Scene while walking: November 12, 2014

Actually of course for the next few posts it will be things I saw in October before Halloween. I’ve been remiss in posting. Work has been busy, getting photos to airdrop from phone to iPad was not working, and basically I let minor hurdles stop me. But I’ve got a TON of stuff now to go through and a little time.

I saw my beary good friend in the Salt Lake City airport again. Last time he was heading on a scuba vacation, but this time he was ready for Halloween!

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Go BRRRRRR-ONCOS!

In early December my husband gave me and my dad an awesome early Christmas gift – tickets to see the Denver Broncos play in Denver. Dad grew up in Denver and I was born there and we’re both massive fans. It’s unfortunate the temperature was soooooo cold that day (the title is stolen from one of the signs we saw at the stadium) but at least we were in the sun while it was still up. Honestly, if our feet hadn’t been so cold we’d’ve done fine – I had my warmest hat on and we were bundled up. It was spectacular (except for the 45 minute standing-in-line outside part waiting for a cab afterwards, and even that was fun in its own way).

I couldn't believe it when my husband handed me these!

I couldn’t believe it when my husband handed me these!

After we landed I told the cab driver the hotel and my dad kinda flipped out. All I knew was it was a Marriott affiliated property – but it turns out the Brown Palace is really really famous and it’s where my dad’s senior prom was held. It’s very fancy.

The Brown Palace was all dressed up for the holidays.

The Brown Palace was all dressed up for the holidays.

Here’s the view from our seats – we arrived quite early because we had access to an indoor club level. These photos are all with my phone (because let’s face it, I was there to watch the game, not to haul a camera around) and they make it seem like stuff is farther away than it really feels. It was a spectacular day (though cold. did I mention it was cold? It was really cold.)

Here's my adorable Bronco hand-stamp that (along with my stamped ticket) got me into the indoor club area.

Here’s my adorable Bronco hand-stamp that (along with my stamped ticket) got me into the indoor club area.

90 minutes before the game no one wanted to be outside if they could avoid it...

90 minutes before the game no one wanted to be outside if they could avoid it…

The festivities you don’t see when you’re watching on tv are a lot of fun! That giant Bronco head was being rotated constantly. There’s an adorable little kid that runs out and grabs the kickoff tee each time, and he stopped and saluted all four sides of the stadium each time. SO CUTE. And every time the opposing team had a pass not caught, the announcer would prompt the fans and we’d all yell IN-COM-PLETE! together.

Here come the players!

Here come the players!

Great view of the Bronco!

Great view of the Bronco!

This is a seriously big Bronco!

This is a seriously big Bronco!

And I don’t know how my husband managed it, but this was the game in which a new NFL record was set – we saw a 64 yard field goal kicked and it cleared the goalpost right in front of us just barely (in fact we didn’t realize it was good at first). SO EXCITING!

Denver lining up for an extra point after scoring a touchdown - this is the goalpost the record-setting field goal *just* cleared.

Denver lining up for an extra point after scoring a touchdown – this is the goalpost the record-setting field goal *just* cleared.

It helped that we won the game by a lot, too (though we were down by 1 at halftime, because of the record-setting field goal it felt like we were already way ahead).

slightly dark, but here I am at the game!

slightly dark, but here I am at the game!

Me and dad, happy at the end of the victory!

Me and dad, happy at the end of the victory!

Denver is gearing up for its first playoff game later today – I’m already nervous! GO BRONCOS!

Gingerbread Village 2013

Mom and I spent a couple of days this week working on this year’s gingerbread village. As usual, there was a lot of laughter – especially when mom was working on what she hoped would be a cute little person but who turned into a creepy stalker guy and finally morphed into some strange version of Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live. Seriously. This is the table near the end. Yes, wine is an essential component of gingerbread. If you look behind the water glass in the middle of the table, you will see Mr. Bill. What was she thinking?

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I hadn’t realized until I looked at the photos, but all the little houses I did ended up together (I didn’t do the snowman – that’s mom’s). The A-frame is my Broncos house for the year. Go Broncos!

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Mom did the big house and the this smaller one next to it – she did amazing wreaths on that little house! I did the tree next to the big house and I am super pleased with that.

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Here is a side view of the train – mom did the back car and I did the engine. We put the Mr. Bill stalker in the train car – he’s being hauled off to the loony bin.

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The little guy I did is the train engineer!

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And there’s this years whole village, lit from beneath. Looks good!

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(all photos are courtesy of my mother. Thanks mom!)

Smokin’

As July 4th approaches, I’m preparing to smoke pork shoulder in the Southern tradition. Not only it it a national holiday, it’s my husband’s birthday – and he’s loved pulled pork ever since my father introduced him to it. My father taught me, and then I got his old smoker when he upgraded to a new one. Smoking pork is an all-day affair with a big payoff at the end. I did it for Memorial Day weekend and the results were fantastic.

I start by lighting the fire before 6am – pork is smoked over indirect head and “low and slow” is the only way to go. Once the coals are hot, I add water-soaked hickory chips on the coals to generate the smoke.

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It’s important to have the coals up on a grate, because there will be a lot of ash created – the foil lining the bottom helps with cleanup.

Now I put on the meat – this is about 4 pounds of pork shoulder (aka “boston butt” and don’t ask me why) cut in two pieces.

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This has marinade basted on it that is very important – we use Wicker’s original and there is zero reason to look for anything else. It’s perfection. Close the lid, and now we’re smokin’!

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For the rest of the day I keep checking the smoke and the coals – every 15 minutes or so (maybe 30 at max) I need to add coals and/or wood chips. Now, there are people who will tell you that adding more wood chips after a certain time is meaningless because no more smoke will penetrate the meat. Perhaps they are right. There is no doubt a time that I add the wood chips solely to torture my neighbors with the fantastic aroma.

After an hour or so, the meat starts to tighten up and become firm and the color darkens.

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I’m continuing to baste with the Wicker’s and I turn the meat every so often to make sure the indirect head is generally distributed. Again, some people will tell you that once you close the lid you should never open it again until you are done. I say to them: my results are amazingly tasty so shut up.

After about 10-12 hours the meat has a nice bark on it and eventually it will start to feel “loose” – loose means it wants to fall apart on its own. This is what you want.

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At this point, you remove the meat and if you’ve done things right you only need a couple of forks to pull the pork apart into delicious shreds.

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The more pink you see the better – that is how far the smoke penetrated. It is juicy and delicious!

I serve this with red onion, amazing barbeque sauce, vinegar-based cole slaw, and baked beans. Many people use a bun and make a sandwich, but the bun to me is just taking up room on my plate that I could fill with pulled pork! The bark is intensely tasty and a prized treat as well.

Now I’m hungry, and I have days yet before the 4th….

Bon appetit!