Wild Turkey Country is a Thanksgiving Must

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

As a food fan, I love me some Thanksgiving. Sure it’s just dinner and such, but any time there is a situation that devotes a chunk of Wednesday to shopping and prep, along with a full day Thursday to cook, sip cocktails and eat a giant meal – count me in.

Tradition is a big part of what makes holidays special, and is an important foundation for several loves held closely by most across the Bluegrass Region (think college basketball and horse racing). Another would be bourbon. Being I live in Kentucky’s central region, the entire bourbon industry is located anywhere from 5 minutes away (Buffalo Trace in Frankfort) to 90 minutes (Maker’s Mark in Loretto) from my house in Kentucky’s state capital of Frankfort.

Come Thanksgiving, it’s not complete without hopping on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail for a visit to the Wild Turkey distillery in Tyrone, near Lawrenceburg, in bordering Anderson County. There’s something about those rolling hills, the aroma of sour mash wafting through the countryside, and the tradition of excellence found in every bottle Jimmy Russell, Wild Turkey’s Master Distiller, puts his stamp of approval upon.

Fine bourbon has been produced from this spot since the late 1800s. Wild Turkey as a specific brand dates to around 1942, and is a product I’ve associated with Thanksgiving my whole life. It’s renegade bourbon, and having a bottle of ‘Kickin’ Chicken’ within arm’s reach throughout the Thanksgiving holiday is essential for watching football, post or pre-shopping excursions and to steady all the family socializing.

I personally am a proponent of Wild Turkey 101. If resources are available for their premium offerings, i.e. Rare Breed, Russell’s Reserve or Kentucky Spirit – by all means go for it, but in the under $30 category Wild Turkey 101 is a beauty.

Now sure I could pick this up at any number of purveyors in town, but Isabella, my 5-year old, and I, opted for the scenic 30 minute drive south to make our purchase. As we crossed the bridge on Route 62 spanning the Kentucky River, a giant billboard nestled amongst the trees on the far hillside beckoned with its signature bird “Welcome to OUR HOUSE.”

This is Wild Turkey Country.

Wind around the hill upward past the aging rickhouses, stained black on their grey facades to allow each to stand out just enough against the bluegrass and misting fog, like they were meant to anchor the hillsides. Arriving up top the gorgeous newly updated distillery is a modern glass creation to behold, which is tempered by the age of many of its older counterparts interspersed across the landscape. The distillery itself is access controlled, but head that direction and follow the signs to the Welcome Center.

There a giant red holiday wreath is set off against the black barn it’s hung upon. If nothing else it’s worth the view to trot down the slate stone walkway and take in the vista from the cliff’s edge. The countryside, river valley below and flora provide a measure of perspective. Inside can be found the history of this iconic label, plenty of swag emblazoned with the trademark turkey, and yes loads of exquisite sipping whiskey.

Something new on sale was Wild Turkey Decades. This is the first specialty bottle guided by the hand of Wild Turkey’s newly minted Master Distiller, Eddie Russell. This is the son of iconic Master Distiller Jimmy Russell. As father and son master distillers, they make up the only tandem of this sort in the world. Decades, this latest offering, blends precious and rare barrels aged between 10 and 20 years. It’s a gorgeous bottle design and retails somewhere around $150 a fifth.

I happily grabbed my bottle of 101, and a bad ass Wild Turkey bourbon baseball cap. I rationalized that wearing the hat while cooking would make everything better (…it did).

With purchases in hand, Isabella and I took a few minutes to visit the boat ramp located just down Tyrone Road, to get up-close to the water, then ventured back to Frankfort. It was time to pour a stiff cocktail and embark on a different tradition, that of food prep before the big day.

My Frankfort family joined my wife’s parents and her sister’s posse in Simpsonville for Thursday’s celebration. It’s a mishmash of everybody, immediate family, friends, boyfriends, boyfriend’s moms, visiting pets and immense amounts of Turkey Day treats.

I’m going to highlight one side dish that is fast becoming a family tradition. I’ve continued tweaking this over the last several years. It’s relatively simple to make but especially if you dress it up some, it creates a complex flavor spectrum that will have folks following you to the kitchen to help finish it off, and to get that recipe.

WILD RICE CASSEROLE with MUSHROOMS

Ingredients:  1 cup wild rice, cooked according to package directions; 2 cups Kitchen Basics chicken stock; 1 pound andouille or Cajun sausage; 3 tbsp. unsalted butter; 1/2 cup diced onions; 1/4 cup diced green pepper; 8 oz. sliced Portobello mushrooms; 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup; 1 cup heavy whipping cream; 1/4 tsp. dried basil; 1/4 tsp. dried tarragon; 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika; 1/2 tsp. garlic powder; 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper; 1/2 tsp. white pepper; 1/2 tsp. black pepper; dash of sherry.

I’ve mutated this into a Southern, low country recipe, with a distinct leaning toward New Orleans. Some want to lump it in toward a gumbo style or jambalaya, and I get why, but it’s not. This is distinct and by itself. With the inclusion of the andouille sausage it could stand as a main course, but I prefer it as a side item in a larger meal.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice and quarter the andouille. For those not residing around the deep South, Kroger does a decent andouille, or Johnsonville has one, and Aidell’s Cajun Style Andouille is fine. Both can be found in most supermarkets. I dig the Conecuh brand out of Alabama. It has a distinct hickory presence and can be purchased locally. Plan ahead and andouille can be ordered to your doorstep. The Cajun Grocer has a fine selection, such as Richard’s, Savoie’s and Manda’s.

In a medium-sized pot or rice steamer get the wild rice started according to the package instructions. This can take 30 mins [Note: I substitute chicken stock for water when cooking the rice to add flavor].

In a heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot (think Dutch oven), sauté the sausage until browned.

While this is cooking, slice and dice the onion, green pepper and mushrooms. Remove sausage and place in bowl to the side, leaving any residual oils and burnt residue on bottom of the pan (that’s good flavor crystals to keep on cooking with).

Add butter and let melt > pour in onions, green peppers and shrooms, with a splash of chicken stock > sauté 8-10 mins on medium low heat.

Stir in soup, cream and spices and let simmer for 5 mins [Note: A solid Cajun/Creole spice blend would hit most needs here, but I recommend concocting your own, as many over the counter versions go too light on the pepper(s) and too heavy on the salt].

Fold in the cooked rice, stirring to combine. Splash with sherry. I tend to be liberal with the sherry, as it really highlights the flavors. Stir and place lid on container, then transfer to preheated oven.

Bake until soup and cream are absorbed and the rice thickens, generally 50 mins. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 mins and it’s ready to serve. Embrace the decadence.

Happy Thanksgiving kids!

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Trump Seething Over Russia Indictments and Staffer Guilty Plea

Day 284 in the Trump administration was one to remember. After a year plus of repeated denials from President Trump, VP Mike Pence and their enablers that no member of the Trump campaign “ever” met with any Russians, reality crashed through as federal indictments were unsealed on October 30, charging two senior campaign officials with crimes related to their overseas dealings with businesses and individuals sympathetic to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A federal grand jury saw enough tangible evidence to establish a preponderance of guilt, and issued 12 count indictments against Paul Manafort, chief strategist and former chairman of the Trump campaign, and his longtime business associate Rick Gates, who also served as a Trump campaign adviser. The charges against both parties include money laundering, tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Manafort was freed on a $10 million bond and Gates on $5 million. Both were placed on electronically monitored home detention until their trials.

This was the first salvo of indictments born from the investigation of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, and punched significant holes in the flimsy denials Donald Trump has peddled of having no Russian contacts. The White House is spinning that none of these charges indicate the president is implicated in the suspected collusion, and that these are incidental allegations on the periphery of a lengthy investigation by Mueller, and that his inquiry will be concluding soon.

Trump took to Twitter proclaiming vindication as no collusion was shown between Russia and himself in these indictments, instead pushing the blame toward his defeated 2016 Democratic opponent, posting “Why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus????”

The tweeting quickly ceased after it was revealed that the expected indictments were not the only legal action up Mueller’s sleeve. George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign policy adviser on Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about making false statements to investigators about his efforts to collude on behalf of Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This case provides the clearest evidence yet of links between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials who overtly interfered with the U.S. election process. Papadopoulos attempted to broker a meeting between Trump and Putin, and sought to acquire hacked information regarding Clinton with the oversight of senior Trump campaign staff.

Papadopoulos was arrested on July 27 and appeared secretly in federal court on October 5 to enter a guilty plea. Considering his lenient sentencing recommendation it’s surmised Papadopoulos cut a deal to work with prosecutors, and possibly was wearing a wire to record conversations between himself and Trump staff.

The Papadopoulos guilty plea is troubling for Trump on two fronts. One, that Mueller blatantly outmaneuvered the Trumpers and moved in stealth identifying this individual and locking down his guilty plea without anyone in the administration being the wiser. Who else in TrumpWorld might already be in Mueller’s pocket exchanging information to save their skin? Secondly, there is the possibility Papadopoulos was wearing a wire for nearly a month, conducting business with Trump associates and recording those conversations. It creates a whole new level of paranoia among an already exasperated White House facing daily scrutiny for potential illegal activities.

While the indictments of Manafort and Gates do not directly implicate Trump, it must be remembered that both held high level strategic positions on the campaign, and Manafort ran the show from the summer of 2016 through the Republican National Convention. If proven that Manafort accepted money to skew the Republican Party’s political platform toward preferential treatment of Russian and the Ukraine this would help explain the reasoning behind Trump’s insistence to never condemn Putin or accept the unanimous opinion from all U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

Particularly troubling for Trump is that these crimes are not ones that can be pardoned away. Mueller strategically set these indictments up so that if Trump issues pardons the crimes can be pursued in New York state courts.

Manafort could face 20 years at Rikers Island. That is not an atmosphere generally conducive to the survival of the country club set. Self preservation would dictate Manafort turn state’s evidence and roll on President Trump.

It should also be noted that Trump and all those orbiting his universe, especially family members have every reason to be concerned. The solicitation from Russians that Papadopoulos attempted to peddle and led to his guilty plea is the same crime that Donald Trump Jr. took the bait for and ran with. Don Jr. colluded with a bunch of Russians by setting up a meeting with them at Trump Tower that included Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort. With Manafort in play to avoid a lengthy jail sentence, all attendees at that meeting look good to face indictment.

Certainly the White House dearly hopes Mueller is nearing the end of his investigation, but if anything the scope is widening, and odds are these first indictments are merely the jumping off point. The case against Manafort and Gates alone could take six months to reach trial. This guarantees headlines reaching well into 2018, a prospect no Republicans cherish as voters could use the mid-term elections to punish Trump for lying to the American people, as nearly all his upper level staff had dealings with Russians. By electing Democrats to a majority in either the House or Senate, a check would be put in place ending any Trump agenda.

Reports already leaked indicate sufficient evidence exists to indict Michael Flynn, an important confidant of Trump’s on the campaign trail and later selected by the president to serve as his National Security Advisor. Against the advice of the Obama administration and the intelligence community, who already knew Flynn was dirty, Trump nominated the disgraced general, only to see him fired after 24 days, the shortest tenure in the office’s history.

Flynn’s son also is implicated in wrongdoing, and the thinking is Mueller will pressure Gen. Flynn to turn evidence on his former boss to save his child from jail and decrease his own punishment.

Trump vehemently promised to get “the best people” to surround him if he won. We’re still waiting for those people to show up. The list only grows of fired staffers and disgraced appointments associated with the Trump administration: Manafort, Flynn, Reince Priebus (chief of staff), Sean Spicer (press secretary), Anthony Scaramucci (communications director), Steve Bannon (chief strategist), Sebastian Gorka (deputy assistant to the president), Tom Price (Secretary of Health and Human Services)…

Through these first 10 months it has become blatantly obvious that Trump has a poor sense of judgement and an even worse vetting process.

Now Trump finds himself a prisoner in a cage of his own creation. There is no firing Mueller without facing impeachment. For a man with a staggering lack of humility, who neither believes in facts, science, evidence or the truth, it must be frightening to see this investigation closing in around his web of deceit.

I wonder if the light bulb has gone off yet about the imprudence of Trump’s beleaguering of fellow Republicans, the appalling disrespect he’s demonstrated to the intelligence community, the haphazard firing of prudent FBI Director James Comey, and blatant disrespect shown to the court system and its judges with his insults and pardoning of racist former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. These are resources that could have been available to bolster and aid an embattled sitting president, but Trump torched them all for short-term political gain. A tweet here and some red meat headlines to appease a meager and deranged political base.

Trump’s lying, bullying, divisiveness, misogyny, violence, white supremacy, race baiting, greed – it’s all out there on full display. The world and the American electorate has seen it, and no one will through a lifeline to this president or his cronies. There is no blaming Obama or Clinton to explain him out of it. A hard rain is gonna fall and it’s going to be fascinating to watch these rats scurrying about trying to find shelter in the cold reality of truth.

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Try This Perfect Roasted Chicken

As I cook for five people each night, I’m always on the lookout for tasty recipes involving sizable selects of meat, poultry or pork, that will feed my brood without breaking the checkbook. I know chicken doesn’t exactly get anyone’s blood sizzling as a main course option, especially for the kiddos, but give this recipe a try. It really does bring a wonderful flavor out in the bird, and at around $1 per pound, this can feed a family with leftovers at an economical price.

PERFECT ROASTED CHICKEN

Ingredients: 1 (5-to-6 plus pound) roasting chicken; Kosher salt; Freshly ground black pepper; 1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs; 1 lemon (halved); 1 head garlic (cut in half crosswise); 2 tablespoons butter (melted); 1 large yellow onion (thickly sliced); 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks; 1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, cut into wedges; Olive oil.

I recommend finding a nice plump chicken, 7-pounds is even better, as this recipe has ample ingredients to fill the internal cavity of a smaller bird. Add any remains to the bottom of the roasting pan to be cooked and enjoyed with the meal.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove the chicken giblets and rinse the chicken inside and out. Cut away any excess fat and pat dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside and outside of the chicken. Peal and cut the onion into four quarters. Stuff the chicken cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, all the garlic, two hunks of carrot and one-half of one-quarter of the onion.

Brush the outside of the chicken with the melted butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper [NOTE: If a salt alternative would be preferred, I’ve been liking Kroger’s Zesty Blend Garlic Herb].

Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the remaining onions, carrots and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when cutting between the leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the roasted vegetables.

Happy Cooking!

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Trump Visits Puerto Rico – Chucks Paper Towels at Victims

Donald Trump made a regrettable trip to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, visiting the devastated island for the first time since Hurricane Maria made landfall on September 20. Instead of comforting beleaguered residents or its leaders, Trump sought adulation and self-praise from officials for his bungled handling of the storm recovery effort.

Gratitude was bestowed upon locals that groveled to Trump’s liking about the late and insufficient U.S. response. He added insult to the assembled gathering by informing the island nation that Hurricane Maria was not a “real catastrophe” when compared with the death toll from Hurricane Katrina, and joked about how Puerto Rico’s recovery was adversely impacting the U.S. budget.

“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people who died, and you look at what happened here and what is your death count? Sixteen people, versus in the thousands,” Trump said. “You can be very proud. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.”

It was cringe-worthy patter from the orange one, our Cheeto Benito, like some bad standup routine, with Trump’s thin skin for criticism on full display before a nation that lacks food, water and electricity. The petty nature of this president continues to find new lows as he spent last weekend personally attacking the mayor of San Juan after she made the case publicly that the U.S. response was insufficient and people were literally dying from the lack of resources reaching Puerto Rico’s inhabitants.

Trump readily praised FEMA and the military. Yet everyone on the island recognized the U.S. response was slow, disorganized and bordered on negligent considering the utter dismantling of the island’s infrastructure.

It took essential items like water, MREs and diapers days to arrive, but worse, once ships and planes showed up, there was no federal leadership to address logistics of transportation and distribution.

Part of the reasoning behind this poor effort was fatigue, as Maria was the third hurricane in quick succession to impact the Atlantic season.

Hurricane Harvey was a beast of a storm that ravaged the Houston metropolitan area and surrounding municipalities for more than a week, bringing catastrophic flooding that began on August 26. As the waters in Texas and Louisiana began to recede, Hurricane Irma blasted the U.S. Virgin Islands and caused trouble for Puerto Rico before coming ashore in the Florida Keys on September 10.

Irma hit Florida’s Gulf Coast as a Category 4 with 130-mph winds. This left 65 percent of the state without power and gushing flood waters paralyzed wide swaths across the state. Every county from Key West to the Georgia line was affected, and Irma continued causing havoc into Georgia and South Carolina.

Then came Hurricane Maria on September 20. It was a Cat-4 with maximum sustained winds of more than 150-mph, the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, and strongest to make landfall in Puerto Rico in some 80-plus years.

Few roofs survived the fury. The fragile power grid failed, leaving the entire island of 3.5 million people without power. Cellphone towers toppled in the wind wiping out communication. Debris and rampant flooding locked rescuers in place for days, unable to render assistance.

One resident described Maria as if it were a 50-to-60 mile wide tornado that raged across Puerto Rico for some 30 hours.

Here’s the thing, Texas and Florida have dealt with destructive storms recently, and had  preparedness measures in place. They also are attached to a giant country, allowing folks to evacuate and for assisters to arrive quickly to impacted regions.

There is nothing easy about Puerto Rico. It’s a poverty-stricken nation that caters to wealthy world travelers. There is no evacuation option or money to construct buildings resistant to the deadly vengeance of a storm like Maria.

Trump chose to move on after his ego-stroking praise fest with officials Tuesday at Muñiz Air Force Base, to a church where the president chucked paper towels and toilet paper rolls at weary Puerto Rican residents who had lost their homes. He played like a spoiled boy prince offering moldy bread to hungry riffraff.

This was impressively tone-deaf even for Trump. He then met residents, but instead of traveling 10 minutes out of San Juan where the destruction was unavoidable, he went to a gated community that received minimal damage. He further embarrassed himself by refusing to look at the San Juan mayor as she gracefully offered an explanation for her impassioned plea for enhanced assistance. Trump concluded his trip by hopping back aboard Air Force One an hour ahead of schedule to escape an uncomfortable situation.

The more sinister explanation for Trump’s bungled handling of Puerto Rico is his prejudicial attitude toward those of color. Harvey hit Texas, which is a Republican stronghold and home to wealthy executives from the fossil fuel industry. Florida, where Irma landed, is a swing state, governed by a Republican, where the president spends considerable time at his luxury Mar-a-Lago resort. Both these states saw a rapid and robust storm recovery response, including a $15 billion aid package passed by Congress.

Whereas Puerto Rico is a poor country inhabited by people of color and weeks later the federal effort remains lackluster. We all saw how Trump handled Charlottesville, and likewise saw the spin he took on NFL players peacefully protesting the killing of African-Americans by law enforcement. There is a different metric in play by Trump depending upon the color, culture and nationality of those involved.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hit it right on the head when he called Donald Trump, the President of the United States, a moron.

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Trump Provides Aid & Comfort To White Supremacists in Wake of Charlottesville

I don’t get it. This isn’t hard. The Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white nationalists hold their largest rally in decades to “take America back” in the sleepy college town of Charlottesville, VA. It could have been anywhere really, but since it was Charlottesville, the location is poignant as that is home to the University of Virginia, a premier institution of higher education in America.

A torch-lit march is staged by white power organizers the night before through the UVA campus, where participants are visibly seething in hate, and loudly chant “Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and Soil,” a key slogan of Nazi ideology that is intertwined with racist and anti-Semitic ideals.

That following day white nationalists were to hold a “Unite the Right” rally at Emancipation Park, where sits a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that is scheduled for removal. That rally never took place, as chaos and violence erupted between white nationalists and counter protesters, culminating in the death of Heather Heyer, and the injury of 19 others, after a white nationalist sympathizer drove his vehicle into a crowd of counter protesters.

Another 14 people were injured in street clashes and two Virginia State Police officers were killed after their helicopter crashed while assisting police on the ground during the protest.

As President of the United States it’s incumbent upon the duties of that office holder, and as leader of the free world, to convey a resolute and unequivocal condemnation for such a despicable display of racial hated. This includes a blanket rebuke of the very existence of hate groups such as the KKK and any white power morons that choose to participate with them. There can be no moral equivalency about “both sides” being at fault.

It’s a softball issue. Any sensible politician with a moral compass makes that call and hits the delivery out of the park. But not Trump. He says nothing Friday night, then takes the heat for David Duke and the KKK for days – as several who marched on Charlottesville wore Trump’s bright red “Make America Great Again” hats.

Finally the president made a respectable statement, if unconvincing, on the Monday after the violence, but it was easy by then. Duke recognized Trump bought him the time he needed, and with a wink and a nod, had to come down on the white supremacists to get the press off his ass.

One of the Trump supporters primary damage control arguments after his election was that the president would surround himself with qualified individuals to help guide him. That didn’t happen. Instead only family members, self-absorbed elitists and right-wing conspiracists were brought in. These individuals are systematically augmenting a change in our government, from lower court appointees that serve for life, to reorganizing cabinet agencies under the strangulation of internal gag orders that hide the true damage.

Trump and his henchmen are dismantling America from the inside. Their idea of making America great again is to bring back the Klan and institutionalize racism as they all make a buck off this boondoggle. It’s the great swindle of our time.

Trump’s appeasement and cajoling of racial intolerance and inciting violence against any who criticize him has given rise to an uncomfortable truth in America. There remains a considerable white population in this country that harbors prejudice against those of a different color, sexual orientation or cultural background.

For decades globalism has squeezed those making a living off manufacturing jobs, as employers exported them to countries where labor is cheaper. Extremists want to conveniently try and make the argument that an ever-growing presence of what they feel are non-Americans are taking the remaining blue-collar jobs.

In actuality, these are simply non-white immigrants who contribute legitimately to the economy, and often accept work that many whites and blacks refuse to take. But perception is hard to break when Fox News spreads its lies.

This confused white constituency feels its politicians have failed them, and for this reason they voted Trump. He spewed hateful language and sentiments that prior to his candidacy wasn’t allowed to be said in polite company much less in public from any politician. This constituency may not wear hoods, but they fear for their future, and fear easily turns to hatred. Trump has capitalized on their fear and manipulated it to his gain in the form of white nationalism and nativism.

My fear is other politicians, not just in the South, but especially in current and former manufacturing states will suffer from an inability to do what is right because Trump has emboldened this population. Nativism has become a voting constituency or “base” for rank and file Republicans.

Trump routinely firebombs his own party instead of actually getting any work accomplished. There is no dignity in denigrating a decorated war hero like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Worse is people in a crowd anonymously cheering along with him for the senator’s demise.

Politics is based upon agreements and disagreements, with differing people arguing over an issue’s merits, then finding common ground to make progress. But with a president who possesses no leadership skills, that cannot get over any criticism and only seeks to help those that match his color and socio-economic background – the majority of patchwork nationalities making up America stands to be neglected, if not persecuted.

Whether Donald Trump wants to recognize it or not, his actions thus far are of a man whose heart is filled with hate. He is a divisive force interested only in himself and leaves a trail of devastation in his wake. Trump indicated there were some good white supremacists, some good Nazis in Charlottesville, and sadly that is because some of them are his buddies and supporters.

I found it telling that after Trump showed his true colors about those fine racist supporters, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Trump supporter, said the following, “The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”

“He also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation. He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today, and he’s got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that, and without the things that I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril.”

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Slow Cooked Boston Butt Pork Roast

Recently I was cruising through the grocery in the meat department and came across a sizable selection of Boston Butt pork roasts priced at $1 a pound. Being that I cook for five on a nightly basis this was right in my wheelhouse as an attractive dinner option to feed my hungry posse. The question that jumped to mind was what exactly is a Boston Butt and what could I do with it?

I’ve trucked through the supermarket several times this year and seen similar pricing on this cut or pork shoulders. Aside from dropping either into a crock pot, nothing immediately came to mind to concoct with these large hunks of meat, or at least few that my crew readily digs.

As I learned a Boston Butt or pork butt is a cut of pork that comes from a hog’s upper shoulder of the front leg and may contain the blade bone. In pre-revolutionary New England, butchers from that region placed less prized cuts of pork like hams and shoulders into barrels for storage and transport, known as a butt. This particular cut became known around the country as a Boston specialty, and hence the name “Boston Butt.”

These roasts are a tougher cut of meat and need to be cooked at a low temp for several hours – slow and low is key. The great thing about a Boston Butt is it contains plenty of natural fats that create internal moisture from its juices while roasting. This is a built-in safety net in case one cooks the meat at too high a temp or for too long, as the moisture prevents this cut from burning or drying out easily, and preserves the meat’s tenderness.

A Boston Butt is popular with barbecue enthusiasts for all the above reasons. Slow and low is the only way to properly infuse a hickory smoke flavor into meat. It works best with a larger roast, say 8-to-10 pounds, but keep in mind it will require around 12 hours of attending and attention to cook it right for delicious pulled pork sandwiches. A smaller roast can work, but the flavors balance out better with the larger size.

I wanted to try something less labor intensive and not barbecue oriented. After acquiring a 5 pound roast for $5 at my local Pic Pac grocery I was ready to get cooking. Word to the wise, plan ahead for this recipe. It takes time to do it right, and will cause stress if attempting to throw this together at 5PM for a dinner the same night. It will end badly.

INGREDIENTS:

One 4-to-5 pound Boston Butt roast; one head of fresh garlic; 1/3 cup Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce; 1/2 to 3/4 cup light brown sugar; 1 1/4 cups unsweetened apple juice; 1/2 teaspoon salt; and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

DIRECTIONS:

Take the head of garlic and strip away the outer covering from all the cloves; with a sharp knife make small cuts in the surface of the meat. These need to be maybe an inch deep, sufficient to insert a whole garlic clove into each. Spread these out across the meat’s surface.

Place the roast in a greased casserole dish, preferably use butter; sprinkle the roast on all sides with Worcestershire Sauce, and cover with a lid, or aluminum foil works fine.

Let this sit at room temperature for 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

After 90 minutes has passed spoon any Worcestershire Sauce that has accumulated on the bottom of the dish back on the roast (a barbecue brush is good for this task).

Using hands press the brown sugar well into the meat on all sides, making sure to adhere the sugar to the meat. It should absorb into the Worcestershire Sauce and cake thinly to the sides. It doesn’t hurt to get some down into the slits with the garlic cloves.

Pour the apple juice into the bottom of the casserole dish around the meat. The only unsweetened apple juice I could find was an organic brand. I don’t recommend using sweetened or semi-sweetened apple juice considering the brown sugar involved in this recipe. It will end up too sweet.

Place the roast in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature down to 250 degrees.

Cook the Boston Butt for approximately one hour per pound or until the meat reaches a juicy tenderness and slices easily. I wouldn’t call this falling apart tender, but it should slice like butter. (HINT: All ovens are a little different, and there is no harm in kicking the temp up to 275 or so if it doesn’t seem like the roast is getting done.)

Once the roast comes out of the oven, sprinkle salt and pepper into the juices collected in the bottom of the casserole dish, and serve with wild rice or mashed potatoes, and a favorite vegetable.

BONUS: If there is any meat left over, it works great in a Jambalaya-type rice dish the following day. The garlic and Worcestershire flavors really sink in with just a hint of apple, and offers a rich taste after a night or two in the refrigerator. Include some sliced Andouille sausage to add a spicy pop, with diced onion, celery, and green pepper, and voila you have a whole new dish for later in the week.

Bon Appétit!

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Fun Times in TrumpTown

As SE Texas continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey, TrumpTown also is getting its first true taste of turbulent weather. For seven months now our esteemed President Cheeto Benito has primarily manufactured turmoil of his own creation, like falsely claiming his inauguration had the largest crowd size ever, and firing the FBI director. Now incidences are arising from outside Trump’s personal orbit that require actual leadership.

As we’ve seen from a recent focus group that included Trump voters, the president’s shtick is wearing thin. He’s seen as not professional, much less presidential. As his job approval numbers continue to fall, even among Republicans, Trump inches closer to the American people losing faith in his ability to carry out the basic aspects of his office.

The president ended August with a job approval rating of 34 percent, and a disapproval at 60 percent, according to Gallup. Those are historically poor numbers for a president in office such a short time.

When you look at Trump’s handling of Charlottesville, pardoning Sheriff Joe, and now invalidating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), he’s shooting himself in the foot. These were easy wins for this administration, but instead Trump sided with white nationalists and the KKK. That is the kind of decision making that will see Trump’s approval drop into the 20s.

Congress returns this week from its August recess, where its primary focus will be hurricane relief for Texas. It was cute to see Trump and his super model trophy wife dishing out free meals over the weekend, but his sludgy approval ratings and chaos presidency make no Congressional members fear or respect his office.

Hurricane Harvey continues to unfold. Some 43 people are confirmed dead, more than 30,000 remain in shelters, 436,000 have requested FEMA assistance, and an estimated 200,000 homes were destroyed. Water remains high in many areas and a fight is brewing over how to fund relief, and make whole those without flood insurance.

As Harvey plays out and Hurricane Irma barrels toward the U.S., Trump has several legislative items in addition to hurricane relief that are mandatory to accomplish by month’s end. On September 29 the United States will hit its debt limit and raising it requires 60 votes to move forward. Then on October 1 government funding runs out and a new budget is required.

A continuing budget resolution will work until the end of the year, but either this month or in December, Trump and his ludicrous border wall funding will become a serious debate topic. It’s inconceivable yet possible that Trump would shut down the Republican-controlled government over Congress rightfully not providing taxpayer money for a wall we were promised Mexico would pay for. Throw into the mix a tax cut bill for the richest one percent, and this becomes a rather congested legislative calendar.

One of Trump’s chief positives was the idea he could broker deals between divisive parties. This has never come to fruition. The supposed dealmaker has alienated himself from the people, moderates, business leaders, and driven a wedge between his own party in Congress. He wants to blame Ryan and McConnell for health care, and for nothing getting done, but it’s all Trump.

The president likes to tweet about how his administration is running smoothly, but reports from inside the White House depict angry outbursts and dark moods by the would be king.

Apparently Trump is tiring of the controls put in place by Gen. John Kelly, his latest Chief of Staff. Evidently this is cutting into the chaos president’s “love of spontaneity and brashness.” His henchmen and hangers-on have taken to referring to Kelly as ‘the Church Lady’ because they consider him overly strict and morally superior. Yes kids, that is exactly the job Kelly was hired to serve in hopes of bringing some order to this presidency.

Trump’s pissed at Sec. of State Rex Tillerson for his criticism, and characterized his top diplomat’s approach to world affairs as “totally establishment.” The translation for that would be Tillerson is acting as an adult and behaving responsibly.

Don’t forget Trump’s simmering over what is perceived as disloyalty from National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who publicly criticized Trump’s responses to Charlottesville.

Do you see a theme here? It’s always someone else’s fault. It’s getting harder and harder to find anyone of substance and character that agrees with Trump, because he lacks empathy, discipline, and even a semblance of moral values.

As Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) put it recently, Trump is “a president who has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed and can be impulsive in his speech and conduct.”

Meanwhile Charlottesville is not going away, the drip, drip, drip of the Russia probe keeps coming, and North Korea is firing missiles left and right.

Yes, the real fun is just getting started in TrumpTown.

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