on the Big Island: around the volcano

lava flowing to the sea

On our first full day in Hawaii, we woke up early to birdsong. Actually, it was a rooster crowing at 3 am, but eventually all the little tropical birds started up as well. We made ourselves breakfast from the little cooler in the cabin – granola, boiled eggs and Kona coffee – and got ourselves out to the volcano!

Steaming Bluff
Kilauea Iki crater
steam vents in Kilauea Iki

Our timing for this trip was great, since Kilauea just had its first explosion in over 80 years a week or two ago, and was putting out a lovely cloud of ash and sulfur. Unfortunately, that meant that Crater Rim Drive was closed around half of the caldera, but we still got a pretty good view. We admired the ash cloud and the steaming bluffs, then hiked down into the crater of Kilauea Iki, which was a fantastic lava fountain in 1959 but is now a gently steaming valley full of cracks and rubble. Continue reading

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Kansas City barbecue

Jack Stack barbeque

The west coast has barbecue. Really, it does exist! I can’t claim to be a qualified BBQ connoisseur, but there are at least two good places to get real barbecued ribs and brisket within fifty miles of our house: one is the Skagit River Brewery, which does its own barbecue out back of the restaurant – I walk through the wonderful woodsmoke scent of it every morning. They do a very untraditional peach-jalapeño sauce that somehow works fantastically, and I’ve probably ordered their brisket sandwich at least two dozen times. Then there’s the Depot Smokehouse in Everett, which has got to be the best kept secret in Western Washington – it’s always mostly empty when we go and the food is just fantastic. Try the chili. And the pulled pork. Heck, try everything, you’ll like it.

Otherwise, I admit, the pickings are pretty slim. We were going to try a place in Burlington called Double Barrel BBQ, but it burned down the week we were going to go there. Most of the Seattle joints don’t get real good reviews – I liked that the OK Corral had collards on the menu but I didn’t care for the big jug of Kool-Aid that was the only beverage available. So you can see why we like visiting Kansas City! Continue reading

Short ribs braised in porter

raw short ribs

porter plus border

Saturday was chilly, and after a brisk walk by the bay we felt the need of something substantial and warming for dinner. I glanced at my still-pristine copy of All About Braising by Molly Stevens, and found a recipe for Short Ribs Braised in Porter Ale with Maple-Rosemary Glaze. We love short ribs and have made them before with either a red wine braising liquid or a good dollop of Patak’s curry paste, so porter sounded like a good variation. The maple glaze sounded unnecessary and sweet, so I left it off, but I otherwise followed the recipe pretty closely.

Our grocery store sometimes sells both English-style and Flanken-style short ribs – this weekend they only had Flanken-style. For beer we picked out a large bottle of Scuttlebutt Porter from Everett – it’s smooth and rich without any bitterness, and cooked down with no off flavors. Continue reading