My Traveling Tales by Linda
“A little bit of guitar
A little bit of truck
A little bit of hound dog
And a little bit of luck…”
~Craig Morgan, song "A Little Bit of Life"
I am just back from my visit to see your nephew Jordan, aka Assistant Captain of the Plumas National Forest, Engine 22 United States Forest Service. Crikey…that is one long title. His other handle is Flash. Remember a few years back when he told Maddie that his middle name was Danger, and she believed him? Well, this time he told a woman who wanted his name for an award that his name was Flash, so he has a certificate awarded to Flash Townsend hanging over his desk. Too funny! I thought you all would be anxious for the updates about our Jordy, and how I fared on my weekend trip to see him in his mountain home of Greenville. So here's the lowdown on our firefightin' mountain man.
|Two views of the Feather River.|
I found Jordan's house easy enough, it is on Main Street after all, but Señor Captain was nowhere to be found. However, his dogs, Emma and Jake were home, and I thought that they might bust through the large living room window trying to get at me. Having had to pee for several hours, I really would have liked to go into the house, but with the ferocious fangs flying inside I had no choice but to retreat to my car and watch little snow flurries start to come down. So much for being a little early. Jordan surprised me by walking up on foot about 30 minutes later, just when I was sure that I was starting to reabsorb my "water".
Little did I know that he had been just a few steps down the street hanging at the local saloon called The Way Station. So much for neither of us having cell phones. Jordan introduced me to Emma and Jake. Emma is a beautiful lab and pit bull mixed breed that Jordan rescued from the Chico Humane Society about 3 years ago. She is a sweetie. Jake is Jordan's newest canine addition to the family. He is a Catahoula hound, and he is an adorable little terror. Still in the puppy phase, he has proved hard to house break, and he still likes to chew on everything.
Jordan informed me that the firefighters had all been "furloughed" that day due to the budget crisis in Washington. His boss had told him to go home at noon until further notice. (The federal funding came through over the weekend, as we all know by now, a government shutdown was narrowly avoided, and he was back to work on Monday), but taking this turn of events in stride, Jordan had headed to the local saloon with friends to have some drinks, await the decision of the fates and the arrival of his mother.
After showing me around his home sweet home, Jordan suggested that we go have cocktails at the bar just down the street (well I had a cocktail...he had a "man-drink") where he could introduce me to his friends. I think I was the first person in a very long while (perhaps ever), to order a Cosmo in The Way Station. My ordering of this cocktail caused Jordan no end of amusement. My furloughed firefighter had been sipping whiskey since the early hours of the afternoon, but as it turns out, Mary, the bartender makes a mean Cosmo, and all was well in my world.
One of the great things about a very small town is that it is possible to walk everywhere. After my two Cosmo limit, we walked through the softly falling snow to have a delicious prime rib dinner at the Main Street Dinner House, where one of Jordan's friends is a chef. One of the nice things about small towns is that the tab for two delicious prime rib dinners including soup, salad, baked potato and a very modest corkage fee came to just $52... nice! Sharing a cozy dinner with my handsome son while gazing at snowflakes dancing in the air through the picture window behind him... priceless.
|Emma and Jake are out in front of the truck for their morning constitutional.|
|Grillmaster Steve working his magic on Tri Tip.|
Sunday arrived, and Jordan and I were invited to watch the end of the Masters Golf Tournament at his friends' cabin at Indian Falls. This sounded like a great idea to me, because Nolan, Kevin and Grillmaster Steve were promising baby back ribs. Not a huge fan of golf, the guys helped the time fly by with their interesting perspective and commentary. They were all rooting for Tiger Woods, because he was the only American player. I have still not forgiven Tiger just yet, so I rooted for the Irish guy. In the end the guy from South Africa won. Kevin and Steve got my seal of approval for how to prepare and grill ribs. They began with a dry rub, braised the ribs in the oven on a low temp for a couple of hours, and then finished them on the grill with barbeque sauce. The guys ended the day by tossing a football around.
|Tuck in to a hearty breakfast at Anna's Cafe.|
Ever your Linda Lou
Baby back ribs are my favorite ribs for grilling. Michelle and I experimented with St. Louis Ribs when she was here, and we didn't like them nearly as much. Baby backs are more money, but if you are going to spend an entire afternoon braising and then grilling, you may as well spend a little extra and have rib perfection.
I always use purchased BBQ Sauce because I can get great pre-made ones at Whole Foods. I really like Daddy Sam's or Everett and Jones, which is a local product for me. Feel free to make your own best sauce, or jazz up an average store-bought sauce, as I saw Grillmaster Steve do in Greenville, with hot sauce, honey, lime and herbs.
This technique allows for great results without the use of a smoker, and the finished product are ribs that are literally "fallin' off the bone", something which I have found many folks claim about their ribs, but do not actually achieve (you know who you are).
2 racks or more of pork baby back ribs, figure 4 ribs per person
Fuego Rub from Chevys and RioBravo FreshMex Cookbook (10 Speed Press, 2000):
2 Tbsps paprika (sweet or smoked or half of each)
1 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp granulated garlic
1 Tbsp chile powder
1 Tbsp dried oregano
Store-bought (see intro above for recommendations), or this family recipe from chef extraordinaire Rick Bayless is excellent and quite easy. Rick's folks owned a barbecue joint called the Hickory House in Oklahoma City that had a good run for nearly 40 years before closing its doors in 1986 under new management. The history of the restaurant and recipes were featured in Saveur magazine.
2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
2-3 Tbsps cider vinegar
1-2 tsps of the spice rub (above)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
sea salt to taste
4. Sprinkle dry rub on each rack and rub well being careful not to tear the foil. Then seal up the foil around the racks in a loose envelope that is completely sealed (this allows the ribs to braise in the seasoned juice). Bake in a 280 degree oven for about 2.5 hours. No need to turn or do anything else. Easy!
When you are ready, pour the accumulated fat and juices off the sheet pan. I lightly brush the backside of the racks with sauce, and then place that side down on a hot grill first, but not directly over the fire. Indirect heat is best.Total cooking time will be roughly 10 minutes, just enough to apply two to three layers of sauce to each side, and to brown up the ribs and thicken the sauce. Remove from the grill when satisfied with the results.
The ribs are delicious served with loaded baked potatoes or Our Family's Potato Salad, or Grandma's Best Macaroni Salad or Coleslaw - so many options. Ranch beans or baked beans and garlic bread are nice additions to the plate. To wash it all down, the standards work here: a hearty red wine, beer or our favorite margaritas.
P.S. The ribs can be braised the day before, cooled and stored in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, let the ribs sit out at room temperature for about 60 minutes until ready to throw on the grill.