What makes a hero?

Our society places a lot of stock in celebrity status. Star in a movie (or even appear on screen), you're adored. Make it to the majors in any sport, instantly an icon. Sell a few thousand albums, gain a million followers. Or, appear sans clothing in self-made videos (a la Kardashian) and you might even get your own reality TV show. Many people consider these individuals to be heroes and idolize their every move.

I'm not much of a groupie person myself (other than revering Super Chef status, natch) because I feel that celebrities are just people like you and me. They get dressed every morning and brush their teeth. They have highs and lows. They love, lose, cry, mourn, rejoice, live, and die. And sometimes, the way in which celebrities live their lives is not only undeserving of hero-worship but downright shameful.  

Today I want to briefly mention a superstar who made a point of using his celebrity status to make someone special to me feel like she was the brightest star in the universe. My niece, Faith Elizabeth Kuhn, suffers from spina bifida. She is 12 years old, has been through 15+ surgeries since birth and she has a huge, pre-adolescent crush on Chicago Cubs third baseman, Kris Bryant. Through a friend of the family in Albuquerque, Kris learned of her "feelings for him" (i.e. "He's hot!") and made arrangements to bring Faith, her two siblings, and parents to Chicago to watch a home game. It was a surreal experience for the entire family, of which Faith shared "was a like a dream come true." I am so grateful to Kris Bryant and his lovely wife for showing real love to my extended family. The very successful athlete was heroic in his compassion and generosity.

However, if you’re with me on this…you’ll agree that the spunky 12-year-old is the real hero in this story. My sister and her husband, from the time she was in the womb and learned that she would be born with this very limiting disability, knew there was a reason this child should share their life and appropriately christened her Faith. And with each year and new surgery, all of the pain and discomfort, missing out on school and time with friends, none of the trials seem to dim her thousand-watt smile. Faith has a strength of will and determination that many children and even adults lack, despite perfect health.

In two weeks, Faith will undergo her most trying surgical experience to date. Due to a major growth spurt, she needs a rod removed from her spine because it is threatening to twist her little body into a most unnatural shape. She will be in traction for two weeks to stretch her spine and spinal chord. After this painful stint in the hospital, she will possibly endure another surgery involving rib removal. And then another for final fusion in two places along her spine. Through it all, Faith and the entire Kuhn family will remain, well, faithful. Won’t you join me in praying for this little warrior who heroically trudges on through the trials of her young life?

Super Bowl LII: It's all about the food

Let me begin by saying that I hope this is the least watched Super Bowl of all time. I dislike both teams, the commercials in past years have been lame and I'm all around down on the NFL these days. That being said, yes, we ARE having people over for a Super Bowl "party." LOL

Because I hate to break it to you, Tom Brady, but there are more chicken wing fans than individuals who want to see you win another title! According to the National Chicken Council, Americans will consume 1.25 billion chicken wings this weekend. Also on America's menu: 11 million pounds of chips, 4 million pounds of pretzels, 2.5 million pounds of nuts, 8 million pounds of guacamole, and 50 million cases of beer. Additionally, Super Bowl Sunday is the 2nd biggest grilling day of the year. (What's number 1? Think fireworks and patriotism.)

So it's only natural that I enjoy taking advantage of the occasion to try out some new dishes on a captive audience. From the FCI (Fine Cooking Initiative), I'm serving up 

Mashed Cauliflower with garlic & anchovy Crostini

Ricotta & Goat Cheese Tart with Fresh Figs

Pancetta & Parmesan Tartlets

Kale & Caramelized Onion Turnovers

Pasta with Crab & Bacon

Haven't decided on a sweet yet...any suggestions? And I'm not serving wings but I think I'll do a twist on the Buffalo classic with the following recipe from a famous NYC restaurant. 

The Meatball Shop Buffalo Chicken Balls

What's your plan for Super Bowl Sunday? Will you order take-out like 48 million other Americans on game day? Whatever you do, have fun, eat well and maybe pick up some Tums when you're at the store (antacid sales rise 20% the day after!) 

 

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