Pictures: You know you want them. I won’t tell if you start to gnaw on your monitor.


Thank god for Robyn and the Blackboard Paparazzi, because otherwise I’d have no pictures. Also because at one point, there were seven people standing in a line in my kitchen with enormous cameras, all taking pictures of the chalkboards. Blackboard Paparazzi is the new name of my imaginary band. We write anarchist Brit-pop rock operas.


We ended up with around 65 people at this hootenanny, give or take, not counting Brian and me. I wrote out instructions and a menu because I don’t have the time to tell every one of those people where the bathroom is or whether the potato salad is vegan, because I’m generally too busy trying to avoid those same people because large groups of people exhaust me. Also I spend a lot of time running around because one of the bathrooms is out of TP, or we need utensils because someone considerately spilled 50 forks on the patio floor, or we need a broom because someone’s 17-month-old thinks he’s at a Danzig concert and is smashing (full) beer bottles on the floor.

It’s a good thing that kid is so freaking cute.


Luckily there were three of these tubs, so one smashed beer was no great loss. And a cooler of non-beer for those of us with low tolerances who wanted to avoid passing out in the vegetable garden. (Kudos to whoever brought the Gus Cranberry-Lime soda.)


Oh, right, there was also some pork.

You probably want the money shot.


Try to breathe. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by the smoke ring, or the jerk spice crust, or the sweet bourbon glaze spiked liberally with chile-garlic paste.

Of course, if that’s too much for you, there’s always chicken.


Really, really good smoked chicken thighs drenched in vinegary Carolina barbeque sauce.

I was a little sad for the partygoers because they weren’t actually there when this came off the grill and didn’t get to eat the smoky, salty, mahogany chicken skin. So I ate a lot of it, to make up for their absence.


Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the “how many pounds of potatoes?” question; I took your collective recommendation of 15 pounds, added another 5, and all 20 were gone by the end of the night. I could tell by the unpleasant scraping of the metal spoon against the foil tray.

side dishes

There were other side dishes as well. I say “were” because they, too, were all gone. I don’t even have a picture of the barbequed beans, because I think someone might have actually figured out how to get his or her head into the pot to lick it out.


Oh yeah, and vegetables. We won’t speak of the tofu again, so we had to give in to the cliche of portobello mushrooms. But we did smoke them. And skewer them with red onion and pineapple. And cover them with bourbon. They seemed to go over well, in that people devoured them and I saw a small child walking around with a skewer, eating the veg off the stick like cotton candy.

Cotton candy covered in bourbon, that is. Jodi’s sister, I’m sorry that I can’t remember your name and I’m sorry if booze-soaked mushrooms gave your child a hangover.


All in all, people gave these paper plates a run for their money. Next year, everyone eats off tin camping plates.

In spite of the photos to the contrary, most people did save some room for dessert. There were two pies, a pan of double-fudge mocha brownies, a tres leches cake…and this:


You know what’s scary? Buying a half-gallon of half-and-half. Who even knew half-and-half came in half-gallon containers? Even scarier: When you have to buy another quart, because you need to make 20 cups of pastry cream. You also have to separate thirty eggs, slice 24 bananas and then try not to be horrified at the enormity of the banana pudding you’ve just made.

pudding innards

Luckily, my friends are vultures and at the end of the night there was only a single serving of banana pudding left. (Technically there were still some people here who could have eaten it, so I had to hide it in the fridge. Cook’s prerogative.)

And of course, Brian’s co-worker Jason forced his mother to make her killer flan again, which she did despite the fact the Jason never brings her to the party. Nice, Jason. Real nice.


But despite the pudding and flan and brownies and pie and cake, we all know why we were really there.

oh yeah

And I? Ate a bowl of banana pudding and two ribs, because I was fucking sick of all this food by Monday afternoon. But those two ribs that I did eat? Hot DAMN.

And now I need a cigarette. And I don’t smoke.

The Smoke-a-Thon is now an official event. Coming in 2010: The Smoke-a-Thon IV: This Year There Are Official T-Shirts

28 thoughts on “Climax

  1. Damn!! How does one get on your guest list? Yeah, I’d travel from AZ to eat that stuff! It looks SO good! We had a BBQ too, but, OMG, nothing at ALL to compare to yours. First of all, there were only about 14 of us, and even with everyone bringing something, it didn’t begin to approach yours. How in HELL did you manage to do all of that? I just finished my dinner a few minutes before I read this, and suddenly I’m starving again. The problem is, I’m hungry for stuff I don’t have. You did an amazing job. I wish I COULD just lick my monitor. So, congratulations on a job VERY well done. I’m sure every person who reads this is feeling just like I am. So jealous of the people who DID get to attend. (I could have even put up with all the kiddos for that feast, and THAT’S saying something!)

  2. You, my dear, are fucking aMAZing. Kudos to you for a job well done. And glad to hear that you can eat again…

  3. OK, so how do I become a close personal friend and thereby score an invitation to the next act of pork porn and mass gluttony? You and Brian are truly amazing. And I’m not just saying that to get on your good side.

  4. This whole shebang looks and sounds ridiculously amazing. Well done! That banana pudding is definitely calling my name, will have to try it soon. We don’t have anything resembling half and half here in New Zealand but (after googling it) I agree that half a gallon of the stuff sounds intimidating.

  5. oh god…..
    oh god.. oh god oh GODDD OHHHHH GOD OHGODOHGOD!!!!

    wow, one awesome porkgasm…
    I love you.

  6. Looks awesome, Michelle. I daresay those ribs might be some of the finest sounding porky-pops I’ve read about in this as-yet-nascent grilling season. Might have to give recipe adaptation a try this weekend…

  7. Yeah, what are the attendance requirements? In case I win the lottery and get that private jet I’ve always wanted, I could just flit up to NJ at the drop of a rib.. I mean, hat.

    I’ll bring more Maker’s Mark ;)

  8. I may need to wipe a tear. That is the most awesome BBQ spread I have ever seen. And, I’ll point out that I live in The South. BBQ is a religion here.

    Now, I’m gonna email this link to all my friends. Everybody should have to suffer with me.

  9. carolina, how did we do it? three straight days of work, that’s how. do i enjoy it? yes. was it a fricking awesome party? yes. do i only want to do it once a year? YES.

    wyoming, yeah, i pretty much rule the school. eating is returning slowly but surely. dinner last night: a piece of cornbread and some pretzels. so emphasis on the “slowly.” i might eat some lunch today, so that will be progress.

    tina, the bar is pretty high. you know, with us being so cool and all, and in no way giant dorks who play dungeons and dragons.

    melissa, any time. thank robyn and kathy, and check out their photos; i didn’t take a damn one.

    laura, i hope i never have to buy a half-gallon of it again. it was a little embarrassing, while i was at the grocery store i wanted a sandwich board saying “i’m cooking for 65 people, give me a break.”

    cynic, whoa there. let’s keep that in the privacy of your own home.

    mike, do it. jerk rub, and the base of the sauce is bourbon, honey and chile-garlic paste. i think there was some hot hungarian paprika thrown in as well. maybe maple syrup. if brian shows up, he can elaborate.

    gracie, to start, you must be at least 4 1/2 feet tall to ride. other than that, you must exhibit one of the following three characteristics:
    – be incredibly witty
    – bring good beer
    – have your mother make flan

    syd, i take your high praise humbly.

    geeking, you need to call to get directions, but the phone number’s unlisted. how do you get in? connections, my friend. connections.

    alex, get in line. see all guidelines above.

    kerry, criterion #1: don’t live 500 miles away. that’s pretty much your only barrier.

    because we are blood relations, i’ll make you this special offer: you put us up for a week in september, and we’ll make you these ribs.

  10. No, you got my name right. If we get close, you’ll call me Sweet JoSis.

    So, I am still reeling. I’m so connected and undeserving it’s embarrassing and I’m close to denying the whole Smoke-a-thon because it doesn’t make sense to me that I was there.

    The only way I know it’s real is that my hungover geekchild keeps begging for another playdate with yours.

    Thank you for your beautiful hospitality.

  11. Okay. I am an idiot. Ignore that last comment. I just spyed your Recipes tab. OOPS!
    In my defense, this was my first time visiting your site.

  12. For those who really want to know how the ribs were rubbed and sauced, here are some basics:

    Simple jerk-style rub includes allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, garlic powder, thyme, dried habanero flakes, salt, pepper, and lots of light brown sugar. I can’t say for sure how much of everything. Just taste it as you go and rub on ribs generously a day before smoking.

    Honey 2 lbs
    Bourbon 2 cups
    Ketchup 1 cup
    Yellow mustard 1 cup
    Maple syrup 1/2 cup
    Hoisin 2 Tbsp
    Plum sauce 2 Tbsp
    Garlic powder 1 Tbsp
    Worcestershire sauce 1/3 cup
    Chili-garlic paste 2 Tbsp
    Cayenne 2 tsp
    s + p

    Keep in mind that except for the bourbon and honey, I’m just taking a wild guess at the quantities for the rest of the stuff and I could very easily be forgetting something. But mix that stuff and simmer it until it’s nice and thick and taste it as it cooks. You’ll have a whole lot of really tasty sweet and spicy sauce to throw on some ribs. (I don’t smoke the ribs with the sauce, only with the rub. The sauce gets brushed on as they grill right before serving.)

    Hope that helps anyone who’s interested. If not, tough.

  13. tanis, well spoken.

    kay, jeezus h. roosevelt christ in ’12!

    jodi’s sister, i now know your name, but will most likely continue to call you jodi’s sister. you are most welcome for the hospitality and my geekchild, AKA my husband, will gladly Wii it up with yours any time.

    btw, i visited your site and am in lust with several of the paintings. other people: go there now.

    anamika, i’m going to post more pictures later tonight, so there’s really no escape.

    danny, i had more of an “oh god people are coming over i need to scrub the whole house with a toothbrush” coma, but i think most of the attendees did have food comas.

    jee, defense accepted. welcome! hope you like it here.

    brian, i knew you’d come!

    can i add a caveat?: that sauce will cover a shitload of ribs. you may want to scale down.

  14. My friends are going to be in. love. with. you in about 4 days. Because now that I’ve seen those pictures the only thing reverberating through my skull is ribsribsribsribsribsribsribsribsribsribsribsribs and I’m going to have to get on that train.


  15. I completely fell you. Thursday, i flew my ass from NC to Denver with my sous chef (husband) to cook for my best friend’s rehearsal dinner friday night. It was also approx 65 people in attendance, and cooking in a foreign kitchen.

    but it was my wedding gift to her.

    this should mean we are BFFs at the very least. ; )

    regretfully, the next night at the reception, a few guests assured me that My spread managed to out-do the reception…awww : P

  16. I’m quite witty and since I’m ‘foreign’ and I have a cute accent, it makes me twice as funny. I call it the Fez effect.

    I can bring great beer, but I’d prefer to make one of my signature cocktails. The zenith, with absolut mandrin, apricot brandy, mago puree, fresh orange juice and cilantro. The Cloud, with Gin, Midori, jasmine tea, half a kiwi and a little apple juice. Or a good old rasberry basil martini.

    And I make a pretty good blood orange flanc, but it’s nothing compared to my Tarte Tatin.

    I can provide references too. ;)

  17. What a beautiful table full of food! I would so be there if I lived close enough. The banana pudding, the ribs, the side dishes. I could lick my screen. Twice.

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