I prepared way too much food. Or rather, I underestimated the fact that people would prefer hot dogs and burgers to marinated and grilled veggies, tri-tip, and ribs. So, as a result I have an absurd amount of left-over food that has yet to be grilled. The veggies at least need to happen within the next day or two.
I did a dry-rub rib, and I'm recording the recipe here for later improvement- they came out just as tender and succulent as you could possibly want (at least in regards to ribs...) but quite a bit too salty. Now that I've got the process down to a science, I really only need to perfect the dry-rub process.
Pre-heat oven to 450F.
Use dry-rub bbq seasoning on the ribs, pour generously and let stand for an hour or two.
Wrap the ribs in tin-foil, and bake them in the oven directly on the rack for 45 minutes.
Transfer to the ribs to the grill - make sure the grill is cooling down, rather than at its highest heat - we want to slow cook them, not sear them.
Put the ribs down, and spray them with a spray-bottled filled with 1/3 cider vinegar and 2/3 water. (this time I used white wine vinegar, and I thought something a little sweet would be better.) Flip them over immediately and spray the other side.
Give 'em about ten minutes a side - when you flip over the second time, baste them in your bbq sauce. You don't want the sauce to be on the heat for too long, or it will change its character and become less sweet and savory and more carbon-y.
Remove and serve.
Future note: be sure that the dry-rub is not too salty.
After all the eating and most of the drinking was done, we walked down to the end of the street and watched fireworks in Balboa Park. It was a small display - obviously just a bunch of locals who raided a fireworks stand for roman candles and simple showers - still, they're was something homegrown and authentic about the way we could hear kids shrieking happily in the park, the way families were strolling down from the neighborhood - it reminded my powerfully of going to the church parking lot at Valley Forge with my grandfather and mother when I was a kid to watch the fireworks soaring up out of the park. 4th of July was one of Grandpa's favorite holidays; he regressed to a happy ten-year-old whenever he had some decent fireworks to light.
I remember him waking me up at about 6AM one 4th of July, and saying, "Come one, time to get 'em up and remind 'em of their patriotism!" We then lit a firecracker that made an ear-piercing shriek that ascended to a decibel level and pitch that probably bothered dogs in France - and culminated in a titanic "BANG" that rattled windows up and down the neighborhood. People rushed out of their houses to see what had happened, and Grandpa laughed until he cried.
He said, "My father always said '4th of July should start early and end late!'" I guess waking the neighbors up was a fine old family tradition.
So there I was, 3,000 miles from home, but blessed with a bunch of great new friends, watching the same sorts of displays that used to delight my grandfather - far away, and long ago. I couldn't help but feel nostalgaic, and also more than a little sad about how badly things ended with him.
Still. I hope someone got him up good and early wherever he is, to remember the 4th.