I love a recipe with a story. Even better, I love a good recipe with a good story. Thankfully, living in a family as food-obsessed as mine, we’ve got a few, and what better way to spice up a blustery day than with a good BBQ recipe?

Back in 1981, my father had just graduated from theology school and taken a post in Jackson, Mississippi. For a little while, my parents decided to drive three hours southwest of Jackson to Jonesville, Louisiana, to fill the spot of a pastor while the church worked on finding a permanent minister. Jonesville is in the middle of nowhere, and as my mother puts it, and everyone was either emaciated because they don’t eat or grossly overweight–“Life is fried down there and fried well.” One of the women who befriended my young, twenty-something, extremely pregnant mother, was Mrs. Wurster, who shared this recipe with my mother. She boasted that the sauce went well on everything from wild game to hot dogs, and she always had a double recipe in her fridge.

Mrs. Wurster also gave my mother a check for $100 to use for the baby (my brother). At the time, my parents had no money to buy a crib, bottles, diapers, or clothes for their coming son, and somehow, probably like Jesus with the loaves and fishes, my mother stretched the money out enough to get the basics. So not only did this amazing BBQ sauce recipe come out of the middle of nowhere Louisiana, but also the things my brother needed to make it–seriously, can you imagine a baby without a crib of clothes? Not a good thing.

So, Mrs. Wurster, thank you for your amazing recipe. I have changed it a bit, but not too much, and you know what, if I had enough mouths to feed other than my own, I’d definitely keep a double recipe in my fridge at all times. And I’m sure you never thought of it and you might find it strange and otherworldly, but the sauce goes great on baked tofu and on mashed sweet potatoes. I’ve even been known to dip vegan pigs-in-a-blanket in it. Thanks for keeping my brother clothed and my mother fed, and now it looks like I owe you for the tangy, tomatoey, smoky goodness.

Jonesville BBQ Sauce

1 c white vinegar
1 c water
1 large onion
28 oz diced tomatoes
4 tsp spicy brown mustard
3 tsp salt
pepper to taste
8 oz vegan margarine
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp bourbon (optional)
1/2 c vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c liquid smoke

In a food processor or blender, blend together the vinegar, water, onion, and diced tomatoes.

Pour the tomato mixture in a saucepot on the stove at medium heat. Add the mustard, salt, pepper, margarine, and sugar. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add the bourbon, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke and simmer an additional 20-40 minutes, until the sauce has thickened as desired.

Makes approximately 3-4 cups.