A Bend Fourth

Our friends Barb and Chuck have arguably the best view of the fireworks in Bend, OR. And they’ve made a tradition of putting on an annual barbeque that consistently shines as brightly as the fireworks that light up the sky over Pilot Butte. This year’s festivities were the best yet, and this event just keeps getting better. We saw a number of old friends, met some new ones, and made friends with a gorgeous golden retriever named Buster, who several people threatened to kidnap and take home with them. In light of the fact that Buster’s “people” are gone more than home, this would be an easy task, and was nearly pulled off!

Guests brought a wonderful array of appetizers, wines, beer, desserts, etc. Chuck, who’s a master bartender kept busy shaking and serving martinis and margaritas. I had no problem with the two Kettle One’s with twists, but called it quits there, since it was in fact the 4th, and there were nuts on the road, cops having a heyday pulling them over, plus my own precious cargo riding with me. I left the party sober at 11:30, which is how I intended. Holidays in particular are great days to either stay at home, or plan to be among the safe and sane on the road. It’s amateur night, and all the crazies seem to crawl out of the woodwork with half a heat on. Not me.

Pilot Butte sticks up like the hump on a Dromedary camel, smack dab in the middle of Bend. This is Oregon’s high desert, and “humps” of any kind are as rare as the water that camels can go so far without. This one rises about 500 feet above the surrounding 3600 foot elevation of this part of Central Oregon. And it’s the ideal spot for what’s advertised as the biggest 4th of July display in Oregon. It’s a good one. Barb and Chuck live on Awbrey Butte (golf country), and their street provides the perfect vantage point for watching the fireworks.

One of the more interesting aspects of moving to Oregon, was the huge difference in the length of days and nights, over our former home in Northern California. The difference of 500 miles makes for way shorter winter days, and amazingly long summer days and much later sunsets. Our first year up there was quite an eye-opener. We parked in a parking lot on the south side of Pilot Butte, assuming the fireworks would start around 8, as is the case in the Bay Area. We were shocked to learn that we had another two hour wait, as it wouldn’t be dark until 10! The sun’s up a little after 4:30 AM, and it’s light out well after 9:30 in the high desert. But it’s always worth the wait, and the Pilot Butte fireworks consistently draw the usual oooh’s and aaah’s from the crowd, whether watching them live from on the Butte, or from virtually anywhere in town, since they’re visible from all over the compact community of 75,000 people.

Since we’ve virtually cleaned out our house, and moved all of our possessions (including all my cooking supplies) to either the current residence on the San Francisco peninsula, or into boxes in the garage. The intent was to rent the house out, but each time we visit it just gets tougher and tougher to leave it, and I want it to remain our home. I was born and raised, and currently live and work in the Bay Area, but my home has become Bend.

So as my utensil and cooking supplies were limited, I opted to do ribs. I brought a decent supply of my Rubbit dry rub with me, as well as a couple baking trays, tin foil, and a few assorted goodies. I bought a package of three full baby back ribs from Costco, which I maintain is the best meat and fish you can get, short of being a restaurant or the government. Butcher Bob, who was my instructor for the Butchery class at the California Culinary Academy, convinced us of this fact, which was based on 30 years as a meat cutter before his “second career” as an instructor at the CCA.

The plan was to marinate them overnight, start them on the (real) barbeque for about an hour, then apply a mop to them, wrap them up, and finish them low and slow in the oven.

My Baby Back Ribs
RUBBIT Dry Rub, ingredients:
3 parts: paprika, coarse salt, black pepper
2 parts: Coleman’s dry mustard, any generic Italian seasoning, granulated garlic, granulated onion
1 part cayenne powder

RUBBIT Mop ingredients:
2 tablespoons of RUBBIT dry rub, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, cup of apple cider (or juice), 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar
– Sprinkle and RUB IN a few tablespoons of the dry rub, double wrap in aluminum foil, refrigerate overnight.
– In the morning, take the ribs out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature an hour before they’ll hit the BBQ.
– Prepare a BBQ (gas works, charcoal with mesquite is better). Move the coals to one side and put the ribs OFF HEAT, fat side down. Temperature should be 200-250 degrees.
– Cook for 30 minutes, watching the temperature, turn over and cook another 30 minutes.

– Prepare the mop: In a small saucepan, combine the ingredients and bring to a simmer.
– Preheat your indoor oven to 275 degrees.
– Line a cookie sheet with foil to lay the ribs on.
– Transfer the ribs to the sheet, coat both sides with the mop, STACK them on top of each other, wrap securely in a couple layers of foil.
– Cook the ribs, wrapped in foil, without disturbing them, at 275 degrees, for 3 full hours.
– Remove from the oven, allow them to settle for 15 minutes, remove from the foil, brush another layer of mop (or BBQ sauce of your choice) on top, cut either individually or 3 to 4 rib pieces to serve.

There’s nothing better than a great cole slaw and/or cornbread muffins with these, but you’re on your own for sides. The process is what counts – overnight marinating, start them at room temperature, cook OFF HEAT on the BBQ, wrap them in foil, low heat for 3 hours in the oven.

I brought 3 full racks, which came to just shy of eight pounds. The 14 guests devoured them in about a half hour, so I’m assuming they were good …

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