirits to explore this new city.

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{Trip Report} Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Our epic 15 day journey to the alluring, rainbow-infused state of Hawaii is something we shall not forget. It was magical and filled with adventure. It’s a place where “trouble melts like lemon drops.” Here is my brief (?) trip report from our August, 2014 vacation to Maui and the Big Island. IMG_8707x

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Garden Dreaming…

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The backyard is still covered in a glassy layer of snow, but the crocuses and tulips have started to pop out from the cold earth. Winter still has a firm grip on upstate New York despite the fact that the first official day of spring has come and gone. I’m hoping winter releases us soon, because I am ready for warmth and color. More specifically, I’m ready to plant my new veggie garden.  Once the snow has melted, I will tend to the dirt and prepare it for planting. Depending on the weather, I will be able to direct sow some things in April. Hopefully.

Last year, my garden consisted of jalapenos, green and red bell peppers, carrots, peas, cauliflower and a variety of herbs. This year I plan to utilize my second garden more and move my sunflowers to the front yard. Between these items, my CSA farm share, and pickings from the fruit farm next door, I will have PLENTY fresh fruits and vegetables. Many of which will be organic.

C’mon spring!!!

Garden 1:

Green beans (1st time!)

Jalapenos

Bell Peppers

Carrots

Garden 2:

Blueberries

Basil

Thai Basil

Thyme

Parlsey

Chives (1st time!)

And something else? Maybe zucchini?

To Be Built Tomato Area:

Grape

Beefsteak or Roma