Saturday, August 19, 2017

Our High Altitude Fix: Pear Lake in Sequoia

It didn't take long for us to feel restless after getting back from doing the Salkantay Trek in Peru.  I thought that we'd be done with hiking for a long while, but I was surprised when one day, exactly two weeks after we returned from that trip, Wes suggested going to Sequoia for a quick weekend trip to do some hiking.  Maybe after being in the cool temperatures and the majesty of the Andes mountains in Peru, the dry, mundane San Gabriel mountains behind Pasadena just didn't seem satisfying enough.  We wanted to see lakes, forests, and valleys again.  We needed our high altitude fix, as Wes says.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A Smokey Fourth of July

Help, my husband has taken up smoking and he may be addicted.  Haha... okay, okay.  That was bad.  But seriously, ever since Wes brought home that boxy electric smoker that stands faithfully on our patio by the grill, he has been randomly smoking meats of all sorts, including trout, brisket, spare ribs, beef ribs, chicken, and even eggplant.  For this Fourth of July, he wanted to prepare a big barbecue for our families.  Smoking is a way of cooking that is incredibly out of my comfort zone, even more so than grilling (haha, yes, sadly) - but I've learned a whole lot about it as a bystander throughout Wes's persistent experimentation.

Wes was also a barbecue novice at first, but he has something that I struggle to achieve when it comes to cooking (or life in general): patience and precision.  He'd be willing to make the same thing over and over again until he gets it right (in this case, the bark on his beef) and he likes to take on these huge endeavors that are not the most fail-safe.  I guess with smoking, he had reached a point where he felt comfortable with serving his barbecue to multiple people - for our Fourth of July party, he chose to prepare some beef ribs and turkey legs.  Fortunately, we didn't have to go far for them - they were already in our frozen stock of meat.  But for the rest of the dishes (which I was in charge of), we hit up our new favorite store, 99 Cents Only (hey, the produce isn't half bad there), to get a huge two-dollar watermelon, a dollar sack of red potatoes, and some avocados.

I still think that he's crazy for being so serious about this barbecue, but on the third of July, he marinated and rubbed the ribs and turkey legs right after dinner, placed them into the smoker, and set his alarm to wake up every three hours to spray his beef ribs in the smoker with cider vinegar and water.  As for me, I decided the morning of the barbecue that I had just the right amount of ingredients and the perfect (too perfect) amount of time to throw together a fruit crumble, which is something that I have never before attempted to make.  I even went to work at the skilled nursing facility for a few hours before coming home to start making my potato salad, pickled cabbage slaw, and guacamole, breathing a sigh of relief that Wes had suggested that we boil the potatoes the night before to save time and effort.  Everything we made came together just in time for the party - the meat glistening with those juices and giving off a wonderfully woodsy fragrance, and the side dishes beaming with vivid colors.