August 30, 2011

Sticky Sweet

I had a plan for today's post. My plan was to share with you a couple of new recipes I was trying for Des' birthday barbecue feast. I had planned to take a bunch of the step-by-step photos and finished dishes for your enjoyment. Unfortunately, like many good plans, it didn't survive first contact with the enemy.

The enemy: yesterday's humidity.

Whoever said barbecuing was the perfect solution to supper on hot days was someone who's idea of a barbecue is throwing wieners on the grill and calling it a day. That wasn't my plan. Like most good barbecue recipes, mine were a bit more labour intensive than that and required some prep time in the kitchen before anything could hit the grill. Doing that prep in a hot kitchen with little airflow and a baby is not recommended.

On the menu were these ribs, this coleslaw, corn and baby potatoes. I planned to get things going late afternoon while my husband was out at an appointment. It was his birthday, so I wanted him to have to do nothing other than be all man-like with tongs at the barbecue when it was time to actually grill. So around 4ish I started with the ribs that needed to be parboiled for 45 minutes to an hour. Once I had those going full bore on the stove, I moved on to the sauce that needed to be mixed and simmered. Once that was fired up on the next element, it was onto the coleslaw. The coleslaw, while easy, required shredding, chopping and mixing. Then the potatoes, as simple as they were, needed to be chopped and tossed with herbs and oil. The corn had to be husked. Undertaking these tasks when the humidex is making it feel like 34 degrees outside (I don't even want to know what it was like inside with the stove elements aglow and me getting my chop-n-dice on) is not fun.

Oh and did I mention there had been a request for a flourless chocolate cake, which had been baked in a 350 degree oven. I was hot, sticky, clammy, you name it. Even my knees were forming condensation. Or maybe that was sweat. Whatever it was, it wasn't pleasant. Add to that a baby who was about as keen as I was to be in that kitchen in that heat and I think you're feelin' me.

With the ribs and sauce on the go, I was trying to mix the slaw when I realized the boy had spit up over himself and the chair he was in. So I stopped what I was doing, stripped him and moved him to another baby containing item while I cleaned the chair. I had just resumed the slaw when he spit up again. Another wipe down of him and the chair along with relocation to his play mat. Back to the slaw. After a moment I realized the boy had become quiet and thought "am I lucky enough that he's drifted off to sleep on his mat?" No. No I am not. He had just spit up again (yes, again... clearly he doesn't do well in humidity) and was now rolling around in it. Yeah. That's right. Ear to ear people. Ear to ear. More clean up. I must have washed my hands, his face and his belongings about a zillion times in this process... using warm water of course.

By the time Des returned home my plan of having him not do anything but grill was foiled. I had to get him to husk the corn and set the table. You see, I still had cream to whip to top the cake. Ever try whipping cream in 34 degree humidity? Well, if not, don't. Even with a chilled bowl and beaters it was a challenging ordeal. And yes, I could have (and should have) done some of this prep work the evening before, but I simply wasn't anticipating the humidity. All this to say, my plan of taking photos of the ribs and slaw recipes was aborted very early on. I think somewhere around the first wipe of the brow or perhaps the first wipe of spit up. I did start out with good intentions:

The fennel in slicing progress

The cabbage being prepared for the food processor
... and this is the last prep shot I took
Nonetheless, once all was said and done and everything was on the grill and I kicked back with a glass of vino chatting with my husband and a friend who joined us for the feast, it was all good. And once everything hit the plates, it was better again and most definitely worth the effort. The rib sauce was delish. The slaw was the right amount of tangy. The corn and potatoes grilled to perfection. And the flourless chocolate cake topped with cinnamon whipped cream the perfect finish to the meal. Better than all of that was my husband's smile that said "I'm stuffed to the gills and going to retire to the garage for a cigar now thank you very much."

happy as a clam he was

So, while my plan for this blog post failed, my plan for my husband's birthday supper was a sticky sweet success.

Post edit: Coleslaw link edited to correct link.


Madonna said...

I love your blog, Colleen! I'm curious about your coleslaw recipe as I see the fennel and assume it is a fennel coleslaw? Both 'menu' links bring me to the ribs, though! Would you mind sharing the recipe?

Colleen Ryan said...

Oops :) Link has been corrected for the slaw recipe: