When the husband and I put our girls in sports, we didn’t think it through. For those first six or seven years, having had the three of them within three and half years of each other, I was flying by the seat of my pants. Piano? I thought, “Oh yeah, they should learn to play. It’ll make ‘em smart!” Getting them to practice on a daily basis, however, proved more than my psyche could handle and I feared for the well-being of my family every afternoon when the two older ones would moan, groan, and cry before sitting down to do scales. You have to practice, if you don’t practice you won’t get better and we’re paying for you to learn piano so you can play songs and it’s good for you, it helps your brain but you have to practice, the teacher said you have to practice for twenty minutes a day, not everything’s fun, ya know, and how do you think Tiger Woods got to be the greatest golfer ever? Practice. And if parents don’t get their children to practice piano then there won’t be any more piano players in the world and that would be awful, it’s a great skill to have for parties when you’re older and please can you just practice?! Pleeeeeease?! Waaaaaaaaaaa!
Dance? We did that too and Goldie’s got rhythm but no passion for the art. Miss T looked so cute in her leotard, I never wanted her to quit but she did. There was talk of riding horses but I told my children we weren’t ‘horse people’ which is euphemistic for ‘we’re not rich’. There was guitar, gymnastics, some art and sewing classes, and then soccer. For Bun Bun, it was like a moth to a flame. You couldn’t wipe the smile off her face while she was out there kicking that black and white ball around even if you tried. (Why would you? Don’t be weird.) Miss T watched from the sidelines and when it was her turn at five-years-old, the coaches would quietly take her aside and ask her to stop scoring goals. Goldie found volleyball years later at school, then in a club, and now…well now, we’re screwed.
Kidding. We’re not really screwed – okay, we are, but the girls are happy and there’s a chance if they keep up their sporty ways, we’ll survive their adolescence more or less intact. May I remind you – we have three daughters. Boys want to be left alone. Girls want to take you along on their dark and tortured existence, drop kick you, then retreat to their bedrooms and Instagram app, before emerging confused about your lack of affection for them. With athletics, so much of the angst is deposited on the field/court by way of blood, sweat, and tears that parents are often spared the worst of it. So what if I have to drive to and from practices like a pinball machine? Big deal if each of them has a game Saturday at the same time in three separate locations around the southland. Who cares if the smell of their shinguards killed the neighbor’s cat? So what if we don’t eat dinner some nights before eight? Which leads me to my recipe. (Who cares that it took 550 words to get here?)
At this point, it’s essential to form a deep and lasting bond with my slow cooker or we’ll be having Pop-tarts for dinner every night and they won’t be homemade. Yesterday, I perused the interwebs and found a recipe for ribs that sounded delicious. Naturally, I dickered with the recipe to ensure browned meat and a thick sauce. When we got home from soccer and volleyball at 7:30, dinner was on the table in no time (I served cornbread and sliced strawberries on the side – just because) and my children told me how much they loved me. (No, they didn’t. I’m just certain they must. I’m often lovable.)
Slow cooker country-style maple ribs (serves 4-5)
1 T. olive oil
2 ½ – 3 lbs. country-style pork ribs (lots of meat, not too much bone)
salt and pepper
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 T. soy sauce
2 T. minced onion
¼ t. ground ginger
¼ t. allspice
¼ t. cinnamon
¼ t. garlic salt
¼ t. garlic powder
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil on medium high. Pat dry the pork with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper in the flour and dredge the ribs. Place them in the skillet and brown on all sides. Remove and place in the slow cooker.
Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the ribs. Cook on low for 8 hours. The ‘sauce’ afterwards should be thick – but additionally, after the 8 hours, I placed the ribs on a cooking sheet and crisped them in the oven on Broil for about two minutes. The meat will fall off the bone, so for little kids, you might just want to discard the bones before serving.