Welcome to “G’s Kitchen”

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No…I haven’t decided to abandon journalism to go into the restaurant business.

After long days of working in the city..my wife Karen takes great care of me and sees to it that i have a fabulous meal when I get home.  We’re not complicated here.  My wife always tells me when it comes to meals, “I do simple well.”  but the meals are always great!

Some weeks ago..I decided to return the favor.  So, on my weekday off day, I open up what I call ‘G’s Kitchen’..and make a meal for her..because she works long days from here at home.

Part of the challenge for me is not going back to old habits.  My wife has called me the “Crock Pot King” because I have done many a meal in the slow cooker (but I did go back to the familiar for one of them).  The other challenge is my wife doesn’t do a lot of meat (beef, pork, etc.) so it’s a test for me to see what I can come up with.

One of the meals I was most proud of was the pizza I made…well, sort of.”

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Greek Pizza (photo credit: KReative Works)

It’s really just a store-bought cheese pizza..but Kalamata olives, marinated mushrooms and feta cheese placed on before baking put it over the top.  My thanks to Whole Foods for the ingredients.

I did go back to my crock pot roots for this tortellini dish.

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Cheese Tortellini in Vodka Sauce (photo credit: KReative Works)

The vodka sauce goes in the slow cooker along with fresh mushrooms and oregano.  Again..my wife is getting away from meat.  A company called Gardein makes a ‘beefless ground’ that — if you season it right — you’d never know the difference. Set the crock pot on high for 3.5 hours.  Add in store-bought tortellini of your choice for the last 15 minutes to warm through and …Viola!

One of the more recent meals had a daunting centerpiece:  swordfish.

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Baked Swordfish with Zucchini Noodle Salad (photo credit: KReative Works)

I seasoned the fish and put each one in a foil packet to steam in a 425-degree oven for 20 minutes.   Whole Foods again came through with zucchini noodles, marinated mushrooms and artichokes that I put together.  It turned out great.

I’m not a cook.  But..every time I can make my Karen a meal she can enjoy after her hard day at work..and it puts a smile on her face..my work in ‘G’s Kitchen’ is well worth it.

By the way…a glass of wine with dinner never hurts either.

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A Farewell Epilogue: Billy Graham

For many, funerals are sad occasions.

However…the one I covered in early March to say goodbye to Rev, Billy Graham was not as solemn as you might think. Thanks go to Rev. Graham’s children and his sister for that.

Photo credit: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Sister Jean remarked about always marveling about seeing her house on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. The home was deconstructed from its original location in — brought to the grounds and restored to its original appearance.

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Jean got the biggest laugh after saying she argued with her husband about which room in the house was hers. Fabulous!

The words of siblings Gigi, Ann, Ruth and Ned were inspiring. Their quips (at one another) were funny.   You could tell these were kids — who despite having to share their father with the world – saw the man speaking at all those famous ‘Crusades’ as just Dad.

The most visible of the children, Franklin, poignantly said he still couldn’t think of his father without thinking of his mother. Ruth Graham died in 2007. Rev. Graham is now buried next to her at the library.

Photo Credit: Franklin Graham via Twitter

Funerals are what they will be. I think that’s why many take to calling them ‘Celebrations of Life’. It is a positive take on what will be a reality for all of us.

It also falls in line with that ‘better place’ we all aim to get to.

Seeing Charlotte

I could not depart the ‘Queen City’ without taking a quick look around.

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Charlotte is a great place with lots to see and do.   The great thing about covering stories on the road is you often get to reconnect (albeit briefly) with friends in the broadcasting biz. I ran into some of my old videographer buddies in NC as well as Skip Foreman of the Associated Press and Fox News multimedia reporter Terace Garnier. I also saw this guy with me below. Ryan Burrow and I did radio together in Memphis.  He now travels the country for ABC Radio.

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I also had to get this shot…specifically for my wife Karen.

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But I must admit…there is always one thing that beats the heck out of going on the road and reporting the news.

Coming home.

All The News…That’s FAKE!

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My colleagues at the Associated Press have started doing something pretty cool that our President has made a name for.

They have started a feature called ‘NOT REAL NEWS’ that highlights stories — actually published and reported — that aren’t true.  Not at all.  It’s actually interesting to see what falsehoods make it through the ‘truth filter’.

Here are some of the ‘fake news’ stories that crossed the wires this week:

NOT REAL: Florida Governor Rick Scott Now Listed As ‘Critical’ After Bizarre Hurricane Cleanup Accident

THE FACTS: The Last Line of Defense, a well-known producer of hoax stories, has claimed in a series of articles that Scott was severely hurt when a ceramic roof tile hit him in the head Monday during the cleanup following Hurricane Irma. Scott has been crisscrossing Florida surveying damage and checking in on relief efforts in the days since the storm hit and was not injured.

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NOT REAL: Vladimir Putin donates $5 million dollars to Houston Hurricane Harvey victims

THE FACTS: While many well-known figures opened their wallets to make sizable contributions to relief efforts in Texas, the Russian president wasn’t one of them. A site made up to look like a news outlet claims Putin also called on “other individuals, organizations and also countries” to follow his lead in donating money. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells the AP he’s not aware of the leader making any such donation.

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NOT REAL: Tony Romo OUT 4-6 Weeks After Suffering Sore Throat In Broadcasting Debut

THE FACTS: The former Cowboys quarterback is scheduled to be in the CBS broadcast booth Sunday in New Orleans when the New England Patriots take on the Saints. A prank story from Daily Snark claimed Romo would be replaced by a young broadcaster named Pak Brescott. The site appears to be ribbing Romo, who lost his job to rookie Dak Prescott last year after getting injured in the preseason.

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NOT REAL: World’s most popular candy to be removed from shelves by October 2017!

THE FACTS: Fans of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups shouldn’t be concerned about the sweet and salty snack disappearing just before Halloween despite a story from Breaking News 365 that claims the candy is being discontinued. Hershey’s, which owns the Reese’s brand, tells the AP that people can rest assured that “the only people removing Reese’s products from shelves are consumers, who are taking them home to eat.”

Viva ‘Dia Portugal’

I guess it’s just like American ‘Happy Hour’…it’s never just ONE hour.

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There is a rather vibrant Portuguese community in Newark, New Jersey.  So much so that the annual Portugal Day celebration here lasts THREE days.  It’s chock full of glimpses into the culture.  From the traditional drum ensemble..

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to the native dancing.

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And no matter the festival…the food is always a draw.   Nothing makes you smile like a wheel of barbecued meat.

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The lovely Karen and I had a good time browsing, people (and dog) watching and taking in the sights.  By the way..even though we’re standing in front of the beer stand, we did not partake.   We saw what the excess imbibing could do to some folks out there.

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It was a good time.   If you ever get to Newark and can find your way to the ‘Ironbound’ section…there are plenty of Portuguese, Spanish and Iberian stops to make and dishes to sample.  We’re just getting started.

Viva Portugal!

Who Says You Can’t Find Love…Through Politics!

And so it begins.

If you were wondering what the first effect of a possible Donald Trump presidency would be…look no further than the dating world.

Introducing:  MapleMatch.com!

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A co-worker of mine pointed me to the website…which I understand started out as a joke, but quickly earned legitimacy.  Under the (fairly obvious) tagline of “Make Dating Great Again”,  the site has a very specific mission statement:

“Maple Match makes it easy for Americans to find the ideal Canadian partner to save them from the unfathomable horror of a Trump presidency.”

Funny!

The Washington Post article about the site reports — as of Monday (5/9) — the site registered more than 35,000 hits and 4,500 sign ups in just FOUR DAYS!     That’s some hard-core paranoia.

I’ve often said I hope there’s someone tracking any spikes in U.S. passport applications ahead of a possible Trump victory in the general election.   It will be interesting to see if an exodus — of any kind– could really happen.   As for opinions on what nations around the world think of a Trump White House, the Discovery Channel offering Test Tube gives us a decent overview.

We are just two months (at this writing) out from the conventions.   With the still-raging dogfight on the Democratic side and the GOP drama,  the national political gatherings in Philadelphia and Cleveland respectively will truly be (with apologies to NBC) Must See TV.

 

Hooray for Harriet!!!

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The U.S. Treasury took a while, didn’t it?   Well..at least the ball is rolling.

Sometime around 2020 it will unveil a new design for the $20 bill…with abolitionist Harriet Tubman front and center..literally.   An historic move to say the least.  It has been a mere century since a woman (Martha Washington) appeared on American paper  money.  Tubman’s appearance is the first for an African American on currency.

Our nation’s 7th president Andrew Jackson is not going away.   His image will move to the rear of the bill.  That will create an interesting dichotomy.  On the front of the 20, a woman who led slaves to freedom.   On the back, a man who owned them.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (and thank you if you are), you may remember a while back that I posted a piece about the final options to appear of the $20 note.   If you don’t remember it, you can read it by clicking here.

That wasn’t all the news from the Treasury.  Alexander Hamilton will remain the face on the $10 bill.  I wonder how much the popularity of the Broadway musical ‘Hamilton’ actually played in that decision.   If you’ve been under a rock and haven’t heard the back story of this musical, CBS Sunday Morning’s Mo Rocca pulled back the curtain before the show hit Broadway.

On the back of the 10 will be a tribute to the key women who led the suffragist movement securing women the right to vote.

The rear of the $5 bill will also change..from just a static shot of the Lincoln Memorial to also commemorating some key historic events there.  Most notably are Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech and black opera singer Marian Andersen’s performance.

The takeaway is this.   America is inclusive.  America is diverse.  But, one of the last places where that diversity was not reflected was on U.S. paper currency.

It’s about time.

 

 

Isn’t 108 Years Enough?

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As much as I would love to…I can’t bring myself to pick my favorite baseball team to win the 2016 World Series.  It would be the first title since 1908.

That’s right.  I am a Chicago Cubs fan!

I know what you’re thinking.  How does a guy from South Carolina (whose only experience with the Windy City are delays at Midway Airport) get to love the Cubbies?

The answer is simple.   I like baseball..but in Charleston..the only teams you would regularly see on cable were the Atlanta Braves (on Superstation WTBS) and The Cubs (on Superstation WGN).  The late Harry Caray called Cubs games.  Harry’s son, the late Skip Caray, called Braves games.  Quite honestly, I liked Harry more than I liked Skip.  In my eyes, who wouldn’t have?

So I became a Cubs fan.  I like a Bud every once in a while, too.

Before last season…when the Cubs hired former Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon to lead the team, I said..if he sticks around..it will be about four or five years before they contend. But they won…and kept winning.  They finished with the third best record in baseball.

Surely..that was a good enough first season for Maddon.

It wasn’t.  And don’t call me Shirley.

They vanquished the Pittsburgh Pirates (who had the Majors’ 2nd best record) in the Wild Card Game.  Then polished off arch nemesis St. Louis in the divisional series.  The Cardinals finished the season with the best record in the bigs.

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Chicago Cubs players celebrate after winning Game 4 in baseball’s National League Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Chicago. The Cubs won 4-6. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Only a New York Mets buzz saw stopped the Cubbies from reaching the Series.

Turn the page to 2016…and expectations are high.  Names like (Cy Young winner) Jake Arrieta, (Rookie of the Year) Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester and new additions Ben Zobrist (from the World Champion Royals) and Jason Heyward (formerly of the Cardinals) give hope that this will be the year.

Already this year…some adversity.  Schwarber has been lost for the season injuring his ACL and LCL in an outfield collision.  Ouch!

But the usual early-season joke — about the Cubs already being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs — isn’t being heard.   Hope is running rampant in Chicago.

But I still can’t pick them to win it all.

Oh but if they do!   One of these flags that fly after Cobs victories at home..and sometimes away..will find a spot in my office.

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I can dream…can’t I?