Saturday, March 04, 2017

Chunky Beef Burritos

This is a dish we made at the Firepit in Big Timber, MT. I've made it a few times a year, ever since I left there (35 or so years ago... wow) and it is something that both my girls always ask for. I've never written it down before... so this is probably an approximation. Perhaps I'll try to get the exact amounts next time I make it, lol. This is cooked in a slow cooker (or similar slow cooking method for a long period of time) and amounts are based on how much you want. In other words, if you use 1 lb of meat, then you'd use less of everything else, 3 lbs of meat you'd use more.
Also... while this is "Mexican", it doesn't have a super strong chili powder taste. It is more of a deep beef flavor from the gravy. It does have a chili powder taste, but not as strong as say a red chili. Also, if you like it hotter, you can dice some chilies and add them... to taste.
  • Chunky Beef
    • 1 lb to 2 lb of beef: A bottom round "steak", a London broil, some kind of roast. Diced to "bite size" chunks
    • One onion, yellow or white, diced in about 1" chunks.
    • One green bell pepper, diced in about 1" chunks
    • A small can of diced tomatoes
    • A large can of tomato sauce
    • Chili Powder. Umm... sprinkle it all over the top... Maybe 1/2 C?
    • Lawry's Seasoned Salt
    • Brown Gravy Mix. I'd use a big container that you can get from Sams... but if you are using packets, then probably 2 or 3.
    • minced or small sliced chilies to taste. We didn't do this at the Firepit, but I occasionally will add some Red Fresno Chilies or whatever.
  • Condiments, etc
    • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
    • Flour Tortillas
    • Cilantro, optional
    • Sour Cream, optional
    • sliced Black Olives, optional
    • sliced Green Onions, optional

Prep all the Chunky Beef ingredients. Put the meat, green pepper, and onion in the crock pot. Season and stir. You do not have to brown the meat or any of the veggies. Drain the tomatoes into a small sauce pan, add the gravy mix, heat. This should be very thick, like a paste. Pour the tomatoes and the tomato sauce in the crock pot. Add the gravy. If it isn't thick, then make some more gravy and add it. The vegetables are going to release water while cooking, so you want it kind of thick. Since there isn't that much sauce, it's a bit hard to tell how thick it will be; that is fine. Let this cook on high initially, then turn to low and it can cook all day. If you are prepping it in the morning and going to work all day, just starting it on low is fine. Or if you are going to be home and you don't have all day, you can leave it on high. Basically you are giving the meat a chance to get really tender.
An hour (or half hour if you don't have enough time, or whatever) before you are going to serve it, check and see how thick it is. You can tell how thick it should be by looking at the picture. In general, like a thick stew. Taste it as well. Adjust by adding more chili power, seasoned salt, gravy (if it is too thin). You can make the gravy at this point by ladling some liquid out of the crock pot into a small sauce pan and making more thick gravy paste. This is why I like the big container vs a packet, because I'm going to keep adjusting and I'm not sure how much it will need.
While the meat is finishing you can prep your condiments: shred your cheese (because you never buy the pre-shredded kind that has junk in it... right?), slice olives and green onions, etc.

Plating Micro-wave a flour tortilla so that it is pliable. Make a rolled burrito (you don't have to close the ends) by putting some meat on the tortilla, then sprinkle some optional green onions, some cheese and roll it all up. Then cover it (or two of them) with sauce, some cheese and microwave it to heat it all up and melt the cheese. Then when you take it out, spoon a bit of sour cream on it, with some cilantro, black olives, etc. This is great served with Isabel Rita's re-fried beans! (Which would require a second crock pot or making them a day ahead!)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Another Perfect Day In Paradise

I went down to the beach and went snorkeling. It was a beautiful day, the water was warm, the sun was shining, and the water was pretty calm. I was out for about an hour, came across several honu, and spent about 30 minutes slowly swimming with one. I love when they just kind of hang out with you and don't rush off. 
After I came back to the beach, I unrolled my bamboo mat and laid it out at the edge of the sand in the shade of some trees. I was thirsty so I grabbed my machete, chopped the top off a coconut and took a long drink, then laid back on my mat and just stared out at the ocean, it was so beautiful.  
So I'm just laying there in the shade, half dozing, when I heard this rustling in the leaves at the edge of the trees, down the beach a little ways. All of a sudden this baby hippo came lumbering out of the trees and headed down to the beach! I have no idea where it came from, but I just stayed very quiet and watched it as it started playing in the water. It went deeper until it disappeared under the water. I was waiting for it to come back up, when all of a sudden it popped up and rushed towards the shore, as if something had startled it. It didn't get very far, when all of a sudden a dolphin shot out of the water and jumped over it! It was so bizarre. I couldn't wait to get to circle that night and tell everyone!
I continued to lay on my mat and watched the hippo. The next thing I knew, I was waking up. Had I fallen asleep and dreamt all that, or had I fallen asleep watching the hippo? Not sure I'll ever know, but either way, it was another perfect day in paradise!

This story was inspired by a watercolor that Aeryn Kelly posted on FB:

And the ensuing discussion of things seen in the picture, (a red hippo and a blue dolphin) as well as Tiffany's love of writing and my journey into PernMUSH back in the day at her promoting.:


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Love the smells on a bike at night

I just came home from having dinner with Jaime. Usually I come down Woodmen when riding across town at night, which is a major road here in the Springs. Tonight I came across Dublin, which is a smaller more residential street. Because it's been getting cooler at night, I've been experiencing the pockets of really cold air, and really warm air. I like that. Wondering why the air is cool or hot in a particular area, maybe the sprinklers are on, it's by a small body of water, whatever.

Tonight though, because I can through a residential area, not only did I have those pockets of air, but I also hit pockets of smells. Hmm... I think they had spaghetti for dinner, yum, a rich tomatoe/Italian aroma. Lots of, hmm... Steaks or burgers on the grill. But also a slightly fruity and spicy smell. Not sure what that was, but it was good.

It's just one of the things I like about being on a bike vs a car. You experience the things around you!

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Crockpot Chicken ala King - II

I already had a previous post on Chicken ala King, but lately I've been making it a bit different, so figured I'd post an update here. Plus, Frankie was asking for the recipe and the original one was different enough that I figured I'd post this.
  • 2 or 3 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced about 1 inch, cut slice in 1/2 if too wide
  • 1/2 an onion, diced in 1 inch sections
  • about 8 mushrooms, probably quartered
  • small package of frozen green peas - save these till the end
  • A large and a small can of Cream of Chicken soup
  • optional: one carrot, 1/2 inch slices
  • savory salt (Lawry's Season Salt)
  • pepper
 There are two approaches:
  • fast - but maybe not as much flavor
  • about 30 minutes of prep, more flavor
If you are going for fast, skip the next section on prepping stuff and just go to the "put it into the crock pot" section.

I like to saute all the vegetables. Basically put some butter or olive oil in a saute pan and then saute the mushrooms first. Yeah, the cook the fastest, but better to give them some room and cook some moisture out of them, letting them caramelize a bit. Once that happens, you can take them out (if you don't have much room in the pan) or leave them in. Add the onions and saute them until they start to become a bit translucent, then add the celery and cook it till it picks up some color as well. You can add the carrots too, but they won't soften much (you don't want to cook it that long).

Add everything (except the peas) to the crock pot. Put a layer of vegetables on the bottom. I used to put the chicken on the bottom, but then the chicken would tend to stick some. Then put the chicken, season it with some savory salt and pepper, then the rest of the vegetables. Then cover this with the soup. Pour the soup on top and spread it out with a spatula or spoon. The idea is to kind of seal in everything else. The liquid that comes out of the vegetables will sink to the bottom and the soup will either make a seal or might start to drip down there and mix in. Either works.

Cool this on low for the day. When you are close to getting ready to eat, make noodles, rice, maybe some mashed potatoes.... whatever you want to put this on or serve it with. At that time microwave the peas for a few minutes so they aren't frozen, then pour them on top of stuff in the crock pot and stir it all up. Cover it and let it sit for 5 minutes or so till the peas are hot. This mixes everything up, and also makes sure the peas are fresh tasting. (I'm not a fan of all day cooked can/grey peas!)

That's basically it. As always, experiment according to your taste. You could add canned potatoes, green beans, maybe even some corn at the end. Adjust based on what kind of veggies you like!

Hey Friend

It's been four weeks since my dear friend, Christie Marble, when home to be with Jesus. I did a number of posts on FB in the few weeks after that, but I feel like FB posts kind of disappear over time. Maybe not, but they just aren't as organized as a blog is. Even though I don't post here much anymore, mostly posting on FB instead, I felt it would be good to put some stuff here occasionally. Maybe even move a few FB posts out here.

In general, I don't have anything super inspiring happening day to day... but I'll just be in some situation and I'll think of her. Usually tearing up a bit, and mostly making me a better person. To me, Christie was just awesome Christie. Someone I couldn't wait to see on Sunday morning, hear her say "Hi Friend!" and give me that big grin and awesome hug. I never really thought of the impact she had on me, until her memorial service. Wow... everyone thought of her how I did. Our awesome friend who you just wanted to be around. A ton of people talking about how she made everyone feel loved, how she was trying to mirror Jesus to people here on earth; and how much she wanted them to know Him. And after she was gone, plenty of posts on FB of "I was having situation and was and then thought "How would Christie handle this?" or "This isn't how Christie would feel." So I'm not alone in that... but missing her, and seeing what other folks are going through, I go through the same thing too. And it makes me a better person. When I'm at work and something frustrates me and I'm about to snap... I feel the Holy Spirit and think about her and the stories about her. And, while she might react in love and I won't say that I go that far, I am more chill about it; more handling of the situation, more kind.

So thanks Friend. I love you and I thank you for that!

And now just a quick up date on the everyday... 'Cuz sometimes things happen and I think you would have enjoyed them.

Pastor Austin preached on Sunday. It was very cool and very "youth pastory". I think you know what I mean. As you well know, some folks get that, and some folks do not. It just made me think about back in the day, when we were all at NCF and PM would be so youth pastory in his sermons. I loved it! I still do. Anyway, sometimes he would say something and you would get that look on your face. Sometimes "Oh Mark" or sometimes a big grin. It all came back watch Pastor Austin preach, and seeing Miss Mandy sitting there, grinning and stuff. You'd be proud of the "babies" and what a good job they are doing.

Well... gotta go. I just wanted to stop by and say "Hi". Yeah, maybe a bit weird, maybe a public social blog is not the place for this... but maybe it is. Anyway, I'll probably stop back and say Hi on other days. Love ya.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Grandpa's chili

My dad's dad died when I was pretty little. There are two things I mostly remeber about him. Crawling up into his lap with his work shirt on that had his name tag on it, and his chili. This isn't his recipie, but it is inspired by it. I bet he didn't use actually peppers in it... But the base idea is there, and it always makes me think of him. As with a lot of my recipes, I have no idea about quantities of spices... So you are just going to have to play with it. There are two ways to make this... The faster to make, slow it all in a crock pot and let it simmer all day, and the more prep time sauté everything. I usually do the faster unless it's the weekend and I feel like cooking! Ingredients are the same either way.



  • 1.5 lbs burger. I use 90% or 93% lean
  • 2 medium white onions
  • 5 stalks celery
  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 Fresno pepper
  • 1 Anaheim chili
  • 1 banana pepper
  • 6 to 8 tomatillos. 8 if they are all small. 
  • 1 can black beans, the smaller normal size can, um... 18 oz or so?
  • 1 can red kidney beans, same size
  • 1 can pinto beans, same size
  • 2 lrg cans tomatoe sauce 28oz or 32 oz size... I forget
  • 1 lrg can diced tomatoe, that same size
  • Lowrys seasoned salt
  • Black pepper
  • Chili powder... Maybe 1/2 a cup?



  • Seed and devein all the chilis and peppers. 
  • Chop the onion, celery and green bell peppers into about 1/2 inch, bite size pieces. 
  • Chop the tomatillos into 8 pieces or so
  • Mince the other chilis/peppers
  • Drain the beans and rinse them



Brown the hamburger and season with seasoned salt, pepper and about 1/2 the chili powder. Basically sprinkle across the meat. You'll just have to taste it when it's cooked.
 At this point you can out everything in a crock pot and just let it cook, or you can sauté the rest of the stuff and then leave it on the stove on a low simmer or move it to a crock pot. So if you are doing the faster prep, you are done now, otherwise continue.

Move the burger that you sautéed to whatever pot you are going to continue cooking this in (pot on the stove on medium or crock pot).  Put some olive oil in a pan and start sautéing the onion. When it starts to get a bit translucent, add the bell peppers and celery and cook till have sautéed a bit. They don't have to be all the way done, as they will simmer in the chili. Add this to the pot. Sauté the tomatillos for a bit... till they start to break down some; and add the rest of the chilis and peppers. Add those to pot. Add in the beans and tomatoes and sauce along with the rest of the chili powder. Stir it all up and let it cook till it starts bubbling. Taste. At this point you may have to add more salt and/or chili powder. Turn crockpot or burner to low.

A little while before its time to eat (either you get home from work or you are hanging out) taste and add more chili powder or salt, let finish for another 30 minutes for any seasoning adjustment to take hold... and there ya go!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Look around, He is there

Today was a great day. I rented a set ot snorkeling gear and after we dropped Kian off at school, I borrowed Tif's car and went adventuring. Took a few wrong turns, but ended up at Ala Moana Regional Park.

I sent snorkeling along the main beach and it was a good swimming beach, but not that great for snorkeling, at least not up close and I didn't want to go out to the reef which was quite a ways out. So I got out and walked over to the lagoon, which had a pretty good reef along the edge with a few openings where the tide was coming in. I swam that entire thing and it was pretty good. Not a ton of great fish, but good enough and some I'd never seen. Some strong current along the openings in the reef, some shallow and deep areas. I probably spent a good hour swimming, which is good for my arm/shoulder. So that was all very cool and I was tired out and had that "I just swam for quite a while" feel, which I love.

So I grabbed my stuff back off the beach (which I had hoped no one would bother and no one did) and then showered off in cold water (felt great) and then changed. I then went looking for food as I was starving. I figured there might be a shrimp truck or something around. Tif said I could head over to the mall.... but dude... I'm on the beach in HI, I don't want to eat any mall food! :)

I was basically just walking around the park, just watching all the people and the birds, (this dude was walking around with birds all over his arms and shoulders and head. No idea what that was about), people biking, folks sleeping in the shared, little kids swimming. It was just so chill, so cool, so laid back. And so beautiful. It just makes me appreciate the coolness of the Father to look at his creation.

Anyway, I saw some folks carrying to-go boxes and so I knew there had to be some food *somewhere*. I saw this tent and it looked like it had about 15 to 20 folks around it. Seems a little big for a party so maybe there were selling food. As I got close I could see it said "New Hope Christian Center, Oahu". Sounded like Tif's church (it wasn't exactly) and maybe they were selling food or something. So I headed over.

I walk up to this guy and say "Is this New Hope?" and he says "Yeah bra, first time? Sign here and get in line" and I say, "I think this is my daughter and son-in-law's church" and he says "Just sign here and get in line" - so the next thing I know he is saying "First time in line" and this guy is waving at me and they hand me a plate of food. Its all kind of a blur. So I look around and finally realize they are feed folks in the part, mostly (totally?) homeless. So I take the plate of food and the person says "Bless you bra" and I say "Bless you!" and then I go sit down on the beach wall with some other homeless folks and eat my plate of food.

(About this point in the story, as I relate it to Tif, she is just staring at me with her eyes very wide and her mouth kind of open... o.o <== like that. And I just start laughing.)

So I'm sitting there, eating some awesome tasting poke, and a piece of whole wheat bread and some white rice. And its really good. And I'm eating that up, and then 1/2 a chocolate muffin (yeah... not on my diet - but God provided, it must be cool, right?)  So I'm just hanging out on the wall and eating my food with some other folks and the church is packing up and folks are walking by, "Good to see you again Raymond. The meat was pretty good today huh? Make sure and come back!" and then to me "Bless you brother" and I say "Bless you" back. I mean... what was I going to do, say "Hey, its all a mistake! I'm not homeless." Nope, just take what God gives me, and in a way be a blessing to those who gave it to me and ask God to bless them for the work they do.

So anyway, I'm just sitting there... in Hawaii, in the park, in my swimming gear, just having gone snorkeling, eating a plate of food that kind of appeared out of no where - and is just what I was looking for... street food, Hawaiian food. And I'm thinking "Wow... I am so blessed". So blessed in the little things. Now many people probably are shaking their heads about now... but Tif said "Sounds like you dad." and I'll take that. I'm His kid. Some times its the little things... Just sitting on the beach, looking around and just thinking how cool it all is. It wasn't that I couldn't afford to buy lunch, it wasn't that there was no lunch in sight (there was a little cafe about 1/2 block away it turns out). But it was just such an adventure for me. And such a blessing for me. And He does that kind of thing for me all the time. I'm sure He does for others too... although perhaps in a different way. I guess not everyone would think sitting on a beach wall with a bunch of homeless people, eating pork and rice and throwing some bread to the birds, would be the most awesomest thing every... But for me it was.

And then I went and got back in the car and drove over to the "Hawaii Five-O HQ" and took a pic and then headed back to Tif's. Going through the base gate and showing them my pass (I got one yesterday) and getting all choked up when the 18 year old kid with the M-16 checked my id and waved me through... because: a) its a military base, and b) there is this kid guarding it. I told him "Thank you for your service" and he just kind of looked away and said "You're welcome" and waved me through... Which is pretty much what every service person I've said it to acts like. Like embarrassed and that its nothing... but its a *big deal* what they do.

Anyway, sitting my kid's kitchen, typing all this up, and just feeling extremely blessed by my Dad that I get to do this, and that His creation is so cool, and so many of His children are so cool - and just... well everything.

I hope in some way this blesses you (if anyone reads this, lol) and that even if it seems weird to you, that you think about the little things that He does for you, that bless you. That flower poking out of the snow, the sound of your child/grandchild giggling, that picture that you took that captured just what you wanted it to, that... whatever it may be.

Be blessed... I am!


Saturday, October 05, 2013

A Father's Heart

I'm an introvert. I get restored by being alone. Weird to many, but it's just the way it is. Because of that, I spend a lot of time alone, and some of that time I just spend just thinking about things.

Today I was thinking about my girls. How much I love them. How precious they are to me. How much I hurt when they hurt. I've never really had a way with words. I'm more of a hugger than a talker. Sometimes I just don't know what to say, but I hope my girls know how much I love them anyway. When they call me hurting, I just want to hold them tight in my arms and let them know it's going to be ok... Like when they were little kids. It's a bit harder now that they are "all growed up."

Because of some stuff going on over the last week, it really made me think about this tonight. Everything is ok, but it just made me think about it. And is want to happen, when I think about my dad relationship with my girls, it makes me think of my Dad's ( God's ) relationship with me and other humans. As I sit here thinking about how I wish I could make it all better when something goes wrong, or how I hope they know how much I love them, or how I just had the right words to say... I hear the Holy Spirit expressing similar feelings to me.

We sometimes step out if what God has for us, and it sometimes makes it hard for Him to bless us in the best way possible. We sometimes don't talk to Him and that makes it hard for Him to say the right things to us... Not because He doesn't know what to say, but because we don't listen. He also worries about whether or not we know how much He loves us, because most if the world doesn't, and because there are so many incorrect views in the world of who He is.

As I think on how short life is, how my girls childhood went by so fast, and how I grieve, in a way, for missed chances, I think about how God misses all the days He could have had with us, but we did not know Him. Or all the things He could have helped with, but we did not ask. But, just as I also am happy with all the things I can participate in now with my girls, and how grateful I am that Jaime is close, and Tif is just a text or FaceTime away; I also know that my Father in Heaven takes joy in the fact that I soak to Him now, and that I have a good relationship with Him.

So anyway... Yeah, introverts. We say things on the internet we'd never say face to face... Because hey, it's only a few million people here ;)

Love your kids, they grow up way too fast. And love your Dad. His heart aches for you!