The Challenge: Day Seven

Mother Nature can be a real bitch sometimes.

On Sunday, like on day one of The Challenge, Mother Nature decided that rain would be a very good thing to bring to us. Generally, this doesn’t bother me – after all, it is that time of year here, between the dryness of what passes for spring and the almost-scheduled nature of afternoon thunderstorms in the heart of summer. Our rainy season, if you will. Sunday, though, it rained almost all day long. Some drizzle, a deluge, a steady stream: we had it all.

What this meant, of course, was that it was impossible to get grilling. Instead, I had to adjust to do all the cooking indoors instead. This is not a big deal, really, but it made for a bit of a logistics issue – and made me think that I could put two stoves to use without any problem whatsoever.

We start with what my mom told me were short ribs, but which wound up being even better: boneless pork loin ribs. I rubbed them down with a slighter sweeter mix than usual.

I didn’t get around to making pickles, but I did make some more bread, which was met with good reviews by the crowd.

The bounty from the farmer’s market, tossed with some olive oil, salt, pepper, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and some oregano, ready to hit the oven under the broiler. The grape tomatoes were not added until the last couple of minutes of cooking, as otherwise they’d have turned into mush by the time everything ese was done.

The chicken soaked for about an hour in fresh lemon, lime, and orange juices, along with some fresh ginger. The shrimp had their giant heads pulled off (and the veins, in these large shrimp, pulled right out, so deveining was a snap). Half the shrimp was reserved for the boil with copious amounts of Old Bay, and the other half went into a mix of fresh lime juice, honey, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. The ribs and the chicken both went into the oven at the same time, as they would take about the same time to finish. Once those were out, the veggies went in and the corn was tossed into some boiling water.

It looked something like this when set up buffet-style for everyone to fix their plates.

Roasted vegetables, homemade cocktail sauce, vine ripe tomatoes, chicken.

It wouldn’t be complete without the corn.

The shrimp.

It was quiet for a bit as everyone dug in. Yours truly had more formula and a couple bites of vegetables. As everyone finished and headed back out to the porch to digest, I thought it might be nice to do a little something with a couple of the pears we’d picked up. What to do, what to do? Since we couldn’t indulge our firebug side with the grill, I did the next best thing.

Sauteed pears, flambeed with rum, served with ice cream. We love fire around here.

I thinly sliced a couple of pears, then sauteed them for a few minutes in some butter and light brown sugar. A shot of rum, and they were set aflame. Once plated, they were topped with a scoop of ice cream and the remainder of the pan sauce drizzled over it all. The only thing missing was a fresh sprig of mint for garnish.

This went over very well with everyone who tried it.

So, you ask, what’s the cost breakdown for this feast?

Ribs – 13.73
Chicken (boneless, skinless) – 10 x 1.36 = 10.36
Zucchini – 1
Grape tomatoes – 1
Squash – 1.80
Red peppers – .66
Lemons – .50
Onions (Vidalia) – .33
Onions (Red) – .50
Large tomatoes – 1
Mushrooms – 1.80
Corn – 2
Pears – .50
Shrimp – 20
Ice cream – 1
Rum – .90

Total meal: 57.08
Total per diner (10): 5.71

There were leftovers, as well.

All of which goes to show that you can feed a good number of people, well, for a reasonable price. You can even serve dessert to those who have room for it…

2 thoughts on “The Challenge: Day Seven”

  1. Oh. My. God.

    I just caught up with the posts I missed while out of town. I’m so impressed not only by what you’re cooking, but how thorough you are to the spirit of a challenge I sent your way half in jest and how well you’re communicating all of it to those of us who read your blog. I’m also terribly sorry to hear about your gastro issues, since my mom had the same kind of trouble for a long time before all the wonder drugs came about and I know it can be awful.

    My husband says if you do ever start packaging those rubs, he’ll be one of your first customers. We’re not big grillers (but we, like most families, have one), but even in the oven, ribs or whatever else would be pretty good with your rub on them.

    All of the photos and the meal descriptions make my mouth water. And make me laugh, make me worry about your health, make me *feel* something. You’re very gifted. It translates very well to the page.

  2. Jest or not, it’s really turning into something quite interesting for me – in fact, I was talking about it with the landlords of the old house just this afternoon.

    The ribs were, by all accounts, quite good even in the oven rather than on the grill. The only caveat to this is to ensure you have a deep enough pan when you’re doing them, as they will release quite a bit of liquid. Fat dripping on the elements in the oven is going to be nasty smelling and probably set off a smoke alarm or two. Even with self-cleaning ovens, it would be a mess.

    Thanks for your other most kind words.

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