By Mary Heyl

Memorial Day is Monday, May 28. While it is important to be grateful for our servicemen and women year-round, this is the special day set aside to honor loved ones who passed away in service to our country.

For many, it is a day when families everywhere come together to remember loved ones, share a meal together (hopefully outdoors) and celebrate the freedom we are so fortunate to have. Make this Memorial Day weekend a special time of remembrance and celebration with family and friends — there are so many ways to make it memorable!

One way to honor loved ones who passed away in service to our country is to adorn their gravesites with flowers. In ancient times, the Greeks and Romans decorated graves of the dead with flowers, and laying wreaths signaled high honors.

Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day began during the Civil War when Southern women began decorating the graves of deceased Confederate soldiers. We still celebrate Memorial Day by placing flowers and wreaths on the graves of those who have fought for our freedom; of course, red, white and blue are the most popular colors on this special day.

Stop by one of the many beautiful greenhouses throughout the area to pick out your spring blooms to celebrate the sacrifice of someone special to you.

Fox Valley Greenhouse of West Valley is offers bedding plants, vegetable plants, hanging basket, and more. They also do cemetery urns for pick up at the greenhouse or delivered to cemeteries in Ellicottville, Salamanca and West Valley. Call Fox Valley Greenhouse at (716) 942-3710 to learn more.

Just a short drive away, Pleasant Valley Greenhouse invites you to check out their great variety of hanging baskets, annuals and perennials, trees and shrubs and so much more! Open daily starting at 9 a.m., Pleasant Valley is located at 2871 Route 16 North in Olean: for daily hours, visit and get helpful planting tips, too!

After the Memorial Day parade next Monday, keep enjoying the outdoors by bringing the family together and firing up the grill! Whether you’re sticking to the classic burger and dog menu or plan to go full-on barbecue, Dom’s Butcher Block is sure to have a great variety of meats for you. Located at 38 Washington St., Dom’s has specialty fresh cut meats processed in-house daily, smoked meats, sausage, free-range chicken, lamb and more.

In the mood for barbecue? Chef Andy Ricker of the famous Portland, Ore., restaurant Pok Pok, shares a delicious recipe that starts in the oven and is finished on the grill: honey-glazed baby back ribs with whisky marinade! Stop by E-ville Spirits at 10 Monroe St. for a bottle of your favorite whiskey, and be sure to check out their great selection of wines and spirits for your barbecue’s beverages.

To get started, arrange three racks of baby back ribs in a large glass or ceramic baking dish, overlapping slightly. In a medium bowl, whisk ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of soy sauce with ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of whiskey, ¼ cup of honey, 2 tablespoons of finely grated fresh ginger, 1 ½ teaspoons of white pepper, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. Pour the marinade over the ribs and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Next, make the glaze and dipping sauce. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup of honey with 2 tablespoons of hot water. In a medium bowl, combine ½ cup of fresh lime juice with ¼ cup of fish sauce, ¼ cup of soy sauce, ¼ cup of red pepper flakes, ¼ cup of cilantro and 2 tablespoons of sugar; stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Arrange the ribs on the baking sheet, meaty side up. Roast for about 2 hours, until tender. Baste the ribs with the honey mixture and roast for another 15 minutes, until browned and glossy. Remove the ribs from the oven and baste again with the honey mixture.

Preheat a grill. Grill the ribs over moderately high heat, turning once, until lightly charred, for about 4 minutes. Transfer the racks to a cutting board and cut into individual ribs. Arrange the ribs on a platter and serve the dipping sauce alongside. Enjoy!