Summertime bellyachin’

Blech.

That’s how I feel about the recent weather we’ve been experiencing, and I know you can relate. June is supposed to be bright and warm and fun, not gray and chilly and damp.

I want to be wearing shorts and a tank top, not jeans and a sweatshirt. And when I get home from work, I want to go for a bike ride, putter among my plants and sit on the deck, not huddle on the couch under a blanket, watching TV.

On those rare occasions when Hubby Bryan and I have been able to be outside, the experience has been marred by annoying insects. I’m used to combating mosquitoes, having occasional extreme reactions to their bites, and diligently coat myself in repellant from head to toe before venturing outside in the evening. Mosquitoes, I can handle.

But the peskiest bugs so far this summer have been the gnats, and they don’t seem to be fazed by DEET. So when a friend told me that Absorbine Jr. — the liniment used for aching muscles — keeps gnats at bay, I immediately set out to buy a bottle. When I got to the store, I was surprised to see a whole display of Absorbine Jr. had been erected near the sunscreens and repellants, so word of its alternate use must be getting around.

That night, while we sat outside with some friends, I smeared some Absorbine Jr. on the back of my neck and shared it with friends. For a few brief moments, we seemed to be gnat-free, but evidently this particular breed of gnat has developed an immunity to the effects of Absorbine Jr. Or maybe we were all too sweaty. Or maybe the evening was too muggy. Or maybe we didn’t apply enough.

I haven’t given up on Absorbine Jr. I’m hoping to give it a few more trials this weekend.
On one of those rare nice evenings, Bryan and I cooked up some chicken on the grill, and I concocted this barbecue sauce. I have to admit to a bit of reluctance to share the recipe — it’s so tasty, I think I could market it.

A couple of notes about this sauce: Chipotle peppers come in a can, packed in adobo sauce. They are quite potent, so only one or two are generally needed in any recipe. I freeze the rest in a small plastic bag and chop off what I need for subsequent recipes.

To chiffonade basil, stack the leaves together and roll into a cylinder, then cut finely crosswise. For this barbecue sauce, I cut the resulting chiffonade in half, so the ribbons aren’t quite so long.

Chipotle Lime Barbecue Sauce

In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup ketchup, ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice and 1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and let cook for a couple minutes, until sugar is completely dissolved.

Remove from the burner and let stand for a couple of minutes, until the sauce has cooled slightly. Stir in 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (fine ribbons).

Refrigerate until ready to use.

We applied the sauce to chicken breasts, just in the last couple minutes of cooking on the grill. The sauce would also be good on pork. Depending on heat tolerance, you can add more or less of the chipotle pepper.

OK, I’ve shared my potentially money-making sauce recipe, so in reciprocation I want to hear about your grilling specialties. It’s time to share, people — no excuses.

Do you make wicked kebabs? Grill up melt-in-your-mouth steaks? Or have you come up with a summer side dish about which everybody raves? Send your recipes, grilling techniques and any other summertime culinary creations or tips to Lagniappe, Box 639, Worthington 56187; e-mail brickers@dglobe.com.

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