Monthly Archives: July 2014

Powering Through Procrastination

I’m an addict for self-improvement books, especially those that deal with overcoming procrastination and cleaning up clutter. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that those deficiencies are behind me, but I have picked up a few good techniques that help…when I remember to use them.

These are two of my favorites:

1.Break down the job into a series of steps and commit to doing one.

2.Set a time limit for starting to tackle the project.

In both cases, I often find that the momentum keeps me going. Often I go much farther than I had intended or even finish the job.

BBQ Festival, Lake Placid, NY: Great Grilled Ribs!

Nothing says ‘Summer time’ like barbecue, and nothing says ‘barbecue’ like ribs!” So says Andy King, of The Bastey Boys Barbecue Brigade (, Templeton, MA, whose succulent pork ribs won the people’s choice Top Chef Competition at the I Love BBQ and Music Festival, July 4th weekend in Lake Placid, NY.

The Bastey Boys cook their ribs on a Backwoods Smoker, building a wood fire at the bottom using Wicked Good lump charcoal from Maine and flavoring with apple or maple wood that grows in their area. If you love ribs but don’t have a smoker, you’ll be happy to hear that this award-winning pitmaster says that you can get great results using a charcoal or gas grill or even an oven. Here are the step-by-step instructions, complete with rib rub and mopping sauce recipes, that he generously shared during his entertaining lecture/demonstration:

1. Choose the Ribs-Andy recommends what he calls “two and down” Loin Back Ribs, each rack of 12 or so ribs weighing in at 2 lbs. or less. Can’t find them? Buy larger ones but increase your cooking time. His favorite brands are IBP, Swift and Smithfield, which he buys at BJ’s. Frozen ribs are fine, he says, since their Cryovac packaging is extremely protective.

2. Trim the Rack-Peel the membrane (that transparent skin) from the inside curve of the ribs, so that seasonings will better penetrate the meat. Using your fingers or a blunt object, such as an oyster knife or a spoon, begin separating the skin from the underside of a slab, starting at the fat end in the middle and working from the top down about three inches before slowly lifting up on the back of the knife or spoon. Then, work your fingers under the membrane and pull up. Once you’ve got it started, you can zip it off completely by grabbing and pulling toward the other end of the slab. Get a firmer grip by using a paper towel. Cut or spoon out any pockets of fat.

3. Season the Meat-Add mustard or apple cider vinegar to help rib rub adhere. Sprinkle each side of the rack with 1 Tablespoon of rib rub (recipe below) and let sit at room temperature for an hour or so, until it starts to “sweat,” or enclose in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a day. This allows the spices to be absorbed and helps the ribs cook evenly. (Important: For safety sake, don’t leave the meat at room temperature for longer than an hour.) The salt draws moisture from the meat, causing the cells, which are seeking equilibrium, to more readily absorb the flavoring. The sugar balances the salt.

4. Build the Fire- To cook the ribs on a covered charcoal or gas grill use the indirect cooking method. For charcoal, build a fire on one side of the grill and put an aluminum drip pan on the other side, next to the fire. Or put the drip pan in the middle, with a small fire on each side. Add about an inch of water to the drip pan, put the ribs on the grill over it, add your wood to your coals, and cover the grill. Leave the top vents open and control the heat with the bottom vents. If you can maintain a consistent temperature of 230 degrees, the process will take about 5-6 hours. Probably, however, your temperature will be higher using this method, reducing cooking time to about 2-1/2 hours. Rack size, weather conditions and equipment are all determining factors. Try to maintain a consistent temperature of no higher than 275 degrees. Use a digital probe-type or candy thermometer inserted through the top vent to get an accurate temperature reading.

If you’re using a gas grill, light one side of the grill, put a drip pan on the other, on top of the lava rocks. Put the ribs over the drip pan and put some wood chunks on the rocks on the side that is lit. Don’t let the water pan go dry. You may need to prop open the lid a bit to keep the temperature down.

5. Flip and Baste-Flip the ribs after one hour and baste them with a mop sauce (recipe below). After 2 to 2-1/2 hours, sprinkle on more rib rub, since some melts and drips off. Don’t open the grill unnecessarily, since doing so releases a lot of heat.

6. Test for Doneness-When the ribs are ready, an instant-read thermometer inserted between two ribs, but not touching the bone, will read 195 degrees. But “the true test of done-ness” is picking them up with tongs and giving them a shake. The rack should begin to break apart.

7. Sauce and Eat-If you like sauce, brush on a generous amount now and put the ribs back into the grill for about five minutes or until the sauce congeals. Watch carefully, since high sugar content will cause the sauce to burn easily. Alternatively, you can just serve sauce on the side.

The Bastey Boys Rib Rub

6 Tablespoon kosher salt

6 Tablespoons brown sugar

6 Tablespoons chili power

3 Tablespoons paprika

3 Tablespoons black pepper

2 Tablespoons garlic power

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 Tablesoon Apple Pie Spice

1 tsp. Cayenne powder (optional)

The Bastey Boys Mop Sauce

2 cups apple cider

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce.

Mix ingredients. Apply with a garden style spray bottle or use a basting brush or small mop.

BBQ Festival, Lake Placid: Grilled Desserts!

Dessert made on the grill is one of the sweet secrets that I brought back from my visit to the I Love BBQ and Music Festival, which completed its ninth run July 4th weekend at the historic Olympic Speed Skating Oval in majestic Lake Placid, NY. Grilled dessert is easy to make, minimizes cleanup, and is likely to be a delightful new experience for your guests. Grilling brings out the natural sugars in the fruit, so there’s no need for a lot of added sweeteners.

Here are two of my favorite recipes, courtesy of pitmasters who participated in the Top Chef competition at the event:

Grilled Pear Shortcake

From Kim and Andy Perry, Behind BBQ, Rochester, NY (

Fire up the grill to medium, oil grates.

Quarter ripe pears (any variety). Trim, stem and core. Place on grill.

Grill until marked on all sides and softened. Cut into large chunks.

Assemble in a dish with one-third to a half of a shortcake (mini tart shell) on the bottom, topped with grilled pear chunks.

Drizzle with caramel sauce (jarred). Sprinkle with crushed gingersnaps and top with spiced whipped cream. (Make it by whipping 1 cup COLD heavy cream and seasoning it with ½ cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon allspice and ¼ teaspoon ginger.)

Grilled Pina Colada Donut Skewers

Courtesy: Elliot Buckner, Buckner Brothers Barbeque, Richmond, VA & Rochester, NY   (www.

Glazed donut holes (day-old is fine)

Fresh pineapple chunks (slightly smaller than the donut hole)

Sauce-1 stick butter, 1 cup white sugar, 1 Tbsp. vanilla, 3 Tbsp. Malibu Rum

Coconut flakes (unsweetened)-Purchase or buy untoasted and toast in non-stick pan over medium heat until lightly browned.

Prep sauce –In a skillet, melt butter, add sugar and whisk until sugar is fully melted. Then whisk in vanilla and rum until fully incorporated and bring to gentle boil. Remove from heat but keep warm.

Skewer one donut hole and one piece pineapple (or more if preferred). Pre-heat grill to medium. Grill each donut/pineapple skewer one minute per side. Cover donut/pineapple skewer with sauce and sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes.

Look for more barbecue tips from the pitmasters in my next post, Tuesday, July 15.