We did an old-fashioned Southern U.S. country menu for the Fourth of July: Grilled spareribs with a bourbon-soy baste, smoked sweets and fresh corn. We had some of all three left over, so it occurred to me to throw them together with appropriate flavorings into a hearty summer soup/stew. To make a complete meal-in-a-bowl out of it, I also added a little kale.

The result may look like a real slumgullion, but in fact, all the flavors went together marvelously well, and Mary, who said she was tired and not hungry, ended up eating two bowls and fighting me for the little bit left in the bottom of the pot.

I started by bringing 1 1/2 cups chicken stock to the simmer. Cut the kernels off two leftover cobs of boiled corn and put them in (the kernels, silly, not the cobs); and scooped the meat out of a leftover smoked sweet potato, mashed it and stirred it in. Added about a cup of leftover mashed potatoes'n'garlic, thinned with a little hot water. Trimmed the lean meat away from the bones and fat of three leftover grilled country-style spareribs, cut it into small dice, and threw them in. Left it to simmer briefly while I removed the tough stems from a half-dozen kale leaves and chopped them coarsely; added the kale to the simmering stew, covered, and let it cook for about 10 minutes until the kale was wilted and tender. Removed cover, added a splash of water (it was almost too thick), and a splash of "Secret Seasoning" made from 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon Bourbon and 1 teaspoon Datil Do It, a delicious hot-sweet sauce made in St. Augustine. Simmered for another minute or two to burn off the raw Bourbon flavor; checked salt and pepper, and served.

Crusty bread would have been good with it, if we had any, but from a balanced-diet standpoint, the sweet potato and mashed potatoes in it contributed plenty of starch.

This made a very hearty potion, but as I said, the wild and varied flavors fell together just right, and we couldn't quit gnarfing at it until it was all gone. Its hearty, smoky quality made it a great match with a cheap but good Spanish red Rioja, but I wouldn't have quibbled about a fruity, hoppy ale in my glass.