Being an Army wife, the Fourth of July has aways been a special holiday for our family…and, of course, being from the Deep South, our celebration centers around food.

So today I’m sharing with you the menu that I have decided on for Labor Day this year.

Growing up within spittng distance of Memphis, Tennessee,  I grew up eating “dry ribs” as part of each picnic or deck party.

The most important step in making “dry ribs” is making the “dry rub,” that special mixture of herbs and spices that define the flavor of the meat.

Just about every family in my “neck of the woods” has its own “secret family recipe” for dry rub…commonly consisting of various proportions of allspice,black pepper, brown sugar, cayenne, cumin, dry mustard, celery salt or celery seed, chili powder, dried oregano or rosemary, ginger, or white pepper.

The following recipe is the dry rub recipe that I have been using since I crossed over the Mighty Mississippi into the Texas frontier twenty-five years ago. I like to make it in bulk to keep on hand…also great on chicken, pork chops, and anything else that doesn’t eat you first.

 Memphis-Style Dry Rub

4Tbsp black pepper
2C brown sugar
3Tbsp cayenne
2tsp celery seed
3Tbsp cumin
2tsp dried oregano
1Tbsp dry mustard
4Tbsp garlic powder
3Tbsp salt
1C sweet paprika



Labor Day Ribs...Rub dry rub all over 2 St. Louis-cut or spare rib racks. Marinate in fridge overnight. 

Start with a 200-220°F grill or smoker. Lay the ribs down so that are not directly over the heat source. Cover the grill or smoker. Let ribs cook for six hours, turning and rotating every hour.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad from Yellow Bliss Road
Basic Potato Salad from The Baker Upstairs

Overnight Slaw

  • 1 medium head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed

Combine cabbage, onion, peppers and olives. In a large saucepan, mix remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cook and stir 1 minute. Pour over vegetables, and stir gently. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Mix well before serving. Yield: 16 servings.


To make.…Combine 1 bottle Colavita Pinot Grigio Wine, ½ cup vodka, ¼ cup elderflower liqueur, ⅔ cup sliced strawberries, ⅔ cup blueberries, ⅓ cup raspberries, ⅓ cup blackberries. Refrigerate.

To serve...muddle a few of the berries in each glass. Add ice, fill two-thirds full with wine mixture, and top with club soda. Serve with fresh mint sprigs.
Paula Deen’s Classic Apple Pie 
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
7 medium green apples, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp butter, cubed
2 unbaked pie crusts
egg wash for brushing on crust

1.  Preheat oven to 375ºF.Mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.Place the apple slices in a large mixing bowl. Toss with the dry ingredients mixture to coat.

2.  Press a pie crust into a 9-inch pie dish. Fill with the apple mixture.Drizzle the lemon juice over the apples. Sprinkle the cubed butter over top as well.

3. Place the second pie crust over the filling (you can make a lattice top or simply cut slits to vent the steam). Press edges to seal.

4.  Bake for 55-60 minutes. Let cool before slicing.