ribs

WaterLine photo by Chef Tim Spain

Punta Gorda Steve is a man who knows his ribs. If he says they’re good, they’re good.

I bet most of you have a cabinet in your kitchen full of dried spices, and I bet you have some duplicates just like I do. I, too, will go the store and buy spices that I forgot I already had in my kitchen.

How do you fix this problem? Take a quick inventory of your pantry and list it in your phone, or take a picture of your of all your dry goods. Then, the hard part: Remember to look at it when you’re at the market shopping. This will help save money and space in your pantry.

We all have our preferred seasonings — stuff that needs to be on hand at all times. For me, it’s Everglades Seasoning. I use this stuff on almost everything I cook, both professionally and at the house too.

When I was a kid, I remember my Dad’s go-to seasoning was the original Everglades Seasoning. I think he probably even tried it in his beer one time while we were camping at Rock Bend in Brownsville.

Nowadays, Everglades has several different formulas to choose from. My top pick is the Everglades Heat, but I must say that the Cactus Dust and a little yellow mustard was pretty good on some ribs I smoked at the house last week. My friend Punta Gorda Steve and I ate them while we waited for a raincloud to pass so we could get back to fishing my dock. Steve liked them so much that he asked for a to-go portion so he could enjoy more of them later. They really were excellent, and it’s a very easy recipe.

I realize this is a seafood column, but you know what? Nobody eats seafood all the time. I thought I’d share this simple recipe with you and hope you will enjoy it as much as we did. For you hunters, it’s a great way to fix some wild pork. All you need is a smoker, pork ribs, yellow mustard, Everglades Cactus Dust and a couple hours. I suggest that you fish from your dock while they are in the smoker. If you don’t have a dock behind your house, you could always cut your grass or pull some weeds.

Of course, keeping a kitchen in order requires more than just knowing what spices you have. Something my late wife taught me was the organization of dishes and glassware. In my kitchen, I have a cabinet with all my china for catering and dinner parties. Right beside that is a cabinet containing the dishes to be used around my pool. They’re made of melamine and nearly unbreakable if dropped on the pea rock on my lanai.

I have to admit, I’ve dropped a couple of them after having one too many adult beverages. Although I lost my food, I didn’t break a plate and make it dangerous to walk barefoot.

The next cabinet is full of seasonal and holiday paper plates and napkins. This was all Lauren’s doing. She made sure we had paper plates, napkins and plastic flatware for just about every holiday. Her favorite was Halloween, and don’t even get me started on how much Halloweeny-type stuff I have in the house.

Another idea is to label and date the food in your freezer, I try not to have things in the freezer longer than a few weeks before I use them. Freezers will burn and ruin your food if it’s left in there too long.

Think about your pots and pans. If you’ve read my columns before, then you probably have read more than once about me suggesting buying good pots and pans and taking care of them. If you do, you won’t ever have to buy them again. I use All-Clad pans and they are worth every penny. They get hot fast and evenly conduct the heat throughout the entire pan (except for the handles).

The smoker I have is a called a SmokinTex. It’s a commercial grade electric smoker that sits on my lanai. That thing has only let me down once, when I forgot to set my timer and I overcooked some ribs. I brought them to the bait shop and told the guys it wasn’t my best work because of my own errors. They agreed — but them ribs got ate anyway.

Chef Tim Spain is a Florida native and has years of experience cooking professionally, both in restaurants and in private settings. He offers private catering and personal culinary classes. For more info, visit ChefTimSpain.com or call 406-580-1994.

Backyard Pork Ribs

2 slabs pork spare ribs

2 Vidalia onions

8 oz yellow mustard

3 tbsp Everglades Cactus Dust Seasoning

Mesquite wood chips

1 pound Brussels spouts

Cut the onions into wedges, leaving the root section on to hold the wedges together. Rub the ribs, onions and Brussels sprouts with the yellow mustard. Evenly coat all three with the Cactus Dust. Load your smoker with wood chips and food, set it at 275° and wait 2.5 hours. Check the ribs after 2.5 hours; if they don’t want to easily pull apart, they might need another half-hour. Exact cooking time depends on the smoker. Enjoy with an ice-cold beer. Serves 4.

— Recipe by Chef Tim Spain, ChefTimSpain.com

Chef Tim Spain is a Florida native and has years of experience cooking professionally, both in restaurants and in private settings. He offers private catering and personal culinary classes. For more info, visit ChefTimSpain.com or call 406-580-1994.

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