Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday Spareribs

Dear Readers, I've had a 1950s existence this morning -- a nutritious breakfast of hard-cooked eggs (no green in the middle, thank you very much), fruit and whole-wheat mini-bagels (NYC had bagels in the 50s right?) and coffee. After clearing the breakfast dishes I made beds and a shopping list for the week. Then, I shall do the cooking!

On the menu for tonight? Baked barbecue-style spareribs, one of the few actual DINNERS (besides Ham Loaf, the subject of another day's post) in the notebook. I know Grandma had a sweet tooth and evidently, upon further review, this must be her dessert book?

Anyway, the ribs have real promise in a modern way. The seasonings are correct for the genre and the cooking technique (325 for 2 hours) sounds reasonable to get the ribs to a fall-apart stage. The recipe calls for 2.5 lbs of spareribs to serve 8 people (my, how portion sizes have grown). I'll serve the ribs with braised greens, cornbread, and mac and cheese (Kraft invented the icon in the 1930s). But what for the fruit course? Here it is...the first of the dozens for Jello recipes. Tonight -- Ginger Ale Salad....stay tuned.

Barbecue Spareribs -- submitted by HMC, Galva, Illinois

1 T celery seed
1 T chili powder
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t salt
1 t paprika
2 1/2 lbs spareribs
1 cup thick tomato puree
1/4 c vinegar

Combine celery seed, chili powder, sugar, salt, and paprika. Rub as much as possible into the ribs. To remaining mixture add tomato puree mixed with vinegar. Pour over ribs. Bake in an uncovered shallow pan in a moderate oven (325 degrees) for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Baste occasionally. It serves eight.

The Ginger Ale Salad comes from a series of typewritten recipes in the back third of the notebook. Because of the addition of personal messages within the recipes like, "You cannot fail on this recipe, Florence. Knowing what delicious rolls you make, I'm sure you can make your own Rye Bread." I have reason to believe the recipes might be from Grandma's sister, Evelyn, who is an amazing baker. I'll have to check this out.

Ginger Ale Salad

1 pkg. lemon jello, dissolved
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cup Ginger Ale

Add pineapple, celery, and apples cut into small pieces -- not more than two cups in all, about a half a cup of each pineapple and celery and 1 cup of apple

Jello first...after all it has to have time to set. First  I dissolved the jello in the boiling water, added ginger ale and then, after some internal debate, the fruit and celery. The debate because it says on the Jello box if you are have additions then chill the Jello for a few hours first then add the fruit. I was afraid that I would forget to add the fruit at all and also the apples were rapidly browning. That would not do. In went the fruit and celery. Predictably it all floated to the top which of course meant that if I had actually placed it in a true Jello mold (I don't own any, I settled on French White Corning Ware) and flipped it the fruit would be at the bottom. Hmmm....might be pretty like a food kaleidoscope. Into the fridge!

Ribs! Yum! Knowing it would take several hours, I portioned the spareribs into six mini-racks, tossed the rub together, slathered it on, and mixed the remaining rub with the tomato sauce. I indeed insist on tender ribs so I borrowed a few tips from some online chefs such as baking uncovered for 45 then covering with foil for an hour, then uncovered for another 30 min. I noticed right away the brown sugar in the rub turning a very dark brown within the first 45 minutes...I held the tomato mixture until this moment, hoping the combo wouldn't char to a burnt taste. After all, most BBQ chefs hold the sauce until the end stages of cooking. Meanwhile, I sauteed some turnip greens, whipped up the cornbread, and unboxed the mac.

Time to eat! I snuck a taste from the cutting board -- the ribs, complete with the mahogany brown sauce, were tender in kind of an al dente way. They were loose around the bone but with a touch of firmness remained. The rub/sauce combo had a definite green essence from the celery seed but was tempered by the caramelized sugar. Overall, very good for an oven-baked rib! For $10.50 we had six servings of ribs -- much less than a restaurant price -- and though I got the KC Masterpiece out of the fridge I didn't need to put any on my plate. No grill? Bad weather? This is the recipe for you -- straight from Galva, IL. As for the rest of the meal, I am no expert on cooking greens. They were quite bitter and any suggestions from readers on the topic are welcome. But the Jello salad? I was very pleasantly surprised. Nice bright flavor with the essence of bubble from the soda, crisp fruit, I didn't even mind the celery. The lemon Jello worked perfectly with the Ginger Ale. John and I were reaching for seconds. Max wouldn't try the Jello because of the celery but he ate an entire portion of ribs which he declared, "yummmmy, Mom!" Not bad for a Saturday's work!

Until next week!

Soup Can Scores:

Barbecue Spareribs -- Four Soup Cans out of Five

Ginger Ale Salad -- Four Soup Cans out of Five

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