Farmhouse Ribs

IMG_7764Summer is full on now, no dew in the mornings, and warm breezes through the night, with lots of eating out of doors, watering of gardens, and chatting in the shade. The cows hunker down in the copses in the valley for the afternoon, flicking their tails, and chewing their cuds. The three horses all gather in our big walk-in shelter, waiting until the afternoon heat subsides. In the late afternoon, we take the dogs down to the beach for a swim and retrieve session, cooling us all down. July on the Gulf Islands is only surpassed by August on the Gulf Islands.

We gather more often for casual meals in the summer, most likely because it’s easier. No one wears much of anything anyhow; flip-flops and cut-offs are our A-list of fashion. It feels easier to drop what you’re doing, come on over, get a cold beverage, and visit while dinner gets ready.

I have no concerns about braising meats in the summer. It doesn’t really matter if the oven’s on low for several hours, as we’ll be eating outdoors anyhow. One of my favourite summer meals is ribs & coleslaw, we usually have some bread or rice to accompany it, and maybe some pickles, and if we’re really being fancy, a tossed salad. The ribs get braised for 3 hours, and can be cooked just before finishing them, or the day before, ready to be glazed with the BBQ sauce.   They still taste wonderful, and the meat falls off the bone. I put out a big dish of them, letting folks take as many as they want, with lots of napkins to clean off sticky fingers.

We sit and talk until dusk, most of the meal is put away, but we’re still lured to stay put, enjoying the few first cooler breezes of the night. These nights the sky is light well past 9:00, but by the end of August, we’ll be finishing our outdoor dining in the flickering light of candles and mini lights, while we watch the stars get brighter above. Continue reading

Glazed Harissa Spiced Pork Ribs with Roasted Oranges

IMG_7642Our community is often on the look out for great fund-raising ideas for our little island for different social assistance programs, the school, and maintaining & improving our community hall. The essentials are that it be interesting enough to attract at least 30% of our population, be something that we can pull off with the expertise we have at hand, and an event that makes the most money possible given the first two requirements.

One year we decided to do a walk-a-thon to raise funds. We don’t have a circuitous route on Thetis, so we had boats move us from one road end point to another. Already we had a built in infrastructure consideration that made the walk more interesting! The walk was planned for a Saturday morning, so some of us realized that most people would already be here the night before, so why not feed them?

I led the group, and we served big servings of lasagne and Caesar salad. This was the event that I created my Roasted Vegetable Lasagne for. We sold 80 tickets for $15 within the first three days, and as there were only 350 residents on the island that was pretty good!

Then my head started tumbling over ideas… If we already had a captive audience, how about doing some sort of auction?

Our house is full of art. We have many pieces waiting to get hung if another piece gets moved. What if others are in the same boat? What if some of that art isn’t ever going to get hung? What if we had an auction where folks could put the art up for auction whether it’s a print or an original; acquired or created by themselves? What about artisans? Before I knew it, the idea had created itself!

By the time of the event, we had a beautiful quilt, original sketches, acrylics, funny little thrift shop finds, and some amazing current and antique prints offered for sale.

I can’t remember how much money we made that night, but I do remember the quilt being sold for $1,500. Many people took home new art, as well as selling one of their own pieces.

The weekend was a huge success, and although we didn’t offer the art auction again the next year, the walk-a-thon continued on for several years raising money for our little one room schoolhouse.

A decade or so later, in 2011, the community dusted off the idea of an art auction. Instead of being a last minute idea, we would take the time to figure out logistics, and try to make it a “huge” event. This year will be our 4th in a row, and each year has done substantially better than the past.

The main draw, besides an awesome evening out, is the dinner. We have decided to go with a Moroccan inspired meal this year, so from an appetizer tent to the main meal served on linen clad tables on the tennis court, every item draws from the southern shores of the Mediterranean.

I spent most of a day figuring out this recipe for this year’s event. Braising the ribs in harissa spiced orange juice, and incorporating roasted oranges to the final glaze, which elevated a basic rib recipe into something exotic. The ribs can be glazed either on the barbeque (as we’ll be doing for the event) or simply glazed in the oven, as I’ve done with them here. Continue reading