Monday, October 1, 2007

What's on the Menu?

Well, I've written about the "empty nest" now that the kids are both in college. The next question is, how are we maintaining?

Due to the high costs of tuition that Sandra and I are paying for the kids, we don't go out as much as we used to. We still go out, though, but we are starting to get pretty particular about our dinner destinations.

We've just moved into Octbober... that wonderful month that radio stations like to call "Rocktober" and which the Red Sox has decided to turn into "Soxtober." The weather is still pretty nice—forecast for the mid to upper 70's all week—so we can still use the grill.

Last night, for instance, we smoked some BBQ baby back ribs. I think I have the whole "smoked ribs" thing down nicely:

  • Season the ribs on both sides with dry BBQ seasoning (Harmony purchased me a large bottle of Gates BBQ seasoning when she went to Kansas City, MO. for her SkillsUSA national competition)
  • Make sure the coals in the smoker all completely ready at a nice grey ash
  • Add wood chips (I used mesquite; I think I prefer hickory chips better, though)
  • Ensure the drip pan has enough water (add some BBQ seasoning and/or beer to the water for additional flavor!)
  • Place the ribs over the drip pan
  • Tighten the lid so the whole thing smokes

I opened the smoker after a couple of hours to let the coals get a second chance to reheat... with the smoker closed, the coals don't seem to burn as hot. Once the wood chips start to smoke again, replace the lid to continue cooking for a total of about four hours.

While the ribs were smoking, I peeled the leaves (but didn't remove them—important!) from a couple of ears of corn to remove the corn silk. After the silk was removed, I replaced the leaves back to cover the kernels and then placed the de-silked corn into a large bucket of water to hydrate.

After smoking, I put the ribs on the gas grill for a few minutes to ensure that they were cooked through (it's pork, after all!). I also put the soaked ears of corn onto the grill. Meanwhile, Sandra added some skillet potatoes and green beans almondine and cut up some Italian bread to top it all off. Once we were done with the meal, I removed the still-cooking ears of corn from the grill. (I like corn on the cob grilled this way; I even had some yesterday, despite the fact that the kernels are absolute murder on my admittedly-crooked teeth!).

The meal was nice, and we ate it outside accompanied by a couple of citronella candles to keep the few bugs away.


Earlier this summer, I discovered a "food-service size" bottle of Honey Teriyaki marinade by K. C. Masterpiece, and purchased it. It turns out to be one of the most versatile grill accessories that I used all summer! We used it for pork chops, steak tips, boneless chicken breasts, and London broil, and we've been quite fond of that taste. The secret to making things come out well seems to be to treat it as a grill sauce rather than a marinade: cook the meat until it's mostly done, and then brush the Teriyaki sauce on about 4-5 minutes before removing from the grill. That way, the sauce doesn't caramelize or burn, but simply enhances the taste of the grilled food. A sprinkle of thinly sliced green onions and a few cilantro leaves completes the presentation. Serve with rice and a salad. Delicious!

While we still have nice weather, we will continue to use the grill, and we'll continue using the Honey Teriyaki!

That's it for this installment... Bon Appetit!

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