If It’s July Fourth, It Must Be Deborah’s

Fourth of July is a bit of a sad holiday for me. I’m reminded of my friend Deborah Murphy, who passed away far, far too young several years ago. It’s not that she died on the Fourth, or was born on the Fourth for that matter, but that she owned the Fourth. Entirely, consummately, possessively.

In my circle of friends, we’ve come to a hard-won détente about hosting holidays, and pity the man who tries to wrest them from us. The calendar: Thanksgiving is shared between us and our friends the Rosellis. Canadian Thanksgiving is a no-brainer; it goes to Danny, our goose-loving expat. Christmas is all Gingy. She contends not only with friends, but her entire clan of in-laws lolling about the house from sun up to sundown. The one holiday no one laid claim to was July Fourth. So about a decade ago, Deborah tucked it under her wing and nursed it from a wobbly gathering of a few nibbles by the pool to a brute of a daylong, never-ending feast that put all-you-can-eat joints to shame. Read more »

I Have Taken a Lover, the iPad

The One (Who Brings Me Love, Joy, and Happiness) likes to joke that I have a boyfriend: my Apple laptop. His comment, wrapped in a crackling tempura coating of snark, is usually lobbed my way if my surfing squashes one of our regularly scheduled activities, like betting on which people featured on “Antiques Roadshow” will fake excitement when auction estimates of their family treasures don’t live up to their expectations. Although I hate to admit it, when the computer blinkers are on, it’s like a stolen glance from across the room. Suddenly I’m sucked into wormhole after wormhole of technological eye candy, bewitched by the pixel, lost in the throes of m4v grandeur.

I’ve been hearing this you-have-a-boyfriend rant for years now, ever since I bought my first laptop in 1993. And if The One’s comment is true, then my past is littered with all sorts and sizes of boy toys: the hairy brute with tats on his arms and legs (my G4 desktop tower), a dandy with a penchant for bright colors (my tangerine iMac G3), and my current fascination, the sleek, handsome, and understated silver fox (my 17-inch MacBook Pro).

But if my laptop is my boyfriend, then my iPad is definitely my lover. You know the kind—that slender iTalian in a black Armani suit who has a gun-slinger walk, is just a tad bit louche, lights your cigarette by bringing it up to his, and haunts your reverie years after the last time you tumbled out of his bed. Read more »

Chipotle Maple Barbecue Sauce

Chipotle Maple Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Every year I make Sarah Foster’s  Fall-Off-the-Bone Baby Back Ribs, and they’re always a hit. But the weird thing is I always opted for bottled barbecue sauce. With so many bbq sauces out there, I reasoned, why the hell add more stress to my already stressed-out afternoon? (Can you tell I get stressed a lot when I cook?)

This year, though, I decided to put on my big boy pants and make her chipotle maple barbecue sauce from scratch–the sauce that she recommends for her ribs. It was a dump-and-stir recipe. Simple, easy, fast. The flavors were terrific—the slap of the vinegar, the smoky heat from the chipotle, and the sweetness of the brown sugar and maple syrup. Everything blended together quite well. There’s also a big wallop of tomato due to a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes. You can soften that, if you want, with a squirt or two of ketchup.

A few additions we made to this, which I think improved it mightily:  We added a big glug of bourbon to the sauce as well as about 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate. (Personally, I think a bit more bourbon wouldn’t have hurt—and I’m not even a bourbon lover!) Then I reduced by a little more than a quarter as I prefer a thicker sauce. It was excellent. The problem: I was cavalier and took a nap while the ribs cooked, so they were far more tender than they should have been. It gave new meaning to “falling-off-the-bone tender.” Next time, I’ll make sure to be all rested before I tackle Foster’s ribs. But cut me some slack: Those Fourth of July gin and tonics were calling my name all afternoon. Damn sirens. Read more »

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