Saturday, January 7, 2012


One day during this past week I needed to get away from my crazy life and everything in it for just a little while.  So, I went to a movie all by myself.  It wasn’t the greatest movie, but it took place in Hawaii.  That was the part that I needed.  I always say that sitting on a beach watching the waves feeds my soul.  Sometimes my soul feels pretty hungry.  So for me, even though it was in a movie, it was rather fulfilling to see the scenes that took place on two of the 3 islands that I have vacationed on--The Big Island and Kauai. 

On our last vacation there, we went to the Big Island.  It was November of 2008 and we were celebrating my birthday and our anniversary (25 years!)

Me, at the house we rented.

My favorite place on earth!

We found one of the greatest beaches that I have ever seen.  The waves were gigantic and crashing against the black sand.  There were so many warnings about that beach--from how dangerous the trail leading down to it was--to how dangerous the ocean was--that it seemed like no one should even think about going there!  But, it was awesome and I dubbed it my favorite place on earth. At least it was my favorite beach so far.

Signs warning everyone to stay away.

Huge crashing waves!

Our footprints in the black sand.

Waterfall after a huge rainstorm.
Lava flowing into the ocean.

We had a great time sight-seeing, going to beaches, horse-back riding, kayaking, snorkeling, attending a luau, hiking, deep sea fishing, seeing the lava flowing late at night, and just feeling the laid back Hawaiian lifestyle that I wish I could remember to emulate in my own life every day.  Live Aloha!  It was all wonderful. 
Lava flowing into the ocean at night.

Hawaiian time was pretty much--"when we get around to it."  This sign reminds me of that.
I need to hang this up in my house.

Deep sea fishing.  A guy on our boat caught this marlin.  Sadly, we did not.
Very tall waterfall  (which I call Spider Falls)...
...because I was leaning against the fence taking a picture of the falls, then stepped
back and saw that I had been leaning against this spider and its web the whole time.
It was as big as a section of chain link.

We went to a luau for my birthday!

They seriously have spam and eggs at
Burger King.  I did not eat these.
Purple Sweet Potato Ice Cream
The food in Hawaii is always amazing.  Even if you are a picky eater like me.  At the luau, there was so much food that it was hard to choose what to eat.  In a tiny town, in a liitle restaurant, Kevin ordered one of the best Big Island dishes that we had on this trip.  He (we) had Korean barbecued short ribs served on a bed of shredded cabbage, along with rice (and a big scoop of potato salad—because for some reason, a lot of meals in Hawaii aren’t complete without a scoop of potato or macaroni salad).  I liked the flavor of the sauce on the short ribs so much. 

When we came home, I couldn’t wait to find out how to make that Korean Barbecue Sauce so that I could re-live that part of the Hawaiian experience whenever I wanted to.  I searched the grocery store for the Korean barbecue sauce and actually found a small bottle of it that tasted exactly like the sauce we had in Hawaii.  But, the price was a pretty high for about 8 ounces, so I began looking online for a recipe.  I found several and then worked on them until I came up with a recipe that I liked.

Next came the meat.  A package of 4 flank-cut short ribs was also fairly expensive.  I loved this recipe so much that I bought them anyway.  But, then, when I decided to make this for the whole family at Christmas, I decided to try to make them with New York steaks that I found on sale.  I put the steaks in the crock pot with the sauce and cooked them for hours.  They were pretty amazing!  

Another time, I was craving this, but couldn’t really afford to buy ribs or steaks.  And then, I thought, “Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if I used venison?  We have plenty of that!

That turned out to be one of the best ideas that I have ever come up with for venison.  After it cooked for hours and hours in that sauce in the crock-pot, the meat was more tender and flavorful than I ever thought venison could be.  Vension steaks or chops can tend to be dry and chewy, but cooking them this way really made a huge difference in how the meat turned out.  I still would make this with beef short ribs or steak, but right now I almost always make it with venison.

I buy a bag of pre-cut cabbage made for coleslaw in the salad section of the produce department to serve the meat on and then make some brown rice to have on the side.  I skip the potato or macaroni salad part of the meal, though!  And, I must say that I usually have a lot of sauce with my meat!

So here is my recipe.

½ c. ketchup
1 or 2 T. hot sauce
1/3 c. soy sauce
¼ c. rice vinegar
½ c. water
3 T. sugar
3 T. brown sugar
2 T. Sesame Oil
3 tsp. garlic paste
1 ½ T. Sesame Seeds
½ tsp. powdered ginger
½ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp black pepper

Mix all ingredients in crock pot.  Place meat in the sauce, making sure that it is almost covered.  Cook in the crock pot for 6 or more hours, starting on high for 2 or 3 hours and then reducing temperature to low.

You may have to double the amount of sauce, depending on the amount of meat that you are using.  For instance, if I am just using a few chops or steaks, then I might not need to double the recipe, but if I am using a venison roast, then I usually do have to double the recipe.  And, I do like to have a lot of the sauce when I eat this, so I really don’t mind having extra.

I would love to go back to Hawaii and try to find that little restaurant again. 

Actually, I would love to go back to Hawaii for any reason!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas 2011

My Hunter Man with his new WADERS

Christmas 2011—Top 10 List

Not really in any order, just how they all came to me as I was writing:

ONE:  Watching my 22 month old grandson open his present on Christmas Eve.  His mom made him a fleece blanket with four of his favorite things on it—Mickey Mouse, Elmo, Toy Story, and CARS.  He was so excited about that blanket.  He put it on the floor, and then rolled around on it laughing and giggling with delight.  It was so fun to see!  I have never seen a baby as happy about a gift as he was about that one.  That is what Christmas should be like for all of us.  Joy and delight about everything.

TWO:  Feeling delight, myself, when I opened up one of my gifts from Hunter Man.  A $50.00 Café Rio gift card!  It was neat to know that he really thought about what I would like and remembered that I love Café Rio sweet pork enchiladas. Now I can go there every other month for a year!  Yay!

THREE:  Silently laughing with my daughter (Kj) and daughter-in-law (Tass) when I opened one of my gifts from Hunter Man.  A pink hoodie sweatshirt with a big brown deer head on it!  They both have read this blog and they know how funny I think it is that he shops for me at the sporting goods store.  Yup!  On Black Friday, he got me the pink hoodie AND some really great snow boots that will keep my feet warm to minus 50 degrees!  The boots are so padded and insulated that I can hardly get my feet in them!  He laughed and said, “You know I had to get you something for hunting!”  Well, we just had the driest December in Utah history, so I don’t know when I am going to be able to wear my new snow boots.  Next October, I will wear my pink deer head hoodie during the deer hunt.

FOUR:  Feeling a big sense of relief when my younger son (Ty) finally opened the present he had been pestering me about for weeks—Rocksmith for the X-Box 360.  He seriously wanted me to give it to him weeks before Christmas and every time he began working on me to get me to give-in and let him have his way, he would get so mad at me when I wouldn’t do it.  He was making me not even want to give it to him for Christmas, so I was glad when I finally could just get it over with and give it to him.  I did not feel very jolly about it at all and if I didn’t know him as well as I do, I would have taken it back and would have gotten him something else instead.  But, I knew that doing that would have just caused us to have a bad Christmas.  He was happy to finally have it and that was good enough I guess.

FIVE:  Seeing the big difference in attitude that my older son (Jer) had when he opened the gift that he had been waiting patiently for.  It was also a game for the X-Box 360 that he had been wanting very much.  He knew that I was probably getting it for him and he was going crazy waiting for it, but he did.  And he was grinning from ear to ear when he finally had it in his hands.  He was a good example of how to be grateful for a gift.

SIX:  Watching my daughter and son-in-law (Mark) open the blue baby afghan that I have been crocheting during every spare second for the last few weeks to give them for Christmas.  They just announced that they were expecting a baby right before Thanksgiving and then two weeks later found out that they were having a boy.  I immediately went to the craft store to buy yarn so that I could get an afghan made by Christmas.  I finished it on the 22nd.  They were so happy and I just love it when people like the baby afghans that I make.

SEVEN:  Giving my grandson (Bridger) his presents and watching him meticulously tear every bit of paper off of them as he sat in the middle of the coffee table opening them.  When he got one opened, he would play with it for a few minutes, then say what sounded like “Prize? Prize?”—- all ready for another one.  It is so wonderful to watch him do every single thing that he does.  And, he is such a good boy, that when we told him that the presents were all gone, he accepted it without having any kind of fit and was happy just to play with his new toys.  He is so awesome.  I just love being his grandma.

EIGHT:  Spending almost the whole day with my family at our house.  For the first time since we moved to Utah, I didn’t get all dressed and ready to go visiting relatives on Christmas because we visited all of the grandparents on Christmas Eve.  I spent the entire Christmas day in my pajamas!  I have never done that before.  We talked, laughed, played, ate, and just enjoyed being together.  As all of the married ones left to go home that night, I was sad.  Even though some of them stayed until almost midnight, I didn’t want them to leave.  I missed them the minute they were all gone.

NINE:  Eating Chinese food!  My daughter-in-law and daughter were looking at things online on Pinterest and when they saw a post for crab rangoons”, Jer heard the word rangoons.  That was it for him.  He suddenly had a craving for Chinese Food.  He called his favorite Chinese restaurant and they were actually open.  Within an hour, we had a Chinese feast that we hadn’t even planned on.  Yum! What a fun new tradition to start!  Chinese food on Christmas!  We had crock pot breakfast with cinnamon mcmelts in the morning and then ham and party potatoes for lunch, but I must say the Chinese food was a nice change from the traditional Christmas fare.

TEN:  Knowing that we were all together for Christmas this year in a way that we couldn’t even imagine was possible last year.  It has been quite a year and I was thankful for each and every one of my family and what they have done for me.  I am proud of them all for what they have accomplished this year.  Jer started his own new division the family electrical contracting business.  Tass was able to become a stay-at-home mom.  Kj started her first year as a 2nd grade teacher.  Mark is working toward two masters degree. Ty has made big changes in his life and developed a talent for photography.  Bridger started walking and talking and can repeat almost anything he hears.  He is so smart.   

And Hunter Man came through this year for Christmas.  Because I will take a pink deer head sweatshirt as long as it comes with a Café Rio gift card and I won’t complain. 

I might laugh, but I won’t complain. 

More Christmas Pics:   

Grandpa--the oldest living man in the state of Utah.

Grandma -- in her 90's and still as feisty as ever.
The traveling Teddy Bear cookie jar--you never know who is going to get it next.
The look on Bridger's face is priceless.