Friday, July 31, 2009

Summer Rain and Summer Everything

We just wrapped up Emerald Rose's latest live CD titled "That Night in the Garden", which does a fine job of summing it all up. It's been a challenge physically as well, in that Arthur's wife had open-heart surgery and a dear friend of mine died of a series of heart attacks- culminating in yours truly leading the funeral in a Presbyterian church of all places. The title does as good a job as any describing our common touch-stone for the summer. Speaking of Summer, this is the time in our year when the "first fruits" come in- namely the peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. Add to that the berries that have just finished producing and we have the bounty of Summer, and a harbinger of the Autumn to come. So, it's time to modify that old stand-by of ribs and fruit glaze to reflect the current season. Dinner tonight is a double-rack of ribs grilled with a glaze of black currant, red raspberry, strawberry, apricot (it's first harvest in California) and a bit of pineapple for zip (it's always pineapple season in Hawaii). Recipe to follow after I finish rambling...

On the jewelry design front, I'm preparing to make a series of Argentium silver pendants and earrings fashioned to remind the beholder of the moons of the Cosmos. They'll be individual creations, but not modeled after specific celestial bodies. They'll also be augmented with small gemstones, but they should most affordable when I'm done with them, especially in light of the fact they will all be unique. I'll post photos as I make progress....

Grilled Ribs with First Fruits Glaze

2 Racks Pork Spare Ribs (10lbs or so)
1 lb of the first fruits for your neck of the woods (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc)
2" section of ginger root, sliced (substitute 2 tbsp dried if no fresh available)
1 Hot red pepper
4 tbsp Soy sauce
2 Tbsp Honey

Preheat the grill to 300F, then puree the fruit, ginger, pepper, honey and soy sauce. Remember, you're not in the zone without something tasty to refresh your parched tongue, so while the glaze ingredients are getting acquainted do yourself a favor and take care of that little detail straight away. By now your grill should be hot enough, so toss the ribs on without glaze for 10 minutes, then brush just enough glaze to lightly coat the ribs. Close the grill up and forget about it for the next 20 minutes. Brush the glaze on every 20 minutes until they are done to your taste. I've given up posting cooking times as everyone has their personal opinion of "done": you're a grown-up with your own car keys and credit cards, and I know you'll be fine. For what it's worth, mine usually take around two hours... and the remainder of the glaze is just fine after 2 minutes in the microwave on its lowest setting. Makes a great dipping sauce.

This time I served a Bossa Nova Salad (my black bean salad with cucumber), but in keeping with the "First Fruits" motif I scavenged the garden for fresh green beans to add to the mix.

I'm not posting pics this time, because cooked ribs look pretty much the same no matter how you prepare them- unless you boil them. If you boil them you need to read this blog from the first post forward before you attempt to cook ribs again.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Recording Blues and Squid Tacos

We've encountered our usual snares during this latest round of recording- the studio computer's main hard drive gave up the ghost and so I spent many days scrambling to make everything exactly the way it was before. We've been hard at work in the studio but also recording live before our fans: this is the shortest deadline we've ever given ourselves, so it's been intense. Jewelry commissions are a bit thin but I always have enough material to cut that I'm not without more work than I care to do artistically.

We've been eating a pretty eclectic diet lately, but a summertime favorite is fish tacos, San Felipe-style. Easy, low-impact and quick cleanup. We substitute or add squid to the cod fillets usually used, and the beer batter is the key as always. Here is the batter recipe:

1 cup Regular All-Purpose Flour
2 tbsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp Oregano (optional: San Felipe recipe)
1 egg
1 cup fresh dark beer
1 lb fish (Cod is our favorite for tacos)

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Cut the cod into 1" wide strips, cut squid into tentacles and 1" tube sections. Add to the batter and stir to coat thoroughly. Heat oil to 375F, enough to deep-fry (at least 2"). Add fish and squid a bit at a time, taking care not to overcook (a light gold is perfect). Drain and set aside.

Now, all that's needed is about a dozen corn tortillas, a couple of chopped fresh tomatoes, shredded cabbage and cheese. And that frosty rum-laced drink. I bet you thought I'd forgotten about the booze, eh?