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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Dad Food

Uploaded: Jun 18, 2015

Any foods remind you of Dad?

Is / was he a cook? Does / did he have a special dish, like Mr. Ickes' mean blueberry pancakes made post sleep-over at Joanne's house (my St. Al's grade school buddy). NW Resident, a Food Party! reader suggested we revisit this topic after talking about mom food on Mom's Day.

I thought about my Dad. It wasn't easy because, well, he didn't cook. Like, at all. If he was around I'd ask, "Dad, in 64 years of marriage did you ever even open a can of soup?" But I can't, cuz he's first-year-gone this July. ☹ Gone but ner' forgotten.

Ed Stec was a soup-lovin man. Lucky for him my mom gave good soup. So when I think Dad Food, I think mom and her homemade Pumpkin Soup and Refrigerator Soup(s) that he enjoyed so much.

Mom's Refrigerator Soup is easy to make, delicious, and it fits perfectly into our discussions-of-late on food waste reduction. Made mostly from leftovers, it's always different, but oh-so tasty. I've been wondering how she puts it together for years, and finally asked while visiting Michigan this week. Now I know the secret, and so will you.

Any foods remind you of your Dad?

Mom's Refrigerator Soup
- recipe by Helen Stec

Everything goes into my soup pot except fresh lettuce. Tonight for dinner I am combining our leftover breakfast bacon into the leftover fried potatoes. If any is still left, it'll go into the soup pot. Extra green beans, rice from Chinese takeout? I've even chopped up leftover lasagna and added that in.

3 ? 5 cups leftovers and food scraps, gathered in your freezer
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cups water
1 packet French Onion Soup Mix (the secret)
Chicken stock
Extra fresh chopped veggies, or tomato whatever (fresh, sauce, canned, paste?) (optional)
Herbs of choice ? mom likes celery seed and rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Gather leftovers in a Tupperware soup pot and store in the freezer. Fill it up until you have 3 ? 5 cups.

In a medium size pot, sauté onions in oil until light gold. Add in the frozen soup pot, water and onion soup mix. Stir, melt, meld and then add chicken stock to cover as needed. If you don't have enough vegetables, add some fresh, chopped ones, or anything "tomatoey" you have around. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, and simmer 20 minutes until hot and flavors have combined. Add a few dashes of fresh or dried herbs of choice. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle up and enjoy.

Happy Fathers Day to all Dads here and gone.

- Ed Stec, definitely not cooking (photo by Laura Stec)

P.S. Guys - what do you cook for dinner and how do you incorporate vegetables? Would love your good ideas for an upcoming public Belmont Library class - Guys in the Kitchen. Thanks!

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Posted by Casa de Cerveza, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Jun 18, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Casa de Cerveza is a registered user.

I bought a Cajun Injector meat smoker from Barbecues Galore earlier this year and have enjoyed learning a new way to prepare meat. The salesman, Tommy, has been a great resource teaching me some of his finely honed skills.

So far, my favorite meal is definitely smoked baby back ribs. I researched numerous on-line recipes and distilled them into a recipe that works well for me. The night before, I peel off the membrane off the ribs, slather the slab in a massive quantity of yellow mustard, and pour on a large quantity of Gates Barbecue Classic Dry Rub from Kansas City. I let this marinade throughout the night to the next afternoon. I use soaked hickory wood chips and smoke the meat for approximately four hours at a temperature of 250 degrees until the ribs reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

I let the meat rest for about 20 minutes after taking it out of the smoker. As side dishes, I serve baked beans, coleslaw, and corn on the cob. I love to cook and do it often. This will be my 2015 Father's Day Feast.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 19, 2015 at 6:48 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Welcome back Casa de Cerveza and thanks! I see you have more than beer brewing at your yummy home. When's the BBQ?

Posted by a black fella, a resident of Cuernavaca,
on Jun 21, 2015 at 12:55 am

BBQ ribs are one of my favorite meals, and like many things I enjoy I?ve invested some time in trying to perfect my craft. Ribs are, in my opinion, an easy dish to make and one that?s hard to mess up provided you add a sufficient quantity of the most important ingredient ? time.

Going along with my theory that recipes should include mandatory and optional ingredients so as to be more accessible to the novice cook or those of us without obnoxiously well stocked pantries, I?ve identified both the mandatory and optional ingredients, as well as the mandatory and optional steps. A significant portion of what I?ve learned came from the site Amazing Ribs, which has a wealth of different recipes ? especially for the serious smoker.


Optional ingredients are in italics.

1 rack of ribs
BBQ sauce of your choice
Aluminum foil
Rub of your choice. (There are specialty rib rubs out there, but any pork-friendly rub will do fine. If you read the ingredients, you?ll discover a lot of rubs are similar.)
Balsamic vinegar
The Easy Way

These are the basic steps ? everything else is extra. These will get you passable ribs that you can prepare with less than 30 minutes of actual labor and proudly serve on your dinner table.


Lay out a piece of foil slightly longer than your rack of ribs. Place the ribs bone side down (meaty side up) on the foil.
Cover the ribs in BBQ sauce. Place another piece of foil (slightly smaller than the first) over the ribs and fold both pieces of foil up over the ribs like so:
Foil packet for BBQ ribs.

Peter Hsu

Place your ribs in the fridge overnight.

Heat oven to 225. Place ribs in oven inside foil packet. Bake for 3 ? 4 hours.
20 minutes before finishing open the top of your foil packets; add BBQ sauce over the ribs and put your oven on broil.
Remove and serve.
The Oven + Grill Method For Optimum Deliciousness

This method increases prep time by perhaps 20 minutes, as well as makes the cooking slightly more complex by forcing you to use both the oven and your grill. Either a gas or covered charcoal grill will work; we all know that gas is easier while charcoal tastes better. In my opinion it?s well worth it. Remember that virtually all of the additional steps here are optional, so you?re welcome to simply skip any added steps you think are too hard or not worth the time.


Lay out a piece of foil slightly longer than your rack of ribs.
Place the ribs bone side up and remove the membrane on the back of the ribs. You may not be able to see it immediately, but if you slip a knife underneath the back of the ribs you should be able to feel a membrane connecting the back of the rib tissue. Starting from one end, grasp the membrane (after using your knife to cut a bit loose) and peel it off the back of the ribs.
Removing the membrane from baby back ribs.

On both sides of the ribs apply a slight amount of vinegar (I think balsamic works well, but any vinegar is fine) and then liberally spread rib rub throughout the ribs. The vinegar is completely optional, but helps tenderize the meat and increase rub absorption.
With the ribs bone side down on the foil, place another piece of foil (slightly smaller than the first) over the ribs and fold both pieces of foil up over the ribs.
Place your ribs in the fridge overnight.
If you?re using a smoky or sweet BBQ sauce you can add a little kick to it by adding a little whiskey. Pour the whiskey (about a shot will do fine) directly into the BBQ sauce bottle and shake well.

If using a gas grill ? pre-heat your grill to maximum temperature. Remove your ribs from the foil packets and sear the ribs on both sides on the grill to lock in the juices. Place ribs back in the foil packets. Alternately, you can accomplish the same thing by opening or removing the top off your foil packet and broiling the ribs in the oven for 10 or so minutes. (The optimum method would use a gas grill for this step, and then a charcoal grill to finish the ribs at the end below.)
Place a pan with 1/2 inch of water on the bottom rack of the oven. This will create a nice sauna that helps prevent your ribs from drying out.
Place your ribs in the oven at 225. Cook for 3.5 ? 4+ hours (I never pre-heat my oven, so take timing with a grain of salt). You can use the bend test below to test when done.

The bend test - how to tell when ribs are done. Grasp ribs with tongs at one end, and then let gravity bend the rack. The crust should break slightly as the ribs bend.
Your soup sounds disgusting
Pre-heat (or light) your grill. With the grill at a medium temperature, remove ribs from the oven and place meaty side down on the grill. As you?re doing this you can take your serving tray (a nice big platter, or a wooden cutting board if you?re going rustic) and place it in the oven to warm it up.
On the grill, cover the bone side with BBQ sauce and grill with the cover closed until the sauce starts to thicken and stick to the bone. Turn over and repeat, saucing the meaty side of the ribs with a delicious covering of BBQ sauce.
Remove and serve. If you want to make things easy for your guests, you can use kitchen scissors to cut into 1-2 rib pieces. Serve with a bowl of warm BBQ sauce on the table.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 21, 2015 at 6:01 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

a black fella likes his ribs, but not his soup. How about vegetables guys? Any of you cook vegetables out there how do you like it?

Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Alan is a registered user.

"Any foods remind you of Dad?" Several do, but rhubarb pie tops the list. His mother was known for being a bit of cook, my mom's mother, not so much. There were a number of northern Missouri small-town recipes that he had my mom learn from his mother, but he took care of the desserts himself, which included multiple pies, rhubarb being the most distinctive (gooseberry being a close second). Growing up in the Detroit area, we thought of Missouri as being "the South" - which anyone from Missouri would quickly question.

By the way, the town he grew up in was the first place to have a very important food innovation: pre-sliced bread! Web Link It's the best thing since ... no, it's just the best thing!

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Jun 22, 2015 at 4:39 pm

Alan, I grew up in Detroit and rhubarb pie is another Dad Food for me too! Forgot that one.

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on Jun 24, 2015 at 6:41 am

NW Resident - we're still waiting for you!!

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