Since I officially announced Tasty Oasis on Monday with an email blast and a Facebook update, I have been overwhelmed by the response. Your messages and comments have been so kind and encouraging, and I am thrilled that so many of you have shared Tasty Oasis with your friends already. I can’t thank you enough! Creating a food blog has been something I’ve thought about for years. I think and read about food constantly. I have been collecting cookbooks for ages, and I go through them like novels, reading them from beginning to end and writing notes about what I’ll make one day. I’ve had magazine subscriptions on and off since I left college, and I have only recently tossed the towering stacks of ancient Gourmets, Bon Appetites, Cooking Lights, and Everyday Foods, saving precious recipes in binders instead. And the blogs. For the last many years I have read a ridiculous number of blogs daily. I started off with Smitten Kitchen back in her very early days, and the list just grew. With the ease of subscription services and feed readers, it’s like having my own set of food magazines every day, tailored to exactly my taste. Personally, I read everything on Feedly, and am always happy when one of my favorites has a new post up. It’s because of this hobby, or distraction, or whatever you may call it that that I decided I wanted to write my own blog. I know exactly what I like to read and see on a food blog, and now the challenge is to produce that on my own for all of you. I’m so excited to finally be doing it!
Many of you wrote and asked who’s taking the photographs on Tasty Oasis. I am! It’s me! When I decided to start this project, I knew that I had to up my game and move on from my 8 year old point and shoot camera. In January I bought a Canon Rebel T3i, and have been playing with it constantly. Even though I’ve interpreted undergraduate photography classes over the years, I never really applied what I heard and always used to stick with the automatic settings. But I bought myself a food photography book, and pay close attention to other bloggers’ photography choices, and am experimenting every time I go to shoot something. The up-close macro shots seem to be working out, but if you saw the number of blurry kid photos I’ve taken you would have to laugh and wonder if it’s the same photographer! At the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens last week I experimented with flowers, and again, things that stay in one place seem to be where I have the most luck. I’m hoping with time I can actually get some good people shots though!
From the last couple of posts you have probably noticed that I use dried spices to flavor a lot of my cooking. There are a bunch of reasons, but the big ones are that they are easy, convenient and healthy. As a working mom, I often feel like I am running around with my time and brain split in 84 different directions. I am constantly looking for shortcuts, and tend to favor recipes that don’t have too many moving parts or specialty ingredients. Fresh herbs are fabulous, and you absolutely will see them frequently on Tasty Oasis, but they sadly die in my refrigerator over and over again. If I didn’t kill every plant I ever tried to grow (I know, watering would help, but that’s just another thing to remember to do), I would grow my own herbs and just snip what I needed, but I never seem to make it happen. So dried herbs and spices often come to the rescue. Plus, a spice rub means you can avoid making a heavy sauce, skipping the creams and coconut milk and the oils. Those all make things tasty, but don’t necessarily help for making a meal on the lighter side. That said, they have their place in my kitchen and when I use them I make sure to enjoy every bite.
One strategy I use to feed my family home cooked food is the crockpot. I can throw something together before leaving for work, and walk into a house that smells amazing. A lot of people think crockpot cooking is only for the winter for stews and soups, but summer is the perfect time to use the crockpot because you can avoid turning on the stove and heating up your kitchen. Living in a house that’s almost 100 years old without central air, that is brilliant. I’m such a fan of this contraption that I typically have two going on the counter at once so that I can double my recipes and freeze several extra meals at a time. This way I can have dinner ready with even less work later in the week or month. (I’ll be writing more posts about how to cook and freeze meals, so stay tuned!)
Spice-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs are ideal for crockpot cooking because they do best when they’re cooked at low temperatures for a long time. The prep is about 10-15 minutes, and super simple to do. If you buy already trimmed ribs (like the ones that Trader Joe’s sells), it’s even easier. You just cut the ribs to fit into the crockpot, and place them on a cutting board. Once you mix up your spice rub you pat it onto both sides of the meat, making sure it is fully coated, and throw them into the crockpot. No onions or garlic to chop, no sauces to heat, whisk and reduce, you’ll only have some measuring spoons, a small bowl, a knife and a cutting board to clean (or leave in sink for when you get home at night.) You can prep it in the morning, or you can even do it at night before you go to bed so that when you wake up there is food ready to pack for lunches! Fall-off-the-bone tender and full of flavor, these ribs are my kids’ favorite. They take no special skills, so even someone who never cooks can pull this off beautifully. I promise. And if you have a favorite crockpot recipe, please leave a note in the comments and I will check it out!
Spice-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs are ideal for crockpot cooking because they do best when they’re cooked at low temperatures for a long time. Fall-off-the-bone tender and full of flavor, they take no special skills, so even someone who never cooks can pull this off beautifully. With only 10-15 minutes of prep time, this is one of the easiest recipes you will make.
- 4 pounds of baby back pork ribs (trimmed, 2 racks)
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
*Leftovers freeze well when wrapped in plastic wrap and then placed into a Ziploc freezer bag. Simply defrost in the refrigerator overnight, and reheat in the oven or microwave.
**No crockpot? In a 250 degree oven, place your ribs onto baking sheets, and cook for 3.5 hours. Then turn your oven to 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes to brown the ribs. (But really, a crockpot is totally worth investing in.)
***Try this spice mix on broiled flank steak.