Certain days call for special foods. Thanksgiving demands pumpkin pie, Easter practically requires a ham, and no Valentine's Day is complete without chocolate. For me Labor Day has to have barbeque -- not grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, but real, slow cooked, patiently tended barbeque -- even when it's just for two. In theory, I suppose, it's the last lazy warm day with time to spare for tending cooking fires -- but it's also pretty easy to cheat. Dabbling with a recipe I found from the Bronx based owner of Mogridder's BBQ truck (not exactly down home, eh?), I cooked these sticky ribs in a slow oven (sprinkled with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cloves) wrapped in tin foil with a bottle of beer for moisture. After two hours I strained the pan drippings into a saucepan with 1 cup of ketchup, 1 cup of homemade spiced peach jam, and 3 TBs of lemon juice -- reduced the sauce down to a sticky glaze, brushed it over the already tender ribs and passed it under the broiler for convincing BBQ char.
Barbeque sides are usually simple treats, but somehow, as I am mourning the loss of a summer that never really was, tomato salad and corn on the cob seemed to mock the carefree days we missed. I moved towards fall with stewed green beans (pole beans as The Big Man would say) and new (homegrown) potatoes. These are Southern style vegetables no vegetarian would dare try -- bathed in bacon fat and rich chicken broth. A wedge of buttermilk cornbread, extra rich with plenty of melted sweet butter, stood by to gather up sticky sauce and tasty "pot liker" (hmm can it really be pot liker if you're not cooking greens?). Comfort food from the land of "meat and three" -- as far away from California cuisine as this gal can get.