BBQ Sauce, the best camouflage (Larry’s Best Baby Back Ribs)

skipaheadRemember last week when I told you I was sick yet again? I’m not anymore. Though I’m a bit itchy. (Don’t read that sentence too fast, bit *pause* itchy.)

Not interested in dealing with another sinus infection or two-month long cold, I broke the rules. I broke the rules and karma had something to say about it. See, I had this unused bottle of Augmentin (an antibiotic) in my drawer. I hadn’t used it before because I was wary of it. As an infant I had an allergic reaction to amoxicillin, but I had been told by several urgent care doctors that often times infants are mis-diagnosed with penicillin allergies. So I decided now was the time to give it a try, rather than going into the doctor yet again to get a z-pack. I took it for seven days. On Saturday, while nursing Little K – I looked down at my hands and realized I had red pimples all over them. I knew what it was right away and took a Benadryl and threw away the rest of the antibiotic. One step forward, two steps back. I took a Benadryl an hour before spending the afternoon with the most enthusiastic shoppers you’ll find this side of the Rio Grande: E’s family. They shopped and fussed over Little K until I dropped. Although I think they know I’m not the avid shoppers they are, they likely realized something else was up by looking at my glassy eyes and my poxed hands and chin (luckily a scarf I was wearing covered up most of the hives while we shopped). I hit a metaphorical shopping wall right around the same time Little K hit his. We packed up and headed home. And honestly, I didn’t think at all about the allergy and hives – it didn’t even occur to me that I was tired because of the Benadryl. I’m just always tired these days I guess. Everything finally clicked when I got home and took off the scarf to find the hives had grown in size and now seemed to be glowing red. I took some more Benadryl and promptly went to bed.

My arm at the doctor’s office. I wish I had played connect the dots, I feel like there may have been a pretty awesome picture of Donald Duck hidden in there.

When I woke up I knew I was in bad shape. I knew because it felt like my whole body was sunburned, swollen, and like I had swallowed a bumble bee. I fed Little K and drove myself to urgent care. The doctor there scolded me, gave me an anti-inflamatory shot, told me to stop taking Benadryl during waking hours (I’m taking Zyrtec now), and told me I was grounded for the next week for breaking the rules. Ok, he didn’t really do that last part – but he probably should have…

Five hours later I looked no better (and no worse), but I was sitting at my friend Kerin’s baby shower with about 25 other people who I didn’t know or only vaguely knew. Who knows how to leave an impression? This girl! Fortunately I really don’t think most people noticed the leper in the room. I wore a big scarf, long sleeves, and the thickest layer of make-up I’ve applied since I was 14.

My arm as of this morning. You can’t tell from the picture, but even though the hives are much larger and are blending together – they’re less raised and I’m feeling less swollen.

Now, over 24 hours since the anti-inflammatory shot, the hives are finally starting to dissipate. I’m still taking Zyrtec so I don’t scratch my skin off (I’m also considering wearing mittens for the rest of the day). But at the rate we’re going here, I’ll be lucky to be rid of the hives by swim suit season. In the words of the urgent care doc, “There are better ways to find out if you’re allergic to something.”

Fortunately I have the perfect food for you to try if you’re trying to hide your bright red hives all over your hands and face: Ribs, with the best bbq sauce. You’ll have it slathered all over your face and hands while you’re chowing down, no one will even be able to see the hives! What a clever girl I am.

Larry’s Best Baby Back Ribs

Overall: five-star

Oh yum. See that weird-looking martini? It was a Bloody Mary Martini from a recipe on the bloody mary mix. Sounds weird, but so good.

We have used this recipe to prepare ribs for years and we love it. I honestly don’t recall preparing ribs any other way since we’ve found this recipe. It’s super easy to make, you can set it to cook while you’re at work and come home to the best dinner and a fabulous smelling house. (Truly, I wish they made candles in this scent. Yum.) (Recipe here, from

Ease to Prepare: four-star

The general idea here is that you make a bbq sauce and then slow cook the meat and the sauce at a very low heat from breakfast until dinner. It’s super easy to make, but it does take a while. The good news is that you don’t need to be home to flip it or baste it or anything. I set the baking timer on my oven and went to work, when I came home I had yummy ribs. Oh, and the bbq sauce is really easy to make. I call it the “cleaning out the fridge door sauce.” It feels like it calls for a bit of nearly every random jar in the door.

Instructions: four-star

The instructions are great, though I wish they were more explicit about not pouring all the sauce on the ribs while they bake. I always seem to do that and then I wish I had some extra to use later when they’re ready to eat. It isn’t until the end of the recipe that it says to serve with leftover sauce. Uh, what leftover sauce? I also don’t recommend following the suggested use for the drippings. It grosses me out for one – bread and melted pig fat. mmmm. But come on, do you really need me to tell you how bad for you that would be?! The ribs are unhealthy enough, don’t add insult to injury. (Note: E said he tried it once – eeek!- and it wasn’t very good. Somehow I’m not surprised.)

Before baking, make sure there is plenty of sauce slathered on those suckers.

Oh – also, it calls for liquid smoke. I have no idea what that is and have either just skipped it, used some Cajun spices, or threw in some Tabasco. Do what feels right to you. Honestly, this is the perfect recipe for mixing and matching and using what you have.

Food: five-star

I can count the number of times I’ve eaten ribs. I usually don’t love them. I find them tough with too much fat and too little meat. I think they’ve just been prepared wrong. These ribs are phenomenal. They truly do fall off the bone and because you slow cook them the fat drains off so you’re not left with a really grisly piece of meat. Make sure you use baby back ribs though, I think these were spare ribs and they just weren’t as good.

We always grill our ribs after the baking, but I really think they’d be great even if you skipped that step or tried the broiler like the recipe suggests. The bbq sauce is candied in some places and the meat is so flavorful and juicy. I’ve even served this to company – with plenty of napkins.

Clean up: five-star

The sauce prep can be done in a medium size sauce pan with easy clean up. I usually bake the ribs on a cookie sheet, but a word of warning here. Make sure you line the cookie sheet with tin foil. It makes the pan so much easier to clean up since you won’t have any baked on sauce. I also use tin foil on the grill when I grill the ribs. But that’s just because the meat is so tender it kind of falls apart on the grill! A nice problem to have…

I actually put the cookie sheet on the grill this time. It made clean up a lot harder (the sauce baked on), so if your ribs can tolerate being moved to the grill, than do it.

Cost: one dollar

I just buy a nice looking baby back rib from the grocery store – don’t go crazy trying to find the best for this. The slow cooking and sauce is going to work its magic. And this is another nice recipe for cleaning out the fridge and spice rack, but don’t feel like you need to have every spice they list to make this recipe. Feel free to omit or substitute as needed. I’ve even used orange juice instead of pineapple on occasion rather than opening a whole jar of pineapple, and it’s turned out just as good!

Did you grill anything this weekend? I’ve got the springtime bug – I want to grill out breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Anyone else have a hilarious and embarrassing allergy story? Tell me.


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