{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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{Recipe} Squash, Squash, Squash

Even though I am eagerly awaiting summer and consistent warmer temperatures, I still find myself obsessed with winter squash! (Okay, I’m also obsessed with sweet potato, but that’s a different blog post.) Though it is not to be mistaken with summer squash as I still haven’t developed a taste for that. Well, I’ll eat it fried. Then again, I’d probably eat anything fried!

It’s a relatively recent fascination. I had never consumed acorn squash, for instance, until last year. My CSA share, thanks to Early Morning Farms (neighbor to my place of employment), expanded my horizons and taste buds. I fell in love with a variety they grow called delicata; its a long cream colored squash with dark green lines. It is divine! Unfortunately, it is long gone from the stores, so I have been consuming butternut squash and acorn mostly in recent months to fill the delicata-void.

So how do I eat it? Occasionally I’ll make a soup with it, but largely, I just bake squash. I love the texture this way, plus it’s simple to prepare. Yes, it takes a little bit of time in the oven, but basically you just cut in half, remove seeds, brush it with something, and bake. EAT!!

Squash is sometimes referred to as a power food because of its health benefits like being a high source of potassium, antioxidants, and nutrients known as carotenoids (like beta carotene). I try to follow a whole food and high fruit/vegetable diet to help curb my chronic urticaria and improve my overall health, so this is definitely a fruit (yes, because it has seeds) that is often found on my dinner plate. Tonight I’m eating it alongside some yummy chicken!

 

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash (or butternut or delicata)

Favorite “grease”

Seasonings, to taste

 

How to bake:

Preheat oven to 375

On a cutting board with a sharp knife, carefully cut squash of choice lengthwise. Scoop out seeds (which you can later bake and eat) and membrane. Use your favorite grease…. like butter, olive oil, margarine spread, or coconut oil, ….. and brush the insides. Place the squash skin side up on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 45 -60 minutes. The skin will brown and the insides will be very soft. Afterward, season as you like. Sometimes I simply use kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, and other times I use my favorite garlic salt. It doesn’t need much.

Easy! And hardly a recipe at all.

Acorn Squash is readily available year round

Acorn Squash is readily available year round

Xander says it reminds him of a pumpkin.

Xander says it reminds him of a pumpkin.

I bake mine skin side up!

I bake mine skin side up!

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

 

 

 

 

 

I love (cheap) blueberries!

It’s THAT time of year… when berries are fresh and sold by the pound at a fraction of the cost that they normally are sold for. However, when you buy fresh berries, you must tend to them immediately either by freezing or consuming. This weekend I purchased a $4.00 2lb box of vibrant blueberries and immediately decided to try out a new recipe– Lemon Blueberry Muffins (with flax seed and summer squash puree). I plan to warm them up and serve them at breakfast tomorrow. The rest of the berries I’ve washed and put in the freezer for future Blueberry Banana Smoothies (Xander’s fav), Blueberry syrup, Blueberry yogurt pops, or Blueberry pancakes.  Freezing blueberries is simple… wash and pat dry. Then place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Place in the freezer and freeze. When frozen, take out of the freezer and place in small airtight containers or Ziploc baggies. I use glass Pyrex containers.

ready to freeze!

ready to freeze!

Here’s Nigella’s yummy recipe for Blueberry Syrup (you MUST try it!!):

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries

Directions

Put the syrup and blueberries into a pan and bring to the boil.

Let bubble for 2 to 3 minutes and allow blueberries to burst, and then pour into a jug and bring to the breakfast table with the pancakes.