Dreary, cool Labor Day doesn’t stop fun, food

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ben Hillyer/The Natchez Democrat — Russ Hazlip opens the lid to his smoker Monday evening to check on the four slabs of ribs he was cooking Labor Day.

NATCHEZ — With dreary skies putting a damper on pool, porch and party plans for much of Labor Day in the Miss-Lou, residents seemed to mostly stay indoors, but a few came outside to labor on the American day of rest.

Russ Hazlip was gearing up for Labor Day in a relaxed and traditional fashion — doting over four racks of baby back ribs in his smoker under his carport. The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee made his task of cooking cooler, though likely more damp.

Hazlip was waiting for friends to arrive so they could chow down on the ribs — which Hazlip boasted will fall off the bone.

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Hazlip said cooking outside is his favorite way to do it, though smoking ribs for four hours is truly a labor of love.

“Put me in front of a stove and I will probably blow something up,” Hazlip said. “(Cooking outside) is relaxing, it’s entertaining, it’s fun. And it puts a smile on my face when there are nothing but bones left. That means I did a good job.”

And those are the moments that Hazlip said are what Labor Day is really all about.

“It’s a chance for folks who work in society to relax and enjoy spending time together,” Hazlip said.

Hazlip said he is outside cooking a lot of weekends, and certainly every Labor Day. He said he was expecting six to eight friends, who would probably wander over when they had had their fill of beer and were ready to eat.

Hazlip, who spent his own hard earned money on the ribs and “mopping sauce” he invented, said he wanted to treat his friends and family for Labor Day because they all work hard too.

The carport chef said the ribs will easily feed 10 to 15 hungry people.

“Usually there is nothing left,” Hazlip said.