You all know I live in Australia and grew up in Maine but I’ve never really talked about my family much other than my son’s southern bbq post. I have a younger brother Jim and an older sister Carole who both live in the States. Carole lives in Rhinebeck, New York, about 90 miles north of NYC and Jim can’t decide whether he wants to live on the East or West coast. He spends time on both coasts every year.
Jim used to work for the city of Vallejo in California (retired) and then he did some rescue boat captaining on San Francisco Bay for a while. Now I think he just has a good time.
Quite a few years ago John, his son Andrew, Andrew’s best friend Glenn and I went to the US for the boys’ first visit. We met Jim and within hours of arriving we were on a big houseboat on the California delta. The delta is between Sacramento and Stockton and is about 1000 miles of waterway. It was glorious.
Jim had arrived early and stocked the boat with food for a week, found all the maps and did everything he could to make John and the boys feel welcome. He even brought a BB gun for the boys to have a play with. The two Australian boys thought the gun was the best bit. They’d sit on the roof of the boat and take pot shots at leaves. John tried it and the BBs would roll out of the end of the gun and into the water. Yes, he’d click the trigger and plop – the BB would roll down the barrel and fall in the water to shrieks of laughter. The kids made fun of him but he never did get a shot off properly.
While we were getting over jetlag, Jim also did the cooking. I should probably add that both my siblings and I are really good cooks. None of us cooked much growing up. Not sure if it was because my mother preferred to cook or thought we would make a big mess and not clean up after ourselves. (which is probably the case) We were keen observers and have had a love of food all our lives.
We slowly made our way down the waterway and at night there was much to-do about settling the boat for the night. The boat was both anchored and tied off to a rock on the shore and then we all went to bed. The boat was very spiffy and we slept like logs with not a lot of movement but enough to rock us to sleep.
I thought it was going to be a very leisurely time and brought books to read but I stayed busy the whole time. We were either cooking, or fishing or observing the amazing wildlife. Jim’s never met a stranger so we chatted with the folks on every boat we passed. “Catch anything?” he’d yell.
Then the last night on the delta, after a spectacular dinner prepared by our host, the boat was tied off and we all went to bed. I woke up about 6am and poked John and said, “Does the world look slanted to you?”
“Huh?” he said. We were in the edge of the bed up against the wall, too!
“Look out the window, the world’s crooked.”
Sure enough, the boat anchor had slipped in the mud and we were hanging on the side of the delta and it was low tide. I went out to find Jim not very happy with himself and all I could do was convulse in laughter.
“All we can do is wait for high tide,” he said and he didn’t look happy. So there you have the future Cap’n Jim stuck on the side of the delta. Notice how steep that rocky shore is. I’m still laughing as I type this after all these years.
Because we were nearly on our side, everything had fallen out of the refrigerator, some of the dishes had fallen on the floor and broken and Jim was beside himself. I tried my best to comfort him by laughing so hard I couldn’t speak.
It turns out that it was one of the best days of my life. Jim and I walked along the shoreline and talked for hours about life growing up in Maine and how our lives have evolved. It’s one of the most precious memories I have. It was certainly the highlight of that trip for me.
The tide came back, the boat was finally free and we headed back to the marina. Upon arrival Jim went to the boat office and explained what had happened and said we were happy to pay the damages and could they come and let us know. The manager said, “So many people end up like this and never say a word. I can’t thank you enough for being honest and it won’t cost you a cent.” Honesty pays.
When I asked Jim if he’d like to share a recipe with my readers he said, “I can’t make southern ribs like Alan but I’ve got a super simple rib method, I’m making them tonight and I’ll send some photos.”
So let me introduce my brother Jim. He’s been back in California for a few weeks now and these are his super simple ribs, especially easy on a cold winter’s night. He buys them at Costco or Sam’s – I can only hope that one day we’ll get a Costco close enough for me to drive to. There are 3 in Australia so maybe Brisbane will be their next one. Think happy thoughts for me that it will happen soon.
Jim uses a commercial rub or you can use your own. I’m dying to try Chef Feiny’s rubs, they look amazing. Anyone tried them yet? They’re pretty new but Chef Adam Feinberg’s a winner in my book. If I don’t have time to mix my own rub I use Artisse Butcher’s Rub here in Australia.
Once rubbed, he wraps the ribs up in foil following the curve of the bone. “Don’t let the bones stick through the foil,” Jim warned.
Okay that’s not the best photo in the world but he sent it along to emphasize that you wrap with the curve and not across because the bones will poke through as the meat cooks. If you follow the curve that won’t happen.
I didn’t miss that box of muffins from Costco in the background. I think that was to make me envious. I’ll go make my own.
- 3 slabs of pork ribs
- Dry rub (your favorite rub or one from the supermarket will do but make sure it has a LOT of garlic. I used garlic powder and Pappy's Cajun Spice today)
- BBQ sauce (use your favorite)
- Preheat the oven to 425F/220C
- Cut each slab in half and sprinkle the dry rub over them.
- Cut 6 pieces of foil and wrap the ribs, following the contour of the bones so the bones won't poke through the foil. We don't want holes.
- Place the 6 packages in the oven for an hour.
- Remove from the oven and drain the packages and slather bbq sauce over the ribs
- Rewrap in foil and leave for 10-15 minutes for the sauce to soak in
- Slice and serve
Fingers crossed that Jim and Carole will visit us in Australia this year. I’m still thinking about Jim’s spinach salad with blue cheese and fresh cherries and Carole makes the best quiche I’ve ever eaten. She might do a guest post recipe for me one day soon and my daughter-in-law Ming has been invited to do her famous spring rolls.