Smoked Pork Spareribs (with some sauce, too)

DSC_0009I never really had excellent barbecue until I moved out of the Pacific Northwest for a while.  While going to graduate school in Nevada, I was educated regarding my ignorance of this fine branch of Americana cooking by my colleagues.  The pulled pork and smoked ribs that we were able to get at the local Gate’s Barbecue was unlike anything I had really ever experienced growing up.  Sharp, sometimes sweet flavors from the rubs that they used combined with clean sharp flavor of smoke to make an unforgettable combination.  Sadly, I moved away a never really thought to try and emulate these flavors myself.  A couple of years ago that changed…… 

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Peas and Mushrooms with Black Vinegar Sauce

Peas and Mushrooms with Black Vinegar SauceIt is always a fantastic thing when summer is finally here and we can rely on regular vegetables from the garden.  This year we tried something a bit different.  We typically plant bush-type Oregon Sugar Pod peas and I have to say they are a very nice pea.  They produce reliably over a moderately long window of time have a nice, mild flavor.  This year, in addition to the Oregon Sugar Pods, I planted four hills of Sugar Snap Pole peas.  I had never grown pole peas before and thought that they would be a nice supplement to the up-slope corner of the garden.  So they were…

Not only was the yield from these plants amazing, the pods were shockingly sweet and never really seemed to get tough, regardless of age on the plant.  Sure we had a couple that we starting to turn yellow that got a bit tougher, but even these were reasonably tender and sweet.  Because of the high and ongoing yield from these plants, we have been able to fill the spot typically enjoyed by green beans a bit early in the year.  This is one simple side that we cooked up; one of many to come this summer, I think…. 

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Tagine of Clams with Olives and Chilies

Tagine of clams, olives, and chiliesSteamer clams, like the ones pictured above, are a nostalgic food for me and I typically associate them with summer.  You see, summer was the time that my family often spent time camping on the west side of Puget Sound on a body of water called Hood Canal.  Gathering and eating various forms of seafood was always a part of the experience and I spent many happy hours sifting through the beach gravels in search of various types of clams.  We would then take them back to camp, clean them up, and have them steamed with garlic butter, or toss them in the cioppino pot simmering on the fire.

Although a lot can be said for the merits of eating succulent, sweet clams like Manillas or littlenecks with nothing more than a well-seasoned butter sauce, there are simply other things to do with clams.  In this dish, the clams are bathed in a rich and very slightly spicy tomato-based sauce.  Cumin and garlic are accented by the fresh flavors of the red bell pepper and the lightly simmered poblano chili.  … 

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Corn Cakes with Sweet and Tart Relish

Corn CakesThere are many different versions of this classic Thai appetizer out there, this one just happens to be the one that we cook at our house.  They may not look like much, but these corn cakes are absolutely fantastic.  Frying at a high heat brings out the pungent flavors of the curry paste that, along with the bread crumbs and a little corn starch, binds the vegetables together.  Despite being deep fried, the corn and beans retain just a little bit of crunch and the kaffir lime leaves provide a fragrant citrus bite…. 

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