Wordless Wednesdays

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

On contentment and barbeque sauce

I must warn all readers up front- I'm not exactly what you'd call "inspired" tonight. Nevertheless, I shall try and make a go of it.

Today has been hard because I don't feel very well physically.

Today has been hard because I always feel a wee bit depressed when the weather is gloomy.

BUT MOSTLY...today has been hard because I am struggling with a little thing called "CONTENTMENT".

I have tried time and time again to "bloom where I am planted", and thanks to God's grace, patience, and everlasting love for me, I feel as though I have come a looooooooong way in that regard. I am now at the point in my life where I can accept the fact that I just might live in Kenosha for the rest of my life, and it wouldn't be an utter disaster. But every once in a while, I get bit awfully hard by the travel bug, which leads to getting bit by the curiosity bug, which leads to hours of poking around on the internet ( I prefer to call it "research"), trying yet again to find that "perfect" place for us to magically relocate to. Well, after the fruitless hours have been spent, I inevitably crash into a severe funk when once again, I am enveloped with an overwhelming feeling of A) having wasted my precious time, and B) being completely, hopelessly, and utterly TRAPPED. Now, Mom; calm down, I love to make it sound so much worse than it really is. But yes; I do feel quite blue today. I am also WAY overdue for a date with my husband, but that's beside the point. Kind of. ANYWAY. Tonight I want to write about one place that continually calls me back...the land of pristine sweet tea...gorgeously green mountains...the best fried chicken I've ever had (besides my dad's)...wonderfully warm weather...and barbeque sauce. Sumptuously cider-y vinegar-y barbeque sauce, flowing in a dazzling mess down my chin, enveloping me in its sweet, tangy, and simply intoxicating aroma, sending that lovely tingly feeling throughout my entire nasal passages (too much?)... Yes, my friend; I am speaking of the one and only Carolina-style barbeque sauce. North Carolina, to be precise. I love North Carolina. I would move there tomorrow. It's as simple as that. However, due to a little thing called "Life", the Carolina dream is going to have to wait for a little while, but that's okay. More time to "research"!!! HA! *ahem*

Anyway...after procrastinating for many years, I have decided to try my hand at homemade North Carolina-style barbeque sauce. I have one (and only one!!) reason for my seemingly nonsensical procrastination:

1) I have been, since childhood, severely and irrevocably in love with Sweet Baby Ray's Original Barbeque Sauce. "The Sauce is The Boss" slogan emblazoned across the back of the bottle is no falsehood. I have never really had much of a desire to try anything else, so I figured, heck; why fix it if it ain't broke???

And that's really the only reason. Oh, believe me; I have read through many, many homemade barbeque sauce recipes, only to wonder to myself,"Could it really possibly be even one iota better than "The Sauce"? I highly doubt it." But lately I have been finding myself longing...longing...for something to remind me and bring me back to my beloved old North Carolina. And since I cannot afford to take three vacations in one year, I shall make do with an honest attempt at something culinary (naturally!!) to bring me back to the land of nostril-tingling barbeque sauce. However, I will not be able to attempt this until the weekend, so ya'll are just gonna have to WAIT for a report back on whether I experience triumph, or agonizing defeat. Until then, here's a delightful recipe for some superb burgers starring "The Sauce" as the star ingredient:

Mary's Splendid Burgers
-Makes 3 big 'uns.

1 lb. ground chuck
2/3 c. Sweet Baby Ray's Original Barbeque Sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

-Place chuck in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and using your hands, mix well. Do not overwork the meat. Form into three large patties, making a slight indentation in the center of each burger so as to avoid the DREADED BURGER BULGE!!! After performing bulge control, place burgers onto a platter and whisk them out to a gas grill preheated to medium high. Grill burgers for 5 minutes on one side, and DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT poke, prod, squish, touch, or tamper with the burgers in any way, shape, or form. After resisting the urge to meddle, flip burgers, then proceed to grill for 5 more minutes for a perfect medium-well burger. If you like your burgers a little more on the gross side, you may reduce grilling time to 4 minutes on each side. If you like your burgers burnt, then I'll let my sister Angela know that she has a few kindred spirits out there after all.
This recipe doubles and triples beautifully. I have sucessfully prepared these for a group of 12, and there were many compliments to the chef (just being honest!). Now go out and grill, and don't give me any of that "But it's only April!!" garbage.

And because a perfect burger needs a perfect beverage, I present to you the greatest culinary epiphany my husband Steve has ever experienced in his life:

Steve's Sublime Sweet Tea
Bring 6 cups of water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Turn off heat, then add:
4 Lipton tea bags
1 Bigelow "I Love Lemon" tea bag

-Steep for 2 minutes.

Then add:
1 Bigelow "Constant Comment" tea bag.

-Steep all 6 bags for 2 more minutes, then remove from pan. Then add:
1 tsp. no-pulp orange juice
1 1/2 c. sugar

Stir well; then pour over a standard-size pitcher filled with ice. Stir, and enjoy!

Steve has a tendency to have these kinds of epiphanies when I'm gone. This particular concoction was hatched while I was away at handbell choir practice one Saturday morning. I came home, and Steve handed me a glass of said concoction. I proceeded to drink liquid sunshine, and it filled me with all of the reminiscent delight of a lazy summer afternoon. You simply must try it. Oh, a word to the wise- remove the tea bag tags BEFORE you put them into the saucepan, and be sure to turn off the heat BEFORE placing the tea bags into the pan. There were a few charred remnants of tea bag tags on the stovetop after Steve's culinary experimentations. You can put two and two together about what happened there...

I could go on, but I simply haven't the strength! I leave you with two things:
1) Remember- I'll be reporting back about the results of my attempt at homemade barbeque sauce over the weekend!
2) Remember one of the greatest things about cooking: You may not be able to travel the world, or live in your "dream" location, but you can always bring a little bit of world into your kitchen one great recipe at a time. Be content, but always stay curious about the world around you. :)