It was a fresh tomato-worthy weekend.
At our house, not every weekend is fresh tomato-worthy. In order for a weekend to be fresh tomato-worthy, it needs to be unencumbered. Now, an unencumbered weekend is not to be confused with an uncucumbered weekend. In fact, oftentimes a fresh tomato-worthy weekend is also a fresh cucumber-worthy weekend. Now I will leave it up to you to determine if “uncucumbered” is actually a word, but if it’s not, it should be.
Many times my wife will make a cucumber and tomato salad, which, as ol’ Ben Franklin may or may not have said about beer, “is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
This past weekend was one of those rare times when we didn’t have any plans — a weekend when we had nothing to do and nowhere to go.
Two years ago, when our now-20-year-old daughter, Emma, left for college, my wife and I figured that finally, after years of school, sports and dance activities, our weekends would be free.
Turns out we figured wrong.
Looking back on this summer, I’m not sure what we did with our weekends. I just know that most of them were definitely not unencumbered.
But this past weekend was unencumbered, which is why, on Saturday morning, I drove over to the Webb City Farmers Market and picked up some fresh tomatoes. I also bought some jalapenos, onions and a box of peaches. My wife loves peaches. I do not. But when you’re married and you see something you think your spouse might like, you buy it.
You never know when you might need bonus points.
I planned to use the tomatoes in a recipe for pico de gallo that I found in the new “Margaritaville” cookbook.
We have too many cookbooks, and there is a reason for that: We like cookbooks and can’t stop buying them.
After I made the pico de gallo, I covered it and put it in the refrigerator. Later, that evening, I sliced some corn tortillas and fried them up. Then my wife and I sat outside and dipped the still-warm corn tortilla chips in the pico de gallo.
Have you ever had warm corn tortilla chips dipped in pico de gallo made with fresh tomatoes, onions and jalapeno?
Still later that evening I took out two slabs of baby back ribs and covered them with a rub that I made earlier.
Whenever someone asks me for the secret to my rib rub, I always say, “Come closer,” and when they do, I yell, “THERE IS NO DAMN SECRET. JUST ABOUT ALL RIB RUBS ARE BASICALLY THE SAME, AND ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU DIFFERENT IS LYING.”
Fortunately, not a lot of people ask me that question.
Still later on Saturday evening, my wife and I cut up the remaining tomatoes, onions and jalapenos to go with a mess o’ tacos.
In case you’re wondering, “mess o’” is the correct term when referring to tacos. And chicken wings. For baby back ribs, I stick to the traditional term, “slabs.”
On Sunday afternoon, I grabbed the ribs out of the refrigerator, took them outside, put them on my Weber water smoker, closed the lid, opened a beer, sat on our patio and watched the St. Louis Cardinals.
Hey, somebody had to do the cooking.
Have you ever sat on your patio, sipping beer and watching baseball while two slabs of ribs slowly smoke next to you?
Occasionally, I would get up to check the temperature on my smoker. Then I would go inside and grab another beer.
It was a fine weekend.
It was tomato-worthy, is what it was.
Pico de Gallo
This recipe from Margaritaville: The Cookbook is easy and amazing. Of course, using fresh everything helps.
1 1/2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
Large handful of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
I jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more if needed. (We always need more. We like lime juice).
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more if needed.
Place all ingredients together in a large bowl and gently stir together. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime and/or salt as needed. Serve immediately.
I like to serve this with freshly fried corn tortilla chips. “But Mike” some of you are asking. “Is that healthy?”. To some of you who are asking that I say “No. No, it’s not.”
Mike’s “THERE IS NO DAMN SECRET. JUST ABOUT ALL RIB RUBS ARE BASICALLY THE SAME, AND ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU DIFFERENT IS LYING” Secret rib rub.
This your basic rib rub recipe. It is so basic I don’t even remember where it came from but I like it so that’s all the matters.
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Mix the spices together then, after removing the membrane from the back side of the ribs, rub a generous amount of the mix onto the ribs. This, by the way, is why it’s called a rib rub. Bet you won’t get great culinary insight like that on the Food Channel. I guess you could also call it a rib pat because after you rub it onto the ribs you then pat it into the meat. But rib pat sounds sort of stupid. So never mind. Oh, I almost forgot: Cover the ribs and put them in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours but longer is always better. I shoot for 24 hours.
You can store the leftover rub (pat?) in a sealed container to use later. Or, you can do what I do and store it in a sealed container, put in the pantry and forget about it until you find it a year later and discover it’s as hard as whatever that thing on Trump’s head is.
You probably shouldn’t do that.