BBQ Sauce

Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce

When we bought our home in the fall of 2020, we [obviously] knew we had several trees in our front yard. What we didn't know, was that one of them is a Cherry Tree!

Cherry Tree

What a surprise! We started by not believing they would be edible, to watching them fall from the tree as unripened fruit. That concerned us, a bit, until we learned that cherry trees will regularly drop 30% of their unripened fruit to concentrate on the remaining. Yeah, Mother Nature.

We're still not sure what variety it is, but our across the street neighbor with the same tree said it is definitely not a Rainier Cherry - and we're both experiencing a bumper crop. Yeah, Mother Nature, again.

Regardless of the variety - they are good!

Today, I decided it was time to start doing things with them - there are just sooooo many! First order of business - Barbecue Sauce. It's officially grilling season here in the Pacific Northwest and I do love our new gas grill...

Plus... I just bought a new cherry pitter. I've had a hand-held pitter for 25 years or so - and it's been great for doing enough cherries for a pie - but we're talking a whole tree, here! Time to up the game.

It worked great.

Cherry Chipotle BBQ Sauce


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 cups pitted cherries
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 (or more) chipotle chilis in adobo
  • 2 tsp dry ground mustard
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt & pepper, to taste


Heat about 2 tbsp oil in a medium-sized saucepan and cook the onions and garlic until soft and translucent.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend until reasonably smooth and continue simmering another 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes.

Transfer the sauce to a blender and puree until smooth.

Bottle and refrigerate.

BBQ Sauce

I don't have the proper caps for canning, right now, so it's definitely keep refrigerated. If you want, you can do a boiling water process for 15 minutes.

It's going to be fun to see what else we can come up with!




Korean BBQ

BBQ Pork Tenderloin

In my quest for fun, new - to me - spicy peppers, I ordered some Korean Gochugaru Pepper Flakes online. While I know that I like eating Korean food, I haven't cooked a lot of Korean food. We used to frequent a Korean restaurant on 9th & Judah in San Francisco that had fantastic food - there was no reason to cook it if you could get such wonderful food right down the street.

Fast-forward many years, and Gochugaru pepper flakes are on their way. My first use was going to be on a pork tenderloin.

Sadly, the package was damaged in transit and never arrived. It was sent back - with full refund. I ordered another.

On to Plan B.

I had a container of Korean Gochujang Paste in the 'fridge, so I started there.

Gochu in Korean, is pepper and garu means powder. Gochujang is a paste that has gochugaru in it - along with other ingredients. The things you learn...

I decided to make a BBQ sauce of sorts, so I broke out the blender. I put in a half of an onion, 6 small radishes, 3 cloves of garlic, about 3 tablespoons of gochujang paste, and three tablespoons of ketchup, along with a pinch of salt and blended it all into a smooth sauce.

I sliced the tenderloin into about 3/4-inch slices and placed them into the sauce for about an hour. From there, they went onto a very hot grill for just a few minutes.

Onto the plate, topped with chopped scallions, and served with white rice.

Korean BBQ

It wasn't the most authentic Korean BBQ, but it did have a lot of flavor. Not overly hot and not overly sweet, it had a nice balance of flavors.

The gochugaru pepper should arrive this weekend. We shall see what other concoctions we can come up with...



First Ribs of the Season

It was perfect weather, today. 80°F, a slight breeze, and low humidity. I sat out back and read most of the day. It's a rough life I lead...

Before reading, though, I did a little grocery shopping. The impulse buys today were baby back ribs and corn on the cob - perfect almost-summer offerings. And after shopping but before reading, I made potato salad. I made my standard Mom's Potato Salad - it's my favorite and what I grew up with.

Potato Salad

While reading, I put the ribs in the oven with a liberal dousing of Rib Rub - low and slow...

Rib Rub

  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Penzeys Ozark seasoning
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Mix and store in an airtight container.

I finally put the Kindle down and started the grill. First thing on was the corn. First thing off was the corn, too.

Grilled Corn

I peeled it back, cleaned off the silk, buttered it and added salt and pepper, folded the husks back up and onto a low grill...

Meanwhile, I doused the cooked ribs with Ancho BBQ Sauce and put them on the grill...

BBQ Ribs

Tender, juicy, and fall-off-the-bone flavorful.

Gone are the days of totally pigging out. There are ribs for today and ribs for tomorrow. It sure would be nice for this weather to stick around for a while. I could get used to this really easily.




Ancho Chile BBQ Sauce

Ancho Chile BBQ Sauce

The latest issue of Fine Cooking magazine arrived yesterday - with six recipes for BBQ sauce!

I have to admit I'm a bit of a fan of homemade BBQ sauces and have made more than a few - from root beer to strawberry,  and everything in between. I really like the spicy/sweet nature of different BBQ sauces and have a lot of fun making them.

And with six new recipes to play with, I started with the first one - Ancho Chile BBQ Sauce.

The Fine Cooking recipe called for dried ancho chiles, and fresh poblanos and jalapeños. I had the anchos, but not the others. I did have dried chiles d'arbol and dried New Mexican chiles, so I improvised a bit.

Ancho Chile BBQ Sauce

Ancho Chile BBQ Sauce

adapted from Fine Cooking


  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 dried anchos, rehydrated in hot water and stemmed
  • 2 dried New Mexican Chiles, rehydrated in hot water and stemmed
  • 4 dried chiles d'arbol, rehydrated in hot water and stemmed
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup whiskey
  • 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbs. cane syrup
  • 1 Tbs. raw sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

Heat oil in heavy saucepan. Add onions and cook until wilted. Stir in cumin and garlic and cook until fragrant.

Add tomato paste and cook until it starts to darken - about 3-5 minutes. Stir in whiskey, vinegar, and worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil, scraping up the pan.

Add cane syrup - or molasses - and raw sugar. Add salt to taste.

Simmer a few minutes to meld flavors and then transfer to blender.

Starting on low and gradually increasing speed, blend until smooth.

Check again for seasoning and add salt, as required.

I used some of the sauce - thinned a bit with the chile soaking water - to make an oven-braised BBQ pork.

Into the dutch oven went a chopped onion. After wilting the onion, I added about a pound of cubed pork. I used a pork tenderloin.

When it started to brown, I dded some of the BBQ sauce and a bit of the soaking liquid.

Next went in 10 mini peppers that I quarted, lengthwise.

I brought it all to a boil, put on a cover, and placed it in a 300°F oven for 2 hours. I uncovered it for the last 30 minutes to thicken a bit.

Served over rice.

Ancho Chile BBQ Sauce

Fork-tender pork with tons of flavor. Sweet - as a BBQ sauce should be - but not too sweet. I think next time around, though, i might add a touch of smoke.

But it definitely worked.

Only five more to go!

Smoky Peach Strawberry Whiskey BBQ Sauce

Smoky Peach Strawberry Whiskey BBQ Sauce

Whaddaya do with 2 peaches, a handful of strawberries, and some onion and tomato left over from morning bagels? Why... you make barbecue sauce, of course!

I had been thinking about making some BBQ sauce for a few days - and today was the perfect day to do it. It's raining outside... damp and chilly... perfect for firing up the grill!

Smoky Peach Strawberry Whiskey BBQ Sauce

  • 2 peaches
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup bourbon or other whiskey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 can sliced poblano chilis
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Roughly chop fruit and vegetables and place in pot with remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes - until everything has broken down and sauce has thickened.

Carefully puree everything in a blender until smooth.

Return to pot to simmer and thicken more, if necessary. Enjoy!

Just slightly hot - but with lots of flavor. Fruity and savory at the same time. There's a hint of whiskey but it enhances in the background rather than as a prominent flavor.

Tonight, it went on top of thick pork chops and since I got a couple of bottles out of this, we're set for a while! I see some bone-in chicken thighs on the horizon!

Baby Back Ribs

It's 45 days to retirement, and the last hurdle has been jumped. We have health insurance starting July 1st. It wasn't easy sorting through the bazillion and one options and plans - and at soon-to-be 66 years of age, this is the first time in my life I have ever had to think about it.

I was in Kaiser for all of my childhood and any time I was living in San Francisco, and any other time, I was covered under an employer plan.  I've always been employed. I've always had health coverage. I've rarely had to use it - but it's been there...

Fast-Forward to today, and I was as lost as lost can be trying to sort out HMO Plans, PPO Plans, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Gap Plans, Drug Plans... It could not be any more confusing. Okay. Not true. It can - and probably will - get a lot more confusing if these assholes in Congress get their way. If a reasonably well-educated person can't figure this stuff out, I really don't see how the poor and downtrodden in this country can...

We need a Single Payer Health System in this country. Period.



In celebration of having health insurance, I decided ribs, baked beans, and corn was the perfect Independence-type Day menu. And baby back ribs the perfect choice.

I'm a bit over the top, right now, when it comes to herbs and spices. Well... right now is a bit of a misnomer. I'm always over the top when it comes to herbs and spices - I'm just a bit more than my normal.

And that doesn't include the baking and salt cabinet. Yeah... there's a whole shelf just for different salts. I'm going to have to see if this particular illness is covered under my new health plan...

I decided to make a batch of rib rub because, why not?!?

Rib Rub

  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Penzeys Ozark seasoning
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Mix and store in an airtight container.

It went all over the ribs, the ribs were wrapped, and put into a 225°F oven for three hours.

When they came out...

They were liberally doused with our own Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce and placed on the grill for about 15 minutes.

Fall-off-the-bone tenderness...

Corn on the cob and Phoebe's Baked Beans were all it took to complete the meal.

We're eating well in soon-to-be-retirement-land. And if things ever get tight, I know a lot of ways to make beans.


Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce

When we did our latest harvest from the garden, I thought a BBQ sauce was in order. We've already done pasta sauce, straight tomato sauce, and salsa. Time for something new.

I've made BBQ sauce in the past with varying degrees of success and thought it was time to tackle it. again.

Armed with a boatload of tomatoes, I started off.

I didn't peel the tomatoes - although I did core them. I used an immersion blender and didn't use a food mill, either. The end result isn't the thick, silky sauce from the national brands - there are no emulsifiers or thickening agents - but it's still thick and rich with lots of sweet smoky flavor!

Smoky Sweet BBQ Sauce

  • 8 pounds Tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 hot peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup brown sugr
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper

Saute the onions in olive oil until they begin to become translucent. Add garlic, tomatoes, peppers, and bourbon. Cover, and cook until tomatoes break down - 20 to 30 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree tomato mixture. It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth at this point - you'll keep blending as you go along.

Add remaining ingredients, using the immersion blender to mix everything really well and to make the sauce as smooth as possible.

Bring to a slow boil and cook, mixing often with the immersion blender to prevent scorching, for another 45 minutes to thicken.

Taste and check for seasonings, tweaking the smoky/spicy/sweet balance to your liking.

Bottle the sauce according to the type of jar, bottle, or container you choose.

I used 12 ounce sauce bottles and got exactly 12 bottles - pretty much a miracle. I never get exact amounts like that when I can!

You can play with this one a lot. Switch out the type of chili powder, the type of hot pepper, use a different vinegar... Have fun with it!

And speaking of canning...

You can get mason jars at pretty much any major grocery store, but if you're looking for special bottles or jars for something more fun or special, take a look at Fillmore Container. Their jars and lids are reasonably priced and they ship immediately! I've had great luck with them!


Cherry Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Tonight's dinner is brought to you by Cooking Light Magazine. I had dropped my subscription to the magazine several years ago because they had - in my not so humble opinion - become more of a woman's magazine with a few recipes. Their recipes had become too focused on fat and not focused on overall food and nutrition - or cooking and flavor. There were too many microwave and prepared food dishes. I definitely wasn't their demographic any longer.

And then, one day, it all changed.

Back were recipes that were worth cooking along with less makeup tips. I started up another subscription and I'm rather glad I did. I'm finding fun recipes in each issue with more relevant cooking ideas. The latest issue is a case in point - it had cherries.

I'm a cherry fan from way back. I even have a cherry pitter. Back when we lived in San Leandro, I entered the Cherry Pie Contest at their Cherry Festival and won 2nd Place in the non-traditional cherry pie category! It's the only pie contest I have ever entered and have to admit that the pie was pretty damned good. I think one of these days I'm going to have to make another one...

In the meantime, Cherry Bourbon BBQ Sauce. The magazine did it on chicken legs. I did it on beef brochettes. I think you could do it on anything and it would be excellent!

Cherry Bourbon BBQ Sauce

adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

  • 1 1/2 cups cherry juice
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Place cherry juice in saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce to 1 cup.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Reduce heat and cook until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Cool.

It really came out good. My one thought was that I didn't taste any bourbon. Victor thought it could have been a bit hotter. But both of us thought it was really good, regardless.

It made a pint of sauce and I only used a bit for the beef, so into the 'fridge it has gone for another meal, another day...

It's worth the few minutes it takes to put it together!



Blueberries and Cauliflower

I'm still working on cauliflower from the garden. It's pretty amazing how many different ways one can prepare the same vegetable. I have to admit my cauliflower repertoire was pretty slim - steamed, roasted, au gratin - the basics. I've had to get a bit more creative with plants in the back yard. Not that I'm complaining. Far from it, in fact. I'm loving every head of lettuce, cauliflower, beet, squash, you name it that's coming up. But it does take a rethinking of things. For me, that's a good thing. As much as I like to cook, I can get into ruts really easy. Stopping and thinking once in a while is a good thing.

Tonight was all about using up another half a head of cauliflower in a way that Nonna would eat it. That means mushy - my least favorite way to eat any vegetable. I hit upon a fritter of sorts. Cook it, mash it, bread it, fry it. How could it be wrong?

Well - it couldn't be. This was good. Really good. And really simple. I used a fairly good sized half-head of cauliflower for this. Figure out what you have and adjust as necessary.

Cauliflower Fritters

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florettes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • Bread crumbs

Boil cauliflower until over-cooked. Drain well and mash. Stir in 1/2 cup flour and 1 cup grated or shredded cheese. Use your imagination - any cheese or combination will work. Add 2 eggs, salt and pepper, and mix well.

Place bread crumbs in a bowl. Using a small scoop, drop scoops of cauliflower mixture into bread crumbs, flatten slightly, cover completely, and place on a sheet pan.

Fry in neutral oil until brown and crispy.

They were really good - and Nonna ate two of them!

Next up was a mixed grill with a blueberry fig sauce. This months Saveur magazine had a recipe for BBQ Chicken with a Blueberry Sauce. I had blueberries and figs, along with chicken, pork, and andouille sausage. A dinner was born...

Blueberry Fig Sauce

  • 11 oz fresh blueberries
  • 6 fresh figs
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Mash the fruit a bit, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let cook about an hour, stirring now and again.

Remove from heat and use an immersion blender (easier than a real blender) to make it as smooth as possible. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, return to pan, and let simmer, again, until reduced by about a third.

From there it can be refrigerated until you want to use it.

Brush on your meat of choice towards the end of cooking, and have some available to really douse the meat after it comes off the grill.

Once you taste the sauce, you'll find lots of uses for it - from topping ice cream to making salad dressings.

'Tis the season for fresh fruits and vegetables, but come winter, this would work with frozen, really easily.


Smoked Maple Peach BBQ Sauce

A month or so ago, my friend, Ruth, sent me a link for Smoked Maple Syrup. Obviously she knows me well, because while many folks might possibly show disdain for such a product, I immediately ordered a quart! I had no idea what to do with it, what it would taste like, or anything else - but I knew I needed some.

And Ruth came through! The stuff is pretty awesome!

It's not exactly the stuff one would put on pancakes, but it's definitely the stuff one would put on bacon - or, in this case - mixed into a homemade Peach BBQ Sauce.

Rather awesome stuff, if I do say so, m'self.

The recipe evolved as I made it so I don't have actual amounts of anything, but to make 21 pints, I used:

  • 10 pounds Peaches
  • 6 cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 4 cans diced green chiles
  • 4 onions
  • 1 head garlic
  • chipotle powder
  • ancho chile powder
  • fresh long hot peppers from our yard
  • fresh jalapeño peppers from our yard
  • 1 cup Jack Daniel's
  • 1 1/2 cups Smoked Maple Syrup
  • brown sugar
  • salt and pepper

I chopped the onions and fresh peppers and sauteed them in olive oil, added the garlic, the tomatoes, peaches, etc., and let it all simmer. I mixed everything together with an immersion blender, and let it all simmer, some more.

All the while I was tasting and tweaking ingredients until Victor tasted it and gave me a big smile.

So... Another tiny bit of the Christmas foods have been made.

I love my pressure canner - and I love friends who know me so well!


Peach Sriracha BBQ Sauce


I really enjoy making different BBQ Sauces - the flavors are really fun and the possibilities really are endless. From root beer to fig and even strawberry, we've made our share of sauces.

I have been dreaming about a peach sriracha bbq sauce for a while, now, and today was the day to make it happen.

Sriracha is a flavor profile that I really like. Southeast Asian with lots of heat - but with lots of flavor. It's not just heat for heats's sake.

So... armed with 8 pounds of peaches and 7 huge red peppers, I went to work. First was roasting the peppers...


The peppers had me drooling. There's something about charring peppers and steaming them in a bag that just gets my gastric juices flowing. It took great restraint to keep from just eating them standing up in the kitchen.

Into the pot they went with a couple pounds of onions, a full head of garlic, and the peaches. I put the peaches - unpeeled - into the food processor and mashed them up pretty well before adding them to the pot.


And then went in a whole bottle of Sriracha Sauce, a cup of pure cane syrup, 2 heaping tablespoons of smoked paprika, a full bottle of catsup, 2 cups apple cider vinegar, and some salt and pepper... and I let it simmer away for about an hour.

Into sterilized jars and into the pressure canner.

Alas, one jar didn't make it. I have a few old jars that I really do need to just replace - I've been reusing them for years. Note to self: go through the jars downstairs...


But they cleaned up nicely.


I ended up with 8 quarts of sauce. Methinks I may get some smaller jars at some point and re-can some of it for Christmas.

We shall see.

In the meantime...  here's the recipe:

Peach Sriracha BBQ Sauce

  • 8 pounds fresh, ripe peaches
  • 7 large red bell peppers
  • 2 pounds onions
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 bottle sriracha sauce
  • 1 bottle catsup
  • 1 cup cane syrup
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper

Roast peppers, steam, peel, and chop. Set aside.

Chop 2 pounds onions and saute in a large pot until translucent, using about a quarter cup olive oil.

Add peppers and minced garlic.

Pit peaches. In batches, chop in food processor, and add to pot.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Let sauce simmer about an hour, stirring now and then to keep from scorching.

Using an immersion blender, blend sauce until smooth.

Place sauce into hot, sterilized jars, and process in a hot water bath or pressure canner according to manufacturers instructions. (About 15 minutes at 11 pounds pressure for a pressure canner.)

I have to admit it came out great. It's going on grilled chicken, tonight - and steaks tomorrow!

Baby Back Ribs with Spicy Bourbon BBQ Sauce


Baby Back Ribs. Meaty, tender, juicy, baby back ribs. Ya gotta love 'em.

There re many reasons why I would never make it as a vegetarian, and ribs slathered in BBQ sauce is one of them. They're just too damned good for words - although that's not going to stop me from waxing poetically about them for a few more paragraphs!

Whenever I cook ribs, I almost always start them off in the oven and then finish them off on the grill. It's time and convenience for me. I no longer have the patience required to let something smoke on the BBQ for hours and hours. Besides - I no longer own a BBQ. Or a smoker.

The oven works for me.

I did something a bit different this time around... I started the ribs off in the oven with a half-cup of apricot nectar. I made a boat with the foil, put in the ribs, added the nectar, wrapped them up, and baked them at 350° for a bit more than an hour. I let them cool down while I made the sauce.

Spicy Bourbon BBQ Sauce

  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1/2 cup cane syrup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp sambal oelek
  • salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil, stirring well. Continue boiling until sauce reduces and begins to thicken - 5 or more minutes, depending on your personal preference.

Remove from heat and let cool.

I liberally coated the ribs with the sauce and then placed them on a medium-hot grill. I continually turned and basted them for about 15 minutes.They were sticky-perfect when they came off!


Baked sweet potatoes and braised artichokes finished the plate.