Whew. Last week’s blog post about the F-word with 11 lightened summer recipes set off a maelstrom of activity in the blogosphere and in my brain. The comments and emails I received were kind, powerful, and impressive, but a lot to think about and manage.

So, this week? We’re talking about summertime. Let’s make the living easy. E-Z. Simple. Low and slow. Borderline lazy. Let’s give the personal baring of the soul a rest for a little bit.

I’ve got some projects planned for summer, of course. I’m going to play around with the video camera, write a few articles, work on selling my TV concept, Starting from Scratch. We’re also planning to shoot another episode in the next few months. I’ll keep you posted.

I’m also looking forward to some fishing.

Let us not forget that under the red Chanel lipstick and fancy French cooking that I am borderline redneck. I like baseball, fishing, SEC Football, and trucks. I’m just not illiterate or racist.

Oh, and BBQ. I love me some BBQ. And, it is afterall, high BBQ season.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Austin for the International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference. It was a great conference, lots of good information, and on a personal level it was really important, as well. (BTW: Here’s an interesting piece by Tastestopping about IACP and bloggers I thought interesting and relevant.)

It was hot as blue blazes in Austin. I’ve heard they’ve had several weeks of triple digits. Whew. My friend Erica says the heat comes up through the shoes into your body like a rotisserie.

Rotisserie or not, one thing that is abundantly clear is that in Texas, BBQ means beef.

We enjoyed some amazing food from Lou Lambert. His book, Big Ranch, Big City Cookbook is coming out this fall. I can’t wait to try some of the recipes.

But, right now? I’m all about easy. Kicking back and letting some of life’s drama of the past few weeks pass me by.

Hope you enjoy my selection of BBQ favorites for your 4th of July. Be safe.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!
VA

SMITTY’S BBQ BEEF BRISKET
SERVES 8

The photo above is the wood pile at Smitty’s Market in Lockhart, Texas. This was home to some of the best BBQ I ever put in my mouth. For more on Smitty’s check out the recent Saveur Magazine article, “Zen and the Art of BBQ” by Robb Walsh.

3/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons chile powder (plain powdered chile, not the one with all the other spices, too)
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 10 pound beef brisket
1 cup apple juice or beer

In a medium bowl combine the salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Rub brisket on both sides with the spice mixture. Let sit a room temperature for 1 hour.

Prepare your grill using apple wood chunks or chips. Place brisket, fat side up, on the grill grate. Maintaining a temperature of 225°-250° (if using a kettle grill or bullet smoker, replenish fire with unlit coals, as needed, to maintain temperature), cook until a thermometer inserted in meat reads 160°, about 6 hours.

Remove the brisket from grill, place on two heavy-duty sheets of aluminum foil. Pour in juice or beer; fold up edges to seal. Return to grill grate. Cook until a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion reads 190°, about 2 hours.


TEXAS CAMPFIRE BEANS

Serves 6 to 8

1 pound pinto beans, washed and picked over for stones
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces OR 1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic
¼ cup molasses
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon dry mustard
8 cups homemade chicken stock or reduced fat low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the pinto beans in a large bowl and add water to cover. Soak overnight. Or, place the beans in a large pot of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the beans come to a boil, remove from the heat and set aside for 1 hour. Before cooking, discard any floating beans and drain.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it starts to crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Or, heat the canola oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to barely a simmer and cook until the flavors are well-blended, about 20 minutes.

Drain and add the beans. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to low. Simmer, covered, until the beans are tender, about 3 hours. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

HEART HEALTHY COLE SLAW
Serves 6

This slaw is easy, delicious and very good. I am actually a mayonnaise person. I love a traditional slaw with carrots and green cabbage, but this one is really good, too. And, since there’s no mayonnaise it can sit out at room temperature.

1/2 head green cabbage, cored and finely chopped (about 4 cups)
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
1 onion, preferably Vidalia, very finely chopped
1 tablespoons cane sugar
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Place the cabbage, bell pepper, and onion in a large bowl. Sprinkle over the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the oil, vinegar, dry mustard, and celery seed. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 1 minute. Pour the hot dressing over the cabbage and toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. To serve, remove from the refrigerator and taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve cold or room temperature.

AUNT JULIA’S CHOCOLATE PIE
Makes one 9-inch pie

This is hands-down my favorite dessert. Mama makes it almost every time I come home to visit. There’s nothing really low and slow about it, it’s just my FAVORITE comfort food dessert in the world. EVER. So, it made sense to include it here.

1 9-inch Pie Crust, fully baked
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
31/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

To prepare the pie filling, in a saucepan, combine the 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of the milk. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup of milk, the flour, and cocoa powder in a bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine. (Mama uses a shaker and shakes the mixture until it is well combined and frothy.) Set aside.

Heat the saucepan with the milk-sugar mixture over medium-high heat until simmering. Slowly add the milk-flour mixture and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Add the egg yolks, whisking constantly, until it returns to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, immediately add the vanilla and remove it from the heat.

Pour the mixture into the baked pie crust. Set aside.

To make the meringue topping, place the egg whites in a non-reactive bowl with a pinch of salt. Add the cream of tartar and, using a hand-held mixer, whisk on high speed until foamy. Sift over the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time and whisk until the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted.

To finish the pie, spoon the meringue over the pie, making sure it touches the edges of the pie crust. Bake until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Move to a rack to cool completely and set, then serve.