Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Casey's First Ft. Harrington BBQ

I'm not sure if "tradition" is really the right word for it. "Common sense" may be a better term. After all, if some member of your family lives in a place like the Santa Cruz Mountains, then a summer barbeque there is just The Right Thing To Do. No tradition necessary, no bunting, no nothin' but a bit of a travel.

So we do it every summer as a simple matter of course and season.

This high summer, the usual small subgroup of the extended family gathered at Ft. Harrington for the traditional/common-sensical barbeque last Saturday, August 16th... and, for the first possible time, Casey Rose Vickers was in attendance!

Casey Vickers, August 16th, 2008. All babies look like Winston Churchill at some point; it takes a special one to master his gestures at such a young age.

We eat well, but not extravagantly, at these summer gatherings. To demonstrate that, I'll scatter recipes for our eats (in red) between the photos here. (All of these recipes are for a group of about eight people. We had a total of ten, but one of those was an infant, two were very young girls, and one had eaten before arriving. In the aftermath, we had a lot of leftover beans, tiny amounts of leftover ribs, and no leftover desserts at all. Big surprise, that last one, eh?)

Oh, and the photos: Blogger presents very low-resolution images in the body of a blog. If you click on an image, though, you're taken to a file of whatever size and resolution the blogist (is that a word? should it be? crikey, I don't know) has uploaded to Google's universal memory. Mine are of modestly high resolution, and significantly better than what you see on this page, so please click on a few of them.

Grace and her Uncle Adam. The candles are citronella bug-be-gone-ers. They worked.

Pork Ribs
Four slabs of "baby back" pork ribs
(Full-sized ribs would be fine, too, but I use baby backs to conserve volume in a single Weber 22-1/2" kettle.)
Cut slabs into thirds, and rub liberally (in the AMOUNT sense, Dann!) with this mixture (which I cribbed from a story in the San Jose
Mercury News in 1995):
1 part each:
ground cumin
ground black pepper
chili powder
2 parts each:
(I generally shake up a bunch of this at the beginning of the summer and store it in a restaurant-style cheese shaker for use throughout the season.)
After letting the rib slab portions sit in their jackets of rub for a while (that's a
southern while, not a northern one, please note), grill over indirect heat for about an hour and a quarter.
Grilling notes: I think this, and everything else, tastes better over a charcoal heat source rather than a gas grill, but that's like Mac-vs-PC or Beta-VHS or Betty-Veronica, I know. What's probably not just a matter of preference is this: DON'T use lighter fluid (or other petrochemical accelerants) to get your charcoal going. It adds a taste that some like, but which overwhelms other tastes. I've used a chimney for starting charcoal fires for more than ten years, and it's wonderful -- not only odor-free, but much, much more reliable than any other method of starting a charcoal fire.

Adrianne and Grace. I think this is a lovely photo, but Adrianne laughed when she saw it: evidently, this is a typical brace of expressions when Grace is lobbying for something that her mom doesn't think is quite warranted at the time -- so what we're seeing here is parenting in action. (I still think it's a wonderful view of them both, though -- maybe even better when we know the backstory!)

We were all lucky enough to be treated to Grace's friend Scout again, as we were ten weeks earlier. As I told Adam this past weekend, Scout is like Yosemite National Park in one respect: it's almost impossible to take a bad picture of either one of them.

Diane's Cole Slaw
half a head of white cabbage, finely shredded
stir with a dressing of:
1 cup Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onion
4 oz mayonnaise
2 tbs sour cream
1 tsp vinegar (ordinary white, not balsamic, etc.)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
This is not intended to "age" or "mature": mix immediately before serving.

Kelsey, as always, was in doggie heaven with all the people and children and activity that he usually doesn't get around here with his two old fogie people. This picture was taken on Saturday morning, before anyone arrived, and shows his anticipation, I think. It also shows his gray muzzle. Kelsey will turn ten in just a few months, and his face betrays his aged-ness every bit as much as my hair's color does mine. (Click here to see his black face in youth.) He's still in great health, though (albeit a bit lumpy here and there) and springy-spry. There's something to be said for a "blender dog" (as our vet calls mongrels): they're generally awfully sound for the long run. There's something else to be said for this particular blender dog: he's part of me now. I'm not sure exactly when that happened, but it's not going to change.

Approx. 100 oz. canned baked beans (3 32-oz cans or 2 54-oz. cans are pretty much standard)
1 lb. slab bacon or salt pork (increasingly rare in urban grocery stores; ordinary bacon will do fine but will lack that heart-stopping, chunky toothiness of real 1/4-inch cube wads of pork fat) cut in chunks.
3/4 cup of spicy catsup (such as Heinz's "Kick'rs") or ordinary catsup to which several shots of your favorite pepper sauce have been added. Do not let a teenager or your tipsy brother-in-law be in charge of this.
8 oz dark brown sugar (even if "sugar" is an ingredient on the bean cans' label -- this is a
celebration beans recipe, remember?)
3 tbs honey
Half-cook the pork in a skillet, then mix everything together and let the whole thing stand for a day or two, preferably in a really, really heavy metal pot. Not for anything that involves taste, but for the am-bean-ce.

Ribs a-cookin': Lynda, Sherwood, and Adrianne chat on the deck. (Photo by Adam.)

Chicken at the barbeque: Old Lucy chatters at Adrianne. Lucy is our oldest chicken, well over five years old now. (Photo by Adam.)

Dessert 1:
Food Network's Key Lime Pie
Just click on the above link to go to the recipe. However, as it says and warns, the recipe involves
uncooked egg yolks, so, to be safe, you'll need to gather six to eight very, very fresh eggs from your backyard chickens in order to make this yummy pie safe. I'm sorry, did that sound smug? Did I break your concentration? Also be warned: the recipe involves a whole can of sweetened condensed milk for a mere 9-inch pie. This thing is downright nuclear.

Casey and Gramma Diane

Much to her mom's amusement, Casey practices her hand-eye coordination on my beard.

Dessert 2:
Diane's Pina Colada Pie

The crust isn't so important for the taste of this, so you can start with a pre-fab, 9-inch pie crust from your supermarket's freezer section.
Other ingredients:
6 oz pineapple-coconut nectar (generally found in a soda-can style container)
8 oz coconut milk (generally found in the Asian foods section of most supermarkets)
1 box of Jell-O instant vanilla pudding and pie filling (3.4 oz is the standard size)
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
a bunch of whipped topping, such as Redi-Whip (at least a cup)
From here, the foodnetwork.com recipe works just fine:
Pour into pre-baked pie crust and chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
Combine remaining whipped topping with 1/2 teaspoon rum extract. Top chilled pie with whipped topping and toasted coconut.In a large bowl, combine nectar, coconut milk, and 1 teaspoon rum extract. Sprinkle pudding mix over liquid and whisk for 2 minutes. Fold in coconut and 1/2 of the whipped topping.

Formal Group Photo 1
Standing in back: Sherwood, Lynda, Adam, Christel, Casey, Ryan
Others, clockwise from lower-left: Kelsey, Diane, Andrew, Adrianne, Scout, Grace, Emma
Feathery tail under bench: Jax-the-Spaniel

Formal Group Photo 2
Front-and-Center: Kelsey
Others, left-to-right: Adam, Lynda, Andrew, Ryan, Adrianne, Sherwood, Scout, Casey, Christel, Grace, Emma, Diane

Goofin' around, and...

... more goofin' around.

While the others couldn't stay for Sunday, a significant subset could: Lynda, Adam, Andrew, and Scout. They and Kelsey and Jax and I took a little walk in Henry Cowell State Park on Sunday afternoon (Emma had a little limp, since better, so she and Diane stayed home.)

Scout, Andrew, Jax, and Dan'l Boone in Henry Cowell Park. (Photo by Adam.)

Scout and Jax in Adam's car. Can you tell that Scout and Jax hit it off extremely well? As in extra-special bondo joy? (Photo by Adam.)

Scout, Andrew, Kelsey, and Jax at low water. (Photo by Adam. I actually forgot to bring my super-duper Nikon along on this outing, so the only available camera was Adam and Lynda's. I'm trying hard -- really hard -- not to notice that there's not a tinker's damn worth of noticeable difference between these Canon itty-bitty PNC pix and what the Nikon would have captured. But, know what? In most cases, it's the subjects that make the picture, not the box, so it shouldn't really be surprising. Besides, Adam's got a good eye for composition and content, as has been demonstrated here in SherWords before.)

Rocky. Mike and ronnie are in charge of Bullwinkle. (Photo taken with Lynda's camera.)

Lynda and Adam, Henry Cowell Park, August 17, 2008.

So that's this summer's barbeque -- hope you enjoyed it! Next summer, Casey should be able to sample some of the goodies herself, rather than having them cycled through mom first.


Mike said...

"Kelsey, as always, was in doggie heaven with all the people and children and activity that he usually doesn't get around here with his two old fogie people."

What an altruistic chap he is! Mine would have had "dropped and donated food" on that list.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Mike, Kelsey may not be the sharpest tack in the box, but if there ever were a dog-track to sainthood, Kelsey would be well along it. He really, honestly, does not care about food too much, which has, for ten years, made reward-based training hard.

What ultimately has worked, as I'm sure you can predict, is affection, just pure. It's taken a while, but he finally has been able to get us to do what we should.

Brian Fies said...

What a terrific gathering. You are 100% right about using a chimney to start real charcoal, an increasingly rare stance in the age of the propane grill. (If all you want to do is cook meat over a gas flame, why not do it inside on your stovetop?) Gas takes all the fun, skill, and cavemanishness out of the art of BBQing.

I'm sorry to inform you that your rub recipe is all wrong. There's no garlic! Garlic should comprise at least 33% of the recipe. I also note there's no mention of a sauce applied during the BBQing, which I respect. However, my careful campaign of experimentation has found that just about any vinegar (white, balsamic, apple) combined with just about any sugar (white, brown, honey) and spiced up a little makes a killer sauce. I cook mine at 250-275F for at least two hours. Tried smoking chips a few times but don't really care for them; no need to gild the lily.

That is the oddest cole slaw dressing recipe I've ever seen. As a connoisseur of the slaw, I'll have to try it someday.

Great pictures. You're a lucky man.

ronnie said...

Great post and wonderful pictures (and recipes!)

I come from a relatively small nuclear family (Mom, Dad, 3 sibs) and grew up with next to no extended family around.

I married in to a huge clan that is growing and growing and that has many similar get-togethers. I look at my nieces & nephews at gatherings at the lake where they spend all summer (even the Ontario-based ones) and think to myself that they don't even realize how lucky they are and how rare this is today in our mobile society.

I also think about how much they'll look back and treasure the memories that they're not even aware that they're making.


Sherwood Harrington said...

Absolutely, I'm a lucky man, Brian. And I've been thinking about coming up with a new barbeque rub; you may have spurred me into it because I love garlic, too. And that is an odd cole slaw recipe, but I figure if Diane's making it, she can do whatever she wants. Personally, I'd prefer something with a lot more kick, preferably from horseradish. Thanks, also, for the idea concerning sauce; I'll have to try that sometime. We generally have a variety of store-bought stuff on hand for dipping, but nothin' wrong with some homemade slop, too.

Ronnie, you think you grew up in a little nuclear family! Mine was mom, dad, and me and not a neighbor even within sight.

And that brings me back to Brian's observation concerning my current luck.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Holy moly, i thought Casey was just born, like, 5 minutes ago! Time zooms by!

That must have been some flood in 1982.

And the cole slaw sounds absolutely wonderful to me. Around here people sweeten it half to death (they do it to potato salad, too. It's called "southern style"). In fact, all this food is making me ... blast, must go raid Larry's Health Food cookies...

Anonymous said...

We all had a wonderful time (as always). You is the host with the most Popsy.


Anonymous said...

You gave Lyda credit for my squirrel pic by the way. :)

Sherwood Harrington said...

"Popsy," eh, Adam? Now there's an echo.

I fixed the photo credit on the squirrel pic, btw.