Barbecue (And a Sauce Recipe)

BBQ RibsMy sister-in-law, Tough Yankee Broad, spent the last week visiting a girlfriend and her husband who have moved to Missouri.  They took her out to eat several times, mostly to eat barbecue (the husband is big on barbecue apparently).  Our conversation (via Yahoo IM) went like something this:

TYB:  They sure are big on BBQ out there, and so is M – personally I don’t care if I see anymore BBQ sauce till Labor Day – and that might just be too soon.

Me:  ROFLMAO – I miss barbecue!

TYB:  For me, a little BBQ sauce goes a long way and the places we went to seemed determined that the chicken had to drown in the stuff before it was cooked and then eaten!  It was like it had simmered in in a gallon of sauce.

At that point I went, well, ballistic.  If you think I’m picky about chili, you haven’t seen anything until I go off on a tangent about barbecue.  I once wrote an email to a restaurant that claimed to have “authentic Texas barbecue” (because, excuse me, it wasn’t) that was apparently so scathing they took the claim off of their menu.

Just to be perfectly clear, barbecue is not a sauce; it’s a method of cooking. The sauce is almost incidental.  To whit, the definition of barbecue that is accepted by most authorities is “meat or other foods, cooked in close proximity to a fire of coals or wood, usually with a sauce applied.”   Note that it does not say “always” (to say nothing of “drowned in sauce”); in fact, I’ve had some damn fine barbecue meat only dressed with a dry rub or even just plain, with a little sauce served on the side if you want it.  Even then, the sauce is usually not applied until the last 15 minutes or so of cooking – any good barbecue sauce is going to contain sugar (but not too much) and/or tomatoes.  The sugar will burn and tomato can become bitter with long cooking.

Barbecue purist say you can’t call it barbecue unless it’s slow-cooked in a pit all day, but most of us are not quite that stringent (who wants to have to dig a pit in their back yard?) – a barbecue grill is certainly sufficient.  Having said that, if you have a gas grill you’re stretching it – real barbecue should be cooked over a wood embers or charcoal.

As I mentioned earlier, unless you’re a Kansas City Barbecue fan (and I won’t hold it against you if you are…you poor thing), barbecue sauce isn’t supposed to be real sweet.  It should have a good tang to it, and if you’re a hot head it’s perfectly okay for it to have a some kick.  If you’re going for a bottled sauce, the original Sweet Baby Ray barbecue sauce is pretty good, although a tad on the sweet side (they also make some damn fine marinades/mopping sauces that the barbecue  sauce compliments wonderfully), but if you want to make your own, this one is pretty damn good.  It lends itself well to modification, too, and makes a ton.  The original recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon dried mint, but I tend to object to mint in barbecue sauce.  But give it a whirl, if you want.

Barbecue Sauce

3 cups chopped onion

1/4 cup honey

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup chopped, fresh parsley

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

2 cups ketchup

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste

Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Cover and cook, at lowest simmer, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Slow cooking is the secret of this sauce. If your sauce should become too thick, thin it with a little white wine.

Scent of a Woman

PerfumeDear Personages of the Female Persuasion Who Share the Public Restroom on My Floor:

While I am thrilled that you are thrilled with what is undoubtedly very expensive perfume, it really is unnecessary for you to bathe in it each and every time you go to the john.

Really.

Trust me on this.

I’m sure it’s very lovely scent, but I can’t really be certain because the stench of it practically knocks me unconscious every time I enter the damn bathroom.  It’s hard to appreciate the smell of something that is physically assaulting you – and winning.  It is, in fact, so bad that I’ve been seriously contemplating the mechanics required for the use of a urinal without a penis.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make an appointment with an ear, nose and throat specialist, to see if my olfactory sense will ever operate normally again.  In the meantime, I’m sure I’m not the only person in a five-mile radius the building who would appreciate it if you would be so kind as to throw the Chanel No. 5 knockoff out the window practice a little moderation.

Thanks ever so much,

The Only Woman in That Weird Office With All the Star Trek Signs and Computer Geeks

Groundhog Day

GroundhogYes, here it is, practically 2 p.m. and it just dawned on me that it’s Groundhog Day.

The little bastard is out there just staring at his shadow…you know he is.

When I pointed this out to a coworker, he said, “Oh, I think we’d be in for 6 more weeks of winter no matter what.”

Oh yeah?  Well, you’d think between the freakin’ rodent and global warming, I could get some satisfaction, somewhere.  But, nooooooooo – I get to spend at least the next six weeks freezing my tookus off, while my sinuses slowly dry up and my skin gradually flakes off.  By the time spring finally does get here, I’ll look like a biology text plate – all muscles and organs, no skin.

With bad sinuses.

*grumble, grumle*Damn groundhog*grumble, grumble*

Lal-Appaloosa

AppaloosaDear Ed Harris:

We purchased and watched Appaloosa, the movie you co-wrote, directed and starred in, on DVD Friday night.

I would like my $12.99 and 2 hours back, please.

It had, well, YOU in it.  Viggo Mortensen.  Jeremy Irons.  Lance Henriksen.  It was based on a novel by Robert B. Parker.  It had the potential to be absolutely drool-worthy on so many levels I can’t even begin to go into them.  What is was, though, was a 2-dimensional piece of doo-doo that has been done before – and done to death, I might add – with Rene Zellweger as a Wild West nymphomaniac in school-marm’s clothing thrown in for…what?  Shits and giggles?

Do me a favor and go back to making movies like, I dunno, The Abyss?  At least it was mildly entertaining to watch Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio chew up the scenery and Michael Biehn go whacko…for nearly four hours (bless James Cameron’s self-indulgent little pea-pickin’ heart).

At any rate, Ed – hon, sweetie.  Please understand that I am quite sincere in my request that you never, ever, EVER make one of the Spenser novels into a movie.  ‘K?  Thanks.

Love,

Jan

I Never Signed Up For This

OrchidsDear Ovaries,

We need to talk.  Seriously.

We’ve been on a first name basis for what – 46 years?  Okay, I guess you can effectively argue that I was completely unaware of your existence for the first ten years of my life, at which point you went into overdrive:  I was not only the first girl in my class to start her period, but the first to need a bra.  And when I say I needed to wear one, I needed to wear one – do you think we could have stopped at a reasonable cup size?  Like maybe a D?

I must confess you performed flawlessly once we got past the teenage years and the accompaning screaming meemies; I’m assuming the years between 12 and 17 were sort of like having your learners permit, or perhaps on-the-job training.  At any rate, I can only tell you how grateful I am for your faultless functioning once you got into the groove, for I could set my calendar by you.  In fact, you’ve worked a little too well – and I’ve got the children to prove it.

My three little indiscretions aside, I didn’t think much about you for the better part of 40 years.  Other than that little week-long inconvenience you sent my way every 28 days, I had no complaints – no surprises, no PMS even.  All was well in my little womanly world.

Until.

Until about 2 years ago, when things started to gradually – nay, insidiously – get out of whack.  For some reason, that week-long little inconvenience was no longer guaranteed to be a week long – it could last anywhere from 2 to 14 days.  Not only that, I could no longer set my calendar by you, for the 28-day schedule seemed to go right out the window.  We’re all over the place now – what’s with that?  Shouldn’t I have least gotten a memo or something?  It didn’t have to be much, just a line or two stating, “We’re sorry, but your regularly scheduled menses will no longer be regular.  Be prepared to be driven crazy for the next ten years.”

Nor is that my only beef with you, Ovaries.  I mean, I’ve been fairly even tempered most of my life.  Well, I can lose it, but it takes a great deal to make me lose it.  Or it used to.  Is it really necessary to make me froth at the mouth and want to burn a person’s eyes out with a red-hot poker just for asking me, “What’s for dinner?”  Is a little sanity too much to ask?

And then there’s the whole hot flash thing.  You know, I don’t really mind suddenly being hit with the feeling I’m standing in front of an open iron-smelting forge periodically – really, I don’t – but do you think you could at least send one my way when it would actually do some good?  Like NOW, maybe, while it’s -10 F outside and I’m sitting here in a sheepskin-lined coat inside my very own house?  Hmmm?

Anyhoo, I just thought I ought to bring these things to your attention.  I’d appreciate it if you’d hop right on this and get your shit together – we’ve been together way too long for you to lie down on the job like this.  Now, if you don’t mind, I need to go have a discussion with the Sun about this Seasonal Affective Disorder thing.

Sincerely,

Jan