Recipe: Chopped Chicken Liver Spread

Ingredients & Preparation
  • 1 lb. Fresh Chicken Livers
  • 1 Med-Large Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 1/3 cup Triple Curl Parsley (chopped fine) Optional
  • 2-3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Goya Adobo (Red Cap)
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon of Paprika

Cooking Instructions

  1. Bring 4 cups of water in a medium pot to a boil, add seasonings to boiling water, then add fresh chicken livers. Boil 30-40 minutes until livers turn soft.

2. Lightly cook onions in skillet or frying pan with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil on low-med heat until onions turn translucent (do not let onions brown).

3. Take large glass mixing bowl and combine the chicken livers, two hard boiled eggs, and the cooked onions and mix to a fully blended consistency adding vegetable oil to prevent clumping. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste as you go.

4. Season to taste with paprika, kosher salt, and black pepper.

Serve as an appetizer by putting a tablespoon of chopped liver spread on a Ritz cracker or cracker of choice (triscuits, toasted pita wedges) and garnish with paprika and fresh chopped triple curl parsley if desired.

Rush Drummer Neil Peart Passes Away at Age 67

Rock and Roll lost a legend this past week when drummer Neil Peart of Rush died at age 67 from brain cancer. Peart joined band members Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson in 1974 when he replaced original drummer John Rutsey who left the band following the release of the first album. Neil Peart recorded eighteen studio albums with Lee and Lifeson over a forty-four year history with the band, and following fourteen years of debate from 1998-2012, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Rush bandmates in December of 2012. Oddly, the debate was by no means related to their popularity nor record sales but said to be due to their genre classification as a progressive rock band, go figya.

Neil Peart was a master of his trade, and an orchestrator of drums and percussion. His colossal drum kits included a wide variety of percussion instruments beyond standard drums which he tastefully injected into his drum parts both in the studio as well as live on stage. Having seen Rush in concert, I can say that his drum solos were by far some of the most amazing displays of modern drumming that I have ever seen. Peart is said to have been influenced by such rock and roll drummer legends as Keith Moon of The Who, Ginger Baker of Cream, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and studio legend Carmine Appice who has played for everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Rod Stewart.

Peart was also Rush’s primary lyricist having wrote the lyrics to songs which have accounted for some twenty-four gold and fourteen platinum records throughout Rush’s four-decade history. He has also been referred to as one of rock and roll’s most accomplished lyricists. If anyone has ever read the lyrics to Rush’s songs, they are at times extraordinarily complex and well thought out. Having played in bands which have covered Rush’s material if conquering the drum parts weren’t hard enough for the some of the drummer’s I have played with, watching singers attempt the lyrical phrasing of their songs was even more entertaining. Particularly the song The Spirit of Radio from the 1980 Permanent Waves album.

Neil Peart fought off glioblastoma multiforme also known as GBM. GBM is a malignant tumor which grows on the brain and it is the most aggressive and deadliest form of cancer. GBM is not one of the curable forms of cancer. When a patient is diagnosed with glioblastoma, they are generally given a three to twelve-month window to extend life if chemotherapy treatments are successful. Unfortunately, there are an extremely low percentage of patients who survive longer than three years following diagnosis. Neil Peart survived GBM for three and half years but sadly passed away on Tuesday January 7, 2020 in Santa Monica California.

(Shown Above) One of my favorite Neil Peart Drum Kits from the 2015 R40 Tour. We do not own the rights to this picture and image may be subject to copyright laws. Image credits belong to Andrew Olson http://andrewolson.com/ and it was originally taken by Joe Sokohl @mojoguzzi in Bristow VA.

Recipe: Easy Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Ingredients
  • 1 lb. Breakfast Sausage (Hot or Mild)
  • 1/3 cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 3-4 cups of Whole Milk
  • 2 tbsp of Butter
  • 1/2 tsp of seasoned salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Pan drippings
  • Pillsbury Grands Southern Style Buttermilk Biscuits
Cooking Instructions
  1. Brown breakfast sausage in skillet or frying pan.
  2. Remove half the grease from the pan after the sausage has browned.
  3. Add 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour and 2 cups of milk, stirring till begins to thicken.
  4. Add 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp of seasoned salt, 2 tbsp of butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stephen Johns Returned to the Stars Lineup Saturday

About a week ago, I wrote a short post about a hockey player in the Dallas Stars organization by the name of Stephen Johns who was finally cleared to return to the lineup to play hockey again following a twenty-two month recovery from a head injury Johns suffered as the result of a hit he took from Matt Duchene of the Col0rado Avalanche back in 2017.

In my post It’s A Long Road Back I briefly spoke about the seriousness of head trauma and how from my own experiences with my son I was thrilled to see Stephen Johns finally making his return to the sport. Needless to say hockey is my sport and head injuries are a fact of life within the sport itself. Johns played his first game on Saturday night for the Stars’ AHL affiliate the Texas Stars, and in his first game back scored a goal and three assists on home ice against the Toronto Marlies to contribute to a 5-3 Stars victory.

All things considered this was some incredible news because although his return had been long awaited, the Stars organization seemingly handled his return cautiously and rightfully so. Concussion symptoms following a head injury have an indefinite recovery time. Players who experience symptoms referred to as post-concussion syndrome resulting from head trauma have to take things day by day and that is quite imaginably very frustrating. It’s great to see him back and I’m looking forward to his eventual recall to the big team.

Who Would Have Ever Thought Carvana Could Be For Real?

Who would have ever thought that something like Carvana could someday be for real? There are very few things in this world that I find more annoying than going to a car dealership to buy a new or used vehicle.

Recently my youngest son, the last of my kids to start driving, started talking to me about buying his first car. While I was truly thrilled that he was finally ready to do so, at the same time my blood pressure went soaring at the thought of going from car dealership to car dealership searching for a good buy. Since my kids know me so well before the first words could come out of my mouth, he swiftly stopped me and said one word, “Carvana”.

To be quite honest my first thought was that he was insane. Naturally, I was skeptical but who in today’s world isn’t when it comes to buying, selling, or trading automobiles. Of all my kids he is my technology extremist and quite frankly when he tells me about things that he would like to do, it is either far too incomprehensible, or it just sounds so outlandish that most of the time I pay no attention. In this case I had to do some quick investigation because just the proposition of not having to deal with some pushy-ass lying car salesman was worth the research time. Much to my surprise Carvana was for real.

There really is no better way to describe the process beyond saying that it was genuinely seamless. Having never left the house let alone the couch, within a matter of minutes he had a pre-approval, a budget to work with, and a plethora of cars to choose from. Once he selected a vehicle from the inventory we looked at the Carfax, he made his choice of vehicle, and the website redirected him to the final credit approval stage. From what I could see it was nothing out of the ordinary. It was basically a standard credit app just as if you were in person at a regular car dealership. They asked a few questions relating to his income and he provided them with some minor documentation (most recent paystub) to prove his income. Then he securely uploaded a snapshot of his personal ID (driver’s license) and within minutes of receiving a final approval, he had his choice of delivery date and method i.e.; the Carvana ATM or a door to door delivery.

He chose the door to door delivery and from what I am to understand it went quite smoothly. He said the delivery driver telephoned him a few minutes before he arrived and upon arrival let my son visually inspect the car before taking it for a fifteen-minute test drive. When he returned from test driving it, he said the driver went over the seven-day return policy, the final purchase details, and what to do if he is unhappy with the car after grace period ends. He also explained how Carvana manages the Department of Motor Vehicles paperwork and how he will receive his license plates if he keeps the car. Once all that was complete, he said that he presented the driver with his insurance information and signed off on the paperwork and it was a done deal.

He bought a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta and although he did not do the vehicle ATM thing, he said that the experience was extremely pleasing. In addition, he told me that Carvana gave him a brand new in the package sunscreen for the dashboard and a lighter plug-in car vacuum, plus a tote bag full of little gifts which included a drink cup, the tokens that he would have used if he did the ATM delivery, vent clip air fresheners, a miniature Carvana shelf display car, cookie cutters, a silly-selfie pair of sunglasses, etc. It seems as though there are so many positives to purchasing a car this way that Carvana’s slogan of “The New Way To Buy A Car” truly depicts what it actually is. Kudos to them!

Igor Shesterkin’s NHL Debut was a Win, Win

Last night’s NHL debut of New York Rangers’ elite goalie prospect Igor Shesterkin was a win, win in my opinion. While it didn’t take long for the young netminder to get a taste of the sometimes woeful Ranger defense, I thought he settled in nicely and made some good saves when they needed him to. True, he gave up two early goals but one would be hard pressed to think that this young man did not have a few opening night jitters to shake off too.

One of the highlights came early in the first period when Shesterkin made a flyball like outlet pass from just above his goal crease right to the tape of forward Kaapo Kakko who took the pass and broke straight into the Colorado Avalanche zone. Whether you watched on television or in person at Madison Square Garden, you could hear the “ooh’s and ahh’s” plain as could be, and the smile response from Rangers coach David Quinn that followed was a memorable moment for fans who have waited to see this young man play at the NHL level.

I also admire the fact that the New York Rangers organization decided to give this young goaltender his debut appearance on home ice against the leagues leading offense in the Colorado Avalanche. The 5-3 Ranger victory was the icing on the cake and quite imaginably it left a sweet taste in the mouths of all involved in bringing him to America and the New York Rangers. Looking forward to his next start and watching him fill up the highlight reels with all that he seemingly has to offer.

It’s A Long Road Back

www.defendingbigd.com/2020/1/8/21056912/dallas-stars-stephen-johns-texas-conditioning-assignment-health-post-traumatic-headaches

Head injuries in professional sports are no joking matter. In contact sports such as football or hockey they are at times simply an inevitable part of the game.

My oldest son having played both football and hockey at the scholastic level not too long ago, head injuries were once a major concern for us. To this day I often ponder if academic sports take this issue serious enough. He suffered at least one documented concussion playing HS football and possibly one other that we know of while playing travel youth hockey at the bantam level.

Parents of all young athletes should try to keep up on this topic as much as possible without becoming completely neurotic about it. Take equipment purchases seriously and never undercut helmet expenses. The technology has greatly improved in the past decade and the potential danger of head trauma can never be taken too lightly.

The Stars are one my favorite pro teams and this is good news to anyone who follows the team or the sport in general.

Recipe: Easy Collard Greens and Smoked Pork Hocks

Ingredients & Preparation
  • 2 lb Collard Greens
  • 2 large Smoked Pork Hocks
  • 2 qts Water
  • 32 oz Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 Purple Onion (chopped)
  • 2 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Goya Ham Seasoning Packet (optional)
Cooking Instructions
  1. In a large dutch oven style pot add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and warm on low heat.
  2. Add purple onion (chopped) and garlic (minced) heat to translucent.
  3. Add the 2 quarts of water kosher salt, ground pepper, then bring to a boil.
  4. Once mix is boiling add pork hocks and ham seasoning packet (optional), then return to boil. Lower heat, simmer pork hocks for 60-90 minutes.
  5. Remove pork hocks from pot and set aside, add chicken broth and return to boil.
  6. Add collard greens to simmering mixture and once greens are absorbing the liquid, add ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar and stir the pot.
  7. Return chopped up hock meat to pot and cover. Simmer for at least 30 mins or until greens reach a desired tenderness. Season to taste.

Our Knotfest Roadshow 2019 Experience

My passion for music is as extensive as it is devout and my taste in music genre is equally as broad. The way I view music is that there really is no good or bad since like art I rate music by how it moves me. A big part of it for me has to do with the presentation because when I am listening to music I try to envision what the artist is attempting to express, thus the expression in itself can have no real good or bad valuation but rather more of a level of impact since it is genuinely a matter of interpretation.

When I go to see a live show it’s really about whether or not the physical performance is aesthetically pleasing. The Knotfest Roadshow 2019 was the perfect comeback show for me and the Austin 360 Amphitheater, which is now the Germania Insurance Amphitheater, at Circuit of the Americas complex in Austin Texas was a great venue to go see an outdoor show.

Slipknot

Slipknot did not disappoint; they were everything that I had expected them to be and since I had already known much of the new album’s material, the set list was very familiar. The latest album We Are Not Your Kind track for track is likely what one might expect from Slipknot. In your face guitar riffs, vocals shifting from melodic voicing to out and out aggression, and pounding rhythms from Alessandro Ventruella on bass and the insane percussion section. Bottom line is that like many other Slipknot albums they leave little if anything on the table for debate. They played all the fan favorites one might expect them to i.e.; Sic, Wait and Bleed, Psychosocial, Duality, Spit it Out, Vermillion, and from the newest album both Unsainted and Solway Firth were epic. The stage show was truly a spectacle to see and from my viewpoint it was a 5 star performance. Here is Slipknot’s setlist.fm from that day.

Gojira

Gojira was the band that beyond Slipknot I most wanted to see heading into this show. Before going to the Knotfest Roadshow 2019 show I had really done some homework on these guys because I had read that some industry journals were referring to them as the metal band of the decade and that was intriguing. I knew of them but had not really delved into their music till we purchased the tickets. Their performance from the Pol’and’ Rock Festival which I attached the link here to truly gained my attention. Mainly because the musicianship within this group is phenomenal. Thinking back to their set in Austin I wished they had played “Only Pain” but I was thrilled to see them perform two of my other faves in “Stranded” and “Flying Whales” and they were spot on. I would see them again in a heartbeat for sure, here is Gojira’s setlist.fm from that day.

Behemoth

Of the four performances on the bill that day Behemoth was the biggest surprise for me because having not been to a live festival type show in some twenty-three years, I was shocked that for an opening act they had such a big sound and they made quite the impact on both me and my son. From the opening number “Wolves Ov Siberia” off the I Loved You At Your Darkest album I thought they had an incredibly in-your-face sound. I can imagine how much more impacting both their set and their sound might have been if we were seeing them indoors or even later in the show after nightfall. They are an extreme metal band, thus lights, makeup, costumes, and stage appearance would have been truly amazing after dark. I would definitely see them again as well. Here is Behemoth’s setlist.fm from that show.

Volbeat
Pictures of Volbeat by Tyler J. Hicks

Normally I would have put these short reviews in order of their appearance on the bill, but then again sometimes its fun to save the best for last. In this case it is neither of the two. Plain and simple I didn’t enjoy Volbeat. Even though I thought they were terrible, by far that does not mean that it was not a good performance because for those that do like them it was probably epic. I will give them this, a lot of people at the show that day seemed to be into them and they appeared to know the material. I saw people around us singing along during their set which honestly left me scratching my head as a lifelong fan of the metal genre. Guitarist Rob Caggiano is from our neck of the woods in New York, and when we lived there we were roughly ten minutes from his studio in upstate NY. I have been a long time fan of his playing thus I’m still perplexed as to the musical connection here. Nonetheless here is Volbeat’s setlist.fm that day.

It was typically hot day in Texas and it was funny that Nergal of Behemoth made mention of that. My son has some great clips of the show on his You Tube channel at Arch Knight. You can find me tweeting about sports on Twitter at Puck2theHead @thenotablymisc1 or checkout my music playlists on You Tube at my channel: TheRemarkablyMiscellaneous

Recipe: Thick and Hearty Cajun Gumbo

Ingredients & Preparation
  • 2.5 lb. Boneless Chicken Breast (cut into chunks)
  • 1 pkg. Andouille Sausage (cut into disks)
  • 1 lb. Large Shrimp, deveined with tails-on (remove tails)
  • 1 cup Rice-Brown or White (uncooked makes 4 cups cooked)
  • 1 large Purple Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Green Bell Peppers (chopped)
  • 4 Celery Stalks (chopped)
  • 1 (28oz) Diced or Stewed Tomatoes (drained)
  • 1 (32oz) Chicken Broth
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. Thyme
  • 4 tsp. Oregano
  • 2-4 tbsp. Cajun Seasoning (Slap Ya Mama)
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Canola Oil
  • Splash of Hot sauce as desired
Cajun Seasoning from scratch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
Cooking Instructions
  1. In a large dutch oven style pot add 1 tbsp of canola oil and set heat to medium.
  2. Add the sausage disks to the pot and cook until browned, then remove sausage disks but leave the residual oil in the bottom of the pot.
  3. Add an additional 1 tbsp of oil, then add the chopped purple onion, chopped green bell pepper, and the chopped celery. Cover and heat till soft (this will take roughly 5-7 minutes) stirring frequently to avoid browning.
  4. Next, add the chunks of chicken, tomatoes, chicken broth, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, some Cajun seasoning and return to boil. Then lower heat and cook covered for 20 minutes.
  5. Next remove top, add the shrimp and sausage and stir. Allow the mixture to cook for 5-10 minutes before adding the rice.
  6. Then remove the top, add the cooked rice (white or brown) by folding it in, add some more Cajun season if desired, and a couple of splashes of hot sauce, stir and cook on low to medium heat for 10 more minutes.
  7. Serve with regular bread or corn bread as desired.

The NHL Winter Classic 2020

Yesterday’s NHL Winter Classic 2020 from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas Texas was an amazing way to start off the new decade as a Stars fan. The game itself as well as the coverage of the event on a whole was thrilling to see. Naturally seeing the Dallas Stars come away with a 4-2 victory over the rival Nashville Predators in the end made it that much sweeter, especially after the Stars were down 2-0 in the early part of the game. My compliments to all the folks who put an effort into making it happen, I never thought an outdoor game in such a genuinely warm environment could work but it did and it was an enjoyable way to spend the first day of the new year.

Of course I spent a large portion of the game tweeting and to no surprise at all took a lump or two over a tweet that I think was misunderstood, but it was my fault because I think after looking back on it that I probably could have worded it better than I did. The sport of Hockey is an emotional one, and at times we as fans walk a fine line in wanting to see our favorite team win, but I don’t think that there is a single person out there including myself that wants to see a player get injured trying to win a game.

I should probably clarify what I tweeted out because by far I do not condone what the Dallas Stars’ Corey Perry did when he delivered a head shot hit on the Predators Ryan Ellis and I think he was remorseful for doing so. It was definitely an on-the-edge of your seat moment in the opening minutes of the game and the reactions from the fans on Twitter including myself went on for hours even after the game ended. Sadly both players inevitably missed the rest of the game as the Predators Ryan Ellis did not return after the being helped off, and Corey Perry was assessed a major penalty and thrown out of the game.

Again, Hockey is an intense sport and at times whether you are a fan watching the game or a professional player participating in the game, emotions can sometimes get the better of you. I would like to personally apologize to the all the folks on Twitter who might have seen my tweet and maybe even may have raised an eyebrow at what I said, but in my defense it was purely a reactionary response to Ryan Ellis’ hit on New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich which was equally debated over social media following that game. Having watched both games on live television I learned something from this and that is that the NHL must figure out a better way to set a precedence in how they not only deal with a repeat offender, but what criteria goes into determining the repercussions for players who partake in such tactics. At first thought I was thinking that maybe reviewing these plays on the spot when they happen could work because Ellis’ hit on Buchnevich definitely warranted a major penalty, an ejection from that game, and a league suspension as well, but that would likely slow down the game and leave far too many incidences requiring in-game reviews.

At the time Corey Perry’s hit on Ryan Ellis seemed like poetic justice considering how I felt after watching him get away with hit on Buchnevich, but by far there is no question that he did not have to face the consequences Perry did because for Perry just the shame of being thrown out of a game like the nationally televised Winter Classic seemed far more punishing in itself and the Nashville Predators not only got the five man advantage but they also scored two power play goals on the penalty assessed to Dallas for Corey Perry’s actions. All Ryan Ellis got following his hit on Rangers Pavel Buchnevich was a two-minute minor penalty for elbowing and very lame review of the hit by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety official George Parros.

It is baffling at times but onward we go because the second half of the season is upon us and today the Dallas Stars are 23-14-4 and sitting in third place in the Western Conference’s Central Division eight points ahead of the same division rival Nashville Predators they faced in the game yesterday. Next time something like that happens I will take a moment to think before hitting the send button on a tweet of such a sensitive nature.

Bye Bye 2019, Welcome 2020

Happy New Year everyone. Not sure about anyone else, but I am personally glad to see the new year arrive and if yesterday and today are any sort of foreshadowing to what is ahead, I am excited.

For me last year was what I would term the equivalent of my beloved New York Rangers’ ongoing rebuild, it was up and down, up, and down, and filled with highs and lows. Although last year got off to a rough start when only five days in to the New Year my oldest son and I had a falling out that literally lasted till just about three and a half hours ago when we finally exchanged text messages for the first time in nearly a year, I can’t tell you how that has instantly made the start of 2020 way better than 2019 for me.

We have a rather unusual family dynamic in that all of my children are now over twenty years old, all of them either go to school or have working lives in different states across the U.S., and each of them are so very unique in their own way, and I love them so much for that because it epitomizes who I am times a thousand percent.

My oldest is going to be twenty-seven this year and my youngest will be twenty-one, I have daughters at the top and bottom with two boys in the middle. The boys will be twenty-four and twenty-one this year, and they are my fire as they are both Aries born counter to me being a Pisces. Uniquely all of my kids are born in March with the exception of my youngest daughter who is my earthy Taurus, and characteristically fitting since in her own way she has a very particular way of asserting her beliefs when she wants to. Geographically our lives are so far apart with one in Tennessee, one in New York, one in Florida, and one with me here in Texas. Even though that can be problematic at times we do the best we can under the circumstances.

Since I fervently refuse to regress into the lows of 2019, some of the highlights of 2019 include my youngest daughter making a successful transition from community college to the university life as she is now entering her second full semester at a very reputable college in NY. Her counterpart, my youngest son, graduated with his associate in applied science degree back in May and is now ready to begin his third semester in pursuit of his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice here in Texas. My oldest two are true worker bees as my daughter in Tennessee tells me that she is sometimes working upwards of fifty hours a week at her job where she is content to work among her favorite people, pets. While my second oldest, my son in Florida, is now running his own business and as I have recently learned, he is doing exceptionally well.

It is not easy being a single parent, and even harder being a single parent from a distance but I am so very proud of each of them as they have each done it all on their own terms, and with little if any help from me at all outside of the moral support they might ask for from time to time.