Sunday, June 30, 2013

Basic Barbeque Rub

Tonight we're making baby back ribs on the grill. Sometimes I make them with a rub of  minced garlic, coarse salt, minced fresh rosemary and extra virgin olive oil. Tonight I'm in the mood for good old barbequed ribs, dripping with sauce. So I'll prepare them for grilling with Steven Raichlen's Basic Barbeque Rub, which I use on Beer Can Chicken, too.


1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
3 Tbsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp coarse salt
1 Tbsp hickory-smoked salt (or more coarse salt if you can't find this)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Mix it all up in a big bowl with your fingers or a spoon. (Fingers work best.)
Store in an airtight jar (I use a pint canning jar with lid-- it'll almost fill it up.) It'll keep for 6 months in a cool dark place, but if you cook out often in the summer, you'll use it long before that.

The recipe comes from Steven Raichlen's How to Grill cookbook.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hosta Gardens

I love hostas! They are easy to grow in sun or shade (although some varieties will scorch in direct sun in climates with hot summers.) Yes, the deer do love them, but regular application of deer spray (buy it at your local independent garden center) seems to keep them from munching. In wet seasons, slugs will do some damage, but you can use biological controls for them.

They come in shades from pale green (almost white when they first emerge from the ground) through a chartreuse yellow, through true green to blue green. They come in all sizes from tiny miniature varieties, called tea cup hostas by some folks because they would fit quite well in one, and on up in size to enormous-leaved varieties that grow to 5 feet across and more.

The leaves are soft and smooth on some of them, and heavy and puckered on others. Some are sharp and lance-shaped, others rounded and cupped. They all bloom-- in shades from deep lavender to purest white. Some are wonderfully fragrant. They complement lots of other perennials in mixed beds and look awesome in beds of their own.

There are hundreds (thousands, perhaps) of named varieties, and hosta enthusiasts are breeding new varieties even as we speak.

Each year the cleanup and mulching of our hosta beds is the first priority of the spring season, and many evenings I sit out front with a glass of wine and simply appreciate that part of the gardens. It's painful when, as happened again this year, the plants are fully leafed out when a hail storm hits. (This year there are only small holes in the leaves, but they detract from the look of the garden. A few years ago we had so much damage that the hosta garden looked like a giant tossed salad after the hail storm went through. Lots of tears were shed that year!)

If you'd like to learn more about growing and choosing hostas, there are great hosta books devoted just to them. But be fore-warned-- collecting hostas can be addicting!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Amazing New Ground Cover Clematis-- NOT!

I have two clematis vines, one on each side of my garage door. They are similar colors, but different varieties. (The one pictured, as best I remember, is Ville-de-Lyon.) They had grown so large over time, that we needed to take down the wooden trellises that they grew on (and over, into the neighboring weeping cherry tree) and cut the vines back drastically so that we could install a more heavy-duty trellis and control the growth.

Best laid plans... as they say. We did take down the trellises and cut back the vines drastically. But we didn't get around to putting up a new trellis. The vines responded to their pruning (and to the wonderful spring weather we had here in our part of Ohio) by blooming better than ever-- on the ground and up into the tree. So we have decided to say that it is an amazing new ground cover clematis. And it is simply beautiful!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Mondays are always super busy for me. (I do the bookkeeping for two businesses and I take weekends off, so I have to play catch up on Mondays.) We try to eat meatless on Mondays, or at least to eat a non-meat-centric meal, and I am not against cutting a corner or two to get there on a busy day. Today I made chicken tortilla soup with (organic) Pacific Tortilla Soup Starter and some add-ins.

I heated the soup base and added in 1 1/2 cups of whatever I had. (I added rinsed canned black beans, corn frozen from last year's garden, and some left over chopped chicken from last night's dinner.) I grated some cheddar cheese, chopped some onions from the garden and some fresh cilantro, and crushed up some tortilla chips for a garnish. Salad from the garden and a frozen loaf of bread reheated and dinner is served.