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In the Kitchen: Have a Labor Day feast
Barbecue ribs

Labor Day weekend usually means it’s time to fire up the grill or smoker. 

But did you know you can make some amazing baby back ribs in your trusty oven? 

As with all good barbecue, the secret involves a rub and low and slow cooking. Finishing these ribs on the grill is best, but if you want to use the oven for the entire cook time, simply broil them at the end before serving.

Oven baby back ribs

½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 ½ teaspoons black pepper

2 (4 pound) racks of baby back ribs

2 cups barbecue sauce (recipe follows)

Mix together brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Rub 3 tablespoons of the rub all over the ribs on both sides wrap them in parchment paper completely. Reserve the remaining rub for another use in an air tight container. 

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the wrapped ribs on rimmed baking sheets and bake for 3 ½ hours, until tender. Preheat a grill over medium-high heat or crank up the broiler in the oven.

Carefully unwrap the ribs from the parchment paper and drain off the fat and liquid. Turn the ribs so the meaty side is up and brush with some barbecue sauce. Grill over direct heat for five minutes or so until meat is getting crispy or broil until beginning to crisp up. Serve ribs with more barbecue sauce. 

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Homemade barbecue sauce might seem like one more thing to make, but this recipe is truly worth the effort — in addition, it freezes well so you can use it later. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. This sauce is simple to make and is delicious. 

Barbecue sauce

¼ cup brown sugar

2 cups tomato puree

¼ cup water

½ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 ½ teaspoons liquid smoke

1 teaspoon paprika

1 ½ teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pinch cayenne

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes until sauce has reduced a bit. Pour into container and cover. Refrigerate at least three hours to allow flavors to meld. This sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for two weeks, or freeze. 

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Best slow cooker baked beans

1 pound dried pinto beans

8 cups hot water

2 onions, chopped

1 tablespoon chili powder

¾ cup barbecue sauce

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

½ cup ketchup

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

Rinse the pinto beans and discard any pebbles. Place the beans in a large bowl or your slow cooker and cover by three inches with cold water. Soak 12 hours before cooking. 

When ready to cook, drain and rinse the soaked beans and pour them into the slow cooker. Add the hot water, onions and chili powder to the beans. Cover and cook on high for four hours. 

Make sure the beans are covered in water the entire time. The beans should be tender and able to hold their shape. Drain off excess liquid and stir in the barbecue sauce, liquid smoke, ketchup, brown sugar, Dijon, ginger, cayenne and salt. Cover and cook on high another three hours. Taste for seasoning. 

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Best cole slaw

¾ pound red cabbage, cored and shredded

½ pound green cabbage, cored and shredded

2 carrots, peeled and grated

1/3 cup green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons canola or avocado oil

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, carrots and green onions. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, oil, Dijon, cumin, salt and pepper. Add a bit more sugar if you like the dressing on the sweeter side. Toss dressing with cabbage mixture, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.