memorial day staples

Finally, a Memorial Day weekend in Cleveland rain free! In honor of the unofficial kickoff of summer, here are a few recipes that I will be making this weekend: ribs with zinfandel barbecue sauce and my dad’s famous potato salad.

I know there are a lot of Clevelanders that head to the rib fest this weekend, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. Forget the fact that it’s overpriced, but the ribs aren’t even good! The last time we went, probably 4 years ago, we vowed never to go back. I’d much rather make my own ribs and spend the holiday weekend on our patio (or a friends).

Zinfandel BBQ Sauce (from Steven Raichlen’s BBQ USA)

This sauce, hailed from Sonoma, is simple to make and very flavorful. It goes well with beef or lamb, as well as pork, and can be made several weeks in advance as long as it’s well covered in the fridge.

3 Tbsp butter
3 to 5 shallots, minced (about 3/4 cup)
2 garlic gloves, minced
1.5 c zinfandel
3/4 c ketchup
2 Tbsp brown sugar (more to taste)
2 Tbsp honey
1tsp liquid smoke
Kosher salt / black pepper

1. Melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until starting to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add all but 2 Tbsp of the wine and bring to a boil. Let the mixture boil until reduced to about 1/3 c, about 8 to 12 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, honey and liquid smoke. Let sauce simmer gently until thick and richly flavored, about 6 to 10 minutes, adding the remaining 2 Tbsp of wine after 4 minutes. Taste for season, adding more brown sugar, salt, pepper, etc. as necessary.

Makes 1 1/4 cups

Bill’s potato salad

My dad doesn’t make many things, considering my mom a) won’t let anyone in her kitchen, and b) with a cook like her, why bother? But he does make my favorite potato salad – ever. He doesn’t follow a recipe or measure things out, but gave me this guide as a starter.

5 lbs red skin potatoes
6 eggs, hard boiled
32 oz jar Miracle Whip (I know a lot of people out there prefer mayo, but I have never liked the taste of real mayo. Maybe this is why I like this salad so much)
4 – 5 stalks celery
sliced carrots
yellow mustard, approx 2 – 4 Tbsp
vinegar, preferable apple cider, approx 3 – 6 Tbsp
1 – 2 Tbsp sugar
sweet onion chopped, optional
s/p to taste

1. Boil potatoes, approx 8 – 10 mins. Peel and let cool.

2. Combine Miracle Whip up to onion. Make sure sauce isn’t runny (my dad pointed this out several times). Taste and adjust based on preference.

3. Slowly add sauce to potatoes; be sure not to add too much sauce – you may have extra. Top with eggs and slightly mix.


  1. Lily B.
    Posted May 25, 2008 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Ok. I have to try both of these right NOW. They sound like perfect memorial day yumminess!
    Love your blogs!

  2. NEOcreativegenius
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Hi Michelle —

    Just found your blog — love it!

    You’re correct that the food at the rib cook-off is a bit overpriced. I’m mostly vegetarian and so am not informed about ribs, but my carnivorous boyfriend has only found one vendor that he absolutely loves — Bubba’s Q in Avon. It would probably cost about the same to drive out to Avon and have a nice dinner at Bubba’s Q as it would to go to the rib cook-off.

    I suspect more folks go to the rib cook-off for the atmosphere (and the music, if there’s a good artist playing) than the food.

    Keep up the great work, and if you have time, check out my blog.