Monday, June 15, 2015

Hey Guys I'm a Food Blogger Now: Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops with Serranos

We're currently on vacation in sunny Destin, Florida. Aside from the fact that Drake literally just took a dump on the bathroom floor, things are going pretty good.

The water was pretty rough today, not red flag rough, but too rough to take the boys down, who are too brave for their own good. I got super bored, and after we visited the Gulfarium, which is friggin amazing, we stopped at a seafood shop and got some shrimp and scallops, which are just about my favorite seafood in the world.

Before I started cooking, I thought, "Why not do a food blog?" And since no one around me said, "Hey man, that's a bad idea," I went for it.

So here you go: Bacon-wrapped sea scallops with serrano peppers and a butter glaze.


Here you see my ingredients, those sweet, sweet scallops, a few serrano peppers, some Great Value butter and bacon (shut up, we're poor, we spent all our money on the condo), and some Greek seasoning we brought from home.


Next step, cut the bacon in half, then line those fatty pork belly slices up on a sheet tray. You have to par-bake them, get them sizzling, otherwise you wind up with raw bacon and scallops drier than a British comedy. I baked the bacon slices for 7 minutes at 350 degrees.


This is me laying bacon on the sheet tray, I'm smiling because bacon, obviously. Anytime I touch the stuff it excites me in a way that my wife normally excites me, if you're picking up what I'm putting down (bacon).


Next I cut up the serrano peppers. I suppose you could use a milder pepper like a jalapeƱo, and let me know if you decide to do that, I'll get you a skirt while I'm down here and mail it to you. I wanted habaneros, but the ones I brought with us were ruined, and Alicia couldn't find any at Walmart down here. I cut them in about half inch slices.


Next I cubed up the butter, then threw the Greek seasoning on top and tossed it in the microwave, and I'm including this picture just because it's amazing. Look at the detail. If I can't make it as a food blogger, I can definitely make it as a professional butter photographer, and don't tell me that's not a thing, because just look at that butter. Look at it. Oh and microwave that until it's melted, if you need a time, you're an idiot.


Now we're cooking with peanut oil. Here are the scallops, I rinsed them off, and they are freaking gorgeous. Just pearly white cylinders of sweet, tender oceanic goodness. If I could pull these things out of Fort Gibson Lake, I'd never eat anything again. I pulled the bacon out of the oven next, got too excited about it to take a picture.


Here's the assembled product. I just took a serrano, put it on the scallop, then wrapped the whole thing with bacon and secured it with a toothpick. Might want to soak those toothpicks in water first, but other than that, this is what they look like when they're done. I had three scallops left with no bacon on them, if it was any other food that'd be a shame, but these are scallops. I just tossed them on the sheet tray. I also didn't take the bacon grease off the sheet tray, because, well, if you need to do that, just throw all this stuff away and go get a vegan burger.



Here are a couple of detail shots, first on the cutting board and then on the sheet tray loaded up with bacon grease. I threw the peppers on there too, figured they couldn't hurt. I basted everything with the butter mixture, but kept about half of it back for after cooking. I kept the oven at 350 degrees, and I baked them for 15 minutes. Now, when they got done, the bacon was still a little soft for my tastes, so I cranked the heat up to 425 degrees for about 5 minutes or so. After cooking, I glazed them with the butter again because scallops are naturally a healthy food and I needed to do everything I possibly could to make them bad for me. In the end, the bacon was still a little soft, but I couldn't wait anymore because, well, look at them:


Here's the finished product, all plated up and ready to eat. These things pair well with whatever it is in that glass, my wife picked it out, all I know is it's a white. To be honest, these would pair well with raccoon urine, and if you try that, let me know how it is. The heat level was perfect, the scallops were cooked through just right, and aside from being a little soft, the bacon was sublime. We ate on the patio while the kids had hot dogs and Velveeta shells and cheese because scallops are "gross" and "nasty."

When it's all said and done, it's safe to say that if you set one of these scallops on top of your head, your tongue would beat your brains out trying to get to them. I ate every single one on that plate, and sat there and stared at my wife's (she didn't have peppers on hers) until she finally looked at me and told me to go eat a hot dog.


Before anyone gives me crap, those are leftover peppers, I didn't pick them off. So that's it, I'm a food blogger now, if anyone wants to get in touch with Food Network on the Pioneer Woman, that'd be great. Now we've got to go down to the beach and hunt for crabs and try not to lose a kid in the high tide. Wish us luck.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

04AN022E-001




"Travis have you talked to your wife?" 
"Yes." 
"Was she upset?" 
"She was, very." 
"Well I'm going to need you to call her back. You'll never guess what happened." 

***

This story has been a long time in coming, and after spending a week away from technology and clearing my head, I felt like I was finally ready to tell it.

Then, this morning, as I was walking across the church parking lot, bathed in the voices of worshippers headed to their cars, I heard a voice cut through it all.

"DADDY!"

There must have been ten kids hollering for their fathers, but I recognized that voice. I turned, and he was smiling at me, head full of curly red hair bouncing as he struggled to get away from mom and run my direction. That cemented the decision to write.

This is a story about 04AN022E-001.

Of course, you might know him as Drake.

***

Hopefully, if you're reading this blog, you're all caught up on our family situation at the Sloat house. If you aren't, I'll give you the short version, and then you can click here and see all the stories. 

My wife and I have adopted three children. These children all share the same biological mother. We adopted the first two, Aven and Akeeli, earlier, then got a phone call about Drake, the youngest. We finalized on him earlier in the year, and changed his first name to Greyson, although we still call him Drake. 

Many of you read the blog I wrote when Drake was born. Of course I didn't know his name, I just knew that my two children suddenly had a brother, and my wife and I were faced with the decision of "What to tell the kids." How do you let them know they have a brother they'll never meet? 

We did the best we could. Our children grasp things fairly quickly, possibly as a result of so much change in their lives. They've never had the luxury of having many abstract thoughts, reality struck them much too harshly, much too early on. They accepted this brother without much emotional involvement, kind of an "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy. A philosophy that didn't come easily to Alicia and I. 

Then of course we got the call. 

Drake had been taken by the state, and he'd be coming to see us. Foster care, possible adoption. I hate the term foster care, but no matter, the kids were finally going to get to see their younger brother. 

Then we got the email. 

"We've found a kinship placement, he won't be coming to see you." 

There are certain words, when strung together in a certain order, change your life forever. Being notified of the death of a child or loved one, a relationship ending, or sitting in a doctor's office as he uses the word "terminal." Certain words in a certain order can proclaim worse fates than death. 

So we cried. 

A few months later, we got a call. 

"The kinship placement didn't work out. Can you meet us to pick him up?" 

So we cried. And we drove. 

I will never forget that drive home. I will never forget strapping that curly-headed monster into his car seat, I will never forget Aven and Akeeli calling him "bubba," and I will never forget when Drake pointed at me as we were driving down the road and said, "Dad!" 

And thus our lives were changed. 


***

We got still yet another call. 

"Travis, the biological mom won't terminate her parental rights. We know you have a way with words, can you write her a letter letting her know Drake is in good hands?" 

I have written stories about murders, tragedies, and love. I have written a commencement speech. I have written cover letters and resumes, and I have written numerous blogs to convey important points to my readers. 

None have ever come close to the importance of the letter I wrote to her. 

After reading the letter, she decided to terminate, but was fearful of the biological father's more stubborn attitude about relinquishing. He is in prison, but had said he would not terminate. She didn't want Drake to go back to him, and we understood her fear. 

And so we waited. 

***

We got still yet another call. 

"Alicia, the biological father is refusing to terminate. He has court on this date, and we're going to try to get the judge to terminate then, but technically he can have some time to try and accomplish the things required to get Drake back. He has said that he will not give up his rights." 

So we cried. And we prayed. And we enjoyed our time with Drake, dancing on the razor's edge of hope, hanging on to the truth proclaimed in God's Word that all things work together for the good of those who trust Him, and that if God is for us, no one can be against us. 

Finally the court date came. 

Alicia and I waited nervously by our phones, and kept refreshing our email inboxes, waiting for the news, dreading the appearance of certain words and the order they might be put in.

Finally the email came. Through tears, Alicia told me that the biological father had refused to terminate, and the judge had not granted the state's request to terminate. Through tears, I told her that things would be okay, there's no way any judge in the world would give a child back to a man in prison for the crimes he was in for. 

Alicia said she was going to call the social worker for clarification on a few things. Things did not get any better after that call, which prompted me to call the social worker and ask a few questions of my own.

"How can they consider handing him back to that man after what he's done?"

"Well, it's a jury trial, and they might convince the jury that he's a great person except for that one night when he made one bad decision, or they might say that a child this young needs his biological father since the mother gave him up." 

"I just don't see how anyone would ever see it that way." 

"Stranger things have happened. We'll see how it goes." 

I hung up, crying, and called Alicia. 

I told her everything, told her God was still in control, and I hung up the phone. 

About ten seconds later it rang again. It was the social worker. 

"Travis have you talked to your wife?" 
"Yes." 
"Was she upset?" 
"She was, very." 
"Well I'm going to need you to call her back. You'll never guess what happened." 
"What happened?" 
"He was walking out of the courtroom, stopped, turned around and looked at us and said he was ready to relinquish. Said he wanted one more visit, but he'd sign him over immediately." 

I hung up, crying, and called Alicia.

I would not even begin to guess the amount of phone calls made since the telephone was invented. But I can say with complete authority that none of them has ever made anyone happier than that phone call at that time.

We finalized on March 30. As the social worker was having us sign all the paperwork, I saw a number across the top: 04AN022E-001. Drake's number.

I snapped a picture. "One day I'll blog about this."

Oh and the visit? It never happened. He decided he didn't want to see him after all.

***

It's not all been roses and amazing phone calls since that day. In fact, about an hour ago, I had to spank him for not laying down and taking a nap. Right now, as I'm proofreading this blog, we just discovered he's had a relapse on his potty training and has pooped his pants. He can be insufferable.  

He is hard-headed, has a will of iron, and can be as immovable as only red-headed children can. 

He is handsome, has a million-dollar smile that makes you feel like the best dad in the world when he gives it to you, and can turn a simple word like "Daddy!" into something that can take my spirit from the lowest depths to the highest peaks. 

He just turned three. He looks so much like me that people constantly tell me, "You can't deny that one." I look at Alicia, and we just laugh. He's officially spent more of his life with us than anywhere else. He's a holy terror to his older brother, and a real-life baby doll to his older sister. He loves Mickey Mouse, nachos, and milk at bedtime. He has nightmares that are painful to witness at 3 a.m. He drives me crazy because he won't eat when he's supposed to, and he doesn't always like to tell me goodnight, which cuts me deeper than anything, and I just pretend it doesn't. 

He's my son. He's a Sloat. 

***

One day, I'll get to meet Jesus. 

I have a lot of questions for Him. 

But I think the one I'll ask first, the one that will be on the tip of my tongue before I even get to the throne, will be what made that man change his mind on the way out of the courtroom that day. 

I believe in miracles. I also believe in science. I know there's a chemical in the brain that made him change his mind, and I know that God is in charge of that chemical and every other aspect of our lives. But I've got to know. I've got to know how He did it. 

In the meantime, I'm satisfied with the fact that God took an impossible situation, named it 04AN022E-001, and entrusted him to our care for the next fifteen years. I'll do my best, and when things seems impossible again, I'll remember that God is big, and we are His. 

The boy who lived.