Things I’ve learned recently …

I was recently able to spend some time back home in Kansas City. Going home after moving away proves that it’s harder to move away than I imagined it would be. Driving around the city just made me realize how much I missed the streets and buildings even. It’s a security blanket type feeling I imagine. I’m a highly social person (or so I thought) but I’m having a difficult time finding a social network in this small community. It may be I’m not trying hard enough.

Anyway, while I was home I had a conversation with my friend Trisha who is a faithful reader of my blog (thank you dear!). She is the one who was mystified by the pie weights I received as a wedding present. First of all, she was amazed I actually make pie crust from scratch. Second, she couldn’t imagine what the hell pie weights were and how in the world  they could be used. Needless to say after explaining how they are used to prevent a par-baked pie crust from bubbling up and burning, there were some lewd references and jokes made and much laughter was had. But I digress … she and I were discussing my blog and she felt that my recipes were too lengthy and complicated with too many ingredients. I suppose that could be true. If someone doesn’t like to cook then the fewer ingredients and the less time actually spent putting food together is important. For me however it’s about creating something and sometimes that requires more effort than others. I did agree to try to do more simple things for those who think less is more.

In that vein I present a BBQ Dry Rub for chicken or pork. It’s so easy and so tasty you won’t believe it. And of course, I found this in Cook’s Country magazine (from the people who bring you Cook’s Illustrated). The BEST magazines and food knowledge sources for every level of cook, hands down. I made it their prescribed way several times before I started tweaking it with my own ideas. It’s particularly good with a touch of Vietnamese* Cinnamon and Mace … but not everyone has these in their cupboard and I suppose that may be complicating the thing more than Trisha would approve of. That’s the joy of cooking. You can make it as easy or as challenging as you like … you just need to know what you like!

3 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp chili powder (I use chipotle pepper powder – you can use what you have on hand)
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne powder (or more if you like it more spicy)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt

Mix all these together, pat the pork or chicken dry and coat it with half of the rub. Let it marinate for and hour or two (or not – your choice) then before you pop in the oven or grill, use the rest to re-coat. When doing chicken I use bone in and bake at 400 for 30 min. For pork steaks or chops, I bake at 350 for 20, flipping at the 10 min mark.

Voila! Easy, peasy, mac&cheesy!

* You can use what ever cinnamon you may have in your cupboard. I have recently discovered the most amazing Vietnamese variety and let me tell you it is worth hunting down. It’s so much more fragrant and vibrant. Yum-mee!

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