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The Southern Big Three: Food, Friends and God

Here we are in the heart of Texas, and I believe I can safely say this trip is destined to euphorically circle around food, friends, and God, not a bad combination, any sensible person is bound to agree. Southern cooking has to be some of the finest in the world, but, hear me out, it no doubt sinks bottom-ward as to anyone’s scale of healthy, nutritious meals. Fried, sauced, buttered, oiled and sweetened, served in gargantuan portions to intimate groups of jocular companions or to battalions of gustatory gourmands, southern food is delectable.

Take yesterday. Jerry’s nephew Ted, and Ted’s charming wife, Karen (tell you more of them later) picked us up at our hotel and we drove together to Lufkin where they had to visit someone in the hospital.

After the hospital visit: “How does Ralph and Kacoos sound for lunch?”

Sounded excellent to Jerry and me. Ralph and Kacoos is a highly regarded sea food place that I believe originated in New Orleans, although I’m not dsc_0019positive of that–need to do a bit of research. At any rate, the first time I indulged in a Ralph and Kacoos was at their place that is part of the Bourbon Street scene. Their menu is so large, the dishes so unfamiliar to me that I had a hard time making up my mind yesterday, but finally decided on Shrimp Louis…but I wanted to taste alligator.

“Could I order just one piece of fried alligator,” I asked the waitress.

“Well,” she hesitated, and I could tell mine was an unusual request.

“Bring a full appetizer order of alligator,” Ted told her, thereby settling the issue.

…the issue was not totally settled, for in minutes a plate full of fried alligator morsels appeared at the table, and someone had to eat them, did they not? It was I who first dined of the alligator. I chewed down, lifted my head and saw that my compadres had their eyes fixed on me…waiting, I supposed for the verdict.

“Delicious,” I declared. “Love it.” The taste is mild, slightly chewy, but in all honesty, since my alligator had been subjected to a dunk in a frying batter, the predominate taste was of fry! Told you that’s how they do it here.

The best food on the lunch table was Jerry’s Crawfish Bisque, quite possibly the finest taste my mouth has ever savored. Googled the term quickly for you and found this definition:

Perhaps the grandest dish in all of Cajun and Creole cuisine. This spicy, hearty bisque is sometimes served as thin as a soup, sometimes even thicker than an étouffée — adjust the consistency to suit your taste. What makes it unique among all bisques in the culinary world is the addition of the stuffed crawfish heads (shells, actually) with crawfish dressing … heavenly.

Take a look at how they make the stuffing for the crawfish heads:

For the stuffed crawfish heads:

* 1/4 cup oil
* 1/2 cup flour
* 2 medium onions, finely minced
* 1 large bell pepper, finely minced
* 3/4 cup stock or water
* 2 teaspoons salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
* 2 large eggs, well beaten
* 2 cups plain French bread crumbs
* 1/4 cup chopped parsley
* 1/4 cup minced green onions with tops
* 4 tablespoons butter, melted
* 5 dozen cleaned crawfish heads
* Flour for dusting

Make a roux with the oil and flour. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until tender, stirring constantly. Mince or grind the remaining half of the crawfish tails and add to the roux-onion mixture. Add the remaining crawfish fat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Source: Crayfish Bisque

Back at our hotel as we prepared to go to our room, Ted and Karen reminded us they and their children would, after church, be hosting a supper for us at their home. The pièce de résistance would be Crawfish Etoufee, prepared by Stephanie.

Believe it or not, at 11:00 last night we were diving into a scrumptious Crawfish Etouffee….lots of other delectables I just won’t mention, except for the finish of strawberry shortcake.

Here at the end of this piece, I’m a little ashamed to see that out of the Southern Big Three of Food, Friends and God, I chose to write first of the least important, food. For shame. 😦

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Families from Polygamist Ranch Reunited


It’s been back and forth for several days now–first, they would be released, then, no they would not. From the beginning of the story many of us have cautiously questioned the right of the state of Texas to take more than 400 children from their parents. Child Protective Services pointed to dangerous, unsafe conditions with incest likely in the mix.

My own take on the situation was while I cringe from the thought of private home invasions, children are relatively helpless, and if there is danger, they should be protected. The major question, though: how can we be sure of the extent of the problem. People should be free to practice religion as they see fit, shouldn’t they? But if young girls are being mistreated? If they are forced into marriage at 14? If the law is being broken? …what to do?

Right in the middle of the polygamist ranch issue, arose the story of the Fritzl family where for 23 years, both children and adult had been abused, and no one had done anything about it. What then of the situation in Texas? Was there enough evidence to remove the children from their parents?

It is horrid to consider children–babies, even–separated from their mothers. No doubt the foster families were kind and considerate, but the trauma experienced by these children must have been intense.

Now, at least for the moment, the children are reunited with their parents. “It’s the happiest day of my life,” one mother said as she wrapped her arms around her daughter.

  • AP photo
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Off to Prison, You Donut Snagger


donutsIMG_3028.jpgPicture courtesy of Bees Kitchen

Noted to be at a location in Farmington, Mo of a mid-morning in December, Scott Master walked into the store. A nod to chilly weather, Masters wore a hooded sweatshirt, a sweatshirt which among other things had ample pockets. Oblivious to the fact that within the span of a few months he would become world-renown, he strolled the aisles of the quiet store and then approached the donut case. He gazed at the sugary morsels. The sign posted over the donut case read: 52 cents each. I’m not sure about this part, but I suspect that standing stock still, he turned his head in all directions, checking to see if he were observed as he considered the deed. Thinking it to be an unnoticed move, he reached in his hand and grabbed one of the freshly fried donuts.

Safe now, he supposed, no one having raised an alarm, he casually moved past the seven green checkout lanes. He walked the space between the customer service desk and the pharmacy heading for the side exit. Had he raised his head as he walked through the door, he would have seen a large sign reading Country Mart Thanks You.

The clerk was named Gibbs and she had seen it all. “I saw him take a donut,” she said to a co-worker. “Let’s see if he pays for it.” He didn’t pay. The co-worker followed him to the parking lot and suggested Master go back into the store. Masters declined, offering instead the donut in question. She declined, grabbed Master’s arm, and a tussle ensued. The police were called, and Masters was arrested.


The push is being treated as minor assault, which transforms a misdemeanor shoplifting charge to a strong armed robbery with a potential prison term of five to 15 years. Given Masters’ criminal past, prosecutors could boost that sentence to 30 years to life.

The 41-year-old Masters has been arrested more than a dozen times for crimes ranging from shoplifting to drug possession to torching a car for insurance fraud.


On this site and in my personal life I often rant about the decline of our society, about liberal judges, about undisciplined young people, about the lack of enforcement of our laws, and about prison sentences so light and inappropriate they are laughable. Now, what do I say? How would I judge Masters were I so asked? Should a man actually go to prison for 30 years because he stole a 52 cent donut? But wait, it’s not just the donut. He is a repeat offender. He should be taught a lesson. He should pay for his crimes. But isn’t such a sentence excessive? Are the prisons too full to hold a donut thief? What about community service? Does this punishment fit the crime? Is this what we really want? Would it be downright silly to lock up a donut thief for 30 years? Is this another example of the judicial system gone wrong? But can I have it both ways? Should the clerk have chased down the donut thief in the first place? Well, why not? He stole a donut, didn’t he?

I don’t know. You tell me. 🙂

EDIT 8:30 Thursday Here is a case that may be harder to judge than the previous one–a much more serious case.

The father of a 14-year-old Texas girl who was raped, sodomized and then strangled with a belt and shoe laces, wants to know why President Bush supports halting the execution of the Mexican national who confessed to killing his daughter and her friend.

Fox news

Warning: You will need a strong stomach to consider all the details. Read the entire article here.


My devotional is here.