Saturday, August 19, 2017

Summer Cooking

     I love summer cooking - lots of fresh vegetables and fruits and meats cooked on a grill. I especially like summer cooking when someone else does it! I really love to cook, but while I'm recovering from surgery, others are cooking for me and it's such a treat!

Here's a yummy meal - hamburger patty with caramelized onions, oven-baked tater tots, pickles, sliced fresh tomatoes, and corn on the cob. Is there anything better than corn on the cob? This was a bi-color variety which was extra sweet. It didn't need butter or salt - just ate it as it was.

    Here's another summer favorite: Barbecued pork baby back ribs, steamed broccoli, and that fabulous bi-colored corn on the cob again. I have an easy and never-fail recipe (well, it's never failed for me!) for barbecues ribs.

     Remove (or have your butcher remove) the silvery membrane from the bone side of a rack of nice meaty pork baby back ribs. Rinse the ribs in cool water and pat dry. Place ribs on aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Brush all sides with olive oil or your favorite vegetable oil. Generously sprinkle on dry rub (see note below) on both the meaty side and the bone side, loosely cover with a piece of aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (can be done the day before).
     Preheat oven to 450༠ and bake ribs for 15 minutes. Without opening the oven, turn down temperature to 325༠ and bake for 90 minutes. Take ribs out of oven and, if desired, brush on barbecue sauce and return ribs to oven for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10 - 15 minutes. Cut between the ribs and place on platter or plates and serve. These ribs are flavorful, tender, and falls off the bone - finger-licking good!

Note about Rib Rub: There are lots of great commercial rib rubs available, but I like to make my own by combining dark brown sugar, cayenne pepper, cumin, chili powder, cardamon, garlic powder, and sweet paprika. Use what you like. The purpose of the rub is to lay down a flavor base that is great with ribs that are sauced or not.

I'm Baaack! - and better than ever!

     You may have noticed that it's been 9 weeks since my last blog - I have really missed writing it and hope you've missed reading it. I won't go into gory details, but I have a reason for my absence. A few days after my last post, I landed in the hospital and had major surgery - this came as a huge shock and was totally unplanned. After a week in the hospital, and then 3 weeks in a rehabilitation facility, I came home to continue my recovery. I still have a long way to go but am steadily improving. My biggest problem is lack of patience - that has never been a strength of mine. I'm also used to being in control and in charge and I'm trying to learn a new way of being.  😮
     I would like to report that post-surgery hospital food is delicious, but here's what they served me:
Yummy IV fluids
After I graduated from  IV fluids, I remember broth, soup, juice, applesauce, and not much else. I was still under leftover anesthesia and pain meds, so even if they did serve something fabulous, I have no recollection of it. And not willing to go back to check it out!
     Following my hospital stay, I was admitted to a rehabilitation facility to continue recovery. Though I'm grateful for the medical care I received, my culinary experience there was extremely unpleasant, even after talking with the dietitians.  I know that after major surgery it takes awhile for your appetite to return. And I was on a "no added salt" diet to lose the 15 pounds of fluids added to my body during surgery. And I know that salt is amazing for enhancing flavors, even sweet ones (have you ever sprinkled a little salt on ripe watermelon?). I also know that there are so many other ways to add flavor to foods including herbs, spices, vegetables. The person who made the soups, stews, and chili three times a week obviously knew how to season food - the soups were the high point of the time I spent there. But the rest of the food was plain - picture a boiled/poached in water boneless, skinless chicken breast on a plain white plate - and nothing else.   Oh my.
     But all turned out well - here I am the first morning home, happily bundled up sitting on my patio in the sun, drinking 100% Kona coffee from a real china coffee cup. Pure bliss. And then my daughter made me this terrific breakfast - the best food in a month!