Will’s Meerkats & Pork Sliders


A couple of blog posts ago I mentioned I found two memory cards among William’s things. The photos I share with you today bring back fun memories of a trip we took to the San Diego Zoo. It was Christmas and William was completing his first corpsman assignment at Balboa Naval Hospital. He was beyond disgusted to be assigned to the OB/GYN department and proceeded to spend the next two years pestering his superiors to transfer him to field medicine at Camp LeJeune. He never gave up and eventually realized his dream of serving his country in the way he wanted to serve.


The Sentry

Back to the zoo, I remember how much he enjoyed the meerkats. We spent the majority of our time laughing over the antics of this gang. He has more photos of the meerkats than any other animal at the zoo. He loved them. I recall us saying he and his dad were like the sentries; naturally protective of the family and ready to take action against predators.


And then there are “the 3 lazy bastards”(gosh I hear his voice like it was yesterday). He actually gave these three names, but that info. shall remain classified. The boy just cracked me up then and he sure is making me chuckle now.


Oh, William. I sure do miss you. I am grateful to have such great memories and to be able to preserve them in this blog. Thank you, son, for these fun meerkat photos and that winning smile of yours.


Here is one of my recent winning recipes. It’s an Asian inspired juicy pork slider topped with 2 kinds of pickled vegetables served on a soft Hawaiian bun. Perfect for a summer party, get ready for some flavor in your mouth and a smile on your face. While I did not win the top prize I was happy to be among the top 10. Check out Smithfield’s Hog Wild recipe contest site for all the other winning recipes from backyard barbecuers to pittmasters.


  • 16 to 24 Ounces Smithfield Fresh Pork Tenderloin
  • 1/2 Cups low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 Teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 fresh cucumber, peeled 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 1 Cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup, divided
  • 1 Teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1/4 Cups bottled red raspberry vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 fresh red onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 slider rolls, sliced in half horizontally
  • 1/4 Cups hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 Cups fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Place pork in a zippered plastic bag. In 1-cup measure, mix soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil; pour over pork. Seal bag squeezing out as much air as possible. Let pork marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or for as long as overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. In small bowl, combine sesame seeds, brown sugar and ginger; set aside.
  3. Prepare Maple Smoked Pickled Jalapeno Cucumbers:  Place cucumber and jalapeno in a heat-proof bowl. Bring ½ cup water, vinegar, 1/3 cup maple syrup, salt and liquid smoke to a boil stirring to dissolve salt. Pour liquid over vegetables. Let stand 30 minutes. Cover and chill until ready to use.
  4. Prepare Red Raspberry Pickled Onions:
  5. In small saucepan bring ½ cup water and vinaigrette to the boil. Add onions and turn off heat. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.
    Chill until ready to serve.
  6. Heat 1 side of grill to high heat. Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Remove pork from marinade (discard marinade). Pat pork dry with paper towels. Sear pork on hot grill on all 4 sides, turning after 1 minute per side.  Transfer pork to a plate; brush all over with remaining maple syrup and then coat on all sides with sesame seed mixture. Return pork to cool side of grill for indirect cooking. Cover grill and continue cooking pork for 4 to 6 minutes or until it registers 140°F to 145°F on an instant read thermometer.
  7. Transfer meat to a cutting surface, cover with foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into thin slices.  During last few minutes of grilling time toast slider rolls, if desired.
  8. Spread bottom half of each slider roll with hoisin sauce. Layer with pickled cucumbers, pork, jalapeno, pickled onions and cilantro.

photo by Will Keys


12 thoughts on “Will’s Meerkats & Pork Sliders

  1. I can only imagine what names he gave the meerkats ******
    I love that smile too! 💞💕💞

  2. I love meerkats too, William. And my first meerkat encounter was at the San Diego Zoo !! 🙂

  3. I’m forever caught between joy and tears when I read your posts! Will’s passion for life jumps off the page with such beauty! Thank you for sharing the meerkat photos and continuing the beautiful legacy of your sweet sons life!

  4. Great pics – Cole is back from Honduras. All good and he seems to have a new perspective.

    • Happy Cole is home from Honduras. He did good work and that is always a feel good experience. I am pretty sure he will always be thankful for his family and having a roof over his head

  5. I too can hear his voice calling those “3 lazy bastards”. Made me laugh out loud. You’ll have to tell me later the (I’m sure glorious) names he called them. 🙂
    Great post as usual mama.

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