Every year we have a family vacation at a beautiful little spot in BC called Jewel Lake. My husband’s family has a family “cabin” there. The first time that I arrived there in 2014 we had just finished an epic drive: starting in Nanaimo taking the 90 minute ferry trip to Vancouver, driving northeast for 5 hours to 100 Mile House to pick the kids up at their amazing summer camp, Educo, and then driving 7 hours south to Jewel Lake. Oh, did I mention…with 4 kids, our golden retriever and the two of us all crammed into our aging minivan with broken AC. Awesome.
We pulled in at about 11 p.m. feeling groggy but still itching with the excitement of a one week holiday on the lake, surrounded by our extended family of fabulous in-laws. Yup, that’s right. I love my in-laws. I walked into the “cabin” and very quickly determined that this was not the cabin that I had grown up in on Okanagan Lake, with no electricity, bathrooms or running water. In the kitchen there are double islands and the house…let’s just call it a house…sleeps 14 people very comfortably. We got the kids all settled into bed and then crashed ourselves. I woke up in the morning to one heck of a breathtaking view. The cabin is right on the water with a ton of lake frontage. It is nestled in green, tree covered mountains with no cell reception and has become the highlight of my year. This year Kevin, my husband, even ignored his email and didn’t work the whole week. That is a special week for him, for me, and for the kids. Weeks spent at this little utopia are magical for us.
And let’s keep it real…our family holidays are magical but they are always sprinkled with a bit of drama. Our kids are 10, 11, 13 and 14 years old now. The first Christmas that we spent together with our blended family, my daughter ran away from home. During another one of these summer vacations my step-son locked himself in his room for 10 hours and another year Kev and I got into a huge, publicly awkward fight because reality was not meeting my expectations…weird. Other family occasions have been seasoned with one of the kids having a fit over losing a game, feeling left out, feeling like their concerns are not heard, missing their other parent and all the stuff that makes for an exciting blended family. But that’s a whole other blog post!
One of the things that really does bring us together during this family time is, of course, food and family dining. Each year we spice this up with two friendly food competitions…the annual Rib-Off and the now annual Brownie-Off. This year was the fourth annual Rib-Off and we had four contestants: Herb (my father-in-law, Grandpa or G-pah), Uncle Dan (my Uncle-in-law or otherwise affectionately called Gr-uncle Dan for Great Uncle Dan to the kids), Dane (my sister-in-law’s partner) and myself. We all cook two racks of ribs with different recipes and then everyone votes for their favourite. The kids tally the votes and present the trophy to the winner. This year’s winner…drum roll please…was Grandpa Herb for the second time! Below is his rib recipe, simple but delicious. And keep in mind I was in the kitchen for at least 5 hours nursing ribs that didn’t even win. Next year is going to be Bullseye and boiling for me! Congratulations Dad.
G-pah’s Rib Recipe
1. Sprinkle salt on the ribs and let them brown at 350’F.
2. Once they are light brown dash a little Louisiana hot sauce on them.
3. Once golden brown pour in some chicken stock enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
4. Cover with tin foil, reduce heat and let slow cook until they fall off the bone about 2-3 hours.