centennials and bbq sauce

Did you know that only 1 in about 455,000 people reach their centennial?

That’s a staggering statistic, and one that really put last weekend into perspective for us.

You see, Jason’s Nanny celebrated this very milestone at the first of the month, and there was simply no way we were going to let a flight to Texas stand in our way of partaking in the festivities.

Jason’s Nanny — Viola Frels — has always been a firecracker. She is opinionated, capable, and sharp witted, and she hasn’t let age take any of that away from her. She was driving until the age of 97, and she even partied at her great-granddaughter’s wedding until 1am the week of her birthday. She can load herself into any vehicle [as long as there’s a step-stool involved], and she is constantly telling her out-of-state family that the next time she’ll see us is at her funeral.

Little does she realize that longevity is her game, and she is winning it.


Her 100th birthday party wasn’t too shabby either. Jason and I had the pleasure of driving her to the festivities, and when we picked her up, we loudly exclaimed, “There’s the birthday girl!”

Her response?

“That’s old news. I’ve been partying all week!”

In true Southeast Texas fashion, our time with her and the entire Frels clan was blissful blur. We reunited with many family members we hadn’t seen since the wedding. We chowed down on fried chicken and a delicious multi-tiered cake handmade by Nanny’s granddaughter, Paula. We reconnected with our favorite cowboys. We reminisced about weddings and crawfish boils. We listened to stories of hilarious events that took place well before we were born. We sang in the choir at Mass. We played riotous card games.

And we found ourselves at home, yet again, with our large, loud, and lovable family.

We may have been gone and back to Denver within 48 hours, but the whirlwind was worth it. Because how often does someone reach triple digits? How often do we get to make an early morning run to Prasek’s? How often do we get to enjoy a home-cooked breakfast feast with siblings and parents? And how often are we all in the same place for a family photo opp?

The answer: not nearly enough.

Long overdue Frels family photo opp

The fact that we were able to fit all of these highlights into our quick 36 hours on the ground was a miracle to say the least. But given our tight timeline, there were a few typical Texas fixins we completely missed out on. Kolaches and lemons may have made their way home with us, but the Tex-Mex and BBQ we so crave when we’re there did not.

That’s why we decided to just make our own BBQ for our meals this week. Armed with a pork loin and a crock pot, this BBQ Sauce served as the perfect gastronomic glue for a BBQ pork dish that we have been adding to everything in sight, from quesadillas to quinoa.

The flavor of this BBQ Sauce is as Texas as you can get: spicy, tangy, and smoky. Of course, I always like to play around with the proportions depending on my mood, whether it’s cutting some of the spice in favor of more honey, or visa versa.

The end product — no matter the direction — has yet to fail us, and was the perfect way to extend our short but sweet centennial memories from Texas.

BBQ Sauce

This BBQ Sauce is ideal for any occasion: as a marinade and baste on a roast, as a dipping sauce for french fries, as a base on a BBQ pizza, or as a sauce in a casserole. There are quite a few ingredients, but we promise they all make it that much better.


  • 2 small (15 oz) cans tomato [sauce, puree, diced, whole – whatever you have on hand]
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. white or cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 3 Tbs. mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, diced [or garlic powder]
  • 1/3 onion, diced [or onion powder]
  • 3 Tbs. molasses
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes liquid smoke [optional]
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes [optional]
  • 2 heaping tsp. corn starch, dissolved in 1/4 c. cold water
1. In a medium sauce pot, cook everything except corn starch solution. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer with lid on for 30 minutes or until onions are soft.
2. Blend/puree mixture, especially if using tomato chunks and/or fresh garlic and onion.
3. Simmer with the lid off about 1 to 2 hours until sauce has reduced by about one-third.
4. Once reduced, raise heat and bring to low boil. Stir in corn starch solution and continue stirring for 3 to 4 minutes. You should not see any white left and sauce will be a little thicker.
5. Let cool and serve, or store in a jar.

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