Food & Football: Miami Hurricanes’ 2017 Tailgating Cooking Guide

The ultimate tailgating guide for the 2017 Football Season

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Welcome to the 2017 edition of “Food and Football”.  For the new recruits, let me give you a little back ground.  Being from the South, (Georgia), summer does not precede fall or autumn. The only season that we recognize is football season.  When this season comes around, there is a perfect storm of the “3 Fs”: Family, Food and Football.  This post captures our food journey as we follow my and my wife’s (Mami) alma mater, The University of Miami Hurricanes aka The U, along with our two sons, “Osito” and “Deuce”.  Thank you for taking this journey with us and I’m sure you’ll find some great new or old recipes.

The Food
The “Game Meal” is inspired by the Hurricanes’ football schedule.  Since the Air Force has moved us to Texas, we aren’t able to attend games like we did as students or at my first duty station in Cape Canaveral.  With the location change and the added challenge of traveling with two kids under 2, every Saturday we bring the tailgate into our home with our family.  This could be the family I was born into, married into, or those friends that have become family.

The idea is to create a “Game Meal” that represents The U’s opponent that week and as we feast, the Canes are hopefully feasting on the field.  The primary influences for the meals are the opponent’s mascot, school name/nickname, or a signature dish from the location of the school.  However, the meal inspiration can have a sometimes petty aspect to it, but that is usually reserved for The Florida State game.   

The Football
Week 1:  Bethune-Cookman University, Wildcats, Daytona Beach FL  (Won 41-13) 
Food: Seafood Boil for 3:
Ingredients:
(8) Red potatoes cut in quarters
(4) Corn ears cut in half
(8 oz) Whole mushroom cut in half
(2 lbs) Shrimp (Argentine Red Shrimp if available in your area. Passing on the blessing!)
(2-3) Lobster tail
(1) Sausage link (andouille preferably)
(2) Small Old Bay boil bags
(½ Cup) “Slap Ya Mama” powder seasoning
(~1 gallon) Water
Steps:
1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil (if necessary add more water to submerge all of your ingredients) and add Cajun seasonings.
2. Add potatoes to boiling water. After ~8 minutes add the corn. After ~8 minutes add sausage. After ~5 minutes add mushrooms and lobster tail. After ~3 minutes add shrimp and cook until pink (about two minutes).
Notes: Stagger veggies and meat to ensure even cooking. Add parsley and butter it desired.
Tips: Add additional seafood or veggies as you desire. You can serve as a soup with broth over white rice, or drain and eat with hands.

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Drink: “Florida Mule” Punch
Ingredients:
(2) Navel Oranges sliced into 1 inch wedges
(12 oz) Vodka (more to strengthen beverage)
(12 oz) Orange juice
(12 oz) non-alcoholic ginger beer
Steps:
1. Place oranges into a pitcher.
2. Pour vodka over sliced oranges. Let sit overnight if possible.
3. Add orange juice and ginger beer and mix thoroughly.
Notes: For an extra kick, add alcoholic ginger beer like “Crabbies Orange Spice” and champagne if bubbles is your thing.

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Week 2:  Arkansas State University, Red Wolves, Jonesboro AR (Cancelled – Irma)  
Food: 3 King Sliders
Ingredients: 
(1 lb) Ground sirloin or beef
(1 lb) Ground sausage
(1/2 lb) Thick cut bacon
(1 tbs) Minced garlic
(½ tbs) Dried parsley
(1 pack) Hawaiian slider buns
Steps:
1. Place bacon on lite grill and cook for ~3-4 minutes. Bacon should not be fully cooked.
2. Dice bacon and mix in a bowl with ground sirloin, sausage, garlic and parsley.
3. Form into slider size patties and place on hot grill. Cook until done (~10-12 minutes pending grill temperature).
4. Serve on toasted Hawaiian slider buns.

sliders

Food: Tomato JamIMG_2654
Ingredients:
(4) Large tomatoes
(1/2 cup) sugar
(1 Tbs) Lemon juice
(4 Cups) Water
Steps:
1. Bring water to a boil. Enough to fully submerge tomatoes.
2. Wash and remove the tomatoes’ stems, cut a small ‘X’ into the bottom of tomatoes. (This helps remove the peel)
3. Boil tomatoes until the skin starts to peel off (~10-12 minutes)
4. Remove from water and let cool.
5. After cooling, remove peel and cut into quarters
6. Remove spine and as many seeds as possible.
7. Place tomatoes in a dry pot over medium heat and add sugar and lemon juice. Allow tomatoes to cook down until all moisture is gone, stirring occasionally for about ~10-12 minutes.
8. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour in a mason jar for easy storing.
Notes: Make ahead of time. It can be stored up to a month. Add chipotle powder to taste for a little heat

Drink: Bloody Mary Bar
Ingredients:
(24 oz) Tomato juice
(12 oz) Vodka
(2 Tbs) Horseradish
(1 Tbs) Worcestershire sauce
(10 or more dashes) Hot sauce
(1 ½ oz) Lemon juice
(3 Tbs) Pepper or cajun season or to taste
For the bar:
(Quantity and other items to your liking)
Bacon, Celery, Olives, Pickles, Cheese cubes and Sliders (because I’m a boss)
Steps:
1. In a pitcher, add tomato juice, vodka, hot sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and pepper/Cajun seasoning. Mix thoroughly.
Notes: If using different liquors don’t add until the end. Try jalapeno infused vodka for an added kick. (Make your own don’t buy it)

Week 3: Bye Week

Week 4:  Toledo University Rockets, Toledo OH  (Won 52-30)

Food:  Firecracker Shrimp

Ingredients:

(2 lbs) Argentine Red Shrimp

(3 Tbs) Mayonnaise

(1 Tbs) Minced garlic  

(2 Tbs) Sriracha  

(1 Tbs) Lemon juice

(1 Tbs) Ground Chipotle

(1 Tbs) Cajun Seasoning

(1 Tbs) Sweet Chili Sauce

(10-15) Wood skewers

(2 Tbs) Chopped green onion   

Steps:

1. Peel, devein and wash shrimp.
2. In a medium sized bowl combine mayonnaise, garlic, sriracha, lemon juice, chipotle, Cajun and sweet chili sauce. Mix thoroughly.
3. Add shrimp to mixture and smother completely. Let marinade a few hours (the longer the better).
4. Allow skewers to soak in water at least 10 minutes.
5. Pierce shrimp with skewers (~4 per skewer).
6. Grill for 12-15 minutes or until done. Flip shrimp halfway into cooking.

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Drink:  Flaming Dr. Pepper

Ingredients:

(1) Shot Glass, regular 8 oz. glass cup and lighter

(1 oz) Amaretto liqueur (Ex. Disaronno)

(.5 oz) 151 proof rum

(6 oz) Pale lager beer (Ex. Corona)   

Steps:

1. Pour ¾ of amaretto liqueur into shot glass.

2. Fill shot glass to the brim with rum.

3. Pour beer into glass cup.

4. Using lighter, hold flame over shot glass until it ignites.

5. Drop the lit shot into glass cup of beer.

6. Chug!   

shot

Week 5:  Duke University, Blue Devils, Durham NC (Won 31-6)   
Food:  Deviled Chicken Wings  
Ingredients:
(1 lb) Chicken wings
(2 Tbs) Honey
(1 Tbs) Minced garlic
(1 Tbs) Paprika
(2 Tbs) Fresh chopped parsley
(2 Tbs) Cajun Seasoning
(4 Tbs) Olive Oil
(1) Jalapeño Pepper
(2) Serrano Peppers
(6 oz) Chipotle in Adobo
(2 Tbs) Chopped green onion
Steps:
1. Wash and separate chicken wing from drummette. Place in large container or zip lock bag.
2. In a food processor add oil, honey, garlic, paprika, chopped parsley, cajun, chipotle and chopped jalapeno and serrano peppers and mix thoroughly.
3. Add mixture to chicken and let marinate a few hours in the refrigerator. The longer the better.
4. Grill for 35-40 minutes or until done. Flip half through the cooking process.
5. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Note: Remove seeds from peppers to reduce heat.

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Drink: Strawberry Fire-ade
Ingredients:
(24 oz) Fireball Whiskey
(8 oz) Triple Sec
(24 oz) Lemonade
(2) Sliced Lemons
*(12 oz) Strawberry simple syrup
             –  1 Med sized pot
             –  (8 oz) Sliced strawberries
             –  (12 oz) water
             –  (1/2 cup) Sugar
Steps:
*1. Simple Syrup: in a medium sized pot, add water, strawberries and sugar and bring to boil. Let boil for 8-12 minutes or until strawberries breakdown.
2. In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.
3. Let chill or pour over ice to enjoy immediately.
Note: Add more or less whiskey to taste.

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Week 6:  Florida State University Seminoles, Tallahassee FL (Won 31-6)
Food:  Coffee BBQ Baby Back Ribs 
Ingredients:
Ribs
(1 Slab) Baby back ribs
(1 Cup) Italian salad dressing
(1 1/2 Tbs) Cajun Seasoning
(1 1/2 Tbs) Ground coffee
(1 Tbs) Brown sugar
(1/2 Tbs) Dry parsley
(1 Tbs) Adobo seasoning
(2 Tbs) Chopped green onion
Coffee BBQ Sauce
(1/2 cup) Plain BBQ sauce
(1/2 Tbs) Ground coffee
(1/2 Tbs) Cajun Seasoning
(1/2 Tbs) Brown sugar
Steps:
1. Wash ribs and place in large container. Coat in salad dressing.
2. In bowl, mix together cajun, coffee, brown sugar, dry parsley and adobo.
3. Spread mixture over ribs completely and marinate a few hours in the refrigerator.                – Overnight is best.
4. Via “indirect heat”, grill for 1 hour and 20 minutes (80 min) bone side down.
        –  Rotate ribs 90 degrees every 20 minutes to expose each side of the meat to the heat.
5. After last rotation, coat ribs with BBQ sauce and place on direct heat, bone side down, for 10 minutes.
6. Remove ribs from heat and wrap in foil and let rest 10 minutes.
7. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Note: Total cooking time is ~1 hour and 40 min.
Ribs
Drink: Raspberry Mint Sweet Tea Sangria
Ingredients:
(24 oz) Riesling wine
(8 oz) Brandy
(24 oz) Sweet tea
(12 oz) Raspberry simple syrup
             1 Med sized pot
             (6 oz) Raspberry
             (14 oz) water
             (1/2 cup) Sugar
(12 oz) Mint simple syrup
             1 Med sized pot
             (2 1/2 oz) Mint leaves
             (14 oz) Water
             (1/4 cup) Sugar
Steps:
1. Raspberry Syrup: In the pot, add water, raspberries, and sugar and bring to a boil.
          – Let boil for 8-12 minutes or until raspberries break down.
2. Mint Syrup: In the pot, add water, mint leaves, and sugar and then bring to a boil.
          – Let boil for 8-12 minutes or until mint leaves break down.
2. In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.
3. Let chill or pour over ice to enjoy immediately
Note: Add more or less whiskey to make the drink stronger.
Sangria

Week 7:  Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Atlanta GA  (Won 25 – 24) 
Food:  Grilled Option Fajitas   
Ingredients:
Chicken
(4) Chicken Breast
(1 Tbs) Minced garlic
(1/2 Tbs) Dry parsley
(1/2 Tbs) Paprika
(1 Tbs) Cajun seasoning
(1 Cup) Italian salad dressing
Skirt Steak
(1) Skirt steak
(1/2 tea) Salt
(1/2 tea) Black pepper
(2 Tbs) Dale’s steak seasoning
Shrimp
(1 lb) Argentine Red Shrimp
(1 Tbs) Adobo seasoning
(1 Tbs) Chopped cilantro
(1 Tbs) Cajun seasoning
(1 Tbs) Lemon juice
(2 Tbs) Olive oil
(1/2 Tbs) Dry parsley
(1/2 Tbs) Basil
Sausage
(1) Link smoked beef and pork sausage
Veggies
(1) Red bell pepper sliced
(1) Green bell pepper sliced
(1) Red onion sliced
(1 Tbs) Cajun seasoning
(1 Tbs) Olive oil
(1 Tbs) Honey
(1 Tbs) Adobo seasoning
Guacamole
(2) Hass avocados
(1/4) Diced red onion
(1/2 of a bunch) Diced cilantro
(1) Roasted red tomato
(1 Tbs) Olive oil
(1 Tbs) Lemon juice
(1/2 Tbs) Cajun seasoning
(1/2 Tbs) Black pepper
Steps:
Chicken
1. Wash chicken breast and cut into chunks to ensure even cooking.
2. Combine garlic, parsley, paprika, cajun and Italian dressing.
3. Pour marinade and chicken into a ziploc bag/bowl and marinate a few hours or overnight.
4. Cook chicken on grill for 30-35 minutes or until done.
Flip halfway through the cooking process.
5. Slice and serve.
Skirt Steak
1. Wash steak, trim fat and remove silverskin.
2. Combine salt, pepper and Dale’s seasoning and rub into steak.
3. Marinate a few hours or overnight.
4. Cook steak on grill for 14-18 minutes to achieve medium temperature steak (145℉ 63℃) in the thickest part.
Flip halfway during the cooking process.
5. Wrap in foil and let rest for 10 min. Slice and serve.
Shrimp
1. Peel, devein and wash shrimp.
2. Combine Adobo, cajun, lemon juice, cilantro, olive oil, basil and parsley.
3. Pour marinade and shrimp into a ziploc bag/bowl and let marinate a few hours.
4. Cook shrimp on grill for 10-14 minutes or until done.
Flip halfway during the cooking process.
5. Serve.
Sausage
1. Remove sausage from packaging and place on grill.
2. Cook for ~10 minutes or until desired temperature.
Flip halfway during cooking process.
3. Slice and serve. Add BBQ if desired.
Veggies
1. Wash bell peppers and slice into thin strips.
2. Peel onion and slice into thin strips.
3. Place veggies on a foil sheet.
Foil must be long enough to form a pouch over the veggies.
4. Add honey, cajun, olive oil and Adobo and mix in with the veggies.
5. Seal foil pouch and place on grill for 15-20 minutes. (Less time if you want a crunch in your veggies.)
6. Remove from grill and serve.
Guacamole
1. Place tomato directly on grill coals. Rotate every 1-2 minutes until all sides have been roasted
2. Peel and remove seed from avocados.
3. Add tomato, avocado, onion, cilantro, olive oil and lemon juice, cajun and pepper to a bowl.
4. Mix thoroughly and serve.
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Drink:  Drunken Peach Punch    
Ingredients:
(2) Peaches sliced
(1 Tbs) Olive oil
(1) Muddler
(1 Tbs) Brown sugar
(10 oz) Triple sec
(12 oz) Vodka
(10 oz) Peach schnapps
(14 oz) Peach nectar
Steps:
1. Slices peaches into wedges and lightly coat with olive oil.
2. Places peaches on grill for ~10 minutes, flipping halfway through grilling process. (Peaches should be lightly charred.)
3. Remove peaches and place in pitcher with sugar and muddle thoroughly.
4. Add triple sec, vodka, schnapps, and nectar. Stir thoroughly.
5. Let chill or pour over ice to enjoy immediately.
Note: Add more or less vodka to make the drink stronger.
drink
Week 8:  Syracuse University Orange Syracuse NY  (Won 27 – 19)  
Food:  Grilled Apple Coleslaw with Pork Tenderloin    
Ingredients:
Coleslaw
(1) Sliced Gala apple
(1) Sliced Grannysmith apple
(2 Tbs) Olive oil
(1 bag) Classic coleslaw
(1/2 Cup) Chopped cilantro
(2 Tbs) Apple cider vinegar
(1 Tbs) Dry parsley
(1/2 Tbs) Black pepper
(2 Tbs) Honey
(2 Tbs) Plain Greek yogurt
(1/2 Tbs) Mustard
(3) Green onion stalks
Pork Tenderloin
(2 lbs) Boneless whole pork tenderloin
(1/4 Cup) Olive oil
(3 Tsp) Soy sauce
(3 Tbs) Brown sugar
(1 Tbs) Minced garlic
(1 Tbs) Adobo
(1 Tbs) Cajun seasoning
Steps:
Coleslaw
1. Slice apples ~ 1 inch wide and coat with olive oil.
2. Place apples on the grill and cook for ~2 minutes each side or less for a crunch.
3. Coat green onions in olive oil and place on grill until charred, ~ 5 minutes.
4. After grilling, slice apples into strips and chop onions.
5. In a bowl, mix together slaw, apples, onions, cilantro, vinegar, parsley, pepper, honey, yogurt, and mustard.
6. Chill and serve.
Pork Tenderloin
1. Wash tenderloin, trim fat and remove silver skin.
2. Combine olive oil, soy sauce, sugar, adobo, Cajun, and garlic.
3. Pour marinade and pork into a ziploc bag/bowl and marinate a few hours or overnight.
4. Cook on grill via indirect heat for 60 minutes or until done. Flip every 20 minutes to expose each side to heat.
5. Place on direct heat for 10 minutes flipping half way through
6. Wrap in foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
7. Slice and serve.
Food
Drink:  Grand Orange Dream Punch    
Ingredients:
(3-3 ½ Cups) Orange sherbet
(16 oz) Grand Marnier
(32 oz) Ginger ale
Steps:
1. In a large pitcher mix together sherbet, ginger ale and Grand Marnier
2. Mix thoroughly and chill or serve over ice.
Note: Add more or less cognac to make the drink stronger.
Drink

Week 9:  University of North Carolina Tar Heels Chapel Hill NC  (Won 24 – 19)  
Food:  Grilled Lamb Slider with Spicy Garlic Sauce      
Ingredients:
Lamb Slider
(2 lbs) Ground lamb
(1 Tbs) Minced garlic
(1 Tbs) Mayonnaise
(1 Tbs) Dry parsley
(1 Tbs) Black pepper
(1 Tbs) Lemon juice
(1 Tbs) Adobo
(1/2 Tbs) Rosemary
(1 pack) slider buns
Spicy Garlic Sauce
(1 Tbs) Mayonnaise
(1 Tbs) Plain Greek yogurt
(1/2 Tbs) Lemon juice
(1 Tbs) Horseradish
(1/2 Tbs) Cajun seasoning
(1/2 Tbs) Paprika
(1 Tsp) Dry parsley
(1 1/2 Tbs) Minced garlic
(1 Tbs) Chopped green onions
Steps:
Lamb Sliders
1. In a medium bowl combine lamb, garlic, mayonnaise, parsley, pepper, lemon juice, Adobo and rosemary.
2. Form into slider patties.
3. Place on the grill for 30–35 minutes or until done. Flip halfway through the cooking process.
4. Toast buns on grill if desired and serve.
Spicy Garlic Sauce
1. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, horseradish, cajun, paprika, parsley, garlic and green onions.
2. Garnish with additional green onions.
3. Chill and serve.
food (use)
Drink: Blueberry Mojito
Ingredients:
(5 oz) Fresh mint leaves
(1) Lemon
(1 Tbs) Brown sugar
(8 oz) Club soda
(24 oz) White rum
Blueberry simple syrup
Ingredients:
(16 oz) Blueberry
(24 oz) Water
(1/2 cup) Sugar
Steps:
1. Blueberry simple syrup: In a medium sized pot add water, blueberries, sugar and bring to a boil. Let boil for 8-12 minutes or until berries break down.
2. In a large pitcher, add mint leaves, brown sugar, club soda and juice from lemon.
3. Muddle until mint is broken down and sugar is dissolved.
4. Pour in rum and blueberry simple syrup and mix thoroughly.
5. Chill or serve over ice.
Note: Add more or less rum to make the drink stronger.
Drink
Week 10:  Virginia Tech Hokies Blacksburg VA (Won 28 – 10)   
Food:  Grilled Turkey Legs       
Ingredients:
(3) Turkey Legs
(1 Cup) Italian Salad Dressing
(1 Tbs) Lemon juice
(2 Tbs) Adobo
(2 Tbs) Cajun seasoning
(1 Tbs) Paprika
(1 Tbs) Dale’s seasoning
(1 Tbs) Minced garlic
(1 Tbs) Dry parsley
Steps:
1. Wash turkey legs and cut a slit in the thickest part of the drum stick deep enough to hit the bone and place in a large Ziploc bag.
2. In a medium bowl combine dressing, lemon juice, cajun seasoning, paprika, Dale’s, garlic and parsley.
3. Pour mixture over turkey legs and seal bag. Let marinate at least over night
4. Place turkey on direct heat for a total of 12 minutes rotating every ~ 3 minutes to sear all sides.
5. Cook via indirect heat for ~ 60 min rotating every 20 minutes.
6. Place legs in foil and place on direct heat for another 20 minutes or until legs are cooked fully through.
Turkey 2
Drink: El Presidente
Ingredients:
(16 oz) White rum
(6 oz) Dry Vermouth
(6 oz) Triple Sec
(12 oz) Pineapple juice
(3 oz) Grenadine
(1) Lime
Steps:
1. In a pitcher mix together rum, vermouth, triple sec, juice and grenadine.
2. Chill or serve over ice and garnish with lime peel.
Note: Add more or less rum to make the drink stronger.
Drink
Week 11:  Notre Dame Fighting Irish,  South Bend IN (Won 41-8)   
Food:  Grilled Irish Beer Brats        
Ingredients:
(1 Pack) Original Brats
(1 Pack) Potato buns
(1 Can) Irish beer
(1) White onion
(1/2 Tbs) Crushed red peppers
(1 Tbs) Cajun seasoning
(1 Tbs) Minced garlic
Steps:
1. Slice onions.
2. In a large ziplock bag combine onions, beer, red peppers, cajun seasoning and garlic.
3. Let marinate at least 12 hours.
4. Remove sausage from the bag and place on direct heat for a total of 20 min or until done. Rotate halfway through cooking process.
5. Remove onions from bag and wrap them in foil. Place on grill for ~10-15 min and rotate halfway through cooking process.
6. Remove sausage and onions from grill and serve on a potato bun.
Food
Drink: The Last Confession
Ingredients:
(2 oz) Absinthe
(8 oz) Vodka
(8 oz) Irish Cream liqueur
(2 oz) Crème De Menthe
(16 oz) Vanilla Ice Cream
(1 bottle) Green food coloring
Steps:
1. In a pitcher mix together absinthe, vodka, Irish cream, crème de menthe and ice cream.
2. Add ~8 drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly.
Note: Add more or less vodka and Absinthe to make the drink stronger.
Drink
Week 12: Virginia Cavaliers, Charlottesville VA (Won 44 -28) 
Food: Grilled fish tacos
Ingredients:
(1 lb) Rainbow trout or other white fish
(1/4 Tbs) Paprika
(1 Tbs) Cajun seasoning
(1 Tbs) Minced garlic
(1 tsp) Chipotle powder
(1 Tbs) Parsley
(3 Tbs) Lemon juice
(2) Tortillas
Steps:
1. Wash fish.
2. In a large ziplock bag combine paprika, Cajun, garlic, chipotle, parsley and lemon juice.
3. Let marinate no less than 2 hours in the refrigerator.
4. Remove fish from the bag and place on grill. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until done. Flip fish halfway through cooking process.
5. Grill tortilla until warm.
6. Serve taco with lime, pico de gallo and cheese if desired
food
Drink: The Royal Breakfast
Ingredients:
(8 oz) Maple Crown Royal
(32 oz) Apple Juice
(1 Bottle) Champagne
Steps:
1. In a pitcher mix together apple juice, whiskey, and champagne. Chill or serve over ice.
Note: Add more or less whiskey to make the drink stronger.
drink
Week 13: Pittsburgh Panthers, Pittsburgh PA (Loss 14 – 24)  
Food: Grilled Cheese Steak
Ingredients:
Steak:
(2 lb) NY Strip Steak
(4 Tbs) Dale’s steak seasoning
(2 tsp) Minced garlic
(2 tsp) Black pepper
(1) Bag of steak roll buns
Veggies:
(1) White sweet onion
(1/4) Green bell pepper
(1/4) Yellow bell pepper
(1/4) Red bell pepper
(4oz) Sliced mushrooms
(1 Tbs) Cajun seasoning
(1 Tbs) Honey
(1/2 Tbs) Adobo seasoning
(2 Tbs) Minced garlic
(1 Tbs) Parsley
(2 Tbs) Olive oil
Cheese Sauce:
(8 oz) Cheddar cheese
(4 oz) Milk
(2 Tbs) Butter or Olive oil
(1 Tbs) Flour
(1 tsp) Cajun seasoning
(1 tsp) Adobo seasoning
Steps:
Steak:
1. Wash steak and flatten with a meat hammer until 1 inch thick.
2. In a bowl, mix together steak seasoning, pepper, and garlic.
3. Rub mixture onto both sides of the steak and then place into a Ziploc bag.
4. Allow to marinate at least 2 hours.
5. Remove steak and place on grill. Cook for a total of 8 minutes, 4 min each side.
6. Allow meat to rest before slicing into thin strips.
Veggies:
1. Slice onions and peppers into thin strips.
2. Place onions, peppers and sliced onions into a bowl and add in honey, cajun, adobo, garlic, parsley and olive oil and mix thoroughly.
3. Place mixture into a foil pouch and place on the grill.
4. Cook for 10-15 minutes. The peppers should still have a slight crunch.
Cheese Sauce:
1. In a large pot, add olive oil or butter.
2. After pot is hot, add flour and stir consistently until brown, ~2-3 minutes.
3. Add milk, Adobo and cajun to the mixture and stir thoroughly.
4. Add cheese to the mixture and stir until it thickens and smooth.
5. Build sandwich by spreading cheese sauce onto bread then adding steak and veggies.
Note: Can use other types of cheese for sauce.
Food
Drink: The Pink Panther
Ingredients:
(12 oz) Vodka
(12 oz) Pineapple Juice
(6 oz) Amaretto liqueur
(2 oz) Grenadine syrup
Steps:
1. In a pitcher mix together pineapple juice, vodka, amaretto and grenadine.
Note: Add more or less vodka to make the drink stronger.
Drink.jpgWeek 14 ACC Championship: Clemson Tigers, Clemson S.C. 
Food: Grilled Pulled Pork
Ingredients:
Pork:
(8 lb) Pork Shoulder
Injection:
(6 oz) Beer
(2 Tbs) Cajun seasoning
(2 Tbs) Brown sugar
(2 Tbs) Adobo seasoning
(1 Tbs) Dale’s seasoning
(1 Tbs) Paprika
Rub:
(3 Tbs) Yellow mustard
(2 Tbs) Minced garlic
(1 Tbs) Dry parsley
(1 Tbs) Paprika
(1 Tbs) Brown sugar
(1 Tbs) Apple cider vinegar
(1/2 cup) BBQ sauce
(4 oz) Beer
Steps:
1. Wash pork shoulder.
2. In a bowl mix together beer, Cajun, sugar, adobo, dale’s and paprika. Use an injection needle and inject the pork with the mixture.
3. In a bow mix together mustard, garlic, parsley, paprika, sugar and vinegar. Rub mixture completely over the meat.
4. Allow to marinate at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
5. Place on grill and cook for 3 hours using indirect heat. Rotate the meat to insure all sides get equal exposure.
6. Remove and place meat in a crockpot with half cup of beer and favorite BBQ sauce. Cook on low for 4 or until tender enough to pull apart.
Food
Drink: Peach Sweet Tea Sangria
Ingredients:
(20 oz) Riesling wine
(8 oz) Peach moonshine
(28 oz) Peach sweet tea
(12 oz) Peach schnapps
(1 can) Slice peaches in light syrup
Steps:
1. In a pitcher mix together wine, moonshine, tea, schnapps, and slice peaches.
Note: Add more moonshine and wine to make the drink stronger.
Drink

A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Playground

The Top 5 Parent Types at the playground. As the great G.I. Joe once said “Knowing is half the battle”!

As a kid, the playground was a challenging environment to navigate.  While the goal was always to have fun, at times it felt like a place you merely tried to survive.  My survival kit came equipped with a few “mic dropping”  jokes, in case I got caught up in a game of ‘The Dozens’, and multiple ways to deflect stupid dares that always seemed to lead to broken bones or that unfathomable cry where you stop breathing for what seemed like minutes.  These dares included hanging upside down on the monkey bars or trying to see who can jump over the holly trees.  My go-to deflection was “I bet I can jump out the swing further than you”.  And last, but definitely not least, avoiding that one kid that loves jumping off the seesaw after dangling you 30 feet in the air and then laughing as you crash to the ground.

Now that I’m a father, I’ve noticed playgrounds have drastically changed.  WithHot sign their fancy little padding, wood chips and plastic slides.  Hell, some of them are indoors and I have yet to see one with wooden seats for the swings (splinters build character)!  Despite all these cosmetic changes, the playground is even more challenging as a parent (some might say terrifying), but the primary game is still survival.  The terrifying part isn’t that damn metal slide that will give you 3rd degree burns, but the other PARENTS!

According to the U.S. Air Force’s handbook on Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE), the key to survival is being prepared.  For those parents that are new to the playground scene or the ones that seem to return home socially exhausted every time, let this be your guide.  Below are the top five parent types you’ll encounter at the playground.  As the great G.I. Joe once said “Knowing is half the battle”!

1. The ‘Playground Parent’
This is the parent that managed to pack up the whole house in just one diaper bag.  They have every toy imaginable and unimaginable, like a toy bubble machine. (That’s not a joke I’ve seen one.)  They also have bottled water, three types of juice, and a pantry of snacks.  I call them the Playground Parent because they have perfected trips to the playground and at some point you’ll have to tell your kid to stop asking to play with their kid’s toys or “you can get a snack when we get home”.  At which point your kid looks at you wondering why you came here empty-handed.  However, if you were to ever make a friend at the playground, this is the one.  One day you will forget to bring water or will need a Band-Aid and they will have a bottle for you and a bandage with your kid’s choice of superhero.

2. The ‘Hands-Off Parent’1434_WreckItRalphSlam_50
This is the parent that will cause you to cut your playground day short.  When you begin to develop an ulcer because you have to tolerate an 8-year old running into toddlers in the “2 and under” play area, it is time to go home.  This parent is too busy on their phone or talking to other parents to notice their kid is playing real-life “Wreck it Ralph”.  If this is you, please do us all a favor and look up every now and then.

3. The ‘Talking Parent’
The name is self-explanatory, but be aware, because they will approach you whether you’re watching your kid from the bench or holding them up as they swing across the monkey bars.  The concerning thing with this parent is that no topic is off limit.  Ranging from the color of their kid’s poop that morning,  breastfeeding tips, all the way to how “Nana” can’t watch the kids this weekend because she has a new love interest.  You can always bet that your kid will choose their kid out of all the other kids to play with, meaning you should get ready with to use your auto responses of “oh wow”, “really” and “that’s crazy”.

4. The ‘Voiceover Parent’VentriloquistNYP
While their kid is unable to speak yet, they have no problem playing ventriloquist.  As their kid tries to break free from their hold to walk up the slide, this parent is busy trying to have a full conversation with your kid. “Say hi Timmy. ‘Hi! I am Timmy!’ Ask your friend what his name is, Timmy.  Say ‘What’s your name? Those shoes are cool. Where did you get them?’” This is happening in their best baby voice, of course.  At this point you have to make a decision.  Do you play the game and respond for your kid in your best baby voice, or just walk away?

5. The ‘Comparison Parent’
The conversation always starts with “how old is he”?  It’s a loaded question because they are just going to compare what their kid can do versus what yours is doing.  When your kid is the younger of the two, you may hear “You can do it Billy! He’s younger than you and he’s doing it!” Or “Wow, yours is already walking, huh? Billy is being lazy and refuses to walk!”

Bonus: The ‘Helicopter Parent’ (Me)
Typically, helicopter parents get a bad reputation as being suffocating, but on the playground, it is my survival tactic.  I have no problem running right behind my son on the playground, as my only other option would be to go hang with the other parents and get caught up in small talk.  That’s not an appealing option for a social introvert like myself.  Plus, I used all my words for the day at work.

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Food & Football: Miami Hurricanes Kickoff 2017

Whether you’re here to find new recipes, check out the family adventures, or hear my take on Miami Hurricanes Football, thank you for taking this journey with us.

Welcome to the kickoff for the 2017 edition of the “Food and Football” blog.  The 2016 football season was the blogs inaugural year and there were a lot of lessons learned on and off the field that will make this year even better.  For the new recruits to “Food and Football’, let me catch you up!  Being from the south, (Georgia), Summer does not precede Fall or Autumn. The only season that we recognize after Summer is football season.  When this season comes around, there is a perfect storm of the 3 Fs of Family, Food and Football.  This blog captures the good food and great family moments with our two sons, “Osito” and “Deuce”, as we follow my wife (Mami) and I’s alma mater, The University of Miami Hurricanes aka The U.  So whether you’re here to find new recipes, check out the family adventures, or hear my take on Miami Hurricanes Football, thank you for taking this journey with us.

The Food: 

Shttle U (close)
Space Shuttle Discovery (STS- 133) on the Launch Pad (2011)

The food is inspired by the Hurricanes’ football schedule.  Since the Air Force has moved us to Texas, we aren’t able to attend games like we did as students or at my first duty station in Cape Canaveral, FL.  With the location change and the added challenge of traveling with two kids under 2, every Saturday we bring the tailgate into our home.  The idea is to create a “Game Meal” that represents The U’s opponent that week and as we feast, hopefully, the canes are feasting on the field.  The primary influences on the meals are the opponent’s mascot, school name/nickname, or a signature dish from the location of the school, like I did for the Pitt Panthers.  However, the meal inspiration can have a petty aspect to it, but that is usually reserved for rivalry games like FSU.

Coming up with game meals last year did become challenging since a lot of the school’s mascots or names had nothing to do with food.  I found myself relying heavily on school location, which is fine, except the majority of opponents were in the state of North Carolina (App State Mountaineer, Duke Blue Devils and NC State Wolf Pack).  This limited the game meals to either sweet potatoes (state vegetable) or Carolina style BBQ.  But on the positive side, with some loose interpretation of mascots, we had the opportunity to explore some meals that aren’t a staple in our diet like lamb (UNC Tar heels), quail (FAU Owls) and tuna steaks (UVA Cavaliers).  This year, the plan is to expand the game meal inspiration to include the opponent, the home team and our family adventures.

The Family: 
Second only to my faith in Jesus, my family is everything to me.  Nothing makes me happier than spending time, sharing a meal, and watching football with them.  This could be the family I was born into, married into, or those friends that have become family.  In this blog, family serves an important role for two reasons.  First, without family you can’t have weekend adventures.  This is the perfect time for us to explore the city and surrounding areas of our current duty station, Houston.

Houston
Photo from our Maternity Shoot around Houston.

Last year we saw trips to the Houston Zoo, College Station, Tx and Miami.  This football season holds our last few months in the Houston area, and there are a few adventures we need to check off the list before leaving.  As an added bonus, this will be Deuce’s first season, so it has to be a memorable one off the field and hopefully on.  Second, without family how can the “Game Meal” be rated?  As it is on the field, so must it be in the kitchen, where there are losers and winner.  The rating is a standard 1-10 on presentation but mostly taste, but the true litmus test is when people go back for more.  My regular panel includes Mami and Osito, but special guests will show from time to time.

The Football:Sleep
While the food has been good and family is always great, the football, well, it has been
“a snooze fest” dating back to my college days.  I was going to use this time to talk about the past and everything The U hasn’t done, like play for an Conference Championship (in 14 years), beat FSU (in 8 years) or won 10+ games (in 14 years), which is a far cry from being relevant, much less a contender like in the glory days.  But no sense in crying over spilled whiskey.  Plus, if Mark Richt’s first year as HC is a sign, the future is bright and the “swag” appears to be returning.  Like with the food, the football will also receive a rating and throughout the year we will gauge the team against my predictions and the Hurricane Standard Checklist (see below).  I don’t call out individuals, because as a father, I don’t think it’s fair to criticize these kids that are playing a game.  However, I will highlight position groups, but remember football is the ultimate team sport.

                    2016 Recap: 
Last year, in my opinion, was a great start to the Richt era.  After a 4-0 start to the season,Kaden 2017.JPG the team faced some turbulence and had a 0-4 stretch that included losses against the eventual division winner, VT, and FSU.  In years past, the team would implode after facing this type of adversity, but not this team, not this coach.  They rallied and finished the season strong with a 5 game win streak capped off by the first bowl win in 10 years.  The streak and bowl victory will serve as momentum into the 2017 season and inch them closer to upholding the standard set by the Godfather of Miami football, Coach Schnellenberger, who coached Richt during his college days.  Overall, it is easy to see the potential of the canes as we saw a complete turnaround in defense from being ranked 69th under the old regime to 20th last year.  On offense, though things were slow at times, you could see the influx of young talent.

                    2017 Prediction: 
Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF), the 2017 Miami Hurricanes will have a 10-2 regular season.  I’m not a gambler but Vegas has them at 9 wins (cough cough take the over).  My process of prediction is broken down into 3 areas: internal analysis, external analysis and scheduling.

                              Internal Analysis:
The foundation for success this year will start with a defense that gives “unbelievable effort”.  The entire front 7 is returning and the staff did a great job of reloading at CB with help from the grad transfer and junior college transfers after 2 departed for the NFL.  Offensively, the story line for the entire off season has been who will be the quarterback.  While everyone knows the QB position is important, it has been proven in college football that you can win with just a “game manager” as long as you have a strong run game and defense, see Alabama Crimson Tide.  These are two things the Canes should have and then you add in the talented WRs and you have the making of a solid team.  However, if you don’t have a solid O-Line, it wouldn’t matter if you had Peyton Manning at QB.  Over the past few years, poor blocking resulting in limited time for the QB and no space to run has plagued the Canes.  The consistent play of the O-line will determine how far The U goes this year regardless of which of the 4 candidates win the starting job.

Kaleb
Don’t sleep on the Canes

     External analysis: 
Once the schedule is released, I will break it down into the following sections: Should Win, Toss Up and Probably Lose.

Should Win:  This section is comprised of your annual cupcake game, non-Power 5 teams, and teams that have been struggling lately or doesn’t match up well against the Canes.  There are 7 teams that fit this category, Bethune-Cookman, Arkansas State, Toledo, Duke, GT, Syracuse and UVA. While we should win these games, any given Saturday, if you don’t bring it you will take an L.  GT can be tricky with their triple option especially if they get a QB that can throw.

Toss Up:  This section is mostly filled with rivalry games, but there are some wild cards that can go in this section.  In rivalry games, records don’t matter and one inch or the bounce of the ball can be the difference.  This year, I see 5 toss up games, FSU, VT, UNC, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh.  While FSU is a given, there may be some “side eye” on the other 4 games.  Three of them, UNC, ND and VT, will be breaking in new QBs and Pitt hasn’t had much of an offense. However, VT always has a solid defense and between them and UNC, the Canes have found a way to lose to at least one of them.  ND had a terrible 4-8 season last year, but I expect them to be much better with their HC on the hot seat.  By the way, one of their 4 wins was against the Canes.  I will explain the Pitt game during the scheduling section.Schedule

Scheduling:  The U’s schedule is very favorable and most of the key games are late in the year which bodes well for breaking in a new QB.  The exception is a week 3 match up in Tallahassee (Talla-trash-see) vs FSU.  Note that FSU will be one week removed from playing Bama in week 1 so there could be some hangover from that depending the outcome.  Looking at the other toss-up games, ND and VT are at home. They are on the road at UNC, but they will be coming off a tough trip to VT.  The “at” Pittsburgh game in late November will be intriguing if the cold weather plays a role.

When it’s all said and done, I see the Hurricanes checking off the following from the Standard Checklist: 10+ wins, beat other rivals, win division, and win bowl game.  The wild card is beating FSU. If they win in week 3 the Canes will take a higher trajectory for the season, but if not they may get another shot in the ACC championship.  This means winning the ACC can get checked off and keep in mind it’s hard to beat a team twice.  But if everyone stays healthy and solid QB play after being eased into college football the first half of the season, the sky is the limit.

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   The Hurricane Standard Checklist  
◻ Beat FSU – If Miami had a 1 win season, it better be this game
◻ Beat Other Rivals on Schedule – 2017: Notre Dame and VT
◻ Win 10+ Games – Double digit wins (for most teams) starts the convo of a “good year”
◻ Win Conference Division – ACC Coastal: includes Duke, UNC, VT, GT, Pitt and UVA
◻ Win Conference Championship – ACC: vs winner of Atlantic Division
◻ Win Bowl Game – Hopefully the CFP Playoff semifinals or New Year’s Six Bowl
◻ Win National Championship – Why they play the game
◻ Undefeated Season – The icing on the cake

U at night

Food & Football Bowl Week 14 2016: The U vs West Virginia

My Beloved Osito,

After a month long hiatus from Miami football, The U is back in action for bowl season.  This time of year is bittersweet for all college football fans.  While you get a month of nonstop action with some intriguing match ups across conferences and the College Football Playoffs, it signals the end.  The U’s final game will take place at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando against an old foe from their Big East days, the West Virginia Mountaineers.  Just like the The U, we also spent the end of our “season” in Florida.  We traveled to Miami to be with your grandmother (Wella) and Aunt (Titi) and the rest of Mami’s family for the holidays.

The game meal for this match up, honestly, had nothing to do with the game.  Partly because their mascot, a Mountaineer, and the state aka the Mountain State, did not intrigue me to explore food possibilities.  However, the main reason was because your Jonathan KimbleTiti made a request.  With that request, Chicken and Waffles were on the menu and a brunch style game meal felt right being in Miami.

The U came into the game on a 4 game win streak and it felt like they were intent on earning their first bowl win in 10 years.  Sadly, I was a freshman the last time The U won a bowl game.  For us, game day began with a Miami style “Weekend Adventure” to South Beach for your Wella’s birthday.  The game was on a Wednesday, but it falls under the theme.

To start the game, there were some good and bad moments.  The bad revolved around the offense’s inability to do anything and they were out of sync in every aspect going Brunch pose“3 and out” on most of their drives.  However, the good part was an impressive defensive effort, despite no help from the offense.  They were able to hold a high powered offense, ~490 yards and 31 points a game, to 7 in the half.  The adventure started with brunch at the “Local House”, picked by Mami.  It was a really nice and intimate spot, but sitting intimately with an 18 month child that wants to touch everything makes for an adventure in itself (looking at you).  Despite having to remove utensils, cups and the flower center piece out of your reach and you trying to throw your toys into Titi’s coffee, you embraced the Miami brunch life effortlessly.

Bike view BayThings finally turned around for the offense when they exploded for 21 straight points with 6:30 left in the 2nd quarter.  The U went into the half leading 21 to 7.  Following brunch, we made our way to the beach through the breathtaking South Pointe Park.  Watching you on the beach for the first time was, well, hilariously memorable.  Initially, you refused to put your feet in the sand, but by the end you didn’t want leave.  Add in cruising around in your ‘Smartrike’ bike and running through the splash pad to remove the sand and you have the making of an epic weekend adventure.

Splash Pad 1

The second half of the game was pure bliss.  The U was able to dominate in all three phases of the game and cruised to a 31 to 14 win.  While the victory was very nice and The U finally ended the season on a high note, the victory meant a great deal more to the future of the program.  For the first time in a long time, it feels like “The U is Back!” (::inhales::) Let me not get ahead of myself, this game showed that there is a real possibility that The U is on the right track to being relevant in the ACC and on the national stage for years to come.  Much like the game, the weekend adventure ended on a high note with a game meal that rates a 7 out 10 and this time there were more judges.  It wasn’t higher because I couldn’t get YOU to eat the waffle, instead you would put it in your mouth and then throw it on the floor.  My guess was because it didn’t have syrup on it.

Waffle on the floor

This marks the end of the 2017 season of “Food & Football”.  This year’s season we saw 4 Facesthe good, the bad and the ugly both on and off the field and it showed.  From teeth getting knocked out and win streaks (on the field) to weekend adventures, quality family time and good and not so good food (off the field).  Next year we’ll be praying and working towards better things on but most importantly off the field.  The countdown begins to September 2018.

Ingredients
Waffles:
1. While holding a shifter over a large bowl, add 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon (tsp) baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, 3 tablespoon (TBS) sugar and another cup of flour on top.
2. In another bowl melt 2 oz (= 4 TBS = 1/2 stick) of butter and mix together 15 oz of milk or buttermilk, 3 eggs and splash of vanilla.
3. Pour the liquid mix into the dry ingredients and mix slightly. (I don’t know if it makes a difference, but I pour the liquid in so I don’t make a bigger mess with the flour lest your Mami chop my head off).
4. Let the batter set for ~5 min and then spoon/pour into a hot waffle iron. Cover with nonstick spray if needed, and cook for specified time.

Chicken:
1. Take washed chicken wings and/or breast and cut the breast in half and (if desired) the drumette from the flat. I’m not sure if those are official terms, but that’s what I’ve always heard
2. Marinate in Italian salad dressing, Cajun seasoning, Adobo and a little pepper. The longer the better.
3. Preheat oil to 400 degrees in a skillet. I use an electric skillet and take it outside. (The first time Mami made me, but now I do it because I prefer to not have the house wreak of fried food smell for days.
4. Take two bowls and add flour, Cajun seasoning and dried parsley to one and in the other bowl add an egg, a splash of milk, and hot sauce.
5. Take the chicken and dredge it in the flour and then in the egg mixture, then back in the flour.
6. When you have a few place them in the oil until cooked thoroughly and golden.

Bike Trick

Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”
@outer_space_dad

Dads Count as Real Help

This is not about gender roles or men doing “women’s work”.  This is about a man, as a husband and father, and his willingness to do what is necessary for his family.

Mijos,

BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front)
Dad’s count as real help!  Parenting is very complex and encompasses a wide range of activities and responsibilities which are split differently depending on the family structure and what simply works best for everyone.  However, it was made evident to me that there are people (I hope a small group) that assume that dads just cannot/will not/should not complete certain tasks.  I understand that men are not typically seen as nurturing, and may cringe at the idea of completing domestic tasks like cleaning and laundry.  But honestly, gender aside, who really enjoys doing these things anyway?(Except your mom, she gets an inexplicable satisfaction from cleaning).  However, this is not about gender roles or men doing “women’s work”.  This is about a man, as a husband and father, and his willingness to do what is necessary for his family.  That mayMammoth include bringing a mastodon back to the cave for food or just changing a diaper.  Simply put, a new breed of modern men exist and are thriving.

Mom, you need HELP!
It all started around Mami’s 36 week pregnancy check-up with Deuce.  The appointment started off very routine with the doctor asking how things were progressing, checking Deuces heart beat and the usual “look under the hood”.  The mood of the check-up changed when the doctor used the dreaded “B” word, BEDREST.  Honestly, after understanding it was strictly precautionary to get as close to the 40 week mark as possible and that Deuce was healthy and thriving, my next emotion was jealousy.  Imagine not going to work, chilling in bed with a bell to ring for someone to address your every need, and endless hours of Netflix and DVR binge watching.  It sounded like a mini vacation to me; except for the whole human growing inside of you thing.

I quickly snapped out of my haze as the doctor began listing activities Mami should avoid while on bedrest.  As the list grew longer with orders like “do not pick up/carry your toddler, no vacuuming and no bending over”, I started a mental list of tasks I would need to take over.  Then came the slap in the face…the doctor finished the list and asked Mami, (as if I wasn’t in the room), “do you have any real help close by, like your mom?”  After glancing over to me with a puzzled look, Mami stated “no, my mom is not close by…”

In my opinion, I was expecting the doctor to turn to me and say “Ok dad, your time to shine!” It didn’t.  She started to explain how Mami could do modified tasks while on bedrest.  The modified task that insulted me the most was cooking.  She highlighted that Mami could season and prepare the food on the counter and cook on the stove top, but I would need to hand her any pots and place the food in the oven because she shouldn’t bend over.  While annoyed, I tried not to take it personal assuming she was under the pretense that women do all the cooking in the home, and this may be a valid concern forEating some pregnant moms.

Not Another One
Let’s fast forward to the delivery room the morning after Deuce’s birth.  As usual, the nurse arrived to check on Mami and Deuce, and after going over a few documents and ensuring that feeding and bowel movements were occurring regularly (for Deuce not Mami), the nurse asked Mami if anyone was in town or close by to help her.  Mami stated that ‘Abuela’ was in town, which prompted the nurse to respond “glad you’ve got some help here”…again…as if I wasn’t in the room.

Obviously every helping hand is welcome when bringing a new baby home, especially when this is the second one and we, as a family, could use all the help we can get from whoever is willing. It takes a village.  But, dads count as help too!  Maybe I’m reading into the nurse’s comments too much given the encounter with the doctor.  And it’s possible that I read too much into the doctor’s comments as well, but either way a dad is part of the family team and not a liability when it comes to domestic responsibilities.

“You ‘gon Learn Today”
As a self-proclaimed SSM, “Self-Sustained Man”, I cannot stress the importance of learning how to complete domestic tasks.  As your father, I never want you to be in a situation where you can’t be of help to your family or to yourself for that matter.  So as my parents taught me, I will transfer that knowledge to you.  Let the record show I am doing this in the spirit of caring, but at times, I know it may seem like punishment when I am making you do chores.  Just remember that one of the best ways to learn is to do.  The following is a list of tasks that will serve you well throughout your life and you can “help” with when you have your own family.

cooking

Cooking:   I learned the basics of cooking from watching your grandparents when I was young, but my love of food is what really got me into cooking.  During the holidays, I would spend time trying to help in the kitchen while asking a lot of questions to your great aunts/uncles and great-grandma as they cooked my favorite dishes.  Whether it was Aunt P’s macaroni and cheese, Aunt L’s dumplings or Grandma’s honey ham, I wanted to recreate those dishes because once a year was not enough.  I didn’t realize until I was older that what I learned growing up can save money, make me feel like I am back home or in a particular place/time, and can even impress the ladies (like Mami and your grandma of course).

Laundry:  This is a big one!  For me, I do laundry for a few reasons, first I don’t want Mami touching my gym clothes. They are usually soaked from sweat and have a smell of…. progress to them.  I personally feel that if she was subject to that encounter every week she would begin to resent me.  Secondly, one time she washed my clothes and she didn’t empty my pockets and there went my wallet…so yea, I just do it.  Doing my own laundry served me well, especially when puberty hit, but that subject is for another day.  Just know, it’s probably better for all involved for you to wash your on clothes and bedding yourself than to subject one of us to it.  Laundry is quite simple, the daunting part is separating everything and putting it away after it’s done in a timely matter.

Ironing:  There is nothing like a fresh pressed shirt, even if it’s a t-shirt, but it does take a little effort.  While putting it in the dryer and taking it out right after works to get outdryer wrinkles, a method I’ve used since middle school, it just doesn’t give it the clean professional look you get with an iron.  What I have learned though, is that ironing men and kids clothes is a lot easier than Mami’s.  Be thankful that you won’t have those problems because I still don’t know how to iron a dress with all those creases.

Dishes:  I’m going to pull the “you have it easy because back in my day” card.  Growing up your grandpa used to say “I don’t need a (machine) dishwasher, I have 6 of them right here”.  If you don’t get the reference he is referring to me and your uncles.  We got to the point where we used an assembly line with one person washing, another rinsing and the last person drying and putting the dishes away.  It wasn’t until college that I learned how to use a dishwasher.  However, you’ll still have to rinse off the food and give it a quick wash with the sponge and soap before running the dishwasher to sanitize the dishes.

SweepingCleaning:  Cleaning is a broad term, and depending on the room, the tasks change.  In the bathroom you’ll have to scrub the tub/shower, sink, toilet, and don’t forget to wipe the toothpaste splatter off the mirror.  In the bedroom you’ll need to just keep the floor clear of toys and other objects that will cause me pain when walking in the dark.  Also, make sure your clothes are put away because you can’t have a “chair closet” until you’re grown.  Don’t forget to make your bed and don’t worry, hospital corners are only for show and not practical.  Just keep the Living room in order and you’re done.  The dining room and den, well those rooms are just for show per your mom, so just keep them dust free.  Speaking of dusting, all furniture in the rooms will need to be wiped down and the floors will need to be swept and mopped or just vacuumed pending on the floor type.

There are levels to cleaning, but understand if company is coming over, Mami goes intoCleaning sanitation inspection manager mode and will expect a deep clean.  Honestly, my standard for what is considered clean is not to your Mami’s standards.  I don’t think anyone meets her standards, but she will try and teach you, I can assure you of that. Clean to her standard and you’ll be fine.

Sewing:  When I say sewing I am not referring to operating a sewing machine because I don’t have one nor do I know how to use one.  However, your great grandma had one and created awesome patch quilts, but her impact on me is for a different time.  In short, you will need to learn how to use a needle and thread to sew holes, put on buttons, fix a broken zipper or hem pants if you’re feeling adventurous.  As a parent this skill can be used to conduct eye surgery to give sight sewingback to toys or to ensure they don’t lose their internal organs.  To me, sewing is a lost art, but the trick is always being able to thread the needle.

Fully Equipped 
In college, I witnessed firsthand, other kids that couldn’t do for themselves.  Some were unable to do laundry and literally going home every other weekend just so their mom could do it.  During ROTC training, some couldn’t iron their uniform or make their bed to save their life.  While I learned all these tasks for different reasons, whether it was because I liked cooking or because I was forced to scrub a tub, they have all served me well once I was out on my own.  Again, this is not to be seen as “chores” or “punishment”, this is us (no pun intended, but also the name of one of the best shows ever!  Find it. Watch it.  See your life change) fully equipping you with the ability to be self-sustaining men and “Real Help” to your families.

Love you both to “Infinity…and Beyond”
@Outer_space_dad

The FEAR of Fatherhood

My Beloved Osito,

I always had dreams of my future and how my life would turn out.  That future always included having the “perfect” family, like the Cosby Show, and being the fun, enthusiastic, and involved dad.  But, no one ever explained to me the utter FEAR that comes with fatherhood.  For me, the fear came in three distinct stages, the announcement, pregnancy and labor, and your introduction into the world.  With the arrival of your brother, “Deuce”, I had to relive the fear that comes with stages one and two and now I have a double dose of fear for the third stage.

Stage 1: The Announcement – FEAR of being Unprepared
This is the beginning of fatherhood.  For you, the announcement came one fall afternoon.  As I was watching The U’s football game, Mami came in nervous and hesitant.  After asking her to tell me what was wrong a few times, she handed me the pregnancy test and sheepishly said “I think I’m pregnant”.  For Deuce, the announcement was the complete opposite, occurring one June evening.  As we were sitting on the couch I noticed an inexplicable glow encompassing Mami who had just walked into the loft
from taking a shower.  See, I knew that glow. I had seen it before. Add that, and the fact that in hindsight I noticed she had been getting tired earlier than usual I had the pleasure of telling her she was pregnant.  Disclaimer: She completely brushed me off and life went on as usual until she took a test 2 weeks later that proved I was right.

Along with the shock and the joy of expectancy that comes with the announcement, the FEAR of being unprepared is not far behind.  For me, I feared being unprepared financially, to an extent, but honestly my biggest fear was my maturity level.  You hear stories (and they are true) of the financial burden that comes with having kids, and I knew we were not in a place where I felt comfortable to do more than just meet the needs of having a child.  My plan was to be a D.I.N.K (Dual Income No Kids) for several years before children came into the plan.  As Announcmenta D.I.N.K, my goal was to be debt free, (95% of my debt comes from my school loans), followed by building wealth and then preparing for kids.  However, things did not go as planned and while I still have the same goals, the schedule has shifted slightly.  While managing this fear, I chose to change my lifestyle dramatically and with that my priorities changed.  Since money always goes to your priorities first, things freed up in the budget.  And while some things I enjoyed have been cut out, I honestly don’t miss them because I have us.

Maturity was a completely different battle that I couldn’t figure out with spreadsheets and formulas because it was completely mental.  Prior to both of you, I would constantly have thoughts like “I am not really an adult”, “it feels like I left college yesterday” and “why is the cashier calling me sir, I can’t be more than 4 years older”.  Following your births, those thoughts along with the fact that I’m now supposed to raise and be responsible for a helpless human being…you may understand my fear.  While no switch has ever flipped that I am aware of, each day, I simply try my best, read what I can, listen to the doctors and do what we believe is best for you both.  However, it has been beyond refreshing to realize that I can run around the house in my underwear with you in your diaper yelling and mimicking my every move at the age of 29 without fear of being judged (except by your Mami) because I’m “playing with my kids”.

Stage 2: Pregnancy and Labor – FEAR of Helplessness 
This stage of fatherhood is very hands off and feeling helpless for 9 months is an indescribable FEAR.  Between the 37th and 40th week of pregnancy, there was not much I could do directly for you, but by making Mami comfortable, I knew I was helping…I think.  This phase was very difficult because while the reality of fatherhood becomes real upon hearing your heartbeat, seeing the ultrasounds, and watching Mami’s belly grow, there was nothing else I could do to make sure everything was going as planned.  During the day, to help ease the fear and feel part of the process, I studied like I was trying to be valedictorian in our lamaze class subsequently acing all the quizzes.  At doctor’s visits, I always had a list of questions and just tried to remind Mami of all the questions she had because “pregnancy brain” is real.  However, at night was when FEAR would peak.  Some nights were sleepless, but sleep or not, thoughts of all the things that could go wrong during pregnancy and labor crept into my mind.

Labor was more intense than the pregnancy, whether it lasted 3 days (you) or 3 hours (“Deuce”).  Watching the sheer pain that Mami was in and only being able to offer ice chips or suggest a position change, gave me an overwhelming helpless feeling.  And, as she pushed, I offered what felt like empty words of encouragement like “just a few more minutes” and “one more good push”.  As I watched you guys come out, instantly, I counted limbs and appendages and wondered if the purple hue was normal. Specifically, during your birth Osito, your purple appearance had me speechless as the doctor guided you out and stated that the umbilical cord was around your neck.  His calmness didn’t help ease my fears of the worst because I was sure you weren’t getting enough oxygen.  It turns out, 1/3 of babies are born with the umbilical cord around their neck and some doctors don’t even mention it during the labor.

Stage 3: Introduction to the World – FEAR of the unknown. 
The fear in this stage is difficult to categorize, so we will call it the FEAR of the unknown.  I can’t count the number of times I check to see if you’re breathing by watching your chest rise and fall on the baby monitor or by blowing softly in your face while you’re in my arms to make sure you twitch.  While part of my fear has to do with innate behaviors like will you choke on food because I don’t know how you learned to chew and swallow or complications like the risk of putting tubes in your ears, the biggest area of concern is how you will successfully navigate this harsh world and making sure I teach you everything I know to help you do it better than me.  Reading and watching articles and videos on social media of kids getting bullied or an encounter with the police that goes tragically wrong, I find myself analyzing the situations like a case study.  My hope is that I can learn something, anything that I can teach you both to ensure you always come home.  What I have concluded to from my own experiences is that this fear is difficult to overcome, just being a father, but there is an added layer of complexity being a black dad raising his sons to be men.  My fear is that I may miss something and the worst happens to you because of it.

Osito and Duece

Coping Mechanism: 
As the cliché goes, I have a good understanding what my parents must have gone through raising me and your uncles and yet you’re not even old enough to leave the house, drive nor are you even ready for kindergarten for that matter.  I also understand why my parents and grandparents spent so much time praying for us.  Once you’ve done everything you can whether that be by making spreadsheets, reading and making up case studies, you have to turn it over to Jesus and know that he is your help and trust that all things work out for the good of those that trust him.  While fear is a natural human response, I encourage you both to not let it control you and prevent you from living the life that was planned for you before you were a twinkle in my eye. Despite all of this, you guys bring me so much joy with just a simple smile and I will never let fear stop me from being the best father possible.

Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”

@Outer_space_dad

Christmas Traditions: All of the Lights 2016

My Beloved Osito,

Christmas traditions come in various forms and develop under different circumstances for each family. Despite the tradition or how it was developed, pPresent.JPGeople cling to these events, activities or foods and find comfort in them and admittedly I am no different. Growing up, our traditions never revolved around presents. Presents were not a focal point, not
because we didn’t want things like every other kid, but because Mom and Pops only had enough to provide us with our basic needs most years. And thankfully, now that I’m grown, I am glad they were not the type to go into debt to get us things we were convinced we needed to survive.

As a kid, outside of dreading the presents aspect of Christmas; when other kids asked “what did you get for Christmas?” while showing off their designer clothes, shoes and overpriced toys from their parents; I looked forward to one thing (other than family), Christmas light displays. Going to see lights was not a tradition in our family, but more of a coincidence. Honestly, I don’t know why I enjoy the lights, but the art behind these master pieces with different colors, inflatables, and the surrounding environment
brings me joy. As a kid, there was one stretch of road, merry-texashighway 278, which always had an enormous display that stretched across multiple houses. I remember being in the backseat seeing all the vibrant colors and pointing out all the characters and designs screaming “did you see that?!”

Now, this childhood “coincidence”, has now become a part of our family tradition. As the Air Force moves us around through the years, we will explore the    Christmas lights displays in those areas and surrounding cities. This year we had a very “Merry Texas Christmas [Y’all]”. Comprised of two Hutchins’ Weekend Adventure(s), we went to Magical Winter Lights in Texas City and Santa’s Wonder Land in College Station, Texas.

Magical Winter Lights (MWL)

The environment of MWL did not create a Christmas mood, at all, given it was a gigantic parking lot right off I-45. Once you enter, there was no organized fchinalow, but just isolated displays scattered throughout the parking lot. Once you get over the highway noise, the street and business lights in the background and the huge Waffle House sign that looked like it was part of the park and focused on the displays, it was really awesome. We started at the enchanted forest, fully stocked with deer, unicorns and a carriage and then made our way around the world with stops in several different countries. We then took a step back to the “Land before Time” and visited with the dinosaurs. We then rushed to ‘Houston’ making it in time to catch the Space Shuttle. (Don’t be confused, you know the Shuttles were launched from my first base, Cape Canaveral, but there is a replica at Space Center Houston. We ended the adventure with a view of the solar system.

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Santa’s Wonderland (SW):name

SW completely nailed it when it came to putting someone in the Christmas mood. Once you walk through the over-sized red doors, you instantly felt transported to a scene out of a Christmas movie. The design of the different shops, the fire pit in the center of town and the music made for an amazing ambiance. The food was good and decently priced, but you can easily bring your own food inside. I am not sure if this is against policy, but you do what you want/need to when you have a baby bag and a sometimes picky baby (looking at you). The main attraction of SW is the hay ride through a wooded area full of lights and displays. The line was long, but worth the wait. Plus it didn’t seem that long since Mami held our place in line as I walked you around to keep you occupied. SW’s displays ranged from military tributes to magical castles with national landmarks and scenes from the North Pole in between. It was definitely worth the trip and you loved your first hay ride. However, I would suggest going during the week for a lower cost ticket and a smaller crowd.

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Overall, Christmas 2016 was composed of two really good adventures, but they both had their good and bag. If you could take the environment and ambiance from Santa’s Wonderland and combine it with the displays from Magical Winter Lights it would be an epic park.

1-houston

Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”

Outer Space Dad