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First and foremost, let me apologize to the vegetarians. This is a good reason to be one. (Though the big food poisoning scares recently have all been from veggies …)

It’s finally summer in this frosty wasteland, so it was time for a barbecue! Saturday being the solstice and all, it seemed like a perfect time to celebrate the fact that I can walk outside without socks or a parka.

Also, because of this post over at Smitten Kitchen, I was dying to try my hand at some baby back ribs.

So on Friday, I went to Home Depot and got myself a rib rack and picked up a few things I needed to make a killer rub and some baked beans. The grocery store had nice-looking baby backs. The kids were whining and begging and throwing tantrums. I pondered for a minute just grabbing four racks and being done.

But. But there’s a butcher on the end of my block. I felt like I always take the easy way out — and my experience in Ireland taught me that butchers have merit. Everyone goes to the butcher for their meat there. 

So I schlepped the kids out of the car yet another time and waited for the meat man to go get four intact racks from the back.

They were vacuum-packed, but they looked fine to me.

As he showed them to me, Myles’ face lost its color. “Mom?”


“What kind of  ribs are those?”

“Um, pig?”

“Oh.” Relief washed over him. “I thought they were people ribs.”

I guess maybe I should have considered that foreshadowing.

On the way home from work on Friday, I hummed along with the radio, looking forward to rubbing those racks to get them nice and tender for our cookout. At home, I mixed up my rub — anchored by a smoky spanish paprika — and asked Ed to cut open the packages and rinse the meat.

I was just about to pour the first cupful of spices onto them when the smell hit me. At first, it was a little rotten-eggy. I made an emergency late-night call to consult Lynn. She assured me that though a little gassy smell is sometimes normal, stinky meat is either about to turn bad or already has. As we chatted, the smell got more pungent. I started lighting candles and spraying air freshener. Ed noticed that the use or freeze-by date on the package was two days ago. GROSS.

By the time we fled outside to get some air, my house smelled like STRAIGHT CORPSE. Dead, decaying meat. We wrapped them up and put them in the fridge. (I wasn’t about to throw $60 into the garbage.)

Saturday morning, I took the slabs of stink to the butcher, who assured me that he often sells meat that is 10 DAYS PAST THAT DATE. Dude, what is the date FOR? So much for the local butcher.

Anyway, I went back to the supermarket and got new ribs. I rubbed them down and smoked them for three hours. 

I, however, was too traumatized to really enjoy them. Fortunately, though I told all my guests the story, they didn’t feel the same way. Judging from this plate of bones, they were a hit.

And here’s an irresistible shot of summer (we couln’t pry that bone out of his hand for anything):


Screw the calendar. It’s now spring.

Spring is:

  • A pale foot, swishing back and forth in the warm breeze while its owner flips the pages of a magazine.
  • Sunglasses. Wearing them for something besides the painful glare off fresh snow.
  • People outside EVERYWHERE. Swerving around swarms of bikers as we cross town to waste some time outside.
  • Kids playing kickball in the back yard.
  • Beer on a patio. Better when it’s a friend’s patio.
  • An impromptu barbecue — good friends, good food, good conversation.

All I have to say is: THANK GOD. We’ve earned it.

I think Simon summed it up best when he laid his worn-out little head on Ed’s shoulder before bed and said, “Fun Day.”