Kalua Pork in the Slow Cooker

Hawaii is a special place for my husband and me. We fell in love right after high school during a senior graduation trip to Waikiki, our first child was born at the pink hospital (Tripler Army Medical Center), we had two military tours on Oahu giving us eight years of kamaʻaina (local) status. It just seemed like a perfect choice to spend our Silver Anniversary in paradise on the island we have never visited, Lanai!

We spent a relaxing week lounging on the beach, hiking, exploring, eating local foods, and drinking a few mai tais.  Somehow they tasted so much better with a beautiful sunset in our view!

I felt a little guilty that we left our son behind (and daughter, but she’s in college and doesn’t live with us full-time), so before we left, I made my son a staple in the Hawaiian diet, Kalua pig.  He would have survived just fine with his bagel, cream cheese, flaming’ hot cheetos sandwiches, but since he is my meat eater I wanted to make sure that he ate something homemade for a few days. The traditional way the pork is cooked is to dig a hole in the ground, line it with rocks and add fire forming an oven, then add the meat and cook all day long. I have a MUCH simpler way to cook Kalua pork by skipping the fire-pit underground oven and using a crockpot instead!  Three simple ingredients is all you need; pork, sea salt, and liquid smoke. That’s it!!

Kalua Pork in a Crockpot


  • 5-6 lb pork butt roast (also called pork shoulder)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Liquid smoke

Score meat and rub salt on the meat, then add the liquid smoke to the meat.

Put in your slow cooker on and leave it for about 12 hours (depending on your cooker, it may only take up to 8 hours). Turn it once. It’ll fall apart when it’s done.  Shred with a fork.

This is a great dish for a crowd.  I like to serve it with Hawaiian sweet bread like a sandwich.

I like to believe this dish brought good luck to our son. We just learned that he has been accepted to the University of Hawaii!!

I’ll have a mai tai to that!!



Ruby Red Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries seem to only make their apperance during the holidays. Bags and bags of fresh cranberries fill the grocery stores this time of year, along with prepared cranberry sauce and other “holiday only” fare like pumpkin pie filling and green bean casserole fixings.

These fresh little hearty berries are sturdy enough to be surrounded by a candle or placed at the bottom of a vase, which is exactly what I’ve used them for.

I never really liked this little berry, until I started making my own. Cranberry sauce would be on my grocery list during the holidays, and year after year I would buy a can and put it on our Thanksgiving dinner table for anyone that wanted it, but I was very ambivalent. I became quite amused watching the gel-like glop make it’s appearance, and took great efforts to keep my sauce intact by opening both ends of the can watching it slowly slither onto a plate. There was something intriguing about those cylindrical canned designed ripples on the gel that kept me looking forward to the next year of can opening. Then, one year I paid closer attention when my mom made her delicious sauce, and I couldn’t believe how simple it was! No candy thermometer or special cooling process needed! I finally learned that, besides adding color to candles or vases, which was all I ever used fresh berries for, this fruit’s purpose is to become a flavor filled ruby red side dish! I was reformed from being a yearly can opener, to becoming a fresh cranberry sauce maker!

It’s simple to make and you will love the way it tastes!

Ruby Red Fresh Cranberry Sauce (yields approximately 2 cups)

  • 1 cup juice (I used Trader Joe’s orange-strawberry banana juice, but orange or apple works well too)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Wash the cranberries. In a sauce pan over medium heat, add the sugar and juice stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries and cook until the berries start to burst and begin to soften (close to 10 minutes).  Remove from heat and add cinnamon. As the sauce cools, it will begin to thicken. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate.
Don’t wait until next year to buy fresh cranberries. More holiday festivities are on the horizon!  One great idea for this luscious sauce is to put it on top of baked brie, and serve with crackers as an appetizer.  Or you can blend it with cream cheese, form a cheese ball, and roll it in chopped nuts.