Minneapolis Police Take the Life of George Floyd

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year old unarmed black male, was arrested by Minneapolis police officers for a non-violent offense, and subsequently died in their custody. This interaction transpired in broad daylight on a public street, and was captured on cell phone videos by multiple witnesses, as Floyd was handcuffed, pinned to the ground and his life forcibly extinguished.

A convenience store clerk called 911 to report Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Once police arrived on scene, a span of 17 minutes elapsed, at the conclusion of which Floyd was rendered unconscious. Three officers were seen sitting on the suspect, one of which maintained his leg across the neck of Floyd.

The following day all four responding officers were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department. This move came after videos taken by witnesses showing the street execution of George Floyd played non-stop across airwaves overnight, and trended on social media.

The official autopsy report classified Floyd’s death as a homicide attributed to cardiopulmonary arrest caused by subdual and restraint. Potential intoxicants in his system were listed as “significant conditions.” A second autopsy, commissioned by Floyd’s family, found that the “evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause” of death, with neck compression restricting blood flow to the brain, and back compression restricting breathing.

It’s not like this wasn’t brought to the attention of police. George Floyd repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” Bystanders begged with police to get off Floyd’s neck. Witnesses, one of which was a nurse, told officers they were going to kill the man and offered to provide first aid. The officers refused assistance.

On May 29, Mike Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney (Minneapolis), announced third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges against Derek Chauvin, who was the most egregiously identifiable officer in the witness videos.

Officer Chauvin, who is white, kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes and 15 seconds. He did not remove his knee even after the suspect had lost consciousness. In fact Officer Chauvin felt compelled to keep his knee on George Floyd’s neck for one minute and 20 seconds after paramedics arrived on scene.

Hennepin County prosecutors later added a more serious second-degree murder charge against Chauvin, and charged the three other former officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Chauvin, if convicted, could face up to 40 years in prison.

This catastrophe of a police encounter went viral immediately. It wasn’t just about what happened at the scene in Minneapolis. The senselessness of Floyd’s death struck a nerve that spoke to the racial injustice suffered by minority populations across America.

Officer Chauvin, 44, was seen as the poster child for white police indifference to the social inequalities for minorities, and the iron-fisted response law enforcement delivered in these communities.

Large protests erupted as a result in more than 150 American cities against police brutality and systemic racism. Clearly not all of these protests were peaceful. Businesses and a police substation were set on fire in Minneapolis.

The nationwide protests took on a life of their own. Particularly here in Louisville, KY, where Floyd’s death highlighted the March killing of Breonna Taylor, a young black woman, shot to death in her home by Louisville Metro Police in a botched no-knock warrant.

It’s incomprehensible the sheer, unending number of unarmed black men murdered on the streets of America by white police officers. You would think that with all the attention on this subject currently, when faced with an unarmed black male, who is not a danger to himself or others, officers would back off, disengage and find a nonlethal solution to the situation.

The fact that incidents such as the killing of George Floyd keep happening, one can’t make a logical interpretation other than these deaths are purposeful. It is an inconvenient truth that unarmed black men are disproportionately killed by police. Change will not be realized until law enforcement deals with this internally, officers get held accountable and politicians lose elections as a result of inaction.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey indicated on social media that he had requested the F.B.I. open a civil rights investigation, and that, “Being Black in America should not be a death sentence.”

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Kittens Galore

While the concept of “too much is never enough,” may apply to love, I’m less sure about that where kittens are concerned.

My daughter Isabella came across a young stray cat a little while back. It wasn’t terribly big. We found out later from the vet that she was between 1 and 2 years old. The cat was pregnant, and the weather was not being particularly kind at that time.

My spouse Maia and Isabella had taken to leaving food out for the little critter. The cat was quite friendly to all the humans in our household. It was apparent that if this little cat was left to fend for itself, she would end up having her litter of kittens in a drainage pipe outside.

With the water that flowed through there after rains, prospects were unlikely those kittens would survive such a welcoming into the world. Isabella was beside herself at the prospect of any kittens potentially dying.

So upon returning home one day it was thrust upon me that we would be taking in this stray. She was given the name Lilly, but in actuality we all referred to her as Mama cat or Mamacita.

The critter was quarantined in Isabella’s room. The poor cat wasn’t feeling too spry anyway, but turned out, once inside our home, she was quite the feral creature.

We already owned two adult female cats, Sookie and Nina. Additionally, Isabella received a male Himalayan kitten, Theodore Parker, the month prior for her 8th birthday.

As soon as Mamacita saw any of our other three cats there was immediate violence. We’re not talking typical cat fighting, where they hiss and lightly claw at one another.

No, Mamacita would run full bore at the unsuspecting feline(s), tackle them in a cacophony of cat howls, fur flying everywhere as they rolled off the bed. God help if you stuck your fleshy hand in there to break it up.

I tried it once. Mamacita took a chunk out of my arm and clawed me into a bloody mess. At which point I about threw said cat into a wall, but managed to settle the beast down.

I appreciated my daughter’s sentimentality. None of us wanted to see harm come to any of our furry friends.

Mamacita with her three new kittens.

Early one morning, we awoke to a strange cawing/mewing noise. Mamacita had begun the birthing process. Three kittens were born in our house. Each distinct and different.

There was a long-haired gray male named Ceasar, a short-haired tabby female named Cleopatra and a short-haired white male named Magellan. All born healthy and amazingly cute.

This meant that within a two month period, I went from two adult cats, to three cats with the addition of Theodore Parker, to seven cats total. And let’s not forget the Guinea pig!

It’s a lot to take in, and quite a few litter boxes to keep clean.

Theodore Parker has become the kitten’s big brother and chief bather. Being he has grown exponentially, the Himalayan is three times the size of the kittens, and sort of splashes down on top of them to lick each clean.

Mind you our two adult females still dislike all of them, but Sookie and Nina are becoming more passive about the situation.

Cleopatra in all her glory.

I need to give a shout out to the Franklin County Humane Society. Through its Myrna Mitchell Spay/Neuter Program I was able to fix our five new cats and secure rabies vaccinations for essentially a $10 licensing fee for each animal. Mad props to all their staff!

Mamacita has since returned to the wild. She comes in at night, but still has to be quarantined for the sanctity of a peaceful household.

I was originally sold on the idea of taking Mamacita in with the caveat that we would offload the kittens to other families. That never happened.

It’s a little unconventional no doubt – seven cats. But life has been hard enough in 2020 with Covid-19 keeping us all squirreled away from our normal pursuits. Consider it therapy. We’re keeping our ‘pandemic kitties’ close. Like a security blanket. There’s nothing like little furry creatures playfully purring to improve one’s day.

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The Pandemic of Covid-19 Takes the World by Storm

Navy hospital ship U.S.N.S. Comfort arrives in New York Harbor.

As often happens in natural disasters, or in this instance a global pandemic, circumstances evolve rapidly. Information flow hits overdrive, and we as at-risk consumers are inundated by a tsunami of news. While trying to make sense of a crazy situation, there frequently comes a crystalizing moment that serves to bring home the reality of an oncoming calamity.

For me, during this time of Covid-19, that moment came at the conclusion of a work meeting I attended Tuesday, March 24. It was a weekly conference call that takes place. Nothing remarkable about it, aside from at its conclusion, staff was informed that this would be our last day of working in the office for the foreseeable future.

A telecommuting policy was circulated requiring our signatures by end of business that would shutter our office and send staff home in concurrence with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s “Stay Safe at Home” order.

This was no huge surprise mind you. Schools closed March 13 in Frankfort. Non-essential businesses were no longer open, elective medical procedures ceased, public congregation was limited, all major sporting events were cancelled and the concept of “social distancing” had become common vernacular.

I am thankful for employment allowing the flexibility to telecommute. That being said, I reside in a house with a family of five. The concept of working from home sounds easier in theory than reality.

I’ve previously weathered two other notable disaster scenarios. I lived in Washington, D.C. in 2001, during the September 11 attacks, and resided in New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When one has to scramble for safety and is sent home for undetermined amounts of time, reality gets bent, and can fold inward on oneself or others who are cooped up together. There are good days and bad days.

As soon as my Tuesday conference call ended, I speed dialed my doctor to get an appointment for the following morning. Knowing I would soon be quarantined within four walls with my family, three cats and a Guinea pig for weeks, I felt it best to utilize any pharmacological remedies attainable.

In Covid-Land, finding joy is a peculiar shaded animal to trap. For some, locating a few rolls of toilet paper or hand sanitizer on grocery shelves may be reason to celebrate. For me happiness was securing a prescription of Xanax from my doctor with lots of refills.

This is what we are down to in America. Finding aid and comfort in mundane spaces overlooked in our pre-Covid lives. Fevered runs on supplies at groceries, Lowe’s, Walmart or Save-A-Lot were the new norm, as folks tried to find essentials no longer readily available.

There wasn’t panic in the air so much as a look of disbelief on the faces of those I saw in stores during my daily travels to retailers. Haphazardly at first but soon routinely, shoppers began appearing with masks, bandanas or neck gaiters covering their faces.

Was it really coming down to this? That was the question I could see in everyone’s eyes, including my own.

Covid-19 was no longer in Wuhan, or Washington state, or California, or New York. It was in Kentucky, solidly, with more significant numbers of cases weighing heavily on the bordering states of Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee.

Concerning reports had begun appearing on national news sites in January about a strange sickness that originated from a live animal and seafood market in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Anyone who remotely followed previous outbreaks of Ebola, H1N1 (2009 Swine Flu Pandemic), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), would instantly grasp the severity of possible repercussions from what was described occurring in China beginning Dec. 31, 2019.

A cluster of people came down with a mysterious viral pneumonia-like illness after frequenting the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. This was a notoriously unsanitary 540,000 square foot shopping space, the largest wholesale seafood market in Central China, with some 1,000 separate merchant stalls. It sat a mere 1/2 mile away from the Hankou railway station, which linked the virus to all of Wuhan, a city of more than 11 million people, and to the rest of the globe.

Primarily the virus transmits person-to-person through close contact, often the result of coughing, sneezing or talking, as small droplets are exhaled. It also can be contracted by touching contaminated surfaces where these droplets rest, then touching your face.

The time from exposure to onset of symptoms averaged five days, but could fall between two to 14 days. Complications included acute respiratory distress. Common symptoms were fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and loss of smell.

On Jan. 11, 2020, Chinese state media reported the first documented death from this as yet unidentified novel coronavirus. In turn, the Chinese government rapidly shut down everything in Wuhan, closing air and rail stations, as cases spiked dramatically along with related deaths.

Prior to the end of February, positive cases of Covid-19 were documented on every continent globally aside from Antarctica. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic.

Aside from considerable death and sickness, the result of essentially shutting down all the industrial supply countries was a disruption in global supply chains. Massive layoffs of workers ensued. Economies collapsed. Education systems shutdown, as approximately 98 percent of the world’s students were sent home.

There has been no going to church on Sundays, nor are any typical political or cultural events taking place. Frontline medical workers have declared a worrisome shortage of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to guard our doctors, nurses and first responders. Ventilators are coming up short. These are particularly crucial in sustaining life from acute respiratory illnesses such as Covid-19 causes.

On Jan. 21, the first case of Covid-19 was documented in the U.S. in Washington state. That this virus was a clear and present danger to America was blatantly obvious. President Donald Trump and his team of neophyte yes men inexplicably chose to make a joke of the illness it caused, stating it was nothing but a media hoax, and would disappear in no time.

Meanwhile China was heavily impacted by this deadly new strain of virus, and the contagion rate in Italy worsened rapidly. People were stranded on cruise ships raging with infection. Senior centers were recognized as particularly vulnerable to contagion. But Trump only saw this as an attempted hit job on him, similar to his claims surrounding the Mueller Report or his impeachment over the Ukraine call.

On Jan. 31, Trump restricted travel of Chinese nationals from entering the U.S., but left open the passage of Americans returning from China and failed to lock the door to foreign nationals flowing into the United States through European airports.

The travel restriction was prescient but incomplete. What it did successfully accomplish was to slow the spread of contamination, and bought the administration six weeks. This extension of time could have been used to better prepare the nation for what was certainly to come, fix the testing problem or obtain critical supplies of protective gear. Instead Trump squandered this precious time belittling the “Wuhan flu,” and held large campaign rallies where he boasted of the virus being a hoax manufactured by the fake news media.

Unable to resist an available spotlight, Trump convened the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Its stated purpose, to coordinate and oversee the administration’s efforts to monitor, contain and mitigate the spread of Covid-19. In reality it was more of a PR grab. Trump was clearly unhappy about the positive news coverage Gov. Andrew Cuomo was receiving for his frank and honest daily press remarks concerning New York’s dire situation.

Vice President Mike Pence was named chairman, but this was a Trump-led circus. Several notable health experts were named to the task force’s roster, including Dr. Deborah Birx, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General.

These briefings were a mess from the start. The primary reason being Trump wanted to stand before the media and appear to have answers for combating Covid-19, but lacked the requisite knowledge or honesty to make his inclusion useful.

It was a lot of name dropping by Trump, and bluster about conversations had with world leaders or other confidants. Instead of better informing citizens, task force updates were disinformation campaigns.

The medical professionals who should have been leading these discussions were sidelined. The deal was either back the president’s questionable take on the severity of the coronavirus or get marginalized. Frequently things grew contentious during the updates, as Trump tried to control his fake narrative, but the press did its job and pushed back.

The more Trump flailed at trying to draw attention away from the growing number of U.S. infections, the clearer it became that the president had abandoned his leadership role over the pandemic, and punted this unprecedented public health challenge to the governors, mayors and local municipalities to manage on their own.

By March 26, the U.S. became the country with the highest number of Covid-19 cases, with more than 82,000 citizens testing positive. Yet testing itself was a national disgrace. For such a resource-rich country, full of cutting edge medical research facilities, to not develop reliable and plentiful testing opportunities was incomprehensible. It was as if Trump wanted testing to fail in order to artificially keep the contagion numbers low and limit the truly disheartening numbers of those infected.

But this was Trump at his dark, narcissistic core. He was willing to sellout the infirm, elderly, and vulnerable to illness and death, if it improved his re-election prospects. This was proven daily at task force briefings as Trump repeatedly ignored scientific warnings, medical advice and common sense over his nativist political instincts. Choosing instead to lie to the American people about the severity of Covid-19 and disavowed basic safety measures that could have saved lives.

The true sin here is the Trump administration’s refusal to take the virus seriously. It forced the medical community into a corner. Doctors and scientists with first person knowledge of the human wreckage caused by Covid-19 had to waste valuable time and resources to correct misperceptions about the virus passed on by Trump and echoed by the Republican establishment, making health professionals’ jobs to keep Americans safe that much more difficult.

Lacking any coherent national strategy to combat the virus, we as citizens have been left to wait, as our children do their school work at home virtually. We wait, as birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated quarantine-style without family or friends to attend. We wait, as healthcare workers and the sick pass away in isolation without the companionship of loved ones. We wait, as the infection and death count grows exponentially by the day.

We wait for a grown up to again inhabit the White House.

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Isabella & Theodore Parker at Rest

Isabella and her birthday kitten taking a moment to chill. These two are thick as thieves and rarely can be found stationary.

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Pandemic Kitten Revvved Up 4 Action

Who could attack this adorable kitten? Theodore Parker has taken fire all morning from the household’s big cats. He’s ready to open a can of WhoopAss on their trifling behinds.

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The Birthday Girl and Kitten Nap Out

The birthday girl and her new kitten, Parker, are sacked out. They played super hard.

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The New Kitten Has A Big Day Out

Theodore Parker making the rounds.

Our new kitten, Theodore Parker, has exhibited an adventurous personality early into his 8-week old life, and taken well to venturing outside. Recently he went for a car ride, where he wedged himself between my shoulder and the car seat headrest, offering him some balance and support. After returning home, Parker felt the need to explore the interior of Maia’s handbag, which he fit quite handily inside. He is a rather portable fellow. After all that excitement his little 8-week old batteries ran low, and a serious kitten nap was in order.

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A New Kitten Enters the Household

Theodore Parker @ 7-weeks.

It was a simple equation. My 7-year old daughter, Isabella, was turning 8 in April. A kitten was all she talked about since the loss of our most senior cat, Uni, in January. Locating a suitable feline family addition became a necessity and a welcomed endeavor to focus constructive attention upon in these uncertain times. Thus “Operation Furry Kitten” was launched in mid-February.

I was thinking a long-haired critter would fit the bill. Perhaps of the Persian or Himalayan persuasion – something puffy. A Ragdoll or Ragamuffin breed might work too. Or a Maine Coon.

I wasn’t hung up on it being pure bred or having papers. That being said, this likely was not the type of creature I would run across at the animal shelter or a pet rescue spot. I spent about a month combing through the peculiar world of online catteries and local breeding websites.

These ideal kittens were depicted in costume settings, wearing tiny bows & bonnets, posing on miniature kitten beds, like preadolescent beauty queens. It was creepy. No animal forced into that situation would come out developmentally normal. Not to mention this level of pure bred cat ran $500 – $1,200 each.

I was having no luck. Then on an early March evening just before midnight, I took one last peek at Craigslist before heading to bed and found a post for an adorable Himalayan female, seven weeks old.

I texted immediately. You can’t wait on these things. I apologized for the late hour – but if one doesn’t jump on something that fits the parameters this closely, the critter will get got.

To my surprise the breeder texted right back. A person from Ohio had secured first dibs on the female, and was driving down at 1PM the next afternoon to complete the purchase. But her brother was available. The boyfriend of the breeder had designs on keeping this cute creature, but I was offering cash money.

I started conversing with this breeder again early the next morning. I had a scheduled meeting/conference call at 9:30AM. By the time it was over at noon, the deal was set.

I had one hour to jet home, clean out a cat carrier, hit my bank, and drive 50 miles to Louisville for a clandestine handoff in the parking lot of a Dollar General store.

Yes a little sketch. Yet the price was right at $250. The mom had papers. The dad did not. I was good with that. This balance can help decrease the inbreeding and make the cats potentially more properly adjusted.

The breeder was a smoker. Her car reeked. But my new friend was riding in style in a minuscule kitten carrier, and appeared fit and able for a new adventure. At 7-weeks old, he was just a tiny fur puff, and needed all his shots yet.

A Himalayan is basically a cross between a Persian and a Siamese. This guy featured a blended coat of cream and mocha, with a doll face, where his nose pointed out instead of being flat, and darker brown swept across his nose, ears and paws. These are often referred to as seal point features. What really set him off were his sharp blue eyes against the soft mocha fur.

Upon returning to Frankfort, I took fur-bearin’ over to my folks for a meet-and-greet, and to kill time. I needed Isabella to make it home from her after-school activities. Then I smuggled this little banshee inside for presentation to the birthday girl as an early gift.

Once home, I went back out to the car to supposedly bring a blanket inside. I folded the blanket in half, then rolled our new friend up in the middle so just his brown mocha face and blue eyes were visible when I spun the rolled blanket to the side.

I came back in and asked Isabella if she was still psyched about wanting a kitten for her birthday. “Yes, yes, most definitely!” And is your birthday soon? She did the math and it was like a month away. Then I spun the blanket around and the kitten and Bella locked eyes.

This huge smile spread across her face as joy ignited in her eyes. The jazz hands started going off as she prepared to hold him for the first time. This actually couldn’t have been more perfectly timed, as the whole COVID-19 situation worsened. Non-essential businesses began closing as Kentucky was placed under a “Stay Safe at Home” order by Gov. Andy Beshear.

If I had waited to find another kitten closer to Isabella’s birthday we never would have gotten one. This turned out to be the last week Kentucky kids went to school before heading home to start an early spring break that doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.

Everyone in my house has points during these cloistered quarantine days when “kitten-time” is a necessity. Rubbing your face across his warm furry belly makes everything better. He loves nibbling on noses and offers daily kitten comedy relief to assuage stress.

His name has proved a bit problematic. We had a divide in the house over the top two final choices. “Theodore or (Theo)” versus “Parker.”

It cracked the birthday girl up that she could point to her dad and say, “Peter,” and look to the kitten and say, “Parker.” The rascal is a web climber of early promise, and the Spiderman reference has merit. Theo works as well, but the whole chipmunk thing is a problem for me. Regardless, he is officially recognized as Theodore Parker.

Now our other two adult cats are not as enthralled with the new family addition. Theodore Parker is a marked man. Both big cats stalk him constantly, and pounce when his back is turned.

He already scored a vet visit for taking a claw swipe to the eye. Squirt guns were deployed to family members for use as deterrent measures, and I bought a NERF Rival soft-assault weapon to light up would-be attackers.

It’s a bit like the Serengeti in my house. Larger cats waiting to attack distracted, weaker prey, but the newby has begun to stand his ground and hiss back.

Theodore Parker and his maturation is exactly what the doctor ordered for a homebound family on the front-end of a never before seen pandemic.

Happy 8th Birthday Isabella!

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Sea Scallops and Shrimp in Jamaican Curry Sauce Warm A Chilly Valentine’s Day

A cold snap gripped the central Kentucky region on Valentine’s Day. Residents awoke to snow flurries and a balmy 15 degrees. This necessitated hearts grow fonder if for nothing else than to keep warm on such a chilly morning.

Valentine’s Day may be primarily a figment of the greeting card industry’s imagination, but it has its fun aspects as well. There’s nothing wrong with expressing to those special people in our lives, that we appreciate them, however that may come about.

My daughter Isabella, 7, put serious effort into selecting cards and a candy surprise for all her classmates. A little personalized doodling goes a long way. The first words she uttered Friday morning, with eyes still closed, was “It’s Valentine’s Day,” as a grin spread across her face.

It’s an excellent day to be indulgent. Whether that be love, hugs, food or drink – go for it. The kids and I picked out flowers, cards and wine for their mom. I took it upon myself to come up with a meal that would complement the situation. I needed something all would appreciate, and an offering that hopefully would warm our hearts.

In a previous life I resided in Washington, DC. In the early 1990s there was a fantastic lofi Caribbean restaurant located in the lower Georgetown neighborhood called the Hibiscus Cafe. It was brilliantly painted, served white tablecloth level food at a fraction of the price and spread the love of the Caribbean people through its cuisine.

The following recipe was one of my favorites from Chef Sharon Banks. My apologies to Chef Banks for any liberties I took riffing off her original. It’s nothing but love.

I approach “Sea Scallops and Shrimp in Jamaican Curry Sauce” in the same way I do gumbo or jambalaya from down New Orleans way. There’s wiggle room for a pinch of this and a pinch of that to satisfy experimentation, and the dish will turn out just fine. It can be an everyday meal, or dressed up for special occasions. It’s one of those core types of menu offerings from a region, like gumbo in Louisiana, that is more than just food. It speaks to a region’s culture and is bursting with pride. This was just the ticket for a chilly Valentine’s Day dinner.

Sea Scallops and Shrimp in Jamaican Curry Sauce

1 Pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 Pound sea scallops

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 Tablespoon Old Bay seasoning or to taste

6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 Sweet onion

1 Tomato diced

3 Teaspoons Indian curry powder

2 1/2 Cups chicken stock

3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1 Sprig fresh thyme

1 Habanero chili pepper (optional)

1/2 Cup coconut milk

1 Cup jasmine rice (uncooked)

1 Loaf sweet Italian bread

1 Bottle Sauvignon Blanc (chilled)

#     #     #

Turn oven on to 250 degrees.

Place the remaining 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock, along with coconut milk in a pan on the stove over medium high heat, or same in rice steamer. Add rice once contents reach boiling and cook according to package instructions. Add additional coconut milk if necessary. Salt and pepper to taste. Usually cooks for 20 minutes or so. Set to the side with lid on to keep warm.

Season shrimp and scallops with salt, pepper and Old Bay. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil, and melt 4 tablespoons butter, in a skillet over medium heat. Add seafood to skillet, cooking for 3 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through. Transfer seafood to a platter and keep warm.

Dice the tomato and onion. Add remaining olive oil and butter to skillet. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes, add tomato and sauté another 3-4 minutes. Add the curry powder, stirring for a couple minutes.

Pour in 1 cup of chicken stock, stir and bring to a light boil. Dice the habanero pepper, discarding the internal seeds. Be careful as those with sensitive skin might feel a slight burn when handling this once cut. Do not wipe your eyes until having thoroughly washed and dried hands. Add the pepper to the skillet (optional). Let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes.

Pour the contents of the skillet into a blender and purée until smooth. Add the heavy whipping cream and pulse for a few times to blend into the sauce.

Take the sweet Italian bread and cut in half. Butter both sides, and sprinkle lightly with garlic, salt and pepper. Place into oven on cookie sheet and bake 5-10 minutes.

Pour the sauce back into the skillet over low heat and add the sprig of thyme (dried thyme is fine if fresh was not available). Let warm for 3-4 minutes. Taste and adjust with salt/pepper/Old Bay. Add seafood back into sauce, stir, and warm for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Place a serving of rice onto the center of a plate, and spoon the seafood and sauce mixture around it. This works great in a bowl as well (especially for kids). Place the rice in the bottom of a bowl and spoon a serving of the seafood and sauce mixture over the rice.

Serve with bread, and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Kisses & Hugs – Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

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A Super Bowl Eve of Cooking


It was a dogfight in Auburn Saturday night for the Kentucky Wildcats. A fitting apéritif for the Bowl of all Bowls Sunday evening. Really psyched to watch Kansas City and San Francisco with everything on the line. New quarterbacks. New teams. Both scoring machines who employ opportunistic defenses. Let the games begin.

In honor of the Super Bowl, I got my cook on. Saturday evening found me simultaneously prepping three different meals, dinner for that night, the Super Bowl Mexican spread, and chicken & andouille sausage gumbo for Monday.

Preparation for the gumbo required the cooking of a fourth meal. The chicken stock was put together from scratch. That takes a whole chicken going into the oven, harvesting the cooked meat, then using the bones in a stock, built to showcase the gumbo.

Steaks in Brazilian marinade.

Saturday was all about steaks. I selected two 2.5 pound sirloin fillets, dredged them in a Brazilian steakhouse marinade, and served with twice baked potatoes.

With the potatoes out of the oven, I switched to broil and cooked both steaks to a medium rare perfection in 12 minutes. One was for dinner, the other would be re-purposed in fajitas Sunday. We have a family tradition of going full-on Mexican for the Super Bowl, loaded nachos with steak & chicken fajitas.

With the steaks served, and all campers fat and happy, I proceeded to chill out on the couch for a few hours, and work my numbing skills. I dropped the temp in the oven to 350, and popped in our chicken friend for an hour plus. He smelled delicious. Now the chicken needed time to cool down before I could render the meat from his bones without burning myself.

One whole chicken ready to be dismantled.

Around 3AM I got a third wind. For whatever reason, I had a morbid curiosity in watching the Australian Open men’s final, which came on live from Melbourne at 3:30AM. All this athletic prowess gave me the energy boost to get up and throw together the chicken stock for my gumbo. The longer the flavors steep the tastier the end product.

CHICKEN STOCK: 2 pounds chicken bones; 6 quarts water; peeled carrots; chopped onion; chopped celery with leaves; chopped fresh parsley; fresh thyme; 1 bay leaf; salt; black pepper; and white pepper.

Turn the oven to 400 degrees. Roughly peel and chop produce before adding to water. Be generous in the proportions. While waiting for the stock to boil, turn to our chicken friend, and pull off the wings and legs, removing skin and meat, but leaving tendon and hunks of meat that don’t immediately release. It’s best to leave a decent amount of the meat on the bone, to increase flavor in the stock. Pick the bird clean.

Chicken stock, with bones, simmering down.

With the meat removed and placed into a container, place the carcass and other bones onto a cooking sheet. Place this into the oven for 15-20 minutes, till bones and such are browned.

Once finished, dump the bones into the stock and stir. Place a lid offset on the stockpot and allow the liquid to simmer down half way from its original total. I managed to stay intermittently conscious until a god-awful hour of the morning, keeping tabs on the Australian Open. Novak Djokovic outlasted Dominic Thiem in five sets to win his 17th major title.

By the time this was over, I pulled my stock from the burner and placed it outside on the carport, with lid in place. It can sit out there for a day and steep. I’ll place something heavy on the lid to keep any curious critters from investigating.

I went to bed after that for a few hours.

I awoke to Mexican Sunday around 11:30AM. The Super Bowl was kicking today. It might as well be a holiday. In that spirit I made the executive decision to dispense with any usual protocols for a Sunday that might hinder or otherwise constrain perceived merriment. Why not crack a beer with our coffee…

I turned my thoughts to fajitas. These things are a blast to make, and put a delicious aroma into a kitchen. I broke out my grandfather’s carving knife set. Love getting this out. The vibes are excellent. Spiking the meat with the carving fork, I shaved diagonally down the face of the sirloin cutlet. It was like butter.

Fajitas are up!

Chopped chicken from our midnight bird was added to the steak, and both were placed into a sauté pan containing a dense fajita marinade. As the meats warmed, I sliced the onion, red pepper and yellow pepper into thin strips. This combo was sautéed in vegetable oil, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper till tender. With that the fajitas were straight. Accent with cheese and salsa if preferred.

The nachos required shredding two pounds of ground beef and cooking it through; drain fat, and spice with taco seasoning; simmer until cooked down; layer bottom of casserole dish with one bag of Tostitos, topping with ground beef, black olives and shredded cheese; repeat the same for a second layer; place in oven at 275 degrees for 20 minutes; and serve. Done and done. Just don’t fall asleep during the game.

The chicken stock continued to steep into Monday. I’ll drain the stock after work, and assemble the gumbo.

Hope everyone got their cooking finished, and enjoyed the football and festivities!

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